Tag Archives: Georgia Politicians

Smithonia, Oglethorpe County

Situated on some of the most idyllic land in Oglethorpe County, the historic property known as Smithonia was for a time perhaps the largest single farm in Georgia, eventually encompassing nearly thirty square miles. It was a self-contained enterprise, with its own railroad, commissary, and enough tenants to necessitate a post office, which operated from 1889-1907.

This may have been the post office. I will update when I can confirm.

James Monroe Smith (Jim) was born in 1839 near Washington, Georgia. The lifelong bachelor built an agricultural empire on the gently rolling hills around this exceptionally large house (built circa 1866), and by the turn of the century was a millionaire. The three large brick barns (the first a stable) were built circa 1888 at the height of the farm’s productivity. They remain its most significant architectural legacy.

The primary means by which Smith amassed his fortune was the use of laborers he “rented”from the state’s prison camps, and nearly all of them were African-American. Many had been Smith’s slaves on whom the irony of being back in his “employee” was surely not lost.

Smith’s wealth and desire for influence led him to politics and he served terms in both the Georgia house and senate. He made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1906.

He died on the farm in 1915 and due to his bachelor status, his estate was unsettled for many years. Numerous claims were made for his land and considerable fortune.

Numerous owners have owned parts of the property over the years, including country music legend Kenny Rogers. The most recent owners, Pam and Dink NeSmith have made improvements to various aspects of the sprawling landmark and have recently listed it for sale.

National Register of Historic Places

Leave a comment

Filed under --OGLETHORPE COUNTY GA--, Smithonia GA

Crawford Long Childhood Home, 1810s, Madison County

Also known as the Crawford Long Childhood Home, this Federal style house was built by Madison County pioneer James Long, circa 1817. James long was the father of Dr. Crawford Williamson Long, the first man to successfully use ether as an anesthesia for surgery. The elder Long came to Georgia with his family from Pennsylvania in 1790 and was a successful planter and merchant and was one of the founders of Danielsville in 1812-1813. He was among the first in newly created Madison County (1811) to receive a license to sell liquor. His holdings in the area eventually reached 13,000 acres and at least 22 slaves. He married a local girl, Elizabeth Ware, on 8 December 1813 and their son Crawford was born on 1 November 1815, presumably at an earlier, though undocumented, home the family owned in Danielsville proper.

The land where this house is located wasn’t purchased until December of 1817 and wasn’t located within the city limits. Because of the low tax evaluation of the property at that time, it is presumed the house was not present at the time of the purchase. James Long was active in local politics and early sessions of the Inferior Court met is his home. He served as Clerk of the Superior Court, Danielsville postmaster, and in both houses of the Georgia legislature. According to the nomination form which added the house to the National Register of Historic Places, it is the only extant, authentic structure associated with his [Crawford W. Long’s] life.

After the sale of the house by the Long heirs in 1874, it has had several owners, including the Thurmond, O’Kelley, Thompson, and Sorrow families. They have kept a watchful eye over it. Crawford Long lived in the house until he left for nearby Franklin College (University of Georgia) in 1829. Local oral traditions suggests that Dr. Long was actually born in the house, which would place its construction date in the 1813-1815 range, but since no primary evidence exists to prove this claim, a debate continues. Either way, it’s significant as a residence of one of the most important figures in 19th century American medicine.

Dr. Crawford Williamson Long. Photo Source: A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography, Volume 2, 1913. Public Domain.

The National Register nomination also notes: Architecturally, the Crawford Long Childhood Home has significance as a refined example of federal period architecture used in the construction of dwellings on the upper frontier portions of Georgia during the nineteenth century. The style of the structure is more refined than other extant vernacular houses of its area. A graphic reconstruction of the structure, with its original federal pedimented porch would reveal a definite change in character from its present appearance and would distinguish it from other houses in that early nineteenth century period and locality. The interior of the building is indicative of an imported eastern taste transferred into the upper Piedmont of Georgia. The wood paneling and graining found in the formal rooms of the house reflect quality craftsmanship and are a noteworthy accomplishment for that early date and time. The two second-story fireplace surrounds also convey a quality of craftsmanship. The smooth finishing of the interior wood indicates great care in construction as well…

National Register of Historic Places

3 Comments

Filed under --MADISON COUNTY GA--, Danielsville GA

Rockwell Resurgent

I previously featured this house when it was a derelict concern for many historians and preservationists. Though I’m a bit late to the game, I wanted to share a photo of its present state, which gives an idea of the thought and work the new owners have put into its preservation. Some of their work is detailed here.

National Register of Historic Places

1 Comment

Filed under --BALDWIN COUNTY GA--, Hardwick GA, Milledgeville GA

Lockett-Hamilton House, 1830, Clinton

This house was built by James Lockett. After the Civil War, it was home to James H. Blount, a lawyer who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1872-1892.

