Archer-Chamlee House, Circa 1905, Hancock County

Our good friend Anne Chamlee writes: This house was built circa 1905 by my late husband’s (Tilmon Chamlee) grandfather, James Harvey and Bessie Harper Archer — their first house burned. Miss Bessie said if she had had one more quart of milk she could have put out the fire.
James Harvey (Gramps) and Miss Bessie had one child, Lillie Archer b 1905. She was an outstanding student, played the piano beautifully, was Student Body President at Bessie Tift College in Forsyth, GA, at which her great uncle, Dr. Aquilla Chamlee, was President. Lillie married Rev. George Tilmon Chamlee (graduate of Mercer Univ in Macon) in 1929 — had four children, George, Tilmon, Bess, Lillie. When Rev. Chamlee became ill and could not longer serve a pastorate, Lillie and children moved home with her parents and she raised the four children there. 

Should add a note about [Lillie] — After her husband was moved to the VA Hospital in Augusta, she had those four children to take care of and did a few things to earn some money and then pulled on her degree from Bessie Tift College to teach — Spanish and then math — she ended up teaching math throughout her career and even served a term as Superintendent of Hancock County Schools. She was named Star Teacher more than once. She played the piano for Balerma Baptist Church. Of course, she looked after her parents, too.

Before Lillie started teaching, in the 1940’s she got a job as a Census Taker. One family she had to call on lived ‘way-out-in-the-country and she managed the dirt roads to get there and after asking the normal questions of the household provider, she asked him “Mr. Johnson, what do you do for a living?” He shrugged and hesitated. She assured him it was all right to tell her so she could report it on the government paper. He looked her straight in the eye and said, “Mrs. Chamlee, I make liquor stills.” Well, Lillie was taken aback a bit by that and she pondered what to write on the form so after some thought, wrote “coppersmith” . . .

I love that story!

Mama Lillie was one of the finest women I have ever known. I adored her. She and my parents had a mutual admiration society going on — to know her was to love her — it would take me 30 minutes to try to come up with all the appropriate words to attribute to her…

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