If you’ve ever traveled Georgia Highway 125 between Fitzgerald and Tifton, you probably recognize this house, situated slightly west of Irwinville. I’ve been seeing it my entire life and only learned some of its history today. It was the home of Elbert George McClellan Fletcher (1866-1952), likely built around 1889, when he married his first wife, Mary Jane Elizabeth (Polly) Hobby Fletcher, who died in 1916. Upon Polly’s death, Elbert married Ruth Turner Fletcher (1870-1956) in 1917. The house was built as a dogtrot, and originally contained an annexed kitchen, which has since been removed. It would have been a “fancy” dogtrot compared to the cruder log structures usually associated with the style.
Winston McDuffie shared these memories of the house: Elbert was quite dignified, handle-bar mustache, and walking stick, sitting on the front porch in his rocking chair. I can’t remember him talking much, and Toby and Ruth were together talking so there was not too much for a 5-6 yr old boy to do. There was a fence across the front, the gate had a chain with a weight to pull it closed, and there was a pomegranate bush beside the gate, always a pleasure to pick one. There was a cane-grinding set-up in the right-hand corner (towards Tifton), under the Oak tree. We attended a cane-grinding a couple of times. There was a barn on the left side, back behind the house. I remember Mama and Deal would pick cotton for John (son) all during school. The house had a dog-trot hallway, with 4 doors (2 per side), and opened onto a porch all across the back of the house. There was another dog-trot off the porch to the separate kitchen. The first door on the left was the sitting room, and the other 3 were bed-rooms. Toby and I slept in the one adjacent to the sitting room when we spent the night. There was a full grand-father clock in the room, but I can’t remember what any other furniture was like. No grass in the yard, it was swept clean with gall-berry brooms.