Category Archives: –EARLY COUNTY GA–

Saffold, Georgia

Saffold is located just across the Chattahoochee River from Alabama. It was the site of the Southern Confederate States Navy Yard during the Civil War and at least one gunboat, aptly named Chattahoochee, was completed here.

White Oak Pastures, Early County

Since 1866, five generations of the Harris family have cultivated the land they call White Oak Pastures. Today, it’s the most diversified farm in the South and the gold standard of sustainable agriculture in Georgia. Their grassfed beef and lamb and pastured poultry are sold throughout the Eastern United States. Driving around the Bluffton area, it’s obvious that White Oak Pastures is having a major economic impact on the area.

A little background from the White Oak Pastures’ website:

Will Harris is a fourth generation cattleman, who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, Will left home to attend the University of Georgia’s School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. Will graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.

These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990’s Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for their cattle, and, as Will says, “nature abhors a monoculture.” In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.

Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability…His favorite place in the world to be is out in pastures, where he likes to have a big coffee at sunrise and a 750ml glass of wine at sunset.

I knew it was a good sign when I saw Purple Martins (Progne subis) scouting nesting locations at one of the “apartments” near the entrance.

The organic quesadilla I had in the restaurant was literally one of the best I’ve ever eaten. We got there a bit after the normal lunch hour, so we missed the pork chops and sweet potatoes that were on the menu for the day, but this was a great substitute.

I’m glad this is one place and way of life that is not vanishing. Drive a little out of your way and have a meal, stop by the general store in Bluffton, or, if you need to escape the daily grind, spend a night in one of their on-farm accommodations.

Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, 1887, Early County

Though sided with asbestos today, the exterior of this church would have originally looked just like the interior, as seen below. The congregation dates to 28 September 1887, though I’m not sure when the church was built.

historic bethel primitive baptist church early county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

It’s set on fieldstone pillars.

historic bethel primitive baptist church fieldstone pillar photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Barber Shop, Cedar Springs

cedar springs ga shotgun tenant house photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

This is quite small, even for a shotgun house, so I initially thought it might be an old office building, but there’s another one on the property (which I was unable to photograph due to vegetation) which led me to believe it might be a tenant house. Pete Tyson clarifies: That was the first aid/hospital of Cedar Springs that Mrs. S. A. Wright told me about. It was moved there in the 1960’s from the little dirt road behind Johnny Golden’s store. It was a barber shop (drinking spot) that was run by Bill Adams and he later moved his shop to Columbia, Alabama, to the old Orr’s Gun Shop on Highway 52. The other was a beauty shop run by May Megahee.

William C. Evans notes: The building was moved twice. Originally it was a dispensary and band room at the Cedar Springs Academy. The first time it was moved, it was used as a post office. It was later moved again to its current location and was used as a barbershop. Dr. Crozier’s house was the medical facility of Cedar Springs.

Though it’s obviously best remembered as a barber shop, I’m identifying it by its original purpose.

Warehouse, Cedar Springs

cedar springs ga warehouse photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Update: This structure was seriously damaged by Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

Cedar Springs Pentecostal Church

cedar springs pentecostal church early county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Janet Megahee Hudson writes: This was once the First United Methodist Church of Cedar Springs. My grandparents attended: George Earle and Edna Clare Sheffield Megahee.

Golden’s Grocery, 1941, Cedar Springs

Pete Tyson writes that this was Claude Golden’s grocery store. He also sold gasoline as there’s a nearly-gone Shell sign in front of the building. Bill Evans writes that it was built by Bill Evans, a large landowner and timber man.

Jane Donalson Harrell House, Circa 1855, Early County

early county ga jane donalson harrell house photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

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.

early county ga jane donalson harrell house echodell photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

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

Storage Barn & Pump House, Jakin

jakin ga barns photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

I’m only guessing as to the identity of these structures.