Category Archives: –PUTNAM COUNTY GA–

Alice Walker Childhood Home, 1910s, Putnam County

This was beloved author Alice Walker’s home during much of her childhood. Her parents worked the farm and she drew inspiration from all around.

Carriage Factory, Circa 1818, Eatonton

These ruins in downtown Eatonton were recently brought to my attention by Dutch Henderson, who notes that they may soon be demolished. Dutch is quite knowledgeable about obscure historical locations in the area and has shared some fascinating places with me over the years.

Henderson notes that the owner, who is a preservationist/historian, believes the structure dates to circa 1818. He has actively sought a preservation solution for the ruins, but they are very compromised by long-term neglect and rapid urbanization and there may be very few options.

The structure was dated circa 1853 and identified as “Brick warehouse” when nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. This date may have been related to an advertisement for the business in the 23 May 1854 edition of the Eatonton Independent Press. It’s also believed that 1853 was the year the Marshall family purchased the factory, which was already an established business. David Kaminsky’s 1975 photograph for the nomination form shows that the roof was still in place at that time, and that at least two modern businesses, one known as Bailey’s Garage, were located in the building at some point.

The advertisement, shared by Mr. Henderson, identifies the business as “Marshall, McKavitt & Co., Manufacturers of Carriages, Rockaways, Bugies (sic), Two-Horse Wagons, &c.” [The National Register form misidentifies McKavitt as McKavilland, and includes an extra partner in the business, by the name of Rice].

The bricks were probably made on-site or nearby. Their dependence on the rich red clay dominant in the area is obvious.

There are but a scarce few surviving antebellum industrial structures in Georgia, so I was grateful to be able to document this one. I will update with more information as it becomes available.

Eatonton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

General Putnam Restaurant, Eatonton

Since a fire destroyed the General Putnam Motel in 2018, the restaurant is all that remains, and it probably won’t be around much longer. This was a popular location for tourists on US 441 in the pre-interstate days and beyond, but is best known as one of the set locations for the movie My Cousin Vinny. It’s just north of Eatonton, but I believe a recent expansion of the municipal boundary places it within the city limits today. It likely dates to the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Gorley House, 1850s, Putnam County

This iconic Putnam County home, built circa 1856, was recently restored. It remains in the family and the owners have done a wonderful job. Thanks to Anna O’Neal for the identification.

Saltbox House, 1810s, Putnam County

Anne Chamlee writes: This may have been the house of Richmond Terrell, built before 1820… She also notes that she was unable to get a better photograph as there were renters in the house at the time and she didn’t feel it was safe to spend more time there. Anne was particularly interested in this house as her mother was a Terrell, from a branch of the family that first came to Wilkes County in 1784 and spread out over the state afterward. I’ve assigned it a date of the 1810s, but it may be earlier. Its present status is unknown.

J. T. Jones Grocery, Putnam County

This old country store was photographed in May 1991 by Anne Chamlee. It is presumed to be gone now.

Gable Front Tenant House, Putnam County

Rockville Academy, 1889, Putnam County

Believed to be the first ‘consolidation academy’ in Georgia, Rockville was built as a one-story schoolhouse in 1889 and opened in January 1890. Consolidation academies grew out of a state directive to close numerous rural schools that had sprung up every few miles and consolidate the students into a centrally located ‘district’ school.

The academy was supported by the local Farmers Alliance and built on land donated by Henry DeJarnette, who served as chairman of the Board of Trustees tasked with locating and building the school. The first class consisted of 65 students and nine grades but grew rapidly. As a result, the structure was expanded and the second floor added in 1911. A tenth grade was added at this time. Much of the work was done by students in the academy’s progressive vocational program, said to be the first in the state.

Frank Branch, who served as Rockville’s first regular headmaster, was associated with the school for 22 years, later serving as president of Andrew College, the Georgia State College for Men in Tifton, and South Georgia College in McRae.

The economic woes of the 1920s and 1930s led to the decline of the community and school. In 1944, Rockville Academy closed. The property was restored by former students and descendants in recent years and they continue to maintain it.

Rockville Academy and St. Paul Methodist Church Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

St. Paul United Methodist Church, 1897, Rockville

St. Paul Methodist Church was originally known as Enterprise. They worshiped a few miles away in a church built in 1871 by William and Kinchon Little and assumed the name of St. Paul in 1879. In 1897, they merged with another church in the area, New Hope, and built this structure adjacent to Rockville Academy. The land was donated by Professor F. G. Branch, principal of the academy, and the land was chosen because it was halfway between the old St. Paul Church and New Hope Church.

Rockville Academy and St. Paul Methodist Church Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Rock Hawk Effigy, Putnam County

From the Rock Hawk website: It is not known who built the Rock Eagle or Rock Hawk Effigies, nor exactly when or why. The effigies were located on land occupied by Native Americans before early settlers took ownership via treaties and land grants shortly after 1800.

In 1805 Robert White acquired the property where the Rock Hawk Effigy is located through a land lottery but sold it in 1818 to Kinchen Little, who would become one of Putnam County’s most prominent citizens. (Rock Hawk was often known as the “Sparta Road Eagle” or “Little Eagle,” which generally referred to the Little family, but many interpreted this to mean an eagle smaller than Rock Eagle.)

The Rock Eagle Effigy is located at the University of Georgia 4-H Center on US Highway 441 in Putnam County. Dr. A.R. Kelly of the University of Georgia, after at least a couple of years of interest in the local mounds, became involved with the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1936 to conduct numerous excavations and surveys at Rock Eagle. They recovered small amounts of aboriginal pottery, chipped stone, and daub, which were not considered significant and suggested to many archaeologists and others that the В“cleanВ” mound was used for religious purposes. During that time, the effigy was reconstructed to the 1877 measurements of C.C. Jones. By 1938 the fence, walkway, and tower were added to finish off the preservation of the mound, as it appears today.

At the time that Dr. A. R. Kelly of the University of Georgia and the WPA (Works Progress Administration) were excavating at the Rock Eagle Effigy, a letter dated March 23, 1936 was sent from George A. Turner of the Rural Resettlement Administration to Richard W. Smith, Secretary Treasurer of the Society of Georgia Archaeology concerning a third bird effigy. The letter referred to a map of Putnam County prepared by Turner, which showed the locations of important archaeological sites. In addition to Rock Eagle (“Scott Eagle Mound”) and Rock Hawk (“Sparta Road Eagle”) he identified the following mound, which became known as the Pressley (Presley) Mound: “No.3, Northwest of Eatonton on the Eatonton-Godfrey road is known as the old Pressley place. There is, at this time a large pile of rock, and someone stated that this pile of rock was once in the same shape of the Scott Eagle Mound but was destroyed by moving part of the rock. Indian relics have been found near this location.