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Staff file photo / Catoosa County's Old Stone Church, shown in this file photo, dates back to 1850 and was used as a hospital by both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. The structure now houses a history museum, and the Catoosa County Historical Society is raising funds to add a library and genealogical research facility.

Since 1850, the Old Stone Church in Catoosa County has been a Presbyterian church, a Methodist church, a Baptist church, and a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. It is now a museum operated by the Catoosa County Historical Society — which hopes to soon make the historic building a research library as well.

Over the years, the museum has acquired a collection of local and regional history books, which sit unused in boxes because the museum has nowhere to display them, said Bill Clark, a past president of the historical society who is heading up a fundraising campaign to build a library onto the back of the church.

In addition to history books, the library will house the museum's collection of old photographs of Ringgold, which was "quite a swinging place" before the Civil War, Clark said. It will also include Civil War records of the Union and Confederate armies in the area, biographies of significant local figures and inventories of cemeteries in Catoosa County.

The library will also provide resources for genealogical research, including access to online databases and subscriptions to research sites such as Ancestry.com, Clark said.

The society plans to pay the entire $40,000 cost of the library addition through donations, which he said they don't expect to have trouble getting based on the interest people show in the museum now.

"You would be surprised at the number of people who are interested in local history — especially among the old families, and a good part of the county population are old families," Clark said, adding that the museum has a fair amount of material for genealogical research available already.

"We invite people to come to the church and take a look at what we've got."

Open Fridays through Sundays from 1-4 p.m. each day, the museum features exhibits of Cherokee, antebellum and Civil War artifacts, and its collection includes archives of the Cherokee Phoenix on microfilm as well as other local newspaper clippings.

The society hopes to have the funds raised for the library and the project completed within about a year, Clark said.

Donations to the Catoosa County Historical Society are tax deductible and can be mailed to P.O. Box 113, Ringgold, GA 30736.

The Old Stone Church Museum is at 41 Catoosa Parkway and can be reached at 706-935-5232.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com

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