Old Clinton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Leave a comment

Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--, Clinton GA

Parrish-Billue House, 1810, Clinton

This home was built for one of Jones County’s earliest settlers, Captain John Parrish, who also served as an early county commissioner. During the the March to the Sea, the residence was briefly occupied by Union General Kirkpatrick as a temporary headquarters. The smaller structure attached to the right side of the house was built in 1821 and in 1830 served as the law office of Alfred Iverson, Sr., and Samuel Lowther. Iverson went on to serve in the Georgia legislature, the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. His son, Alfred Iverson, Jr., served as a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army.

Old Clinton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Leave a comment

Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--, Clinton GA

Barron-Blair House, 1820, Clinton

This magnificent house was completed circa 1820 and various histories suggest construction began as early as 1810. It features first- and second-floor colonnades not only on the front of the house but on the rear ell, as well.

It was built for an early Jones County commissioner, Captain John Mitchell, and expanded in the 1820s by attorney James Smith. Smith was a charter trustee of the Clinton Academy. Dr. Horatio Bowen, a prominent physician, planter, and one of the largest wine producers in the state, purchased the home in 1845. Judge Barron was a later owner.

Old Clinton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

1 Comment

Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--, Clinton GA

Switzer-Ingram-Hudson House, 1830s, Hamilton

This marvelous structure originated as a Federal I-House and was likely begun much earlier than the given date of circa 1830. Some have suggested that it was the second house ever built in Hamilton, but that needs further substantiation. Its earliest known owner was Williamson Switzer, Judge of the Inferior Court of Harris County from 1833-37. Switzer was among the most prominent citizens of Harris County in his day and was instrumental in the establishment of the poor asylum in the county in 1835. Later owners were Porter Ingram and William Irby Hudson, a Georgia state legislator and senator.

Leave a comment

Filed under --HARRIS COUNTY GA--, Hamilton GA

Governor George W. Towns House, 1828, Talbotton

According to the 1973 nomination form which added this property to the National Register of Historic Places: Construction of the house began in 1828. It is an amalgamation of two two-story…houses to which was added a mid-19th century portico and several 2oth century rooms…[the house] is an example of what happened to vernacular architecture in Georgia as a family and its needs and stylistic wants grew and changed…

The house is also known as the Towns-Persons-Page House. After Towns left the governorship and moved to Macon [circa 1852], the house was sold to the Persons family, who occupied it until 1968, when it was purchased by the Gary Page family.

George Washington Bonaparte Towns (1801-1854) was born in Wilkes County, though his family soon moved to Greene County, and then on to Morgan County. He moved to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1821, and operated a pub while studying law. He was admitted to the bar in 1824. He also briefly owned a newspaper, the Alabama Journal. His first marriage, to Margaret Jane Campbell in 1826, ended tragically. His bride, who had been in poor health, died just a few days after the ceremony. [He married Margaret Winston Jones of Virginia in 1838].

Towns moved to Talbotton in 1828 and served as one of its first commissioners. He was also one of the first attorneys in the new town, owning a very successful practice. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1829 and 1830. He served in the state senate from 1832-1834. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1835 but resigned in 1836 over concerns that the legislature might be forced to pick a Whig as President in the upcoming election. Instead, a Whig won Towns’s seat, but he successfully won re-election to the seat in 1837 and served until 1839. He continued to practice law and served one more term in Congress, in 1846, but lost re-election to John W. Jones, a Whig.

In 1847, Towns was elected governor of Georgia in a highly contested race against the Whig candidate, Duncan L. Clinch. He served until 1851 and died in Macon in 1854.

National Register of Historic Places

Leave a comment

Filed under --TALBOT COUNTY GA--, Talbotton GA

Old Castle, Circa 1820, Washington

I’m unsure who built this house, but it was purchased in 1851 by Isaiah Tucker Irvin, a member of the State House of Representatives. He died in 1860 off the coast of Galveston, Texas, when a ship he was traveling on exploded. The Wilkes Guard, which he commanded, changed its name to the Irvin Guards in his memory. The home was purchased by Oliver S. Dyson, founder of Wilkes Telephone Company, in 1934, and has been associated with the family for many years.

East Robert Toombs Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Leave a comment

Filed under --WILKES COUNTY GA--, Washington GA

Washington-McCook House, Circa 1851, Macon

Built for James H. R. Washington, an early Macon mayor, this house was relocated from its original College Street location on the property of the Washington Memorial Library in the 1970s. It stands today as a good reminder of the power of community involvement in the preservation of historic architecture.

Macon Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Leave a comment

Filed under --BIBB COUNTY GA--, Macon GA