Tag Archives: African-Americans in North Georgia

Pea Ridge Vernacular Houses, Rutledge

The gabled-ell cottage (above) and the saddlebag cottage (below) are two representative examples of vernacular architecture in the Pea Ridge community.

Rutledge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MORGAN COUNTY GA--, Rutledge GA

Moses Chapel AME Church, 1877, Rutledge

I’m not sure when Moses Chapel was established but like most African-American churches in Reconstruction-era Georgia the congregation likely counted many recently emancipated slaves among its members. The church, built in 1877, is a real treasure of the vernacular Gothic style common in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is the most notable landmark of the historic African-American neighborhood known as Pea Ridge.

Rutledge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MORGAN COUNTY GA--, Rutledge GA

St. Paul Meetinghouse, 1870s, Hancock County

Harrell Lawson’s History of St. Pau CME Church [2005] describes the two-story meetinghouse adjacent to the church as a building previously used as a school for the secular education of the youth of the community and as a meeting place for Masons and a burial society founded by St. Paul members in the early 1900’s.

A resource survey conducted in 2001 dates the structure to circa 1870. It was built in the school/lodge combination common among African-American congregations in this part of Georgia in the late 19th century. These structures inevitably served as de facto community centers, as well. No matter when they were built, they are important resources.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--, Uncategorized

Old St. Galilee Baptist Church, Hancock County

This is the original home of Saint (St.) Galilee Baptist Church, which has a newer facility in Sparta today. I’m not sure when the church was established , nor when this structure was built. It was sided with false brick siding (tar paper) before it was bricked. A very large and well-maintained cemetery is adjacent to the property.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--

Randolph Cemetery, Harrisburg

Randolph Cemetery, set on a precipitous hillside southwest of Milledgeville, has the appearance of a typical early-20th-century African-American burying ground, with many handmade headstones and grave markers sourced from local materials. This monumental folk art arch makes it anything but a typical cemetery. [It might also be of interest that it is believed that a descendant of one of George Washington’s slaves is buried here].

The top of the arch contains relief carvings of oak leaves, plus some possible clues about the builder. Below a random series of letters and numbers [K PL47, perhaps designating Knights of Pythias Lodge 47?] and the phrase “He Watches Over Me” is what appears to be the date 1923 and the initials F B and ARB. It’s possible that the B is for Brown, as there are several Browns in this cemetery, but that is only a guess.

On both sides of the arch, there are relief depictions of traditional miners’ tools.
Considering that mining activity has persisted for the better part of two centuries in this area, it’s possible the builder was involved in the industry in some way. I even believe he may have used rock from his job in the construction of the arch. The shovel on the right (above) also has initials ending with the letter “B”.
Nearly as fascinating as the arch is this adjacent headstone for Cora Randolph (31 December 1875?-26 July 1924). If you look closely at the top of the marker you will see a handprint to the left. I’m grateful to my friend Cynthia Jennings, who has documented cemeteries in all 159 Georgia counties and has a particular interest in African-American cemeteries, for suggesting I find this place. It immediately became one of my favorite African-American cemeteries and I hope to learn more about the arch. It’s among the most important vernacular funerary monuments in Georgia.

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Filed under --BALDWIN COUNTY GA--, Harrisburg GA

Euharlee Creek Covered Bridge, 1886, Bartow County

This Town Lattice covered bridge, the only one remaining in Bartow County, was built on Euharlee Creek in 1886 by Washington W. King. King was the son of former slave and master architect and bridge builder Horace King.

The historical marker erected in 2000 by the Georgia Historical Society and the Federal Highway Administration notes, in part: In 1886 the county contracted with Washington W. King…and Jonathan H. Burke for the construction of this 138-foot bridge…This bridge replaced several previous structures, the last having been built two years prior.

The bridge remained in use until the completion of a modern bridge circa 1980. Much of the material used to build the massive Plant Bowen nearby was hauled over this historic bridge.

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Filed under --BARTOW COUNTY GA--, Euharlee GA

Old Brick Mill, 1830s, Lindale

The Old Brick Mill at Lindale is the only surviving antebellum brick grist mill in Northwest Georgia and one of just a handful of surviving antebellum mills of any construction in Georgia. It was built of bricks made on site by enslaved people. Located on Silver Creek just across the road from the entrance to the Lindale Manufacturing Company, it is a favorite spot for photographers. Though it ceased operation as a grist mill in the late 1890s, it remained an important community landmark, serving as home to a local Garden Club, Boy Scout troop, and Masonic lodge at various times throughout the 20th century. The Lindale paper, The Georgia Free Lance, was also printed here around 1909.

