Tag Archives: Georgia Women’s History

Johnstonville School, 1915, Lamar County

The Johnstonville School is a landmark of rural education and an excellent example of the use of the Craftsman style in public architecture.

The school closed in 1945 [one source dates the closure to 1939]. It serves as the Johnstonville Community Clubhouse today.

The Johnstonville Women’s Club was organized in 1924 and helped oversee the care of the school and were involved in the preservation of the historic structure for many years.

Johnstonville-Goggins Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Boggs Academy, Burke County

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.

Boggs Dining Hall, 1924, rear view. This structure, the oldest remaining on campus, is in immediate need of stabilization.

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…

Morgan Chapel and Manse Across the street from the Boggs Memorial Building. Published in the Home Mission Monthly, June 1911. Public domain. [This building burned in the late 1920s* and was replaced with the Memorial . -*Some sources note that Morgan Chapel burned in 1930; however, a bronze plaque on the Blackburn building dates to 1928.]

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.

Virginia Boggs Memorial Hall near Keysville, Burke County, Georgia April 1910. Published in the Home Mission Monthly, June 1911. Public domain. [This building has long been lost though I’m unsure as to a date].

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.

Rev. John I. Blackburn Memorial, 1928
John I. Blackburn Presbyterian Church, (Annex), 1962

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.

Boggs Academy President’s House, 1928

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.

Dairy Building
C. W. Francis Community House (Gymnasium), 1958. Named for Rev. C. W. Francis, a former superintendent.
Classroom Wing & Shop, 1950s. This structure was used for vehicle maintenance, Shop classes, and the Home Economics and Science laboratory.
Swimming Pool & Pool House, 1973
Mural, 2007
Phelps Building, 1967. Toombs, Amisano & Wells, Architects.

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.

Allen’s Invalid Home, Milledgeville

This is one of two nearly identical structures that were later built on the site, and is the only surviving remnant of the sanitarium. From limited sources, I have preliminarily identified this as the administration building and Dr. Allen’s residence, though it has also been identified as the dining hall and women’s building.

In 1890, Dr. Henry Dawson Allen, Sr., bought the old Oglethorpe University property in the Midway community and in 1891 opened a private hospital for chronic incurable cases, likely as an alternative to the less personal care offered at the nearby State Lunatic Asylum.

Allen’s Invalid Home for the Treatment of Nervous Diseases was among the first private psychiatric institutions in the Southeastern United States. Dr. Allen was very progressive and bought up as much of the surrounding land, on which were grown a great variety of vegetables and stock for the use of the institution. Patients weren’t required to work but could if they chose to. Dr. Allen’s sons, Dr. H. D. Allen, Jr., and Dr. Edwin Whitaker Allen, Sr., eventually practiced alongside their father.

Rear of the building, showing the addition.

Abandoned Interiors of Allen’s Invalid Home

Please note that this is private property. I had permission to photograph. If you wish to photograph you may wish to make a donation to the Maranatha Mission, which oversees the property.

Olivia Thomas House, Circa 1900, Milledgeville

This was the home of Olivia Thomas, a legend of the Eddy community who was known as “The Guardian of the Old Governor’s Mansion”. Ms. Thomas served as a tour guide and caretaker of the mansion for 39 years, serving under five college presidents: Dr. Wells, Dr. Stanford, Dr. Lee, Dr. Bunting, and Dr. Spier.

Milledgeville Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Genie Andrews House, 1890s, Milledgeville

This Folk Victorian cottage in the Eddy neighborhood was purchased by Eugene James, a hardware deliveryman and laborer, in 1893. Upon his death, it became the home of his daughter, Genie James Andrews, who taught at the Eddy School with Sallie Ellis Davis. Mrs. Andrews was also a noted piano teacher.

Milledgeville Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Sallie Ellis Davis House, 1890, Milledgeville

The Sallie Ellis Davis House serves as the de facto anchor of the Eddy Neighborhood, an historic African-American community of late 19th and early 20th century Milledgeville. Through a cooperative effort of Georgia College and the Sallie Ellis Davis Foundation, restoration of the house began in 2009 and was completed in 2012.

Sallie Ellis Davis was born in Baldwin County in 1877 to an Irish immigrant father (Josh Ellis) and an African-American woman (Elizabeth Brunswick). Josh Ellis was a prominent landowner, businessman, and gentleman farmer. After graduating from Atlanta University in 1899 she returned home and began teaching at the Eddy School, where she would remain until her retirement in 1949. She served as principal for 27 years. After her death, Baldwin County honored her legacy by naming an elementary school for her.

In 1910, Sallie Ellis moved into this house in the Eddy Neighborhood, and in 1911 she married John (Jack) Davis. Mr. Davis died in 1920 but Sallie remained in the home until her death in 1950.

The house is open for historic tours today.

