Tobacco Barn, Mitchell County

Tobacco Barn and Ancient Oaks Branchville Road Mitchell County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

I’ve photographed this barn on three occasions in the past five years and it’s still one of my all-time favorites. Its setting in these ancient oaks makes it as popular with locals as it is with photographers.

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2 Comments

Filed under --MITCHELL COUNTY GA--

2 responses to “Tobacco Barn, Mitchell County

  1. sure is a pretty picture. love those oaks and thanks to Mr. Bookhardt for such an interesting story…

  2. Jesse M. Bookhardt

    Brian,
    As it stands amongst those mighty oaks, surely this old barn has seen lots of changes . Its shelters have vanished. The old ladder that stood spanning the space from the ground to the little peep window near the roof has long been removed or rotted away. The Battens on its lengthy sides have turned a familiar antiqued gray. This scene speaks with grace and beauty, but it does not hint of the toil and sweat that is part of its history. Tobacco growing and harvesting have changed greatly in the last fifty or sixty years. Though I am sure that even today their is plenty of work related to the process; yet, nothing compares with the job that was required in the early to mid-twentieth century before modern advancements were made. As the traditional South Georgia methods of farming tobacco vanished, there has been a concomitant reduction in smoking, and that is a healthy thing.
    Along with the vanishing methods, there has been a change in another related custom. Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was customary for some South Georgia boys to travel to Canada to help harvest their crops. Many Americans were ignorant of the fact that Canadians grew tobacco. Tobacco is generally thought to be a warm weather specie.
    Toward the end of the South Georgia producing season, these young men and some not so young, would obtain a government labor permit to travel to Ontario as a transient worker. Most Georgia tobacco growing counties such as Jeff Davis and Coffee, had individuals who did this on a regular basis. Southern barnmen were in great demand for cooking(curing) tobacco, and croppers were needed in large numbers. Other Southern flue cured growing areas such as North Carolina sent workers too.
    The Canadian harvest season was fast and furious and lasted until early September. The year that I experienced this event was in 1962. That year frost blanked the fields on September sixth, damaging or killing most of the crop. A collection of stories recording the many diverse experiences of these South Georgia Boys would make an interesting read. A recently deceased Canadian singer named “Stompin” Tom Connors captured the experience of tobacco cropping(priming) well with his song “Tillsonburg.” The sentiments expressed in this ditty would be recognized easily by those of my generation who made the trip to Southern Ontario. Stompin’ Tom Connors – Tillsonburg – YouTube

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