This log building once served as the Willacoochee library. It has most recently been used as a thrift shop by the United Methodist Church.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Log Structures
This amazing survivor was built as a single-pen log residence in the 1850s by area pioneer David Reddish (1824-1902). Thanks to Mr. Reddish’s great-great granddaughter, Amanda Farmery, for bringing this highly endangered pioneer home to my attention. Mr. Reddish lived in the house until his death in 1902.
The hearth was located on the end pictured above and has collapsed and some of the brick was salvaged or removed.
This view of the interior illustrates the condition of the house, which is so compromised that I wouldn’t even step inside.
Typical of construction of this era in Georgia, the logs are held in place by dovetail joinery.
A rear view of the original section of the house illustrates just how utilitarian structures of this type tended to be in early rural Georgia.
At some point, a board-and-batten addition was made to the house. It’s possible that this was done after Mr. Reddish’s death. Amanda Farmery notes that a well on the property displays a date of 1912, suggesting it continued to be used a residence for some time.
This view from the board-and-batten addition looks toward the original single-pen log section.
Though there is likely no hope for saving the structure, it is wonderful that the family has allowed to stand all these years. I am very grateful to Amanda Farmery for not only recognizing its importance to her family history but her desire for documenting it and sharing it for posterity’s sake.
In Houses of Heart Pine: A Survey of the Antebellum Architecture of Evans County, Georgia (3rd printing, 2014), Pharris DeLoach Johnson notes that this house*, one of the oldest in the county, originated circa 1856 as a single pen log structure joined by full-dovetail notches. It was later expanded to the Plantation Plain style it now exhibits (probably within a decade of its original construction) and weatherboards were added. The house was lowered slightly during a later renovation which was necessitated by replacement of the original chimneys. The roof and windows were also replaced but the original log walls and interior architectural features remain strongly intact.
James Bell Smith (1823-1891), whose mother Fannie Bell was the namesake of Bellville, purchased this property from Benjamin Brewton in 1851. His family came to Georgia from North Carolina after the Revolutionary War, settling in the 1820s in the section of Tattnall County that later became Evans County. Upon his death in 1891, the house was inherited by his son, Pulaski Sikes Smith. When Sikes died in 1894, his widow Mary Eliza Tippins Smith continued to reside in the house. Later, Sikes’s daughter Helen Daniel acquired the undivided land holdings of her siblings, including the house. Helen sold the house and surrounding land to her son Walter Emmett Daniel in 1954, and they own the property to this day. It is presently used as a guest house.
*-also known as the Smith-Daniel House
In a bend of House Creek just off the Ocmulgee River near the Wilcox-Ben Hill County line is a place known to locals as Spring Lake. Or more likely, Mr. Guy’s or Uncle Guy’s place. There’s a blue spring, or boils, on the property, which actually gives the “lake” its name. It’s a legendary hunting and fishing spot, and though many know of its reputation, only those who have been lucky enough to know the family have experienced it first hand. [I’m grateful to Ken Fuller for the following history. Ken has a passion for the place and its history and I am most grateful to him for the opportunity to photograph this local landmark and share these photos. I have known members of the Fuller family most of my life, but only met Ken recently. A retired Methodist minister, he was filling in for the pastor at my family’s church a couple of weeks ago. He suggested that I come out and see the place, as a small addition was planned for Guy’s cabin and if I wanted to see it in its original state I best do so quickly. My parents and I had a wonderful visit, though I didn’t get to visit the boils on this trip].
This place came to Fuller ancestors through a land grant in the early 19th century and at varying times they’ve used it as a dwelling place and recreational retreat. Because they’ve always recognized it as a natural treasure brimming with all the bounty that provides, it has changed very little over nearly two centuries of their ownership. Ken Fuller notes: I doubt I will ever take the time to try to run it down, but it feels like nearly, if not all, the property from south of House Creek to Abbeville, east of the Ocmulgee, was land grants in 1832 or there about when the treaty was signed with the Indians ending hostilities. The Wilcox brothers, Gen. Mark and Capt. Thomas, and George Reid were major land holders. John Wilcox III and his sons manned 3 forts on the East side of the Ocmulgee before the treaty was signed.
The property is indelibly associated with Guy Fuller today because he built this tiny cabin as a residence in 1933 and chose to live out his days committed to the simple life here. Guy T. Fuller was the fourth of five children, born less than ten miles away at Sibbie in 1895, to Andrew Wade and Celia Elizabeth Reid Fuller. When he died in 1984, he was buried alongside his parents and siblings at his mother’s family cemetery near his birthplace.
His favorite teacher as youngster in Sibbie was John Moye, no doubt of the old-fashioned headmaster variety. He also attended Providence School in Ben Hill County, Georgia Normal College in Abbeville (Class of 1919), and then the University of Georgia. Ken Fuller is inspecting his Georgia Normal College diploma in the photo below.
After one year of teaching, Guy spent time in the European theater in World War I, and upon returning home was determined to carve out a life for himself as a local educator. A country school teacher whose career began in the era of one-room schoolhouses, he was a lifelong bachelor with no children of his own. But nearly all the children he taught over his 42-year career thought of him as family, hence “Uncle Guy”. He freely shared his cabin and in summertime it was common for the swimming holes on the property to be full of young people. And over the years it wasn’t uncommon for several generations of one family to have been entertained here. While one might draw the conclusion that a man living such an isolated life was an eccentric hermit, his love for people proved just the opposite.
