This was the home of Marcus McNair, a prosperous farmer in late-19th-century Jefferson County. A T-shaped gable-wing example, it once featured a wrap-around porch and Folk Victorian details. I presume they are presently being stored, as there are plans for renovation. It has remained in the same family throughout its history.
Bryant W. Corbett (1857-1917) built this hall-and-parlor farmhouse circa 1878-1879 and it served as the anchor for his growing family, which with his wife Rebecca Ann Carter Corbett (1855-1940) eventually included three children. In its early days the farm was focused primarily on corn, with a planting of peanuts done prior and left as feed for the hogs that did the work of rooting the fields. The description of Mr. Corbett’s farm in its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places could describe many such farms in Georgia in the late 19th century, as farmers of that time were really renaissance men when it came to the ways of the land. Their work was done with mules, incorporated available natural amendments to the soil, and was sustainable. These men did it because they had to, and the land often rewarded them for it. Mr. Corbett sold some of his corn for income, had some of it milled, and used the remainder as feed for his livestock. The livestock was used for milk and food. There were also mulberries and plums on the property which not only gave the family fruit for jams and jellies but attracted the bees which pollinated the farm. Pecans, walnuts, and grapes were also present on the farm.
Several historic outbuildings survive on the property, including this reconstructed well house. The wash shelter which stood behind it appears to have been lost in recent years.
As farms evolved over the years, owners usually built a utilitarian shed/barn specifically for the purpose of protecting their automobiles. We had a couple of car barns on our farm and I remember them well. They varied in style from simple shelters to sided barns with shelves and pigeonholes for storing tools. Other buildings noted in the National Register form included a chicken house and tobacco barn, which appear to have been lost over time.
It is not a stretch to say that Georgia was built on farms like this, often with the labor of immediate and extended family and hired men, and sometimes with sharecroppers. The hardships that these tenacious small farmers faced, along with their self-sufficiency and economy, often allowed them to save money and acquire more land and influence. Many families abandoned farming altogether between the arrival of the boll weevil (circa 1920) and the advent of the Great Depression (circa 1930) but those who prospered stayed and became leaders in their churches and communities. The Corbett family has done just that and has been the only family associated with this property since its purchase. Numerous family members have been good stewards of this property for nearly a century and a half. In understanding its importance and preserving it for future generations, they really are helping to tell the real story of Georgia, especially as it relates to agriculture and the rural experience.
National Register of Historic Places
Early Hill is a magnificent example of a transitional Georgian-style/Greek Revival house of the early 19th century, commanding views of some of the most beautiful pastureland in Georgia. The house has undergone major remodels throughout its history, beginning as early as the 1840s, but these do not detract from its historical importance. The plantation community surrounding the house was once known as Dover.
The builder, with the labor of enslaved men, was Joel Early, Jr. (1793-1851), a brother of Peter Early, who served as Georgia governor from 1813-1815. Joel Early, Jr., was not a typical man of his time nor his class, as he freed 30 of his slaves in 1830 and through the American Colonization Society sent them to Liberia. He actually corresponded with one of them. He still held slaves after this gesture, but that he did it all makes him an exceptional figure in upper class antebellum Georgia.
National Register of Historic Places
This landmark stock barn on Cason Road was part of Bowen’s Dairy.
This is a truly amazing example of an early-20th-century log tobacco barn. It likely dates to the 1930s.
This is one of the most extraordinary tenant houses I’ve ever seen.
At first glance, it appears to be a typical example of the form.
But further inspection reveals an inscription on the local stone chimney, dating it to 29 March 1935. While I have seen a few dated chimneys in my travels, this is the first one I’ve encountered on such a utilitarian structure. It’s an amazing testament to the pride of the builder, who may have also been the tenant.
As this remnant wall suggests, this already tiny house was subdivided, suggesting it may have been home to two tenants.
It also includes a shed room at the rear of the house, which is relatively typical with this form.
Having last photographed this local landmark in 2009 [see the history of the house and a vintage photograph here], I was determined to get some photos before it is lost forever. I understand that the most recent orders began restoration efforts in the 1990s and were unable to complete the project. I believe the house could, and should, be saved, even in its present state. [I have included the date of 1894 after consulting two sources; it may have been built slightly earlier and I’ll update if I learn more].
A gazebo, which is likely of later construction, remains on the property.
The most interesting dependency, however, is this unique structure just to the left of the house. It is believed to have been Mr. Bedgood’s home office.