Category Archives: –JACKSON COUNTY GA–

Dry Pond United Methodist Church, 1904, Jackson County

Dry Pond Methodist traces its origins to the early 1820s and the property where the church now stands was given to the early Methodist Episcopal congregants by Joseph McCutchins in 1827. Typical of many congregations Dry Pond built their first church of logs while maintaining a large campground at the site. A more substantial structure was built circa 1870 and served until the construction of the present church was completed in 1904.

Bachelors’ Academy, 1909, Jackson County

This schoolhouse is part of the Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm and is just down the road from the main house and sharecropper’s village. Alex and Emory Shields, grandsons of James Shields, donated two acres for the construction of the school and it was named the Bachelors’ Academy in their honor. Ira had been a teacher himself in his younger days and believed strongly in education. In 1938, when Jackson County consolidated its rural schools, the Bachelors’ Academy became a school for African-American children, and Ira provided the teacher housing in the sharecroppers’ village. The school was in used until 1950 and was restored in 1996.

Shields-Etheridge Farm, National Register of Historic Places

Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm, Jackson County

This property was originally settled by Joseph Shields and sons James and Patrick in 1802. With two slaves, they cleared and cultivated the land. The farm began producing “upland” cotton in 1810. When Joseph died in 1818, he willed the land to his son, James and by 1860, 20 enslaved people worked the land. James died in 1863 and in 1865 his widow, Charity, signed a contract with three of her former slaves, providing them housing and food in exchange for their work on the farm. When James and Charity’s son, Joseph Robert Shields, returned home from the Civil War in 1866, he built the main house and soon applied the sharecropping system to the entire farm, managing many of his former slaves alongside poor white farmers.

By 1890, the farm had grown to 1000 acres. In 1897, Joseph Robert’s daughter Susan Ella returned to the farm with her husband Ira Washington Eldridge. Joseph Robert Shields died in 1910 and Susan Ella and Ira inherited the house and surrounding property. To hedge his bets against increasingly unstable cotton prices, Ira Eldridge built a self-sustaining sharecropper’s “village” near the main house. In 1914, “Mr. Ira” transformed the main house from its historical Plantation Plain appearance to it present Neoclassical appearance by adding columns and raising the porch. The structures seen today were built between 1900-1930. Most of the sharecropper housing is gone today, but a few scattered examples survive.

Date Plate from Restoration of Main House [1914]

When Ira died in 1945, his son Lanis understood that the farm would soon be changed by mechanization. He diversified and in the early 1950s began breeding cattle and slowly expanding pastureland on his acreage. At his death in 1970, the sharecropper’s village was long abandoned. His widow, Joyce Ethridge, began documenting the history of the farm and in 1994 she and daughters Susan E. Chaisson and Ann E. Lacey gave 150 acres of the farm to the Shields-Etheridge Farm Foundation to preserve the site as an agricultural museum. Joyce’s research also led to the listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Shields-Etheridge Heritage Farm is the most intact collection of historic farm structures in their original location in Georgia, and is an amazing place to visit.

Log Cabin
Commissary [1900]
Blacksmith’s Shop & Carpenter’s Shop [1900]
Tractor Barn
Cotton Gin [1910]
Gin Office [1930]
Gin Office Interior
Seed House
Teacher’s House
Well House [Reconstruction]
Water Tower [1913]
Corn Crib
Shields-Ethridge Family Cemetery
Milking Barn
Mule Barn [1913]

Wheat Barn [1910]
Tenant House

National Register of Historic Places

A Georgia Centennial Farm

Gainesville, Jefferson, & Southern Railroad Depot, Circa 1900, Talmo

The Gainesville, Jefferson & Southern Railroad line reached Talmo circa 1883 and was integral for the shipment of the highly prized short-staple cotton being grown in the area. It was an important catalyst for the growth of the community and is well-preserved today.

Talmo Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Apple Valley Baptist Church, 1888, Jackson County

The congregation who built this typical late-19th century house of worship organized in the idyllic Apple Valley community in 1887 and raised this structure the next year. It is thought to have also been used as a schoolhouse.

