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.
The Reverend Dr. John L. Phelps (8 December 1866-15 November 1937), a reform-minded Presbyterian minister, established Boggs Academy in 1906, and gave a detailed account of its origins in “A New Institution – Boggs Academy“, published in the June 1911 edition of the Home Mission Monthly, a journal of the Woman’s Executive Committee of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church. It’s amazing that this small, church-based school, established at a time of particularly bad race relations in the South, grew to become one of the most respected black boarding schools in the United States throughout its nearly 80 years of operation.
He wrote: In the early summer of 1906…the idea of a Presbyterian Church and industrial school for colored people in the rural district of Burke County, Georgia, took its beginning...I was anxious to go with my family into the darkest corner, and…work among the negroes of the “quarter” and on the large cotton plantations, were it not for the race prejudice and the misunderstandings that are certain to cause dangerous friction. [I was assured] that the better element of the white people stood ready to co-operate…[with] good wishes and financial help…
A church was opened for worship in the community in December 1906 with eight original members. It was named Morgan Grove Presbyterian Church, for Morgan Walker, who gave the land on which the church was built. I believe it may have been associated with another black Presbyterian congregation known as Spread Oak but haven’t confirmed that yet.
In January 1907, a school was opened within the walls of the church, and named Boggs Academy, for Virginia P. Boggs, who served for many years as the Corresponding Secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen.
At the time of Phelps’s 1911 article, the campus consisted of six buildings situated on 40 acres. The Virginia P. Boggs Memorial Hall, which cost $5000 to build, was the main school building. The four acres on which it stood were donated by R. C. Neely of Waynesboro, whom Phelps considered “one of the school’s best friends”. Enrollment was around 100 students, with four teachers. Two were paid by the Freedmen’s Board of the Presbyterian Church and the other two were paid by the Burke County Board of Education. 25% of the students in 1911 were boarders from other communities. Focus in the earliest days was on normal and domestic curriculum, with industrial and agricultural instruction coming later. Boggs Academy held twice-yearly farmers’ conferences to help educate local black farmers on newer and more economical methods of production and they were supported by white farmers in this endeavor.
After a long and prosperous history, Boggs Academy officially ceased operation in 1986. The last class matriculated in 1984. An active alumni association still keeps the history of the institution alive and takes a keen interest in its preservation.
The newest structure on campus, the Phelps Building was constructed during the administration of Dr. Harold N. Stinson.
It is still used by the Boggs Rural Life Center, which was incorporated in 1990
Identifications for structures were found in the Boggs Charrette Report, prepared by the Center for Community Design and Preservation, College of Environment and Design, University of Georgia, prepared for the Boggs Rural Life Center in 2016.
West End, one of the finest Italianate houses in Georgia, was built by Colonel James Hall Nichols (1834-1897) upon his arrival in the Nacoochee Valley from Milledgeville in 1870. Nichols, who married Kate Latimer of Summerville, South Carolina, in 1856, served in the Confederate Army and was elected captain of the Governor’s Horse Guard in 1862, eventually attaining the rank of colonel. When he returned to Middle Georgia after the war, weak and in declining health, he learned that his wife Kate S. Latimer Nichols had been raped by two Union soldiers. This would affect her mental state for the rest of her life. While convalescing at the White Sulphur Springs Resort near Gainesville, Colonel Nichols became enamored of the Nacoochee Valley and began purchasing large tracts of land in the area. He named the property and house West End, for its location in the valley. Nichols was primarily a gentleman farmer by this time and owned several businesses, including Nora Mill. The mentally incapacitated Kate lived out her days in an upstairs room, unwilling to face the outside world. Anna Ruby, the only child of the Nichols to live to adulthood and namesake of the nearby Anna Ruby Falls, told friends her mother was dead, as to deny her existence and her mental illness. Colonel Nichols had her committed to the State Lunatic Asylum in the early 1890s and she remained there until her death.
