Brief History of Metcalf, Ga.
Metcalf, A Glimpse of Some of the People and its Time
By Burnadeen L. Kindred, March 14, 1989
On the first night of the 1989 Winter Quarter 472 History class met, the illustrious professor announced that each member of the class would be required to research the history of “something” in South Georgia and write a paper on it. The “something” could be the choice of each individual member, with the approval of the professor. Having married someone from a small community in South Georgia that had had it’s “heyday”, as many other communities had, with the coming of the railroad in the late 1800’s, the decision to research the ancestors of some of the families still residing in Metcalfe and it’s history, was the choice of this member of the class.
Thomas County was created in 1825. Located in the Southwestern part of Georgia, it had 10, 766 people in 1860 (Rogers, Thomas County During the Civil War 1). The county was made up of communities and settlements. One of those communities, located only three miles from Florida and approximately thirty miles north of Tallahassee, was one that was to be named Metcalf. Some referred to it as the village of Metcalfe, others, as the town of Metcalfe. Its history is as diverse as the number of families that settled in and around the area.
The town was established in the late 1880’s (Rogers, Thomas County 1865 – 1900 116) and incorporated in October 1889. The life and activities of the people, as those in the area recall and retell, before the 1889 date, give some insight into the background of the people and of the community.
Looking at the history of the religion of an area, often gives invaluable information. Such is the case of Metcalfe. Only three miles west of Metcalfe, Spring Hill Church was organized in the summer of 1822 or 1823, under a bush arbor, by Peter McKinnon, Lockland Morrison, Angus Morrison, and one other pioneer, whose name is lost (Rogers, Antebellum Thomas County 85). This first church in Thomas County, and the only one for several years, was built without nails or sawed lumber, a log cabin surrounded by many natural springs (Heinsohn, 19).
Being centrally located, Spring Hill was not only known for its camp meetings, and quarterly meetings, but also for its Fourth of July barbecue. This was an annual celebration and muster call, when all able-bodied men answered the roll call on Muster Day. People came by the hundreds from four to six counties (Heinsohn 19).
An area of some thirty miles was considered the neighborhood of Spring Hill. Its membership had grown so within town years that a new and larger church had to be built in 1933. Being the church of South Georgia and North Florida, at one time Spring Hill boasted of a membership of as many as 500 members (Heinsohn 19). Mr. John Ferrell, a member of Spring Hill until his death, and whose father was one of the early settlers, is quoted from a letter he wrote in September, 1924: “Conversions ran into the hundreds….as these pioneers were in full conscience with all the principles and precepts of religion and were washed in the ‘Blood of the Lamb’.”
Mr. Albert Winter, city editor of the Thomasville Times-Enterprise, May 8, 1890, in an article about Metcalfe wrote:
“It is pleasant to turn away for a time from the present with its duties and the future with its doubts, and gather a few leaves from the past. These leaves may be yellow with age or withered or faded, but they bear with them a fragrance that is most delightful to one with anything of the antiquarian about him.”
“…a few of the pioneers that settled first in the Spring Hill section….I may name Daniel Stringer, John Bole, Levi Bole, the Morrisons and Andersons. These hardy pioneers, and indeed all others that first moved to the county banded together for mutual protection and to gain the advantages of each other (sic) society in their new homes.”
Many of the families still in the area are descendants of Daniel Stringer, who came to the Spring Hill/Metcalfe area from North Carolina in 1788. His father had been born in Virginia. From papers belonging to the Stringer family, evidences show that their roots were in Yorkshire, England.
In 1635, one Samuel Stringer, age 17, was granted permission to come to America on the ship, Globe of London. In 1647, James Stringer arrived and three years later, in 1651, John and Lettice Stringer arrived in Virginia from Yorkshire, England.
Daniel was married twice and fathered six daughters and seven sons. According to his will, he was a man of considerable means. He willed slaves to each of his children. To one daughter he willed “…a certain lot of Negroes to wit Sarah, a woman about thirty-seven years old, dark complexion and eight children…” He named each of Sarah’s children, in his will, and gave the age of each.
To one of the sons he willed “… a certain Negro male slave, name of Handy, to be sold…” Instructions in the will were that the proceeds from the sale were to be used to buy a young boy, “one that could be managed.” The remainder of his slaves, some twenty to thirty, was to be sold and the proceeds divided evenly among his children.
Smith Stringer was the oldest of Daniel’s children. In 1830, he married Sarah Morrison, daughter of one of the organizers of the Spring Hill Church. One of their sons, Daniel, fought in the Civil War. He mustered out early, due to illness. He died of diarrhea on October 6, 1863, Less that a month after his twenty-first birthday. Another one of their sons was Emory Stringer. It is told that Emory hired someone to serve in the Confederate Army in his place.
Emory was married four times and fathered many children. One of his many children was Joseph Dawkins Stringer. Two of Joseph’s sons, Emory and Authur, married and remained in the community. Authur was born in 1887 and lived to be ninety-four.
