Tag Archives: The Great Depression in Georgia

Pig Monument, Washington County

Pig Monument Washington County GA Great Depression Bartow Barron Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

This is one of the strangest but most heartwarming monuments you will see in Georgia.

On this spot in 1933 during the Great Depression neighbors of a farmer named Bartow Barron joined together to rescue his pig from a dry well. This monument is erected to the spirit of friendship and community so characteristic of those times.

Donors listed on the monument: Reynolds Allen, Beegee Baugh, John Burkey, Suzanne Caskey, Chris Chandler, Beaufort Cranford, Ruth Cranford, Nancy Culberson, Lee Dickens, May Donnelly, Charles W. Ennis, Noel Fowler, Floride Gardner, Emily Garner, Don Hartsfield, Myralyn Hartsfield, Goat Helton, Francis Ross Hicks, Cecil Hodges, Mary Holt, Martha Johnson, Maxa Osterman, Brenda Phillips, Rubye C. Pittman, Wesley Pittman, Randolph Puckett, Gus Pursley, Leon Thigpen, Catherine Everett Thurston, Elizabeth Tinley, and Harriett Wright.

I’m not sure when the monument was erected, but I would guess the mid-1990s. I believe a poem about this incident was published by Harold A. Martin in his book Southland and Other Poems of the South (Cherokee Publishing, 1992), which is referenced at the bottom of the marker.

Pig Monument Washington County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013



Shannon Building, 1920, & WPA Gymnasium, 1935, Jeffersonville


Better known as the home of J. E. Beck & Son Hardware (established 1945), the building was built by a Mr. Shannon in 1920. In the distance is the old WPA-built city gymnasium. According to Billy Humphries, it will soon be restored and used as a a theater/opry house.  Jean Clements also notes that for a time after the Jeffersonville school building burned in the late 1940s, it was used as the temporary grammar school.

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Filed under --TWIGGS COUNTY GA--, Jeffersonville GA

Irwinville Farms Health Clinic, Circa 1938


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


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

St. George Elementary School, 1938


Built to replace the original St. George School (1910) which was destroyed by fire, St. George Elementary is the southernmost school in Georgia.



Filed under --CHARLTON COUNTY GA--, St. George GA

Fort Valley Police Department, 1932


I first thought this to be a WPA construction, but the 1932 date is a bit early for that. It was orginally built as a post office and is very similar to many WPA-era post offices.

Fort Valley Downtown & Railroad Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --PEACH COUNTY GA--, Fort Valley GA

City Hall, 1940, Cuthbert

cuthbert ga city hall photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

Cuthbert’s Mid-Century Modern City Hall was a project of the WPA, near the tail-end of funding for the New Deal agency.  It’s a quiet  landmark of governmental architecture and utilitarian design. The bell seen below lists the names of the committee members who oversaw its construction.

cuthbert ga city hall bell photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2012

Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places


Filed under --RANDOLPH COUNTY GA--, Cuthbert GA

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

Georgia in the Great Depression

Near White Plains, Georgia.  Jack Delano, ca. 1941. Library of Congress.

Before I had an interest in photography I knew Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother. Elementary school textbooks, at least of my era, often used the copyright-free image to symbolize the hardships of the Great Depression. My great-grandmother regularly referred to “Hoover Days”. I consider my interest in vernacular architecture, which makes up the bulk of my public work, to be a direct result of my exposure to the FSA photographers. In addition to Lange, there were Walker Evans, Marion Post Wolcott, Gordon Parks, Carl Mydans, Russell Lee, Arthur Rohtstein, John Vachon, and Jack Delano.It’s amazing how many people know these photographs, whether they know their histories or not. They’re indelibly linked to the history of America in the 20th century.

I’d appreciate if any of my regular visitors to Vanishing South Georgia who’ve previously shared memories of the Great Depression would also share them on the new site. This site will also utilize historic family photos from time to time. Georgia in the Great Depression will only be updated irregularly (5-10 posts/month), but I’ll always welcome memories and stories from the era.


Filed under *ABOUT THIS SITE*

City Hall & Fire Department, 1939, Blakely

blakely ga city hall fire department photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

This was built by the Federal Emergency Administration as a New Deal project.

Blakely Court Square Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --EARLY COUNTY GA--, Blakely GA

Quitman County Courthouse, 1939, Georgetown

The present courthouse replaced a two-story wooden structure which burned in 1920. Due to economic hard times, the county rented warehouse space for use as a temporary courthouse until this was built with federal relief funds during the Great Depression.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --QUITMAN COUNTY GA--, Georgetown GA