Original section of the Unicoi Turnpike, located near the main house
The property was sold to Atlanta entrepreneur Calvin Welborn Hunnicutt (1827-1915) in 1893. Hunnicutt, also a Confederate veteran (organized the Fulton Dragoons) and Fulton County commissioner, was a very successful businessman in postwar Atlanta, owning a plumbing business and stove works. The family never lived in West End but kept it as a retreat and vacation home. The Atlanta Constitution called him Atlanta’s oldest pioneer citizen upon his death. He had been in the city since 1847, when it was still a small village known as Marthasville.
The final owner of the West End property was Dr. Lamartine Griffin Hardman (1856-1937) who purchased it in 1903 and renamed it Elizabeth on the Chattahoochee, in honor of his mother. Hardman was the the son of a physician and a longtime physician himself who was also involved in numerous successful businesses. He joined his father’s practice in 1890 after study in New York, Pennsylvania, and London. He came to the Nacoochee Valley from Harmony Grove (present-day Commerce) and within a few years married the much younger Emma Griffin of Valdosta, whom he had courted for many years. He served in the Georgia House for eight years and sponsored a bill that created the State Board of Health. He also served for a year in the Georgia Senate and then made two unsuccessful runs for governor. He was finally elected to the state’s highest office in 1927 and served two terms.
Servants’ quarters and smokehouse
Dairy Barn, built 1910 as the centerpiece of Dr. Hardman’s Nacoochee Dairy
Corn Crib No. 1, built in the 1870s
Corn Crib No. 2
Gear House, where riding gear was kept for convenience. A covered 8-foot-deep cistern was discovered during renovation, and was probably originally used to collect water for the farm’s horses.
Caretaker’s House (Minish Family Home)
Nacoochee Valley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
After being diagnosed with lupus in 1951, famed American author Flannery O’Connor came to Andalusia to be cared for by her widowed mother, Regina Cline O’Connor. [While a student at Georgia College, I lived on the top floor of Ennis Hall for a year. It was located around the corner from the then derelict Cline-O’Connor mansion where Regina lived out her last days. One of my most vivid memories was seeing Mrs. O’Connor through a window in silhouette. She was a very private person.] Most of Flannery’s best-known work was written here. The property that became Andalusia was first occupied as a cotton plantation in 1814. The main house, seen above, was built in the 1850s. It was purchased by Flannery’s uncle, Dr. Bernard Cline, in 1931. During the Cline and O’Connor residencies, the 500+ acre property served as a working dairy and beef cattle farm. After Flannery’s death in 1964, the farm remained with the family until 2003, when it was donated to a private group for preservation. It was gifted to Georgia College in 2017, which now operates it as an historic house museum focused on interpreting the time Ms. O’Connor spent at the property.
Dr. Cline added the screened-in front porch during the 1930s.
The interior remains largely the same as it was during Flannery O’Connor’s residency here. Georgia College is doing an excellent job not only of preserving but interpreting these items in proper context.
The dining room doubled as a parlor and is the most visually interesting space in the house.
The stairwell is the most impressive feature of the foyer, though the upstairs rooms are not accessible to the public. They were used only for guests of the O’Connor family and storage.
Portraits of Dr. Bernard Cline (l) and Edward F. O’Connor
Portrait of Flannery O’Connor
Flannery’s bedroom is a large space at the western front of the house. Braces, which she needed to get around as her lupus became more debilitating, are a stark reminder of the pain Flannery often endured.
Flannery spent many hours convalescing in this small bed.
The well house was built over a hand-dug brick-lined well. The farm was electrified in the 1940s and Regina had the water tower built in 1956. It’s 32 feet high and holds 22,000 gallons.
Dependencies of Andalusia
Away from the main house are numerous outbuildings which contributed to the productivity of the farm. They’re presently in various states of preservation, with eventual restoration the goal of Georgia College.
