The image below, made by John Vachon in 1938, shows Irwinville Farms clients at this building.
For more images like this, please visit this link:
Perhaps you follow my Irwinville Farms blog, but most likely, unless you’re from that part of South Georgia, you know very little about it. It was one of numerous resettlement communities overseen during the Great Depression by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Resettlement Administration (RA). As today, there was much debate over the role of the government in dispensing what many considered welfare, but the FSA and RA were much more than that. They brought modern agricultural practices and equipment where there had been none, and they brought vaccines and health awareness in much the same way. In the process, they fostered a strong value system and sense of community that remains among descendants and survivors of the project.
Irwinville Farms: The Making of a Community is one of the best local histories I’ve seen in a long time, and not just because I’ve always been fascinated with the area, but because it goes beyond local folklore and hearsay to provide detailed statistics about all the farm families involved with the projects. Joy and her son Gary McDaniel went to the Library of Congress while she was compiling the primary documentation for the book and sifted through and photographed three boxes full of original material related to Irwinville Farms.
The book also tells the story of the Jefferson Davis Historic Site, another project of the federal government during the Great Depression, and of the legendary Irwinville Farmers basketball team of the 1940s. Photos from the Library of Congress, as well as other rarely seen images, are well distributed throughout the book. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of Irwin County, agriculture, or the Great Depression. It is very well done and quite enjoyble.
Irwinville Farms: The Making of a Community is currently available for $30 plus $5 for shipping. To make a purchase, contact Joy at 770-345-2562 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Son of sharecropper who will be resettled on the Irwinville Farms Project, Georgia.
Photo by Arthur Rothstein, August 1935 – Courtesy Library of Congress
This is Joy Wilson McDaniel’s brother, Bill Wilson.
From: Willie Mae Smith, The Ocilla Star, 23 August 1973
“History tells us that the first and oldest Masonic Lodge in original Irwin County was Irwin Lodge #212, which was granted a dispensation in 1856 and later was granted a charter…this old lodge barely had time to get a good start before the South was faced with what turned out to be almost total devastation…
During and after the Civil War the nearest lodge to Irwinville was the Western Light lodge in Abbeville, which originated from the old Irwinville lodge. Sometime in the 1880s, David Hogan donated an acre of land in Irwinville for the purpose of erecting a Masonic lodge…the new lodge was constituted as Lodge #315, with these members coming from Western Light in Abbeville: Reverend O. D. Mulkey, Z. T. Player, John J. Luke and Lemuel Taylor. The lodge was constituted by John A. Tomberlin on November 28th, 1885…Charter members were: William M. Gibbs, Worshipful Master; Jonathan Smith, Senior Warden; John J. Luke, Junior Warden; John Walker, Senior Deacon; Cornelius Clements, Junior Deacon; David M. Hogan, Treasurer; R. W. Clements, Secretary; and C. A. Johnson, Tyler. Other brethren included: W. J. Clements, Lemuel Taylor, Z. T. Player, and Reverend O. D. Mulkey…
In 1885, Irwin County was not too thickly settled. Plantations were many miles apart and the members of the Masonic Lodge had to travel a good many miles on horseback or by a buggy to come to their meeting. These men were working and making a living for their families and disliked the idea of leaving them alone at night. After due consideration, they decided to hold their monthly meeting each third Saturday morning at 10 o’clock, thus making this a daylight lodge, which it remains today, the only daylight lodge left in the state of Georgia…”
Judging from meeting schedules, I don’t believe this is still a “daylight lodge”, but apparently, when Willie Mae Smith wrote this article in 1973, it was.
For another view:
For more about Irwinville Farms, visit:
So now I’m going to use this forum to raise a little hell. As a proud Rural American, I want to tell those who would make decisions to deprive us of our community institutions that they should do away with other special interests first. Please leave your comments in support of the Irwinville Post Office, or any rural post office, and call or email Jay Roberts or Austin Scott and let them know how important you think this is. I think both Jay and Austin are proud of their rural roots and I believe both will do what they can to stop the closure of this historic post office.
Rarely do I bring up controversial issues on Vanishing South Georgia, but upon learning recently that the Irwinville Post Office is on a list of possible closures, I felt the need to get involved. I hope you will, too. If you support the idea of rural post offices, please take a moment to help save this important community landmark. Yours could be next! Please drop a letter or postcard to: Post Office Review, 451 College Street, Room 220-D, Macon, Georgia 31213. (478) 752-8432…On a personal note, my father and I often drive ten miles from Fitzgerald just to utilize this facility, as the one in Fitzgerald is often too crowded. The staff of the Irwinville Post Office are always much friendlier, have the time to visit and talk, and they even offer a wider variety of commemorative stamps. This may seem futile in the email era, but trust me, there are many older residents and others who live in rural areas who truly need the services of a nearby post office!
For more information, visit these links:
This monument, erected by the State of Georgia to memorialize the 10 May 1865 capture of Jefferson Davis by Wisconsin and Michigan cavalrymen, has been the scene of many Confederate Memorial Day celebrations and gatherings of reenactors and Civil War enthusiasts over the years. The Confederate Museum on site was a project of the WPA, but being a fierce opponent of FDR, Governor Eugene Talmadge made sure that the State of Georgia was given credit for the monument. Ironically, Eleanor Roosevelt made a $5 donation to the general fund. The property was deeded to the state by Judge Reuben Walton Clements, and while ownership has passed between the state and the county at different times, Judge Clements’ wish that “no Yankee ever own this hallowed ground” has been maintained.