Tag Archives: Georgia Cotton

Jacob Phinizy House, 1882, Augusta

This Second Empire house was built for Jacob Phinizy (9 August 1857-30 May 1924) circa 1882. Phinizy was the great-nephew of John Phinizy, owner of the iconic house next door, and a cotton factor with his family’s firm, F. Phinizy and Company. He also served as a president of the Georgia Railroad Bank. His father’s family was from Oglethorpe County.

Beginning in 1946, the house served for many years as the Poteet Funeral Home. It was modernized at that time by the local architectural firm of Scroggs & Ewing.

Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Elisha Winn House, Circa 1812, Dacula

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]

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
Warehouse
Cotton Gin [1910]
Gin Office [1930]
Gin Office Interior
Gristmill
Seed House
Teacher’s House
Well House [Reconstruction]
Water Tower [1913]
Corn Crib
Shields-Ethridge Family Cemetery
Milking Barn
Mule Barn [1913]

Garage
Wheat Barn [1910]
Tenant House

National Register of Historic Places

A Georgia Centennial Farm

Arnold Cotton Gin, Arnoldsville

Local tradition suggests that this gin was built of Georgia granite to replace an earlier frame structure destroyed by a tornado in the early 1900s, though I am unable to confirm this. It was operational until at least the 1950s and was established by Nathaniel (Nat.) Dowdy Arnold (1859-1928), who was the namesake of this small agricultural community. Arnold’s wife was Annie Susan Callaway (1863-1901), from the Callaway Plantation in Wilkes County.

Nathaniel Dowdy Arnold in William J. Northen, Men of Mark in Georgia, Volume VII, A . B. Campbell Publishing, Atlanta, 1912. Public Domain.

The original settlement, dating to the 1770s, was established near an important Native American trading route and was known as Cherokee Corner. By 1811, a sawmill, gin, and general store were present in the community. A Presbyterian minister named Safford operated the Cherokee Corner Academy and until at least the 1840s was involved in the cultivation of silkworm cocoons.

In 1894, local merchant Edwin Shaw established a post office and named the village Edwin after himself. In 1896, Nathaniel D. Arnold bought Shaw’s store and his postal rights and the town became Arnoldsville.

Cotton Gin, Taylorsville

Brown Farm Tenant House, Owensboro

Matt Brown writes: That’s what we call the dynamite house; they used to store dynamite in it. Before that various tenants lived in it. The house and barns by the road was where my dad’s farming operation was. My sister owns the land and plans to restore the house.

Bryant’s Gin & Warehouses, Bartow

Still going strong after a century, Bryant’s Gin was running full steam when I stopped in Bartow recently. Cotton remains one of Georgia’s most important crops.

The present gin in Bartow dates to the 1950s, replacing an earlier facility.


A number of related buildings also remain on the property, which is bisected by the Central of Georgia railroad tracks.

Several old warehouses remain.

Bartow Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Bashinski-Claxton House, Circa 1907, Dubliln

Isadore “Izzie” Bashinski (1875-1934), who was a college roommate of Carl Vinson, moved to Dublin in 1906 and formed the Yellow Pine Lumber Company and the Oconee Navigation Company. By the end of the year he married Helen McCall, a native of Buena Vista and cousin of future Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge. Soon thereafter, they hired architect Charles Choate to build this home, one of the most unique in Dublin. It was the scene of many important social functions, including a gala with Governor Joseph M. Brown in 1908. Bashinski served on the staff of Governor Brown. Cotton was king in the South during this time, of course, and Bashinski and his brother Sam made a fortune as cotton factors, or brokers. Their Dixie Cotton Company was the largest in the south, with 25 branches throughout Georgia. Bashinski was an early proponent of business diversity and over the years formed the Consolidated Phosphate Company, Dublin Peanut Company, Citizens Loan & Guaranty Company, and the Oconee Guano Company. He was also a partner in the 12th District Fair Association, was a member of the first board of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the school board, and the city council. He also served as mayor during World War I. The Great Depression hit Bashinski’s multitude of businesses hard and in 1932 the family lost the home. It was purchased by Dr. E. B. Claxton, whose family remained in it for many years. Scott Thompson covers much more ground at his excellent local history page, Pieces of Our Past.

Stubbs Park-Stonewall Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Pritchett-Orr-Clark House, 1900, Dublin

Built by Thomas J. Pritchett, president of the Georgia Warehouse & Compress Company and a director of the Dublin Cotton Mill, this home was later sold to popular Dublin mayor Edwin R. Orr. Orr’s daughter Sarah, who was a good friend of Margaret Mitchell, was married to Gladstone Williams, said to be the inspiration for Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. Sarah lived in the house for a time and it was eventually sold to her niece, Katharine Clark. She and her husband, George, did extensive renovations while living here. They sold it to the Laurens Historical Society in 2014 and it now serves as the Dublin-Laurens County Museum & Cultural Center.

Stubbs Park-Stonewall Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Cotton Gin, Patterson

patterson-ga-cotton-gin-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2016

Carol Harper writes: My Grandaddy, John Henry Harris, built this cotton gin along with gins in Jesup, Cordele, and Sylvester. My father, William H. (Bill) Cooper, managed the Patterson Gin and was chief ginner there for many years. After my Grandaddy’s death and the devastation of cotton crops by the boll weevil, the gin was dismantled, my parents purchased the business, and what was once a cotton gin became a farm supply and custom fertilizer spreading operation. My two younger brothers, Bill Jr. and Charlie, and I considered ourselves very fortunate to have grown up surrounded by the sight and smell of King Cotton. Our Mother, Jean Harris Cooper, managed the gin office while Daddy ginned the cotton. Today, once again, I am proud to write cotton grows on my farm in Pierce County.