Corbett Farm, Circa 1878, Echols County

Bryant W. Corbett House

Bryant W. Corbett (1857-1917) built this hall-and-parlor farmhouse circa 1878-1879 and it served as the anchor for his growing family, which with his wife Rebecca Ann Carter Corbett (1855-1940) eventually included three children. In its early days the farm was focused primarily on corn, with a planting of peanuts done prior and left as feed for the hogs that did the work of rooting the fields. The description of Mr. Corbett’s farm in its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places could describe many such farms in Georgia in the late 19th century, as farmers of that time were really renaissance men when it came to the ways of the land. Their work was done with mules, incorporated available natural amendments to the soil, and was sustainable. These men did it because they had to, and the land often rewarded them for it. Mr. Corbett sold some of his corn for income, had some of it milled, and used the remainder as feed for his livestock. The livestock was used for milk and food. There were also mulberries and plums on the property which not only gave the family fruit for jams and jellies but attracted the bees which pollinated the farm. Pecans, walnuts, and grapes were also present on the farm.

Well house, restoration

Several historic outbuildings survive on the property, including this reconstructed well house. The wash shelter which stood behind it appears to have been lost in recent years.

Car house (circa 1930), restored

As farms evolved over the years, owners usually built a utilitarian shed/barn specifically for the purpose of protecting their automobiles. We had a couple of car barns on our farm and I remember them well. They varied in style from simple shelters to sided barns with shelves and pigeonholes for storing tools. Other buildings noted in the National Register form included a chicken house and tobacco barn, which appear to have been lost over time.

Cotton & corn house. This is the “corn crib”, used to dry cotton and corn.

It is not a stretch to say that Georgia was built on farms like this, often with the labor of immediate and extended family and hired men, and sometimes with sharecroppers. The hardships that these tenacious small farmers faced, along with their self-sufficiency and economy, often allowed them to save money and acquire more land and influence. Many families abandoned farming altogether between the arrival of the boll weevil (circa 1920) and the advent of the Great Depression (circa 1930) but those who prospered stayed and became leaders in their churches and communities. The Corbett family has done just that and has been the only family associated with this property since its purchase. Numerous family members have been good stewards of this property for nearly a century and a half. In understanding its importance and preserving it for future generations, they really are helping to tell the real story of Georgia, especially as it relates to agriculture and the rural experience.

National Register of Historic Places

1 thought on “Corbett Farm, Circa 1878, Echols County

  1. Rafe Semmes

    Very interesting, thanks for the history as well as the pictures. I wonder if these folks are related to the Corbitts of Corbitt’s Hardware and furniture in Willacoochee, not far from here?  They were a fairly good-sized account of my family’s former wholesale business for many years. Rafe SemmesSavannah/Midway GA

    Reply

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