Tag Archives: Slavery in Georgia

Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, Jackson County

This property was originally settled by Joseph Shields and sons James and Patrick in 1802. With two slaves, they cleared and cultivated the land. The farm began producing “upland” cotton in 1810. When Joseph died in 1818, he willed the land to his son, James and by 1860, 20 enslaved people worked the land. James died in 1863 and in 1865 his widow, Charity, signed a contract with three of her former slaves, providing them housing and food in exchange for their work on the farm. When James and Charity’s son, Joseph Robert Shields, returned home from the Civil War in 1866, he built the main house and soon applied the sharecropping system to the entire farm, managing many of his former slaves alongside poor white farmers.

By 1890, the farm had grown to 1000 acres. In 1897, Joseph Robert’s daughter Susan Ella returned to the farm with her husband Ira Washington Eldridge. Joseph Robert Shields died in 1910 and Susan Ella and Ira inherited the house and surrounding property. To hedge his bets against increasingly unstable cotton prices, Ira Eldridge built a self-sustaining sharecropper’s “village” near the main house. In 1914, “Mr. Ira” transformed the main house from its historical Plantation Plain appearance to it present Neoclassical appearance by adding columns and raising the porch. The structures seen today were built between 1900-1930. Most of the sharecropper housing is gone today, but a few scattered examples survive.

Date Plate from Restoration of Main House [1914]

When Ira died in 1945, his son Lanis understood that the farm would soon be changed by mechanization. He diversified and in the early 1950s began breeding cattle and slowly expanding pastureland on his acreage. At his death in 1970, the sharecropper’s village was long abandoned. His widow, Joyce Ethridge, began documenting the history of the farm and in 1994 she and daughters Susan E. Chaisson and Ann E. Lacey gave 150 acres of the farm to the Shields-Etheridge Farm Foundation to preserve the site as an agricultural museum. Joyce’s research also led to the listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm is the most intact collection of historic farm structures in their original location in Georgia, and is an amazing place to visit.

Log Cabin
Commissary [1900]
Blacksmith’s Shop & Carpenter’s Shop [1900]
Tractor Barn
Warehouse
Cotton Gin [1910]
Gin Office [1930]
Gin Office Interior
Gristmill
Seed House
Teacher’s House
Well House [Reconstruction]
Water Tower [1913]
Corn Crib
Shields-Ethridge Family Cemetery
Milking Barn
Mule Barn [1913]

Garage
Wheat Barn [1910]
Tenant House

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --JACKSON COUNTY 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

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

Zachry-Kingston House, Circa 1830, Morgan County

This early Plantation Plain with Federal details was restored circa 1985. Windows, weatherboarding, chimneys, and the front portico were all replaced with historic materials. Two outbuildings were also added to the property at the time of the restoration.

The well-maintained home is located near the Oconee River near the community of Buckhead.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MORGAN COUNTY GA--

St. Paul CME Church, 1890s, Hancock County

According to Harrell Lawson, St. Paul CME traces its origins to a group of enslaved men and women from David Dickson’s nearby plantation who began holding informal services in a brush arbor in 1857. In 1870, the members purchased land on which today’s church stands in order to have a permanent meeting place but due to confusion over two different deeds (1870, 1877), Lawson doesn’t note exactly when the first church was built. Since the CME church was not founded as a national entity until 1870, it is thought that that association came later. Resource surveys date the present structure to 1890, though I have been unable to confirm the date.

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Filed under --HANCOCK COUNTY 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

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

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

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

Clower-Gaultney House, 1816-1819, Clinton

This imposing house was built by early Clinton merchant Peter Clower. It originally featured round columns but they, along with many interior features, were removed by a later owner to another house.

Old Clinton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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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

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Filed under --JONES COUNTY GA--, Clinton 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