Category Archives: Irwinville GA

Irwinville Farms Health Clinic, Circa 1938

irwinville-farms-health-clinic-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2013

Built to provide medical care for the people of the Irwinville Farms project, this is the last remaining bureaucratic structure from that era remaining. Dr. Herman Dismuke was the medical administrator at the clinic and was a well-loved area physician for many years thereafter. It has served as a home for many years. The image below, made by John Vachon in 1938, shows Irwinville Farms clients at this building.

Irwinville Farms GA Great Depression Resettlement Farm Security Administration Photograph by John Vachon Courtesy Library of Congress Brian Brown Vanishing Media USA 2013

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Irwinville Farms: The Making of a Community by Joy Wilson McDaniel

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 enjoyable.

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 joy_mcdaniel@comcast.net.

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.

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Filed under *BOOKS*, --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Irwinville Farms, Irwinville GA

Masonic Lodge, 1885, Irwinville

irwinville ga historic masonic lodge photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2012

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.

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Irwinville Post Office

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The closure of this post office is still one of the most asinine things I’ve ever seen. My father and I often drove ten miles from Fitzgerald just to utilize its services. The staff were always friendly and they had the time to visit and talk, just what you’d expect in a country post office. They even had a small lending library for folks in Irwinville. That a community landmark like this could just be closed with no input from local elected officials remains a mystery to me.

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Gopher Apple, Irwinville

gopher apple irwinville ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2011

Gopher Apple (Licania michauxii) is sporadically common in sandy roadsides and waste areas throughout South Georgia. It’s a food source for Gopher Tortoises (hence the name) and favored by many creatures that occur in their range. These were photographed in an area near Big Creek (Alapaha River) just outside Irwinville on Georgia Highway 32.

gopher apple irwin county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2011

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Irwinville School Lunchroom

irwinville school lunchroom irwin county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

This lunchroom, likely built in the early 1950s, is all that remains of the old Irwinville School. It now serves as the Irwinville Community Center and hosts many community and family reunions.

irwinville school photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

The sign is one of two in Irwinville heralding the great Irwinville High School Farmers basketball team, state champions in 1947, 1950, and 1951.  The late,  legendary Wallace “Country” Childs (d. 2006) was their formidable coach, and in the consecutive title years of 1950 and 1951 they chalked up 76 wins, a record only recently broken by Cuthbert’s Randolph-Clay High School.  The school closed in 1955.

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Roadside Store, Irwinville

irwinville ga roadside store photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

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Ballard Farmhouse, Irwinville

ballard farmhouse irwin county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

My father remembers visiting here with his grandmother in the 1950s. Sadly, it was razed in 2015.

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Tile Tobacco Barn, Irwin County

irwin county ga tile tobacco barn photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

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Irwinville Farms Tobacco Barn, 1930s, Irwinville

This was on the Waldo McIntyre farm. I don’t know when it was lost, but as of 2020, it’s gone. It was close to Jeff Davis Park and I photographed it for many years.

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Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Irwinville GA