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Johnny Vardeman: Historic names get corrupted over the years
Johnny Vardeman

Typographical errors, misprints on maps or other documents down through the years change the names or locations of communities, sometimes dropping them off the map altogether.

Narramore used to be a voting precinct in northeast Hall County at the Banks and Habersham counties line. A militia district carried that name, but early maps spelled it “Narimore.” Perhaps that was the original spelling, and it got changed through time. Oldtimers still might refer to Narramore as a community, but it doesn’t make most maps.

Whelchel is another. Early spellings dropped the “h,” to make it Welchel. Families by that name sometimes were Whelchels or Welchels. Whelchel continues to be a voting precinct, but broken into two locations.

Militia districts became voting precincts, and the names of many of those remain today, but the boundaries differ. Some of them are Friendship, though it’s divided into four locations; Roberts, Clinchem, Morgan, Quillians, Big Hickory and Fork.

Just one Sugar Hill, please

Last week’s column mentioned there might have been two “Sugar Hills” in Hall County at one time. Actually, there probably has been only one, the community and school today on the Athens Highway, U.S. 129 south of Gainesville. A mapmaker probably misplaced the name of Sugar Hill on one of those ancient maps.

Sarah Lanelle Martin Romines, a Hall County native who now lives in Tennessee, remembers her family talking about the Sugar Hill community. They farmed on the Hayne Palmour Sr. place, and children would walk two to three miles to Sugar Hill School. The school was a Baptist church, and Claud J. Martin, the children’s father, was a trustee of the school. With other men in the community on Mondays they would put up partitions in the church for the school classes.

One of the sons, Carlton James Martin, remembers one teacher having five grades in one room. Parents had to buy books for their children.

Another son, Seaborn Ray Martin, told a story about when a nurse came to the school to vaccinate children for smallpox. To him, the needle “looked like a 16- or 20-penny nail. I got scared and hid under the pulpit.” But he was found and survived the shot.

Sugar Hill School of that era was absorbed by Candler School in the late 1930s. The new modern-day Sugar Hill is on a sprawling campus between Gainesville and Pendergrass.

Bolding, Bolling, Boling

Today’s mapmakers or sign painters aren’t immune to making mistakes that continue down through the years.

An example is Bolding Bridge on Ga. 53 at the Hall-Forsyth counties line. It was named for the builder of the original bridge, W.R. Bolding, who also operated Bolding Mill and was a postmaster there. Bolding charged a toll for crossing through the covered bridge, which spanned the Chestatee River. Robbers sometimes hid in its rafters to prey on people passing through.

The spelling of Bolding is all over the place. Some Lake Lanier maps spell it “Bolling,” dropping the “d.” Most recently, one of the “l’s” has been dropped, leaving it “Boling.”

Curiously, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers correctly spells Bolding as in Bolding Mill Park, a campground off Chestatee Road.

The Boldings were a prominent Hall County family. W.R. Bolding’s son was W.E. Bolding, who served as ordinary and county commissioner. W.E. Bolding’s son was Paul E. Bolding, who died in World War I and for whom American Legion Post 7 in Gainesville is named.

Bolding Bridge has been in the news in recent months because its top has been a favorite of nesting ospreys. Georgia Department of Transportation has accommodated the ospreys before and during construction phases. The DOT most commonly uses the spelling “Boling” when referring to the bridge. It has been made aware of the mistake and perhaps eventually will correct it in honor of the family and in respect for history.

Probably not a big DOT priority as it has plenty on its plate with all the road construction and replacing bridges over Lake Lanier.

Watch for more local history in this column next Sunday.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville; 770-532-2326;