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Johnny Vardeman: Quillians had a lot of trust in each other in business
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Quillians Corner in north Hall County is named for the family that once thrived in the area, owning miles of property and beaucoup businesses. They grew cotton and ginned cotton for other farmers.

The unique nature of the family and their enterprises were described in a 1915 article in the Banks County Journal: “There are four brothers in this section of Georgia who have been in business together 40 years and keep no books.

“J.C. Quillian of Belton, G.M. and R.F. Quillian of Gainesville and D.T. Quillian of Brookton compose this peculiar firm. They own thousands of acres of land, stores, warehouses and hundreds of other kinds of property. When one makes a dollar, the others get 75 cents of it, and when one spends $1, they contribute 75 cents of the amount.

“They have been doing business together between 30 and 40 years, no books kept against each other; neither do they have cross words nor hard feelings. This is a case where brotherly love must exist.”

The Quillians settled in North Georgia from North Carolina. James Quillian was a Revolutionary War soldier and Methodist preacher who moved his family to the Mossy Creek area of White County. Wiley Hargrove Quillian married into the Meaders family, the potters, and moved to what became Quillians Corner, where now U.S. 129 and Ga. 52 intersect.

The Quillians helped establish nearby Trinity United Methodist Church on Clark’s Bridge Road.

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Has there ever been a Cotter Street in Gainesville or elsewhere in Hall County?

No street or road by that name is listed on Hall County maps. Yet John V. Cotter was among the first members on the county court organized in 1818. He suggested the site of Gainesville and its name honoring Gen. Edmond Pendleton Gaines, with whom he had served during the War of 1812.

Cotter’s son, the Rev. William Jasper Cotter, a Methodist minister, in his memoirs written in 1917, said he was born at Cotter’s Store, site of present-day Gillsville, the earliest Hall County settlement. He was appointed to the Gainesville Methodist Circuit in 1851. His autobiography related that his parents died at the home of his brother, J.C.K. Cotter, in different rooms on the same day within two hours of each other.

The Rev. Cotter in 1909 requested the Gainesville City Council name a street Cotter Street in honor of the man who had sited the city and named it.

The matter was tabled, and it is undetermined if such a street ever was named. If so, it isn’t on any current maps.

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Porter Springs, a mineral springs resort in Lumpkin County, was so busy the late 19th and early 20th centuries, “hacks,” horse-drawn carriages or stage coaches, would take guests to and from the place three times a week. Many guests would come from Atlanta or other points on the train to Gainesville.

Hacks would leave the Hunt House on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for Porter Springs and return to Gainesville on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The fare was $1, but $2 if you had a trunk. You could stay at Porter Springs for $22.50 per month, $8 per week or $1.50 a day. A doctor was on site.

Porter Springs advertised “astonishing cures effected by water and climate.” Newspapers from Atlanta, Montgomery, Ala., and Macon arrived the same night they were printed. Owners of the resort were Mr. and Mrs. H.P. Farrow. He also was Gainesville postmaster in the 1890s and had served as state attorney general and U.S. attorney. While postmaster, he spent $1,200 of his own money to improve the post office.

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In today’s politics, it would be unseemly, if not unethical or unlawful, for a politician to endorse a commercial product. Apparently that wasn’t the case in 1899 when Gov. A.D. Candler of Gainesville was the subject of a half-page ad in the local paper promoting SSS tonic. He was quoted as saying he had used the tonic for 15 years, it was the best blood purifier and tonic he ever used, and it had helped his rheumatism. And, “I now eat with impunity anything set before me,” he said.

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Gainesville population in 1898 was 4,677; 3,482 white, 1,195 black – an increase of 1,475 from 1890.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.

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