Category Archives: Whigham GA

Ebenezer A. M. E. Church, 1920 & Ebenezer School, 1930, Whigham

Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, built 1920

A sign on this church dates the congregation to 1878, but further research suggests that it was established in the 1860s, likely during the Civil War. In its listing for the National Register of Historic Places, Brother George Donald said that Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church was “founded by African Americans who would slip off into the woods to pray in secret” and that the church began as “brush arbor” at Piney Grove, located southwest of Whigham. The 1878 date is likely when the congregation adopted the tenets of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

This lot was purchased from J. T. Harrell for $20 in 1878 and the first trustees were Brothers Thomas Young, Georgie Donald, Fortune Liphnidge, George Shackleford, and Even Swicord. They built a log church here, which served until it burned in 1920. The present church dates to that time. It served the congregation until the 1980s, when deterioration and dwindling membership saw worship move into the schoolhouse. Presently, the structure is stable but in serious need of further renovation.

Ebenezer School, Built circa 1930

Not unlike other Black congregations of the era, Ebenezer saw the importance of education and built this one-room schoolhouse to serve their community circa 1930. Amazingly, it was the only school for African-Americans in Whigham until desegregation of the county in the early 1970s.

National Register of Historic Places

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.

Whigham, Georgia

I always look for the old Jefferson Island Salt mural when I drive through Whigham. Though it’s somewhat obscured, it’s a nice landmark. One can presume the structure on which it’s located was one a grocery or general store.

Whigham was named for merchant Robert Whigham in 1880 and was incorporated in 1896. The area was originally known as Harrell’s Station.

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot, 1890s, Whigham

This Queen Anne-style depot was built before 1895, but I can’t locate an exact date. It’s been a feed store for years, and the owners have done a great job preserving most of the architectural features.

John Hendricks writes: Excellent example of what I call a “Henry Plant” depot: Depots built between 1881-1901 along the Plant System Railroad. Rail baron Henry Plant combined several railroads in South Georgia and Florida under one large rail company, most notably the Savannah Florida and Western and the Brunswick and Albany. Most of the depots on the Plant System are variations of the same blueprint: wood construction in the late Victorian style with gingerbread trim and the Plant System logo, a Maltese Cross, carved in wood and placed at the apex of the cornice. So far, I have located 6 Plant depots that survive: in Georgia, Whigham, Metcalfe, Alapaha, and Meigs (a hybrid of wood and brick), plus Fort White and Callahan, Florida. (I haven’t been to Dupont, Georgia, to see their depot) The Callahan Depot, one of the first Plant System depots built in 1881, is home to the West Nassau Historical Society.

 

City Hall, Whigham

I’m unsure as to the original use of this building, but it may have been a bank.

Rattlesnake Roundup Grounds, Whigham

Rattlesnake roundups are mostly a thing of the past, but I believe Whigham’s is still held each January. Jerod Maxwell writes: My Grandfather (Julian Maxwell) and his cousin (Herman Maxwell) started it inadvertently when they caught a couple of snakes and took them to the Whigham High School to show the science class the snakes in order to teach kids about them. That week at the Whigham town meeting eight men decided that they would hold a festival in order to raise money for the town and Grady County and to milk the snakes in order to make more anti-venom because many people were being bitten every year in our area. He notes that his Uncle Herman was at the meeting, but not his Grandfather, because he didn’t like politics. Most old farmers stayed a far away from politics as they could. I know my grandfather did.

The live-catch aspect of the roundup was phased out in 2022.