Rose Hill is a lost community in Oconee County.
This historic small farmstead would have likely been typical of such properties in the area in the early 20th century.
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
In 1819, the Cherokee began meeting at Newtown, Georgia, where the Coosawattee and Conasauga Rivers meet to form the Oostanaula. They changed the name to New Echota in honor of Chota, Tennessee, and established it as the national capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1825. It was the only national capital ever located within the boundaries of present-day Georgia. The capital was moved to Red Clay, Tennessee, in 1832 after Georgia began passing laws to abolish the Cherokee government, against previously established treaties. In 1835, Major Ridge, John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot signed the Treaty of New Echota without the support of Principal Chief John Ross, surrendering Cherokee lands for a territory in the west. The Cherokee government protested this decision until 1838, when President Martin Van Buren ordered the army into the Cherokee lands. Thus began the infamous Trail of Tears. Once they were in the Indian Territory, the Ridges and Elias Boudinot were killed by a group of men who had been opposed to removal. Beginning in the 1950s, the state of Georgia began reconstructing the capital as the New Echota State Historic Site. It is also a National Historic Landmark.
Cherokee Nation Council House
The Council House was the center of power in New Echota, essentially the capitol building of the Cherokee Nation. A bicameral legislature was adopted. The National Council (Lower House) met on the first floor of the Council House, with four representatives from the eight districts of the Cherokee Nation. These representatives elected the National Committee (Upper House), which met on the second floor. The National Committee elected the Principal Chief, Vice-Principal Chief, and Treasurer. While the Cherokee were in Georgia John Ross served as Principal Chief.
Cherokee Nation Supreme Courthouse
Beginning in 1823, the three judges of the Cherokee Supreme Court met annually in October to hear cases that had been appealed in the lower courts.
In 1960, this structure, based on a description by Dr. Benjamin Gold, was built to replicate the original court house built in 1829. It also served as the community schoolhouse when court wasn’t in session.
Cherokee Phoenix Print Shop
Sequoyah developed the Cherokee syllabary between 1809-1824. With the help of Samuel Worcester and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Elias Boudinot obtained a printing press and created a typeface in Sequoyah’s syllabary. On 21 February 1828, the first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix [ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ] was published at New Echota, with Boudinot as its first editor. It was the first newspaper published in the United States in a Native American language. The Cherokee Phoenix has been revived and is now published electronically.
Georgia realized the power of the newspaper among the Cherokee. As a result, they made new laws against whites working with the Cherokee. The Georgia Guard later attacked the office and destroyed the press.
Samuel Worcester House, 1827
The only structure original to the property at New Echota is the home of Samuel Worcester (19 January 1798-20 April 1859), the missionary who came to the capital with his wife Ann in 1827. The Worcesters established a mission and school and Samuel also served as postmaster and worked with Elias Boudinot on the Cherokee Phoenix. He was a tireless advocated for the Cherokee. His arrest by the state of Georgia in 1831 for failing to obtaining a work permit to work among the Cherokee lead to the historic Worcester v. Georgia (1832) case in the United States Supreme Court, which was decided in his favor, though President Andrew Jackson and Governor George Gilmer ignored the ruling. He was pardoned by Governor Wilson Lumpkin but by 1836 was living in the Indian Territory. Worcester later translated the Bible into Cherokee.
Relocated from present-day Forsyth County to New Echota in 1955, this was built on Chief James Vann’s Chattahoochee Plantation in 1805. Its original location is now under the waters of Lake Lanier. Vann (1765-1809), the son of a Scottish father and Cherokee mother, was granted the right to operate a ferry on the Chattahoochee as part of the Treaty of Tellico and his tavern was the first stop for travelers heading west of the river. It was but one of many of his enterprises; he was among the wealthiest men of the Cherokee Nation who had great influence on the culture in his short lifetime. He was a leader of his people, as well, forming a triumvirate with Major Hicks and Charles R. Hicks.
Cherokee Middle Class Farmstead
Unlike Western tribes, who lived in tipis, the Cherokee originally lived in log roundhouses. Later, as they began to assimilate to the colonists who were encroaching upon their homeland, they employed the common vernacular styles of the era. This re-creation of a middle class Cherokee farmstead looks much like that of the early settlers of North Georgia.
This authentic rough-hewn farmhouse was relocated from elsewhere in Gordon County.
Corn was of great importance to the Cherokee; corn cribs were found on nearly every farm.
Barns and smokehouses were also typical of the common rural architecture of Georgia at the time.
Flower gardens were also a common feature of middle class farms, for their beauty and the abundance of pollinators they supported.
Cherokee Subsistence Farmstead
In the countryside beyond New Echota, large numbers of subsistence farms made up the bulk of the Cherokee Nation. The houses were usually utilitarian and quite small.
A corn crib was nearly always present, but smaller than the one seen on the middle-class farmstead.
This is a recreation of a stable common on subsistence farms.
National Historic Landmark
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…