The landmark, believed to have been built for Larkin Barnett in the 1830s, has seen various changes over time, including the loss of the mill race, the original wheel, and steps, but retains much of its structural integrity. Subsequent private owners and operators were William Cabe of Alabama [Silver Creek Mills], Jacob Henry Hoss [millwright], Joseph Fulcher, William Hemphill Jones, and Mary Jane & Sarah Elizabeth Jones. It ceased operation when it was purchased by the Massachusetts Mills. It was restored by the Lindale Garden Club, who won a National Award for Historic Preservation for their efforts, in 1975.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --FLOYD COUNTY GA--, Lindale GA

Chubb Methodist Episcopal Church, 1870, Chubbtown

Isaac Chubb and his eight sons [Henry, John, Jacob, William, Isaac, Nicholas, George, and Thomas] arrived in Floyd County circa 1864, via Morgan County, and established a community here, which came to be known as Chubbtown. Isaac was born to Nicholas Chubb circa 1797 in North Carolina. Both he and his father were listed as free men of color, though the circumstances of the former’s manumission are unknown. Chubbtown was a thriving community in its time, with a post office, school, sawmill, general stores, and a coffin factory. The church, now known as Chubb Chapel United Methodist Church, was built in 1870 and is among the only surviving relics of the original settlement.

Because of its rural setting, Chubbtown may have been unique in Georgia, as most free men of color settled in urban areas such as Savannah and Augusta. The community and its ability to survive in a state hostile to African-Americans has become legend, even within the family. The best-known Chubb today is former Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb, now filling that slot with the Cleveland Browns. He and his father Henry discussed some of the family history with Chip Towers in a 2015 interview for Dawg Nation:

“They came and settled and they were never slaves,” Nick says…“That’s the biggest part everybody in the family always talks about — never slaves. I’ve never really understood how they were capable of doing all those things during that time period. I don’t know how they became educated and knew what they were doing. There are still questions about how they were able to do some of the things they were able to do. It’s crazy to think about it.”

Chubb’s father, Henry, fills in some of the blanks…“They say the father, John Henry, got along with the sheriff of Rome, and he kind of looked out for them,” Henry says. “John was the main man. They’d all meet on Sundays and talk about the businesses and what they needed to do that week.”

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

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Filed under --FLOYD COUNTY GA--, Chubbtown GA

Jordan Chapel A. M. E. Church, Haddock

I’m honored to be able to share this photograph by Anne Chamlee; it will be one of several I plan on publishing here and on Vanishing South Georgia. Earlier this year, Anne reached out to let me know that she appreciated the work I was doing documenting Georgia’s rural architecture and that she had some photographs of her own that I might enjoy seeing. After several back-and-forth emails and some phone conversations, I’m so glad we were able to make a connection. She’s just as intrigued by the architecture of rural Georgia as I am and by the late 1980s was wandering around the backroads of Middle Georgia, photographing the endangered examples that sparked her interest. She’s also a delightful conversationalist, which is a bit of vanishing thing itself these days.

A Sooner by birth, Anne came South with her family just as the Dust Bowl was coming to an end. They wound up in Florida and she eventually met and married a man with roots in Hancock County, Tilmon Chamlee. Tilmon was a rising architect who had a very successful career in the commercial sector. After many years in Florida and then Macon, Anne and Tilmon eventually settled at Lake Sinclair in Baldwin County, where he continued his practice and indulged in his love for flying. He was also a commercial and instrument-rated pilot. Tilmon passed away in 2015 but Anne remains active in the community. After talking with her on the phone a few times, I still cannot believe she’s 85.

Regarding the structure: It was located near Haddock and is no longer extant. The photo dates to July 1988. It’s quite unusual as a church structure but was likely a multi-purpose center for the community. My guess is that the second floor was used for Sunday School and possibly even by a fraternal lodge. I hope to learn more.

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Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--, Haddock GA

St. Mark’s A. M. E. Church, Sparta

Founded by freedmen circa 1867, St. Mark’s was one of the first A. M. E. congregations in Hancock County and was a major social and cultural influence on the newly emancipated African-American community of Sparta. The present structure dates to either 1892 or 1901.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY GA--, Sparta GA