Gabled-Ell Farmhouse, Laurens County

This house once featured a porch, as best I could tell. It is situated behind three massive oaks.

Cedar Grove Opry Sign, Laurens County

This big red plastic boot served as the sign for the Cedar Grove Opry, a community gathering place located in the old Cedar Grove School. I’m not sure if the opry is still a thing, but the sign is already a landmark.

Cedar Grove School, 1926, Laurens County

This historic schoolhouse, built in 1926 and expanded in the late 1930s, was the center of the Cedar Grove community, and after a complete restoration in 2019 still serves the area today [most recently as the Cedar Grove Opry]. The school closed in 1970.

If you’re of a certain age [like me], you remember these old merry-go-rounds from your school playground. This one still works.

This was likely the teacherage [teacher’s housing].

Lowery Cemetery, Laurens County

I’m always looking for places associated with my Browning ancestors, and while I’m not the best genealogist, much of my family history has already been traced by others. I came across this historic cemetery by accident, but was amazed to find many of the Browning family represented here. While there are many formal headstones in the cemetery, these sandstone/limestone headstones are rare and wonderful examples of vernacular funerary art. Their biggest enemy is time and weather, as the names are beginning to vanish.

Silas Browning (19 January 1819-19 December 1888)

Silas was the son of George Browning and was married to Sara Wolfe. They had six daughters and one son.

Teresa Jane Lowery Gay (25 October 1820-15 April 1885)

The headstone is unique in shape in comparison with the other examples in the cemetery.

Sallie Reddin (July 1880-?)

There are spelling errors on some of the headstones, as is common with vernacular examples, and Sallie Reddin could have been Sallie Redding. That’s just a guess. Her death date is not present, but since these stones all date to the 1880s, it’s safe to presume Sallie died as a young child.

Unknown Browning

I can read the word “Browning” on this stone, but all the other details have nearly vanished.

Caroline Vaughn Browning (13 April 1823-9 April 1887)

This stone features a primitive illustration, unique in the cemetery.

Unknown Browning, possibly Sissy (2? September 18??-?? September 188?)

This stone may be readable to some. I believe I can see the word “Sissy”, but the birth and death dates are very difficult to ascertain.

Mathew Cadwell (14 December 1858-3 August 1886)

I’ve included this stone for its curiosity. It isn’t related to the vernacular stones but tells a sad story. It states that young Mr. Cadwell was “Killed By Lighting with His Horse Under Him”.

Commissary, Laurens County

This commissary near the Lowery community was likely related to the turpentine industry and according to a Laurens County Historic Resources survey dates to circa 1910-1920.

Neighborhood Store, Dublin

This appears to have been a neighborhood grocery, probably built between the 1920s-1940s. The cylindrical brick posts are a nice uncommon detail.

George Linder House, Dublin

George Linder, while enslaved on the Cooper Plantation in 1859, established Strawberry Chapel, the oldest African-American congregation in Laurens County. A preacher and farmer, he was one of the Original 33 black legislators elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1868 and subsequently expelled from the body. Though they were reinstated in 1870, the rise of the Klan and white supremacy helped ensure the end of black politicians in Georgia until the 1960s. Nearly a quarter of the Original 33 were lynched, beaten, maimed, or jailed.

Reverend Linder owned this house in town in his later years. He is largely forgotten today but an effort to publicize the Original 33 will hopefully bring him and his fellow legislators to their rightful place in Georgia history.

Thanks to Cynthia Jennings, who is volunteering with the the Original 33 project, for bringing him to my attention and sharing this location.

Landmark Lodge No. 64, Dublin

This is a Prince Hall lodge. Other affiliations include: Tri-County Chapter No. 8 of the Royal Arch Masons, and Fidelity Chapter No. 45 of the Order of the Eastern Star.

Oconee High School, 1952, Dublin

Oconee High School Gymnasium, Circa 1952

Oconee High School was the black high school in Dublin from 1952 until its closure in 1972. Like most equalization schools, it had a relatively short history, but an active national alumni association keeps its memory alive. The gymnasium, football field, and one other building [which I haven’t identified] survive, but the school itself is long gone.

Oconee High School, Unidentified Building

A marker placed by the alumni association gives a brief overview of the school’s history: In 1952, land was purchased from W. H. Lovett to build a new high school for African “colored” American students replacing Washington Street High. The school was named by Marine C. Bacote after the Oconee River nearby. It was the home of the “Mighty Trojans”, the “Blue and Gold” our sons shall ever defend. Lucius T. Bacote served as the first principal (1952-1959); he was succeeded by Charles W. Manning, Sr. (1959-1970). The school’s spirit of excellence, pride, and philosophy were the foundation for the success of African-American students during segregation.

The gymnasium and football field are still used as community resources today, as the Oconee Community Center, administrated by the Dublin-Laurens County Recreation Authority.

Dudley Motel, 1958, Dublin

This community landmark, while in sound condition, has been closed and vacant since the 1980s and was recently named, along with Dudley’s Retreat and Amoco Station No. 2, a 2023 Place in Peril by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. It’s an important resource and part of a larger story of an amazing family of entrepreneurs who provided travel options for the African-American community during the Jim Crow Era.

Mr. Herbert “Hub” Horatio Dudley (1892-1965) was the most successful black man in Dublin during his lifetime and had numerous businesses in the neighborhood. As anyone who’s seen the movie Green Book would understand, travel from town to town was dangerous during the Jim Crow Era and African-Americans relied on publications to direct them to safe places.

Mr. Dudley’s entrepreneurial spirit, along with a genuine concern for his community, led him to establish this property, which opened in 1958.

The rear of the Amoco Station [at left in this photo] was adjacent to the motel, which featured 12 rooms in several units with all the modern amenities. The Retreat cafe was also on the same property, which allowed patrons to move about more freely at a time when just being on the street after dark could be ominous. The architecture is a type of vernacular commercial construction which is quite rare in Georgia. I’ve seen similar properties in older beach communities in Florida.

As the epicenter of black culture and business in Dublin, Dudley’s Motel hosted many luminaries of the day, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, Ralph David Abernathy, Maynard Jackson, and other prominent entertainers.

I hope the property survives and perhaps becomes a museum or community resource center.

REFERENCE: I’ve already linked these sources in my other posts about the Dudley family, but I’ll share a list here. They will provide more detailed information: Laurens County African-American History; Herbert Dudley; Dudley Funeral Home; and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.