Filling Station, Arcade

A 2014 article in the Jackson Herald Today notes: …The town was the first local place to sell beer in the 1940s when the rest of Jackson County and most of North Georgia was dry. It was reincorporated in 1961 with a low local beer tax, a move that made the town the beer capital of the state because of its overall low prices. For several decades, the town supplied cheap beer not just to thousands of nearby UGA students, but also bootleggers all across North Georgia.
In the early 1970s, Arcade became the first local town to sell liquor, again with very low local taxes. Changes in state law eventually gutted Arcade’s ability to sell cheap booze and more towns in North Georgia went wet, moves that undermined the town’s boozy political and economic standing. It was no longer the beer capital of the state, but its seedy reputation had been firmly established in the public’s mind.

I was unable to locate any other history of the town, but it’s barely distinguishable as a separate community today, with just a few remaining commercial structures from an earlier era. A Bulldog Package store and Bulldog Tavern seem to be the only businesses in town.

Jackson County Courthouse, 1879, Jefferson

Designed in the Italianate style, the old Jackson County Courthouse was modified to its present appearance by the addition of the portico and Neoclassical clock tower in 1908. Sitting on a high point visible over much of downtown Jefferson, it occupies a commanding position in the identity of the place. Though a modern courthouse just outside town replaced it in 2004, it now houses the Welcome Center and Historical Archives.

It should be noted that Jackson County is named for James Jackson (1757-1806), the “colossus” of 18th century Georgia politics. Born in England, he was sent to read law in Savannah in 1772. During his studies, the American Revolution intervened and Jackson distinguished himself in the unsuccessful defense of Savannah (1778), the Battle of Cowpens (1781), and the recoveries of Augusta (1781) and Savannah (1782).

He was elected to the First Congress where he was a prominent opponent of Federalism. This aligned him with the growing Jeffersonian faction. In his 1791 bid for re-election, he was defeated by his former commander Anthony Wayne in a race marked by voter fraud. After being elected to the state legislature, Jackson influenced the removal of Wayne’s campaign manager from a state judgeship.

By 1793, he was serving in the U. S. Senate but resigned in 1795 to return to the state legislature to help oversee the dissolution of the Yazoo Act, a land fraud perpetrated with the approval of Governor George Matthews. After being elected Governor in 1798, Jackson made sure anti-Yazoo language was included in the Constitution of 1799. His exposure of the Federalist involvement in the Yazoo fraud helped drive Georgia’s support for Jefferson. When his term as governor ended in 1801, he was again elected to the United States Senate, where he served until his death in 1806,

National Register of Historic Places

Crawford W. Long Museum, Jefferson

2017 marked the 175th anniversary of Dr. Crawford W. Long‘s first use of ether as a surgical anesthetic in Jefferson (30 March 1842). Long first apprenticed under Dr. Grant in Jefferson in the mid-1830s before moving to Philadelphia and New York to complete his medical training. In 1841, Dr. Long was an astute observer of one of the social trends of the day, known as “ether frolics”, in which the participants enjoyed recreational use of the substance. Noting that they felt no pain, he theorized ether could be used as a surgical anesthetic and made his first test case removing a cyst from the neck of James Venable. Three witnesses confirmed the success of the operation and the absence of pain in Venable.

The circa 1858 Pendergrass Store building was transformed into an 1840s doctor’s office and apothecary to better interpret Long’s discovery, which paved the way for modern medicine. It serves as the Crawford W. Long Museum. After making my way from the courthouse to the museum to pick up a historic walking tour brochure, I had a nice visit. And better, I purchased a “got ether?” t-shirt, one of the coolest of its kind to be found in Georgia.

Jefferson Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Historic Commercial Architecture, Jefferson

The Randolph-Porter Building (Circa 1891) is the gem of Jefferson’s commercial historic district.

There are some particularly nice examples of turn-of-the-century commercial storefronts on Washington Street, near the courthouse.

Walking down the hill and around the corner from the courthouse to the Crawford W. Long Museum, more historic storefronts can be found on College Street.

Jefferson Historic District, National Register of Historic Places