Tag Archives: African-Americans in North Georgia

Marsh House, Circa 1836, LaFayette

Designed by Spencer Stewart Marsh (1799-1875) around the time of LaFayette’s founding, this was home to his family and their descendants until 1989. It’s also known as the Marsh-Warthen House. Spencer Marsh was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, and married Ruth (Rutha) Terrell Brantley in 1824. They first migrated to Covington, Georgia, around 1833, and then to Walker County. He was a justice of the Inferior Court and a state senator and Walker County’s wealthiest and most prominent citizen with farming and real estate interests all over the area. He was also, along with Andrew P. Allgood and and William K. Briers, a founder of the Trion Factory (in Chattooga County), said to be the first cotton mill in Northwest Georgia, in 1845. It was later known as Marsh & Allgood. During the Civil War, the Marshes sought refuge in Cassville and upon their return after the war, found bloodstains and hoof marks from a Union pillaging.

Marsh’s daughter, Sarah Adaline, married Nathaniel Greene Warthen in 1859. Due to the heavy Union presence in Northwest Georgia, the young couple relocated to the relatively safer Warthen homeplace in Warthen, Washington County at the height of the war.  Afterwards they returned to LaFayette and also resided here with Sarah’s family.

It’s a near certainty that Spencer Marsh’s slaves were responsible for the construction of the house. He owned 12 in 1850. One of them, 16-year-old Wiley Marsh, was Spencer’s son according to widely accepted oral history. [Interestingly, Wiley Marsh is mentioned on a Department of the Interior marker honoring the African-American presence on the property but it doesn’t note that he was Marsh’s son]. Built in the Greek Revival style popular by 1840, the house was expanded between 1895-10 by Marsh’s grandson, Spencer Marsh Warthen, who also added minimal Colonial Revival features, including the balustrade, around 1935. Almost every architectural element and update of the house has been extensively catalogued. Addie Augusta Wert, great-granddaughter of Spencer Marsh, was the last family member to reside here, removing to a nursing home in 1989. Patrick and Donna Clements bought the house from the estate in 1992 and sold it to the Walker County Historical Society in 2003. The Marsh House of LaFayette is now operated as a museum, with limited hours.

This is an abridged version of Dan H. Latham, Jr., and Beverly Foster’s excellent history of this house viewable on the National Register nomination form. It’s a fascinating read, especially in regards to some of the Civil War associations of the house and family, as well as the background on Wiley Marsh, Spencer’s “mulatto” son.

To enhanceme the interpretation of the African-American experience at the Marsh House, a log cabin has been moved here and reconstructed to replicate what a slave cabin would have looked like before the Civil War. This cabin is actually about a hundred years old and was an outbuilding located on another property. It was donated to the Marsh House by Breck Parker.

National Register of Historic Places

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under --WALKER COUNTY GA--, LaFayette GA

Vernacular Houses, Odessadale

There are at least two of these hip-roofed utilitarian structures remaining in Odessadale. The form was once much more common in the area.

1 Comment

Filed under --MERIWETHER COUNTY GA--, Odessadale GA

Branch Hebron Missionary Baptist Church, Odessadale

This church, founded by ex-slaves in 1868, is the center of the African-American community in Odessadale.

2 Comments

Filed under --MERIWETHER COUNTY GA--, Odessadale GA

Nutwood, 1833, LaGrange

Representative of the transformation from Federal and Plantation Plain styles to the more formal Greek Revival, Nutwood is one of six extant homes designed and built by Collin (sometimes spelled Cullin or Cullen) Rogers (1791-1845) and his brother Henry. Just as Daniel Pratt’s houses are emblematic of Milledgeville, Rogers’s designs are icons of LaGrange. Nutwood is considered the most accomplished of his works. It should be noted that Rogers and his brother utilized a large number of enslaved people with great skills in carpentry to build their commissions.

Joel D. Newsom (1789-1864) was the first owner of the property and legend states that the plantation house derived its name from the fact that the first pecan tree grown in Troup County was planted here. Newsom served as judge of the Troup County Inferior Court from 1831-36. In 1937, it was purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Arthur E. Mallory who owned it until the 1970s.

National Register of Historic Places

1 Comment

Filed under --TROUP COUNTY GA--, LaGrange GA

Coopers Creek, Suches

coopers-creek-wma-union-county-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2017

Coopers Creek (variously known as Cooper’s Creek and Cooper Creek) is one of the most picturesque mountain streams in North Georgia.

coopers-creek-union-county-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2017

It’s a favorite among fishermen and is one of the busiest places in the mountains on the opening day of trout season. The first time I ever went trout fishing was on Coopers Creek and the banks were full of tents crowded with eager anglers.

coopers-creek-winter-union-county-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2017

The creek follows Georgia Highway 60, one of the most beautiful drives in Georgia.

coopers-creek-union-county-ga-old-trees-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2017

3 Comments

Filed under --UNION COUNTY GA--, Suches GA

Banks County Courthouse, Circa 1863, Homer

banks-county-courthouse-homer-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2017

The date of construction for this iconic courthouse is difficult to track down. In the nomination of the property to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, it was said to have been begun in 1860 and completed in 1875. Brothers John and Samuel Pruitt were noted as the builders. More recent scholarship (I assume) by Elizabeth B. Cooksey in the New Georgia Encylopedia notes: (the) first courthouse was built in 1863, reportedly with $6,600 in Confederate currency. Either date ensures that slave labor was integral to the construction; completion of public architecture during the Civil War seems extraordinary. Confusion aside, it’s one of the most beautiful courthouses in Georgia. Replaced by a modern courthouse on an adjacent lot in 1987, it now serves as a museum, with very limited hours.

historic-banks-county-courthouse-homer-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2017

National Register of Historic Places

3 Comments

Filed under --BANKS COUNTY GA--, Homer GA

Louise Brown Making White Oak Baskets, Junction City

louise-brown-making-a-traditional-white-oak-basket-lost-art-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2013

Meriwether County artist Louise Brown and her sister, Catherine Johnson, learned the art of basket making from their father, the late John Reeves. He began selling his white oak baskets at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair in nearby Gay, Georgia, over thirty years ago. Mrs. Brown weaves and sells her baskets at Plantation Days each year and I was lucky enough to meet and photograph her at this year’s festival.

louise-brown-making-a-traditional-white-oak-basket-folklife-lost-art-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2013

Her patience and skill are evident in her attention to detail.

louise-browns-greenville-ga-traditional-white-oak-baskets-at-festival-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2013

The work of making the baskets begins by carefully stripping pieces of white oak from saplings, soaking the oak strips in water, and weaving them into different patterns and forms.

louise-browns-traditional-white-oak-baskets-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2013

Again, I’m very glad I got to meet Mrs. Brown (pictured here with her husband John Henry). If you’d like to purchase one of her beautiful creations, she can be reached at (706) 672-4326. Otherwise, find her at the Harvest Days festival or the Cotton Pickin’ Fair.

louise-larry-brown-white-oak-basket-makers-traditional-craft-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-north-georgia-usa-2013

Photographed at Harvest Days in Old Talbot, Patsiliga Plantation, 2013

Leave a comment

Filed under --TALBOT COUNTY GA--, Junction City GA