Milledgeville Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Shaking Rock Park, Lexington

Shaking Rock Park is a fascinating natural area located within the city limits of Lexington is named for a 27-ton rock that could be shaken with one hand while remaining in place, before the elements shifted its balance [likely the 1886 Charleston earthquake]. It still maintains a precarious perch albeit aided today by some sort of mortar.
The random field of mostly egg-shaped granite boulders comes into view at the crest of a fairly low hill and defines the trail to come. It’s a fairly easy walk and other than the presence of large roots in places, has few obstacles.
Archaeological evidence suggests that before European habitation, the site was used by Cherokee and Creek peoples as a campground.

In 1968, Shaking Rock became a public park thanks to the efforts of the Lexington Women’s Club.

Judge Hamilton McWhorter was the last private owner, and three of his heirs, Mrs. Andrew Cobb Erwin, Mrs. Sallie McWhorter, and Thurmond McWhorter, made the public transfer possible.

Depending on where one stands, the namesake rock’s appearance can vary greatly. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with graffiti at the site.

Shaking Rock Park is an excellent natural resource and is free to explore.

Denmark-Hiers House, 1906, Fitzgerald

This was the home of Fitzgerald pioneer settlers Dr. Arthur Howell Denmark (1872-1957) and Bertha Twiss Denmark (1879-1949) and was owned by their descendants for over a century. His daughter, the late Frances Denmark Hiers (1909-2010), spent most of her life in the house. She and her husband Jimmy opened Hiers Jewelers in 1945 and Frances later served as the first woman president of the Georgia Jewelers’ Association.

She earned a degree in Drama from the State Normal College in Athens (now UGA) and taught “expression” at Fitzgerald High School for a number of years. She directed the first production of the local historical pageant, Our Friends the Enemy, but is best remembered for directing over 1000 weddings. I was a member of one of those wedding parties and have fond memories of Mrs. Hiers. She was all business and didn’t suffer foolishness but was an absolute delight. Her civic involvements were legion and included service on the boards of Central United Methodist Church, the Pilot Club, the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Arts Council, and the Blue and Gray Memorial Association.

South Main-South Lee Streets Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Floyd’s Hamburger Shack, Fitzgerald

A friend recently reached out to let me know that I should photograph this Fitzgerald landmark because it’s about to be razed for redevelopment, as are all the other adjacent commercial structures. (Thanks, Sara Padgett). The little brick building at the corner of Merrimac Drive and the Ten Mile Stretch will always be remembered as Floyd’s Hamburger Shack, but its history goes back a bit further.

Francis Marion “Frank” Malcolm II (1874-1954) came to Fitzgerald from Waycross in 1906, and in 1910 he bought the largest single tract of land (11 acres) in the city, to which he moved a home from Alapaha Street (still standing) and built other structures over time. [A house he built across the road from his own, in 1948, is where I spent the first six years of my life]. His grandson, renowned artist David Malcolm, told me that the ‘Floyd’s’ building was built in 1930 as a cannery, which employed young women. He even related that my grandmother, Nettie Pate Brown once worked there before she married my grandfather. After the cannery shut down, it was a Venetian blind shop and later, a grocery store.

The association with Floyd’s came in 1952 when J. W. Floyd moved his popular short-order business from the Five-Story Building (Garbutt-Donovan) to this location, which was closer to the new homes and subdivisions being built on the west side of Fitzgerald.

Later owners were Wade and Myrtice Malcolm and their daughter and son-in-law, Barbara and Varnell Hendley. Walter Owens and C. L. Martin also operated a barber shop in the connected space next door to the restaurant.

Hamburgers topped with grilled onions, a concoction known as Mama’s Stew, and barbecue smoked in the pit out back were required eating by generations of families in Fitzgerald. The barbecued goat was a particular favorite.

Pam Hunter, daughter of Barbara and Varnell Hendley, kindly shared the recipe for Mama’s Stew. [Mama was Pam’s grandmother, Myrtice Malcolm]. She writes: I think great recipes are made to pass down to future generations and share with friends! You will need 2 lbs. Ground pork*, 4 lbs. Ground beef and one diced onion. Brown this up in a large pot and drain off the grease. Cover all this with water and add salt and pepper to taste. Next dice 6 large baking potatoes and add to the mixture. Make sure water still covers all. Cook until potatoes are tender. Now add 2 cans of cream corn, one can of LeSueur English peas(drain), 3 cups of Heinz ketchup, and 3/4 cup Heinz 57 sauce. Do not substitute . It will not taste the same! Go easy when adding salt as the ketchup and 57 are both salty, but those taters need some salt when cooking! I hope your families enjoy this as much as mine does! Don’t forget the crackers and salad! This makes a lot, but you can freeze it and it is still good!

*Ground pork and sausage are not the same thing, if you’re wondering. You can find ground pork in most groceries and specialty meat markets.

An iconic hamburger sign was located on the side of the building and was synonymous with Floyd’s.

Dr. Henry Holtzclaw House, 1870s, Perry

Built for Dr. Henry Holtzclaw, the second president of the Houston Female College, this Eclectic Victorian house was purchased in 1925 by the Penn-Dixie Cement Company for use as its employee clubhouse. It later served as the Penn-Dixie superintendent’s house and is today home to Century 21 Real Estate.