This roadside landmark on U.S. Highway 341 is a remnant of a time when pecan stands, inspired by Stuckey’s, were popular stops for travelers. This sign identified Rigdon’s Pecan Station. A 1950s postcard for the business noted that they sold candies, novelties, and souvenirs, and of course, fresh pecans. At the time, a five-pound box of Schleys (papershells) was $3, five pounds of Stuarts and Success were $2.75, and five pounds of the largest papershell variety at the time, Mahans, would cost you a whopping $3.50. Coming from a “pecan family” myself, it’s one of my favorite signs in Georgia.
The Elisha Winn House was built about 1812 in what was then Jackson County, and is perhaps the oldest extant house in the Atlanta metro area. Winn, who was a Justice of the Inferior Court, purchased the land, with Roger and Elijah Pugh, in 1809. It was part of a 7300 acre tract bordered by the Apalachee River. It became part of Gwinnett County on 15 December 1818, when the Georgia legislature created the counties of Gwinnett, Walton, and Hall, in part from Jackson County, as well as from former Indian lands.
The property is also significant as the first de facto center of government in Gwinnett County, hosting the Inferior Court and the first county elections. A barn on the grounds [no longer extant] hosted the Superior Court. Elisha Winn served as a judge of the Inferior Court from 1820-1825. He also served as a state senator for Gwinnett County in 1826, and a state representative in 1830, 1833, and 1837.
Lawrenceville was established as the Gwinnett County seat in 1821 and the Winns relocated there circa 1824.
Historic Structures Relocated to the Elisha Winn Property
Several structures representative of 19th and early-20th-century history in Gwinnett County have been relocated to the Winn property over the years. A representative mule barn [built in another county in 1917], can be seen in the background of the photo below.
Old Lawrenceville Jail, 1820s
The first jail in Gwinnett County was located on the Winn property but was demolished in 1933 by Jack Sims, who owned it at the time, and his employee Amos Hutchins, who lived most of his life on the old Winn place. As part of a collection of historical buildings, the old Lawrenceville jail [above], built in the 1820s and similar to the original jail, was relocated here for preservation. [Moravian missionaries who refused to get permits to live in Cherokee territory were briefly held in this structure before being transferred to a larger jail in Walton County].
Walnut Grove Schoolhouse, 1875
Typical of rural one-room schoolhouses of the era, the Walnut Grove school was originally located near Walnut Grove Church and the Methodist Campground. It was donated to the Gwinnett Historical Society in 1986 and opened for tours in 1988.
Cotton House, Early 20th Century
Structures of this type would have been present on working cotton plantations and farms in late-19th and early-20th century Gwinnett County. This example was donated to the historical society in 2001.
Alfred R. Clack Blacksmith Shop, Circa 1910
Dr. Donald S. Bickers, who also donated the cotton house, donated this structure to the historical society in 2000. It was built circa 1910 by his grandfather, Alfred R. Clack, who used it until late in his life. He died in 1948 and Dr. Bickers kept the structure in good condition.
National Register of Historic Places [Elisha Winn House, excluding other structures]
DeKalb County was still largely rural and one of the leading dairy counties in Georgia in 1947 when S. B. Vaughters built this barn to house Jersey cows at his farm, one of the most successful in the area. It later housed Angus cattle and horses, before being sold to the state for perpetual preservation in 2002. Restored in 2018, the barn is located on Panola Mountain State Park and is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
This appears to have been some sort of agricultural warehouse in a past life.
Widespread pecan cultivation began in southwestern Georgia in the 1880s and by the 1920s, with the spread of the boll weevil, supplanted cotton for a time as the leading crop of the region. Albany served as the de facto center of this agricultural shift, and by 1913 the Albany District Pecan Growers Exchange was formed as a cooperative to promote and distribute the crop, especially the desirable Schley paper-shells. The Exchange thrived until the 1940s, when disease slowed the progress of the industry. The headquarters/office building of the Exchange is the only remaining structure of the complex, which included two other warehouse and grading buildings.
National Register of Historic Places
Grady Sconyers married Cortez Henderson in 1936 and they soon opened a general mercantile store, which they operated for about ten years. In 1947, he opened Turner County Frozen Foods, which served as the local “meat locker” and also sold frozen foods. They sold this business in 1950 and opened the Sycamore Gin, which served farmers for a 30-mile radius. Mr. Sconyers was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Turner County. [This photograph dates to 2010. I’m unsure if the building is still standing].
This large warehouse is presently owned by Coolidge Fertilizer and likely has performed other functions to local agribusiness over the years. I believe there was another long frame building across the tracks until a few years ago.
Were it not for the shiny new silos, Rosier would appear to be a ghost town, but while it may be more commercial than residential, it’s still a busy part of Burke County.