Tag Archives: North Georgia Agriculture
West End, one of the finest Italianate houses in Georgia, was built by Colonel James Hall Nichols (1834-1897) upon his arrival in the Nacoochee Valley from Milledgeville in 1870. Nichols, who married Kate Latimer of Summerville, South Carolina, in 1856, served in the Confederate Army and was elected captain of the Governor’s Horse Guard in 1862, eventually attaining the rank of colonel. When he returned to Middle Georgia after the war, weak and in declining health, he learned that his wife Kate S. Latimer Nichols had been raped by two Union soldiers. This would affect her mental state for the rest of her life. While convalescing at the White Sulphur Springs Resort near Gainesville, Colonel Nichols became enamored of the Nacoochee Valley and began purchasing large tracts of land in the area. He named the property and house West End, for its location in the valley. Nichols was primarily a gentleman farmer by this time and owned several businesses, including Nora Mill. The mentally incapacitated Kate was lived out her days in an upstairs room, unwilling to face the outside world. Anna Ruby, the only child of the Nichols to live to adulthood and namesake of the nearby Anna Ruby Falls, told friends her mother was dead, as to deny her existence and her mental illness. Colonel Nichols had her committed to the State Lunatic Asylum in the early 1890s and she remained there until her death.
Original section of the Unicoi Turnpike, located near the main house
The property was sold to Atlanta entrepreneur Calvin Welborn Hunnicutt (1827-1915) in 1893. Hunnicutt, also a Confederate veteran (organized the Fulton Dragoons) and Fulton County commissioner, was a very successful businessman in postwar Atlanta, owning a plumbing business and stove works. The family never lived in West End but kept it as a retreat and vacation home. The Atlanta Constitution called him Atlanta’s oldest pioneer citizen upon his death. He had been in the city since 1847, when it was still a small village known as Marthasville.
The final owner of the West End property was Dr. Lamartine Griffin Hardman (1856-1937) who purchased it in 1903 and renamed it Elizabeth on the Chattahoochee, in honor of his mother. Hardman was the the son of a physician and a longtime physician himself who was also involved in numerous successful businesses. He joined his father’s practice in 1890 after study in New York, Pennsylvania, and London. He came to the Nacoochee Valley from Harmony Grove (present-day Commerce) and within a few years married the much younger Emma Griffin of Valdosta, whom he had courted for many years. He served in the Georgia House for eight years and sponsored a bill that created the State Board of Health. He also served for a year in the Georgia Senate and then made two unsuccessful runs for governor. He was finally elected to the state’s highest office in 1927 and served two terms.
Servants’ quarters and smokehouse
Dairy Barn, built 1910 as the centerpiece of Dr. Hardman’s Nacoochee Dairy
Corn Crib No. 1, built in the 1870s
Corn Crib No. 2
Gear House, where riding gear was kept for convenience. A covered 8-foot-deep cistern was discovered during renovation, and was probably originally used to collect water for the farm’s horses.
Caretaker’s House (Minish Family Home)
Nacoochee Valley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Akins Feed & Seed was established by L. A. Akins in nearby Barnesville in 1940. Three of his sons joined the business in 1946, opening additional branches, including Griffin and Forsyth. The Griffin branch has moved to a newer facility and they’re still serving farmers and gardeners throughout Spalding County.
Griffin Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Rufus Adams and Everett Briscoe purchased an established Jackson seed business in 1946 and established the Adams-Briscoe Seed Company, which maintains a thriving business to this day. Notably, they helped innovate the use of Dixie Crimson clover (forage, cover, and erosion control) in the 1950s.
If you’ve traveled US Highway 27 anywhere near Carrollton, you’ve likely noticed this barn, one of the most-photographed barns in Georgia. It advertises W. E. Johnson’s sweet potato curing and storage business. The Coca-Cola advertising has been tastefully restored.
Dick Kelly wrote, via our Vanishing Georgia Facebook group: I was born in 1942 and lived my early childhood a few miles south at the Centralhatchee community at my grandfather Burson’s home. Grandad and W. E. (Tater) Johnson were good friends and traded various and sundry items as did most country folk during that era. I remember, as a toddler, going with granddad in the horse and wagon to visit Tater to do their trading…Tater Johnson built the structure in 1940. The building incorporated a slated floor and sub-floor heating ducts, to regulate airflow, temperature, and humidity to cure sweet potatoes faster so that they would last through the cold winter. The storage house, with its brightly painted Coca-Cola advertisements, is still one of the most photographed landmarks in West Georgia…A local man, along with Coke officials, arranged for the creation of a collectible bottle honoring the Sweet Potato House. The bottles were sold for $15 each, and all 960 of them were sold out within 35 minutes. Sales of the bottle helped pay for the restoration of this landmark…Johnson’s Sweet Potato Curing Shed also has another claim to fame in this part of the state. The site at one time was a drop-off for area students attending Berry College in Rome, and this resulted in U.S. 27 being named Martha Berry Highway…