Tag Archives: South Georgia Documentary

Crystal Lake, July 1940, Irwin County

These snapshots were made by Frances Trammell McCormick in July 1940. This early pavilion (above) was quite different from the two that followed. It was an open-air shelter and likely held a concession stand. [I have a download of another snapshot from the same era of a much more elaborate structure which was identified as being at Crystal Lake but I’m having trouble confirming it; it seems unlikely that there would have been two large pavilions at the site around the same time].

The edge of the pavilion is visible at the extreme left of this photograph, made from the lake. A small wooden structure, likely a diving platform, is also visible. I believe there are cars parked near the shoreline.

Shoreline from the lake

Boaters passing a wooden slide

Water skier

A couple walking on the beach, with the slide visible to the left

 

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Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Crystal Lake GA

Merchants & Farmers Bank, 1905, Sparks

Jim Cottingham shared this historic photograph of three gentlemen outside the Merchants & Farmers Bank circa 1905. His grandfather, W. T. Cottingham, is pictured at left.

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Filed under --COOK COUNTY GA--, Sparks GA

Appling County Honors 2020 Seniors During Pandemic, Baxley

With over 43,000 cases* of the coronavirus (Covid-19) in Georgia, life as usual has been anything but since early March. One of the effects of the pandemic has been the closure of schools and much has been made of the fact that members of the Class of 2020 won’t be able to have a traditional graduation ceremony. While I’ve noticed yard signs honoring this historic class in towns all over South Georgia, I’ve seen nothing quite as memorable as this display by Appling County High School. Senior photos of each and every student have been placed on signs on the front lawn of Baxley City Hall. along busy U. S. Highway 341. I think it’s a wonderful gesture.

*-as of 25 May 2020

 

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Filed under --APPLING COUNTY GA--, Baxley GA

Fitzgerald’s Historic Lynwood School Being Demolished

When word came recently that my old elementary school was being demolished, I was already expecting it but it still brought a rush of emotions. This is where I spent most of my life from the 1st through 7th grades.

I made this photograph of the school in 2010.For more photographs and a bit of history, visit the original post.

Ben Hill, like many Georgia counties, had a city and county school system well into the late 20th century. Lynwood was the county school. During my lifetime, it was officially known as Ben Hill County Elementary School.

The structure has been vacant for quite a few years and has been deteriorating.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of old schoolhouses like this wasting away all over Georgia.

A few counties have successfully put theirs to use, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

People always ask why a place like this is torn down and not put to good use.

The answer is never simple, and can be attributed to numerous factors, including political calculations, lack of funding, and the absence of a community effort.

In the case of Lynwood, a recent explanation arose of the need for a traffic roundabout on the adjacent state highway.

I hope the roundabout makes the area safer, but I know I’ll miss my old school on the hill.

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

Champion for Christ, Charlton County

In 2013, when I was documenting all the Crawfordite churches in Southeast Georgia, I happened upon a little church and cemetery on my way to Sardis. The church I stopped at, Bethel Methodist, was historic in its own right. It’s a white congregation, but there is a small African-American cemetery adjacent to it. It was there that I met this gentleman, who drove up in a new Cadillac. He was an old-timer, he said, and if I recall was about 80. He shared a bit of the history of why the African-American cemetery was located beside the white church, but unfortunately, I lost that information. He didn’t mind his photograph being made and when asked his name, for documentary purposes, he said to just call him ‘Champion for Christ’, no names otherwise.

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Filed under --CHARLTON COUNTY GA--

Tornado Damage & Cleanup, Mystic

On 17 December 2019 around 11:45 AM, an EF-2 tornado touched down near Mystic, with sustained winds up to 125 mph. It traveled northeast from Mystic into Ben Hill County, doing significant damage on Old Whitley Road, Vo-Tech Drive, Lake Beatrice and Pine Level Church Road.

The damage in Mystic was concentrated around the campus of the old Mystic High School (later known as Irwin Academy and Grace Christian Academy), which has recently been serving as a church.

The main building is still standing but sustained serious damage, especially to the roof. Hopefully, it can be saved.

Other structures on the property didn’t fare as well and will likely have to be razed.

Most of the focus now is on cleanup and an amazing amount of work has been done in the week since the tornado.

