Old maps reveal a lot about the history of an area, changes that have come about, places that no longer are obvious.
An 1889 map pinpoints the community of Land in northern Hall County between the east and west forks of Little River. Also missing from today’s maps is Absalom in the Flat Creek area of western Hall County north of Flowery Branch.
Jarrett was just east of Hall County’s Sugar Hill community, not the Gwinnett County Sugar Hill, and Constantine was just over the line in Jackson County. Longview was near Alto at the Habersham-Banks county line.
Missing from Gainesville maps, photographer Robb Maag points out, is Church Street, which ran parallel to and south of the present Jesse Jewell Parkway and intersected Bradford, Main, Maple and south Green streets, among others. Church Street ran from the vicinity of today’s Poultry Monument, actually at East Avenue, east toward what is today’s Downey Boulevard.
Moving south from Spring Street on the downtown square, you would cross first Broad Street, then Church Street. “Produce Row,” a kind of year-round market selling vegetables and fruits, either homegrown or shipped in, lined an area off the street. Businesses that once operated on Church Street to the rear of the old City Hall included J. Wendall Lancaster, White Furniture and Nalley and Nuckolls agricultural implements. Church Street also ran near Davis-Washington Lumber Co., Wright’s Ice Cream and City Ice Co.
Grape Street also isn’t on today’s Gainesville maps. It once ran off North Green Street toward present Fire Station No. 2 on Holly Drive, which is the name of the street now.
• • •
In those days of few bridges across the Chattahoochee and Chestatee rivers, people had to find a ferry or shallow places to cross. Shallowford Road in Gainesville naturally got its name from a place people could get across the Chattahoochee going toward Dawsonville.
Other fords were Stringer, east of Thompson Bridge; Crowder and Seven Islands near the Glades; Wooley’s at the Dawson-Forsyth-Hall county line; and Rocky Bottom, Robinson and Wilkie at the Hall-Dawson line.
Wooley’s, on the Chestatee River at the Hall-Forsyth counties line, got its name from Basil and Margaret Wooley, who built a dam, grist mill, sawmill and house for travelers to stop. It also was a place where robbers preyed on people traveling the roads in that area.
Winn’s Ferry carried people and livestock across the Chattahoochee in Hall and Forsyth counties. A Cherokee Indian chief, James Vann, built the ferry in 1805 and operated it until he died. The Chief Vann Tavern also was his enterprise, a place for travelers to stop and refresh themselves. The tavern was moved to New Echota historic site near Chatsworth and restored in 1956 as Lake Lanier began to inundate the surrounding land.
Richard Winn succeeded the Cherokee chief as ferry and tavern operator. The late historian Sybil McRay suggested that Winn’s Ferry might have taken two American presidents across the river, Andrew Jackson and James Monroe. The route was the Old Federal Road through North Georgia from Augusta into Tennessee.
The Winns and Chief Vann were believed to have been buried in the vicinity of the ferry and tavern, but Lake Lanier might have covered the graves. Other ferries across the Chattahoochee in southern Hall County included Light’s, Gaines and Williams. A ferry also crossed the Chattahoochee on what is now Clark’s Bridge Road. Elizabeth Clark operated it until she built a covered toll bridge in the 1860s.
• • •
Railroad and other history buffs have another opportunity to see the video documentary, “Memories of a Short Line — A History of the Tallulah Falls Railroad,” 4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Rabun County Fine Arts Center in Tiger. There is no admission charge.
David Greear and Emory Jones produced the 57-minute video in cooperation with the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center. Numerous people familiar with the railroad are interviewed for the production.
The Fine Arts Center is located at 230 Wildcat Hill Drive in Tiger in Rabun County.
The TF ran from Cornelia to Franklin, N.C., much of the route over high wooden trestles through the mountains. Two movies featured the railroad, “The Great Locomotive Chase” and “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain.”
• • •
Would appreciate hearing from anybody who has memories of the old chapel bell and/or the totem pole that once stood on the Brenau University campus.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.