After 13+ years of managing multiple websites, I have begun the process of merging them into one site. This process should be complete within the next few weeks.
Vanishing South Georgia, Vanishing North Georgia, and Vanishing Coastal Georgia will soon become Vanishing Georgia, to consolidate searches and to make all of my archive available in one space. The new site will feature nearly 7,600 locations with approximately 25,000 individual images. The site’s appearance and functionality should remain relatively consistent with a few new additions.
There may be some small glitches during the process, but I’m doing everything I can to make it a clean transition.
Dry Pond Methodist traces its origins to the early 1820s and the property where the church now stands was given to the early Methodist Episcopal congregants by Joseph McCutchins in 1827. Typical of many congregations Dry Pond built their first church of logs while maintaining a large campground at the site. A more substantial structure was built circa 1870 and served until the construction of the present church was completed in 1904.
This schoolhouse is part of the Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm and is just down the road from the main house and sharecropper’s village. Alex and Emory Shields, grandsons of James Shields, donated two acres for the construction of the school and it was named the Bachelors’ Academy in their honor. Ira had been a teacher himself in his younger days and believed strongly in education. In 1938, when Jackson County consolidated its rural schools, the Bachelors’ Academy became a school for African-American children, and Ira provided the teacher housing in the sharecroppers’ village. The school was in used until 1950 and was restored in 1996.
Shields-Etheridge Farm, National Register of Historic Places
This property was originally settled by Joseph Shields and sons James and Patrick in 1802. With two slaves, they cleared and cultivated the land. The farm began producing “upland” cotton in 1810. When Joseph died in 1818, he willed the land to his son, James and by 1860, 20 enslaved people worked the land. James died in 1863 and in 1865 his widow, Charity, signed a contract with three of her former slaves, providing them housing and food in exchange for their work on the farm. When James and Charity’s son, Joseph Robert Shields, returned home from the Civil War in 1866, he built the main house and soon applied the sharecropping system to the entire farm, managing many of his former slaves alongside poor white farmers.
By 1890, the farm had grown to 1000 acres. In 1897, Joseph Robert’s daughter Susan Ella returned to the farm with her husband Ira Washington Eldridge. Joseph Robert Shields died in 1910 and Susan Ella and Ira inherited the house and surrounding property. To hedge his bets against increasingly unstable cotton prices, Ira Eldridge built a self-sustaining sharecropper’s “village” near the main house. In 1914, “Mr. Ira” transformed the main house from its historical Plantation Plain appearance to it present Neoclassical appearance by adding columns and raising the porch. The structures seen today were built between 1900-1930. Most of the sharecropper housing is gone today, but a few scattered examples survive.
When Ira died in 1945, his son Lanis understood that the farm would soon be changed by mechanization. He diversified and in the early 1950s began breeding cattle and slowly expanding pastureland on his acreage. At his death in 1970, the sharecropper’s village was long abandoned. His widow, Joyce Ethridge, began documenting the history of the farm and in 1994 she and daughters Susan E. Chaisson and Ann E. Lacey gave 150 acres of the farm to the Shields-Etheridge Farm Foundation to preserve the site as an agricultural museum. Joyce’s research also led to the listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm is the most intact collection of historic farm structures in their original location in Georgia, and is an amazing place to visit.
The Gainesville, Jefferson & Southern Railroad line reached Talmo circa 1883 and was integral for the shipment of the highly prized short-staple cotton being grown in the area. It was an important catalyst for the growth of the community and is well-preserved today.
Talmo Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
The congregation who built this typical late-19th century house of worship organized in the idyllic Apple Valley community in 1887 and raised this structure the next year. It is thought to have also been used as a schoolhouse.
Thanks to Anna O’Neal, who has educated me about many locations in her home county and environs, for identifying this important house, thought to be among the oldest extant in Elbert County.
Athens architect and designer extraordinaire Scott Reed writes: Absolutely remarkable…It was built in 1818 as a stylish five-bay Federal cottage and enlarged over time. The double-leaf entry doors are [excellent]...I am so glad to finally see signs of a possible effort to at least keep it standing.
Mark Phillips, a well-versed student of Georgia’s historic architecture notes: It belonged, and may still belong, to the Haynes/Hanes/Haines family , who either built it, or acquired it c. 1810-20. An early T. Haynes (possibly builder) married a daughter of a Greer (originally from Washington County, and Elbert)…The Hudson and Beasley families are also associated with the house…probably through later marriages.
Vesta was formally established in the late 19th century and had a post office from 1888-1904. According to Kenneth Krakow’s Georgia Place Names: Their History and Origins it was named for Vesta Johnson, the daughter of a local settler. Darryl James McKoon writes: [This was the] Pass Brothers General Store. The store, general merchandise, a butcher shop, and Gulf branded gasoline, was on the right, storage building on the left. It is now used for community BBQ events.There was an old multiple story wood cotton gin to the right of the store where the residence is now. Back in the day it was quite busy. Belt driven equipment by a three cylinder upright diesel engine with a two cylinder backup.Long gone, across the street to the right of the flag pole, was a large wooden structure that was also a Pass Brothers General Store. The owners were the older generation of the owners across the street.
Both structures date to the 1930s-1940s, from what I’ve been able to locate.