About the series
These days, small towns are beginning to look more and more alike, with a fast-food chain on the corner and a big-box retailer down the street. But this winter, The Times will take you to the unique communities within Hall County, sharing their history, their characters and their charm. Look for a story each day through the New Year. To see previous profiles, go to gainesvilletimes.com/hamlets.
Travelers wandering west on Dawsonville Highway out of downtown Gainesville traverse the winding road that connects Hall County’s seat to its neighboring Dawsonville, passing old country stores and newly built gas stations alike.
But about six miles west of Gainesville rests a community that most travelers would pass through unknowingly if it weren’t for a group of service stations and an adequately named road.
It’s a community that has kept mostly quiet for more than two centuries and its people are OK with keeping it that way.
Sardis Baptist Church was established in 1800, more than two decades before Mule Camp Springs was chartered as Gainesville, and has served as the Sardis community’s epicenter, unofficially, since.
According to church records, any documentation relating to the church or the area prior to 1881 has been lost or destroyed.
“(Sardis) was a close-knit community,” said Glenn Satterfield, who has lived in the Sardis area since the late 1950s. “Everybody knew everybody and we all went to church.”
Satterfield, who lives on Lynncliff Drive, about a mile or so from the church, said things were different when he first moved in.
“When we moved out here, Dawsonville Highway wasn’t finished — they were working on it,” he said. “There wasn’t no bridge across the lake, so you had to take the old 53 route to get into town.”
That, he said, isolated the community from the growing city of Gainesville.
“We knew some people that lived here and it was a quiet, undeveloped community,” Satterfield said. “There was about three houses (nearby) when we moved here.”
In fact, he knew every single one of his neighbors.
Bill McNeil lived across the road, he said as he pointed from his seat in his living room, while the Sergeants, Campbells and Wageses lived up the street.
“You knew just about everybody from here back to Chestatee Church,” Satterfield said. “It wasn’t like people moved in today and out tomorrow.”
Satterfield’s son attended the Sardis School, across from the church, which housed all grades at the time.
Adjacent to the school and the church was the local hangout — before the gas stations and pizza places.
Ernest Haynes’ Sinclair station, a “filling station” that now houses a small grocery store, was the community’s hot spot more than 50 years ago.
“That’s where everybody met to gossip and talk about growing their 100-pound watermelons,” Satterfield said.
But once the bridge and Ga. 53 were completed, the area started opening up to outsiders, and small shops, gas stations and restaurants started to pop up.
“People was beginning to buy land and moving in and start building houses,” Satterfield said.
But although the traffic may be thicker and the area now has three schools and a new church building, the community remains largely the same: small and quiet.
“It seemed like it built up good for awhile and then it started (slowing) down,” Satterfield said. “It’s mostly a family community.”