Just off I-75 at the Vienna exit you’ll notice this structure, which now serves as the Georgia State Cotton Museum. It’s a really small museum, but provides a great link between the historical importance and continued prominence of cotton in Georgia. The building originally served as the rural Smyrna Schoolhouse (Circa 1890) and was moved here and renovated.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Schoolhouses
When I photographed this structure nearly six years ago (29 March 2010) I had no knowledge of its history. I identified it as a farmhouse, which was partially true. That was its later purpose. But the more interesting story was shared by Jessica McDaniel, who does an excellent job documenting her corner of the world at Southwest Georgia in Photographs (see link at the end of the article and please check it out). She wrote on 18 July 2011: This is…the New Salem School. It has since been moved to the Blakely Highway…It was one of the many Baker County one-room school houses. I believe that it’s the only one still standing besides the Elmodel Masonic Lodge.
This is one of the best preserved country schoolhouses I’ve ever found. I tried to find it in the Educational Survey of Tattnall County, but that document is not properly formatted online. I’m calling it Cedar Creek School because that’s the neighborhood in which it’s located and I know that there was a rural school known by that name in Tattnall County. My guess is that it dates to the 1910s-1920s.
The South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church writes: Fargo is on the western side of the Okefenookee Swamp and records of Methodism are few. Methodist meetings were held but no records of this have survived. In the late 1890’s, the Baxter Timber Company built the Hamby Masonic Lodge and the community and church used the lower floor. When the depression hit, the Baxter Company turned the lodge into a hotel. The church moved to the school until the hotel failed and then Fargo moved back into the lodge building. Until the roads were paved in the 1950’s, the preacher would arrive by train on Saturday evening, preach, take the noon train to St. George, preach and return to Fargo again at night. During the Sunday school attendance contest between Fargo and Statenville, the Fargo superintendent had to wire Statenville when Fargo hit the 100 mark because there were no phones.
When I first photographed this structure I thought it was just a general store. I was partially right. Thanks to information from Beth Reddish on Facebook, I now have a better history. It’s located near Gum Branch on the farm of James Ogden Long and will soon be restored to ensure it survives. Laura Lisca Smith Long was the first teacher. Her husband Hilton Franklin Long served as a school board member in Liberty County for 33 years. He was shot for trying to consolidate schools in 1926, and survived. Frank Long Elementary School in Hinesville is named in his memory. After the consolidation of schools it was used as a general store.