Jane Donalson Harrell House, Circa 1855, Early County

There are many significant aspects to this house, not least of which is its original ownership by a woman, independent of her husband’s assets. It’s a wonderful example of a Plantation Plain converted to the vernacular Greek Revival. In consideration of resources available to me, there is some confusion as to the date of construction. While a sign on the property dates the house to 1840 and names it Echodell, the National Register nomination form [which was written over 30 years ago; new information has come from subsequent research], the property wasn’t even purchased until 1842, by Jane Donalson Harrell’s brother, Ruben Donalson. The majority of the property was later secured by his brother but four acres on the southwest section were set aside for his sister, Jane, in 1855. She and her husband, Dempsey Harrell, operated a cotton plantation here. Jane’s marriage contract stipulated that she would retain ownership of this property, a relatively uncommon arrangement in antebellum Georgia.

Around 1870 the house was inherited by a daughter’s husband, Dr. Augustus D. Shewmake. Dr. Shewmake kept a medical office and infirmary in a wing he added to the house (since removed). Also significant, he hired a governess to teach both black and white children on the plantation. This was relatively uncommon in the years following the Civil War. I hope to clarify the history as this is one of the nicest antebellum homes in this section of Georgia.

Update: Through communication with the owners I’ve learned that the house was badly damaged by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. They are presently working through red tape to properly restore it.

National Register of Historic Places


4 thoughts on “Jane Donalson Harrell House, Circa 1855, Early County

    1. jpetearch@bellsouth.net

      On highway 84 you cross the bridge over the chattahoochee river going several miles East the first road to right was called Old River Road. A couple of miles down that road you’ll find the house. I spent a lot of time there when growing up, because it was my grandparent’s home. My Great grandfather was Dr. Shewmake. In fact my middle name is Shewmake. After my grandparents died my father sold the house and property to Joseph Harvey who owned the adjacent property to the south.


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