The most prominent structure, now located just northwest of the main house, is thought to be the original house of the plantation which became Andalusia. It was located nearer the main house but was moved to its present location in the late 1940s or 1950s. Several smaller tenant houses are located south of the main house but are in ruins or terrible condition. I did not photograph them.
Robert Jack & Louise Hill, who were tenant farmers during most of Flannery O’Connor’s time at Andalusia, lived here. [Photo Courtesy Andalusia].
A dairy was established at Andalusia in 1947 by Regina and brother Louis Cline. The barn figures centrally in Flannery O’Connor’s beloved 1955 story, “Good Country People”.
Andalusia’s milk was processed offsite in Eatonton. This shed, likely built in the late 1940s, kept it cool until transport and was also used to sterilize the cans.
The calf barn was used to segregate male calves from their mothers so they could be fed powdered milk.
Regina and Louis began modernizing the farm by the early 1950s and this equipment shed allowed easy accessibility for tractors, bush hogs, and all manner of tools.
This barn sheltered the farm’s riding and working horses. On Mother’s Day 1962, Flannery gave Regina a Mexican burro named Ernest. A female Sicilian donkey, a jenny named Marquita, was later added to the farm. In September 1963, Ernest and Marquita had a foal Regina named Equinox. In the early 1970s, Marquita mated with a pony and gave birth to a hinny named Flossie. A hinny is the offspring of a horse and a jenny. Equinox and Flossie were companions until Equinox died in 1998. Flossie lived out her days at Andalusia until her death in 2010, becoming a bit of a celebrity herself with visitors and journalists who covered the property.
Though it looks old, the pump house is among the newest structures at Andalusia.
Just to the rear of the main house was a three-bay parking garage known as the Nail House. It became home to most of Flannery’s birds, including ducks, turkeys, geese, pheasants, and her beloved peafowl. Her first pair came from a breeder in Florida in 1952, and she would eventually have more than 40.
An aviary is presently sited to the east of the main house.
Of course, peafowl are kept on the property today. This pair was quite shy, though.
Grounds of Andalusia
Situated north of the Fall Line, Andalusia is characterized by rolling hills and beautiful hardwoods.
A tree-lined driveway leads to the main house.
A large hay pasture is located just to your left as you’re driving in. It’s a beautiful space which I remember admiring from US Highway 441 in my college days.
The view in front of the main house follows a gently sloping pasture to a secluded pond.
I liked what I read about Jimmy and Ginny Franks, who during the economic downturn of the late 2000s decided to transform their cattle operation into a commercial dairy that would focus on non-homogenized low-pasteurized milk, with no use of growth hormones. They also sell butter, ice cream, beef, and fresh eggs. Southern Swiss Dairy has been in business since 2010.
They source their milk from these wonderful Brown Swiss cows, which are among the top milk-producing breeds. Besides productivity, the Brown Swiss are just happier cows than most. They’re friendly, even.
Southern Swiss Dairy wasn’t the easiest place to find, and though they sell most of their product in retail locations, I wanted to see the cows myself. I could tell that Ginny Franks was busy when we pulled up to the dairy office but she was very welcoming. This isn’t one of those “tourist farms” that source their products from all over the place and call it local, but a place where what you see is what you get. And there are a lot of those “tourist farms” around the state.
We bought some whole and chocolate milk and some fresh butter and I’m impressed with the taste, which is slightly different than what I’m used to. But more importantly, I have a new appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into making milk. The dairying life is a hard one and at Southern Swiss Dairy, it’s obvious that it’s a labor of love.
This property has served as Cason’s and McDonald’s Dairy. After years of falling into disrepair, it was remodeled by Handy Jernigan. Thanks to Leah Cason and Dorothy Pepich for the background information. It’s a beautiful sight on Highway 99. It should always go without saying, but please note that this is private property.
This is also probably part of the Hogan estate, seen in the preceding posts. There’s a nearly identical structure next door, but the interesting feature of this one is the old Viking cooler on the right.