Category Archives: –GRADY COUNTY GA–

Bold Springs United Methodist Church, 1874, Grady County

Bold Springs has been called the “Mother of Methodism in Grady County”. The South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church notes: Founded in 1863 by Reverend Robert B. McCord from Walton County, Georgia, Bold Springs United Methodist Church was born in Thomas County, though it is in Grady County as of 2017. “He brought his family, a few slaves, and a love for his church,” reported his youngest son who passed the story down to a grandson. Both the son and the grandson, J. D. McCord, became ministers.

The eldest McCord quickly settled in and looked for a site to build a church. He found a good spring on J. T. Drew’s property about two miles east of the McCord’s home and the Drews deeded four acres to the church. Sometime later, the church built a parsonage on fifty acres deeded by Mr. McCord to the church and the first minister, Rev. P. C. Harris, moved in.

In the 1930s, Miss Bessie Miller urged the church to build a community house. The Woman’s Society of Christian Service raised the money to complete the building and porches.

Once boasting as many as 400 members, the congregation is considerably smaller today, but remains active.

Harrison-Gibbs House, Circa 1874, Whigham

I photographed this house in 2008. It remains but its appearance has been seriously modified. It was long owned by Cecil & Virginia Gibbs, by way of Mrs. Gibbs’s family, the Harrisons. Thanks to Randy Hortman and Nancy Ridley for confirming the identification.

Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve, Grady County

Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve is one of the true natural wonders of South Georgia (all of Georgia, really). And about ten years ago, it was almost turned into a real estate development. It’s located just off US Highway 84 near Whigham and there’s no admission charge, though donations are accepted. A new sign at the entrance indicates the bloom time as being between late January and early March, though the lilies seem to almost always bloom in the middle of February. It’s essential to follow the Preserve’s Facebook page to get updates on the bloom time, as they can be quirky and sometimes bloom en masse and at other times be quite sporadic.

Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) are primarily an Appalachian species, favoring filtered sunlight on mountain slopes. So how did they end up here? Though there are a few anomalous populations in Southwest Georgia and North Florida, the Wolf Creek population is the largest in the world and thought to have appeared sometime during the last Ice Age.

If you came here and the Trout Lilies weren’t blooming, you’d still love this place. The gentle slope of the riparian forest makes for a good walk. I came this year about a week after the mass bloom and there were still quite a few scattered around the site.

Add to that the beautiful Spotted Trillium (Trillium maculatum) interspersed throughout and you basically have a mountain walk in deepest South Georgia.

The volunteer who greeted us at the entrance was so delightful and informative and we enjoyed talking with her. Grady County should be applauded for recognizing the importance of this resource and sharing it with the public. Instead of waiting for the state to recognize it and all the time that would take, Grady County took it upon themselves to promote and protect it. Highlighting important local resources like this isn’t just a win for the environment but a win for the local economy. We had lunch at a restaurant in Cairo, so yes, there is an economic impact, however small it may be.

Shade Tobacco Barns, Grady County


If you’re from Georgia, you probably don’t associate these images with tobacco barns but these aren’t just any tobacco barns. They’re among the last remnants of a highly specialized segment of the tobacco industry. Shade tobacco.


Shade tobacco was grown for cigar wrappers in southwest Georgia, northwest Florida, and the Connecticut River Valley of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Wood-framed arbors and later, cheese cloth tents, filtered sun and kept insects away to achieve the higher grade of tobacco required for cigars.


Shade tobacco was grown in the United States from the 1840s until 1975. Most production in Grady County was finished by 1965, though, as Imperial Tobacco (previously American Sumatra) ceased operations.


Few shade tobacco barns survive in Georgia in any condition and well-preserved examples are rare. Thanks to Gaile Eubanks for help with the location.

Piedmont Primitive Baptist Church, Calvary


This historic congregation was established on 28 August 1828.

Reno Tabernacle, Grady County


Bethel United Methodist Church, Circa 1885, Reno


Organized in 1882, Bethel was given three acres on this location in 1885 by Josh Merritt and this church was built soon thereafter. A cemetery was begun before construction of the church and Jonathan Merritt was the first burial.

Bryant Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, 1964, Reno


This congregation was organized in 1905 as an African Methodist Episcopal church. The present building was constructed in 1964.

Pyramidal Roof Farmhouse, Grady County


Reno, Georgia

reno ga abandoned commercial storefronts photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

I made these images in 2010 and I suspect these structures are now gone. A user shared this history a few years ago: This building (the one on the left, and pictured in detailed shots below) was known as Connell Brothers Store, Sister Connells Store and the Brick Store. It was referred to as the Brick Store because it was the only store building in Reno that was brick. It was operated by Lula Mae (Sister) Connell, who lived in a house behind the store. The store was a general mercantile store and carried just about anything. It was located on the corner of what is known as Pine Hill Road and Reno Road. It was across the road from Reno Baptist Church and 1 block from the Reno School House. Reno Road was the main thoroughfare in Reno until the Pelham & Havana (P&H) Railroad ceased operation and Highway 111 south followed the old railroad bed through Reno. At one time it had a gas pump on the side of the building. This store had beautiful carved counters and a glass curved candy case. The rear part of the store had a second floor. We used to sneak off from school and go to the store to buy a “Full Dinner” candy bar. Of course we were caught when we got back to the schoolhouse. The store closed in the early sixties (or late fifties). The doors were locked and all inventory remained in the building. The lady who inherited the property would not let anyone go into it and it was vandalized several times. It was not kept up and eventually went into disrepair. The front doors and windows eventually fell in. The floor rotted and the roof collapsed, crushing the old counters. At one time you could still see part of the counter with scrollwork on the ends underneath the collapsed roof, but now the counters have rotted and everything crushed. It is a shame that this building was not saved, it had so much history. As I was growing up there were two more general stores in Reno, plus a garage and a barber shop. All is gone now. The wooden building to the right of the brick store has always been vacant since I was growing up. I know that Reno once had a post office and a millinery shop, but I do not know if either was housed in the building. Not shown in the photograph but would be to the right of the wooden building was the P & H railroad warehouse. The P & H quit running in 1915. The building was once used as a seed and feed warehouse, but it is now collapsed. This building was the last remaining P & H train warehouse; it even had a sidetrack in its day. It is a shame that the Grady County Historical Society did not try to save this building before it fell in.

reno ga connells store photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

Mary C. Carroll recalls: My Mom played here when she was young. The school was within two city blocks of this building.. Highway 111 has taken the main street now, but this store was part of the original town.

reno ga connell store photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010