Victorian House, Fitzgerald

This T-Plan house features the most intricate Victorian detail of any in Fitzgerald. The owners have spent several years restoring it. I’ll update with more information soon.

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

Craftsman Farmhouse, Irwin County

I made this film photograph in 2005 and the house was demolished by 2010. It was located just inside Irwin County on Evergreen Road.

 

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Effie Sharp Bush, Widow of Georgia’s Last Confederate Soldier, Fitzgerald, Circa 1977

The lady in this photograph was Mrs. Effie Tinnell Sharp Bush [1887-1980], widow of Georgia’s last surviving Confederate soldier, William Joshua Bush [1845-1952]. ‘Uncle Josh’ as family and close friends knew him, was afforded the honorific ‘General’ Bush in recognition of his connection to the Civil War. I haven’t been able to confirm it, but it’s likely that Mrs. Bush was also the last surviving Confederate widow in Georgia. This snapshot was made in the late 1970s during a town festival by a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who graciously gave me the photograph.

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Gable Front House, Queensland

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Queensland GA

Site of Historic Queensland Schools, Ben Hill County

This historic marker, recently placed by Ben Hill County, details the history of the old Queensland School: In July 1913, applicants furnished 10 acres of land and $800.00 cash to build the Queensland Negro Industrial Training School on this site. The Ben Hill County Board of Education matched the funds, work began, and the school and grounds were dedicated on October 2, 1913. The Rosenwald Fund continued to support the school by financing building projects as needed for growth.

The first principal, J. Clifton Smith, a graduate of Brown College and Tuskegee Institute, promised the patrons that with their cooperation he would teach their children and themselves better use of the land and better modes of living. First term commencement exercises were held May 2-May 5, 1914. School enrollment for the first term totaled nearly 300 students representing seven counties; with 107 boys in the corn club and 76 girls in the canning club. The school was one of the first three in Georgia designated as Training Schools for excellent vocational training in labor professions. The school expanded academic offerings and prepared graduates to pursue professional careers as lawyers, doctors and educators as well as farmers and laborers.

In 1918, the school was supported by the county board of education, the Slater Fund and a Negro Baptist Association, mainly for the purpose of training teachers for the Negro schools. The original school included a two-story building with five large classrooms, a dormitory and teachers’ home. The faculty consisted of the principal and four assistants with an average enrollment of over 200 students. At that time, including Queensland, there were fourteen Negro schools in Ben Hill County. The rest were one- teacher schools located in church buildings with very little equipment.

The world is a better place because of the dedication of patrons, educators, administrators and the thousands of students who were educated on these grounds located “Deep into the heart of Southeast Georgia.” The Christian Fellowship Tabernacle Church, which now owns and occupies this site, continues the legacy of preparing people to make a positive difference in this world.

This image, from 1918, shows the original school in the foreground and dormitory in the distance. It appeared in M. L. Duggan’s Educational Survey of Ben Hill County. A modern replacement followed by the late 1940s or early 1950s and all components were razed by the early 2000s.
 

 

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Old Dixie Highway, Queensland

The Dixie Highway was conceived in 1915 by a group of governors and business leaders seeking to increase tourism in their states. As assembly lines made cars and trucks more affordable to the masses, improved roads were a necessity. Historically, Georgia’s were notoriously bad. As late as 1915, paved streets were rare in the state and no paved highways existed.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this was the first viable ‘interstate’ highway in Georgia and local leaders lobbied aggressively to have the route come through their communities. Its presence in Ben Hill County was likely a result of the influence of local newspaperman Isidor Gelders. He was a member of the board of the Dixie Highway Association.

Scattered original sections like those pictured here still remain, but they’re increasingly rare.

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Edd Evans House, Fitzgerald

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

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