 

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Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Mystic GA

Nathan Bridges in His Store, Alapaha, 1930s

Photograph Courtesy of Mark Dixon

Nathan Bridges was born into slavery in 1857 and even recalled working inside the home of his owner as a small boy. Also against convention, he learned to read and write. He settled in Alapaha around 1880. He was a subcontractor who hauled sawdust from the area mills. He bought town lots during this time and eventually had significant real estate holdings for an African-American of his time. Around 1900 he opened an ice house near the Ocilla Southern depot in Alapaha. He first made deliveries with a wheelbarrow and eventually a mule and wagon. He expanded to groceries as his business grew. A niece recalled that they always went to Nathan’s store because the candy was cheaper than anywhere else in town. Bridges was a respected citizen of Alapaha and served on the Board of Trustees that created the Alapaha Colored School, along with his step-grandson, Brute Shipman. Nathan Bridges died in 1940 and his business was continued by Brute Shipman.

Thanks to Mark Dixon for sharing the photograph and the history. He notes: In the 1980’s, I would visit an older black man named Neil Shipman. Neil’s grandfather was Neil Graham Shipman, who came to Alapaha in 1884 from North Carolina to work in the gum production industry. He married the stepdaughter of Nathan Bridges. Most of my info on this family came from Neil. He died around 1989.

 

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Filed under --BERRIEN COUNTY GA--, Alapaha GA

Dedication of Morris Abram Mural, Fitzgerald

I was honored to be at the ceremony dedicating a mural to one of Fitzgerald’s most accomplished native sons, Morris Berthold Abram (19 June 1918-16 March 2000). Mr. Abram was an attorney and tireless civil rights advocate who notably argued the case before the Supreme Court that ended the county unit system in Georgia that gave rural votes equal value with urban votes. The system was a juggernaut which allowed discrimination at the voting booth and gave undue power to local political bosses. The decision essentially ended voter segregation by upholding the principle of “one man, one vote”. I remember very well that many people in my hometown didn’t have a great opinion of Abram for his “meddling” in local affairs, but as a teenager I read his autobiography, The Day is Short, and developed a great respect for the man. Among Abram’s numerous accomplishments: He was appointed first general counsel to the Peace Corps by President Kennedy and served on various commissions under four more presidents; president of the American Jewish Committee; president of Brandeis University; chairman of the United Negro College Fund. My friend Richard Owens fondly recalled: Morris was George H. W. Bush’s ambassador in Geneva when I started my UN job there in 1991. It was phenomenal to have a Ben Hill-Irwin connection to a man of such stature and courage. His dinner table was famous for encouraging often-spirited debates among people from very different backgrounds and perspectives.

Penson Kaminsky, a lifelong friend of my family and scion of  one of Fitzgerald’s oldest Jewish family’s, gave the invocation.

The dedication was done in conjunction with Georgia Cities Week and I must say that I was very proud of my hometown for the great job they did honoring Mr. Abram.

Fitzgerald mayor Jim Puckett presented a proclamation to Ruth Abram, daughter of Morris Abram, who was in Fitzgerald with her son, Noah Abram Teitelbaum. Ruth has been an advocate for numerous good causes and is quite accomplished in her own right. She conceived and directed the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, one of New York City’s most visited museums, and has been a tireless advocate for women’s history and scholarship. She’s also the author of Send Us a Lady Physician: Women Doctors in America 1835-1920. She recalled  her father’s time in Fitzgerald, and the challenges of a poor immigrant Jewish family in early-20th-century South Georgia. It was quite moving, with Noah giving voice to his grandfather’s words.

Noah Abram Teitelbaum and Ruth Abram unveiling the plaque detailing Morris Abram’s work and accomplishments.

I had a great time talking to mural artist Dylan Ross, whose work you may already know. Dylan has quickly become one of Georgia’s most sought after muralists.

Clark Stancil, of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, designed the mural using archival images.

 

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

Boating on Lake Blackshear

At just 20 miles in length and a mile wide at its widest, Lake Blackshear is one of Georgia’s smallest man-made reservoirs. It’s essentially a wide spot on the Flint River but it’s among the most popular outdoor recreation areas in South Georgia. To my knowledge, it’s also the oldest major man-made lake in Georgia, created with the damming of the Flint River between 1925-1930.

Pleasure boating and water skiing are extremely popular, as is fishing. There’s a busy put-in at Lakeshore Marine on the Sumter County side. Besides a ski shop, marina, campground, and event space, there’s the Lakeshore Grill which sells food, tackle, coolers, beer, gas and other essentials. Georgia Veterans State Park is a mile or so from here and is the primary location for public access to the lake. If you’re in the area, stop at Stripling’s for some of the best sausage around.

 

 

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Filed under --CRISP COUNTY GA--, --SUMTER COUNTY GA--, Lake Blackshear GA

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