Perhaps an indication of what a genuinely good man he was, Guy Fuller loved teaching so much that he broke barriers of his day by teaching African-Americans to read and write. He told Macon Telegraph columnist Bill Boyd in “A City Slicker Visits Paradise” (3 June 1979): No one wanted to teach the Negroes, so I volunteered to hold classes two nights a week. Some of them walked five miles to come to class. And if I stayed until 2 A.M., they stayed too. They ranged in age from 10 to 76, but by the time school was out all of them could write their names and some were reading from the primer…May sound strange, but that was the most rewarding experience of all my years in the classroom.
Ken writes: The little log cabin was built by our grandfather “Papa Fuller” for his wife “Mama Fuller” so she would have a private cabin. It had a small kitchen off the back with a short covered walkway to it. We children slept in it a lot. Mama Fuller had a terrible allergy to pepper that made arthritis so painful she could not move. A trip to Piedmont Hospital discovered the allergy and when the Dr. took her off pepper she totally recovered and she drove home the new Chrysler Papa Fuller bought and left in the parking lot for her. She had an accident, I was told, that left her with a stiff leg. After that she seldom went to “The Creek” until later in life when her children were grown. After Mama Fuller’s death, it seems that Guy may have used the log cabin as a bunkhouse for the many children that often visited.
Before Guy Fuller built his cabin, there was the Spring Lake Fishing Club House. The Craftsman cabin, complete with sleeping porch, is retaking its place as the center of activity on the property. Ken Fuller shares some of the background: Papa Fuller, Drew Cleveland Fuller, best known as “D.C.” and Drew, had the Fuller Lumber Co. in Ocilla, inherited from his father, Papa Fuller. Drew died in October, 1937 before I was born in January, 1938.
Papa Fuller was an Irwin County Commissioner when he died. Can’t remember knowing when he was elected nor how long he served. The Spring Lake Fishing Club probably came from that popularity. My dad was born in 1916 and as a lad of 8 he spent summers up there alone for months at a time. Papa Fuller had a cabin out on the hill a bit away. If you remember the entrance road where it turned to go to Johnny Stokes cabin, Papa Fuller’s house was there – the old well can still be seen, tho it’s covered up. It was there when he died. A number of old cabins were there over the years, but mostly, before 1900, it was a camping, fishing place.
Grandpa Fuller, my great-grandfather (Rev. A. W. Fuller), would load the whole family, with cousins, into covered wagons pulled by teams of white horses, and all would go for a week or more, and camp. Uncle Guy and Drew were brothers. Sibbie is named after Sibbie Wilcox Reid, Grandma Fuller’s (Celia) mother.
I doubt I will ever take the time to try to run it down, but it feels like nearly, if not all, the property from south of House Creek to Abbeville, east of the Ocmulgee, was land grants in 1832 or there about when the treaty was signed with the Indians ending hostilities. The Wilcox brothers, Gen. Mark and Capt. Thomas, and George Reid were major land holders. John Wilcox III and his sons manned 3 forts on the East side of the Ocmulgee before the treaty was signed.
Presently, the club house, along with Guy’s cabin, is being restored by Ken and Drew Fuller. The work in the club house has been ongoing for some time. The floors have been completely replaced, as the old ones had rotted beyond repair. New window sills and door jambs have been added and other structural improvements, such as re-framing the fireplace, have been completed.
The club house has always been a sportsman’s lodge, serving family and friends for over a century.
The property isn’t accessible to the public, so I’m thrilled to have been able to visit. I spent many summers visiting some of the family’s adjacent land and have always loved the area. It was a magical place to me as a teenager and it’s encouraging to know that it will be preserved for generations to come.
The land which today comprises West Hill was first acquired by William Cunningham of Pulaski County in the Land Lottery of 1827. Cunningham never occupied the property and sold it to David Harrell about 1836, when the Greek Revival main house* is thought to have been constructed. He sold the property to William West (1799-1873) in 1853. By 1860, West had 3500 acres in cultivation and 2000 acres in timberland, making him one of the largest plantation owners in Georgia. He was also a leading cotton producer, with a record of 430 bales produced around 1860. Slave labor was integral to the operation.
West deeded the property to his daughter, Annie Crooks West, in 1867. She later married James Nelson McMichael and they lived in the main house the rest of their lives. After Mrs. McMichael’s death in 1915, estate administrators operated the farm until it was purchased by her nephew, L. M. Moye, Sr., in 1929. His descendants continue to own the property. I’m most grateful to Mac Moye for a generous tour of the grounds. The property is inhabited and private.
*-Mac Moye notes the similarity of the main house to the Bedingfield Inn in Lumpkin, suggesting they were likely designed by the same builder. This must be considered more than coincidental, considering the rural nature of Stewart County in the 1830s.
West Hill Dependencies
The historical importance of West Hill is most evident in the surviving dependencies that were the hallmark of self-sustaining plantation life. That the West descendants have maintained these structures in such authentic condition for more than a century-and-a-half seems nothing short of miraculous. Other than the absence of the original wooden shingles, the outbuildings are true to their original condition.
Perhaps the most significant of the remaining dependencies at West Hill is the plantation schoolhouse. One of the first schools ever built in Stewart County, its use by neighboring children was strongly encouraged by William West, who even brought a tutor from New York to teach his children here.
West Hill Dependencies- Slave Dwellings of “The Grove”
Few properties in Georgia retain the dwelling places of enslaved persons, so the survival of these three at West Hill is extraordinary. Though they have been maintained by the family for their historical value, they are the most endangered, and arguably the most important structures on the property. About a quarter mile from the main house in an area referred to as “The Grove”, these single-pen houses were used as tenant homes long after emancipation. As a result of their later use, two were slightly modified. One has an extra room and shed room, while another has a shed room. Like the dependencies at the periphery of the main house, these structures were of log construction with siding and would also have originally featured wooden shingles.
All of the slave dwellings are believed to be contemporary to the construction of the main house, dating them to circa 1836.
National Register of Historic Places