Tag Archives: –PIERCE COUNTY GA–
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.
I had a brief visit with the owner of this structure today, who graciously allowed me access to the property. He noted that it was once a commissary, owned by Alvin and Lizzie Dixon, the grandparents of well-known WTOC-TV anchorman, Sonny Dixon. It served as a general store and post office for Walkerville, as well. Stabilization and basic restorations have been made to insure its survival.
In his fascinating thesis, The “Gold Standard” of the Wiregrass Primitive Baptists of Georgia: A History of the Crawford Faction of the Alabaha River Primitive Baptist Association, 1842-2007, (Valdosta State University, 2009), Michael Holt makes special note of the architectural distinctions of the Crawfordites: “[An] aspect of the Crawfordite tradition that remains today is the construction style of the meeting houses. While other Primitive Baptist Churches, including those in the Bennettite faction of the Alabaha Association, have begun to use brick, mortar, carpet, and other modern construction techniques, Crawfordite churches remain exactly as they would have appeared over a century ago. They are still fashioned from unfinished pine, with no electricity, carpet, or running water…this austere architecture helps keep the connection with the past strong. It should be noted that in recent years, 0ne part of the church grounds has adopted more modern conveniences. The outhouses that adorned the grounds of all the churches in the association have now been replaced with outdoor restroom facilities with running water, though this change was made primarily to bring the restroom facilities in line with public health regulations. However, this addition has not encroached on the overall intended affect of the architecture…“
The Crawfordites are named for Elder Reuben Crawford. Dr. John G. Crowley, the leading authority on the history of Primitive Baptists notes in his article “The Sacred Harp Controversy in the Original Alabaha Primitive Baptist Association,” Baptist Studies Bulletin July 2004 “[they] emerged as a subset of the Primitive Baptists in the 1860s and 1870s. During the Twentieth Century the “Crawfordites” became the most austere and conservative Primitive Baptists in Georgia, eschewing radio, television, neckties, painted and heated meetinghouses.” Michael Holt further notes in his thesis: “Whereas every other Primitive Baptist association has altered somewhat from the original tenets of the denomination, the Crawford Faction of the Alabaha has remained unchanged since the time of its founding in 1842…“
Dr. Crowley’s article can be accessed here. Just scroll down to Primitive Baptists.
PHOTOGRAPHER’S NOTE: This is not a complete photographic record, as there are more Crawfordite churches in the area I’ve not yet visited. They will be added as they are documented.