In 1909, Authur married Miss Eunice Strickland from Whitesburg, Georgia. Her family remembers her telling about their grandfather Strickland. When he was a small boy, the Union soldiers came through Whitesburg. His family had just started eating when the soldiers entered their home. The soldiers let it be known that the family had to leave the table. After they had eaten, they pulled the tablecloth off the table, destroying what was left on the table. As the soldiers left, they took all the horses belonging to the Strickland’s.
Arthur and Eunice had four sons and two daughters. Their son Harry and his sons, Hank and Ken, are living and working on the farm where the first Stringers in Thomas County lived and farmed.
Harry’s grandfather, father, and uncle, were a prominent part of the early history of Metcalfe. Harry and his family are valuable members of Metcalfe today. Harry is Sunday School Superintendent and Chairman of the Administration Board of the Metcalfe United Methodist Church. He is also a past County Commissioner of Thomas County, having represented the Metcalfe District. He, his wife Betty, and their family, are instrumental in keeping a tradition of fifth Sunday services at Spring Hill Church.
Daniel Stringer’s fifth child was a daughter, Mariah, who married James M. Horn in 1839. James came to the area in 1830 from the Carolinas. The genealogy of the Horne families still in Metcalfe, gives evidence that an ancestor of James’, Edward Horn, immigrated from England to the Colony of Pennsylvania with his wife and son, William, in 1724. Soon after the Revolutionary War, Edward moved his family to Charleston, South Carolina. It was from there James Madison Horn came to South Georgia.
One of James and Miriah’s eight children was Thomas Jefferson Horne, born April 15, 1845. He and his wife Martha Jane Forest Horne had four sons. Even though Thomas Jefferson Horne died in 1895, the results of having nursed a friend who had the flu, his sons were major factors in the life of Metcalfe during the time of its prominence in the area.
Jim, the eldest of the four, was a successful business man and the one to conceive the idea of a bank in Metcalfe. He, along with his brothers Elmer and Edwin, owned and operated the Horne Brothers’ farm supply store. The youngest, Olin Sugar, managed the family farm. Today, Olin Sugar’s youngest son Olin, Jr. is owner and manager of the family farm (Riley).
Mrs. Elizabeth “Beth” Horne Rudd, a daughter of Elmer T. Horne, still resides in Metcalfe. Even though all of the Horne family were and are prominent members of the Friendship Baptist Church, Beth moved her membership to Metcalfe United Methodist when she married William Berry Rudd. She serves as teacher for the adult Sunday School class and is chairperson of the Finance Committee.
The great-grandfather of Beth and Olin, Sugar Forest, served in the Confederate Army with Company I of the Twenty-Ninth Georgia Infantry Regiment. Company I, under the leadership of Captain William D. Mitchell, was called the Thomas County Volunteers (Rogers, Thomas County During the Civil War 25).
“The Twenty-Ninth, containing a major portion of Thomas County’s fighting men, had been in the thick of the conflict and had farily heavy casualties. Operating around Savannah, in Mississippi, in Tennessee, across Georgia, and into the Carolinas, it was active to the end.” (Ibid, 27).
Prior to 1861, the area was perhaps the most prosperous section of the county. Its fertile lands had made its owners rich (Winter). Before the Thomasville and Monticello railroad was built, and consequently before “the flourishing village was dreamed of, this section was covered with large plantations” (Winter).
The Railroad Comes and Schools too
In 1887, when it was announced that a railroad would be built from Thomasville, Georgia, to Monticello, Florida, a settlement began to develop half way between the two towns. A yellow frame depot was built in 1880. On August 24, 1888, the first train with its fifteen cars arrived at the new station. By this time the town already had several stores, a church, a school, numerous residences, plus the depot.
Even though T.C. Mitchell and James S. Lilly owned most of the land where the settlement was located, Metcalfe was named for Dr. John T. Metcalfe, a New Yorker, who, like many northerners, spent his winters in Thomas County (Rogers, Thomas County 1865-1900 16). In January 1890, The Daily Times Enterprise referred to him as a “cultivated gentleman, famous surgeon and physician, the Nimrod of his profession….” It is not known when the residents of the area dropped the “e” at the end of the spelling of Metcalfe, but today, it is spelled by most without the “e” on the end. That is part of then and now of the community.
Some felt that the “good school that has been established in Metcalfe” was one of the greatest benefits brought to the area (Winter). One farmer is reported as having said, “Before the building of the railroad, I was obliged to send my children away from home to get school advantages, which was expensive and annoying” (Winter). Professor A.F. Berry was in charge of the school. His assistant was Miss M.C. English. “Professor Berry has had a great deal of experience in the management of schools, and he has always given satisfaction to his patrons” (Winters)> This Professor A.F. Berry is the great-grandfather of James Clyde Kindred, this class member’s husband.
Andrew F. Berry was born in 1825. After the Civil War, like many, he came south and settled in Leon County, Florida. On November 2, 1870, he married Annie E. Copeland. He was forty-five and she was fifteen when they married. Members of the family believe that she was a student of his.
As mentioned earlier, Mr. Lilly and Mr. Mitchell were owners of most of the land in the area surrounding Metcalfe. They were very generous men. Mr. Lilly donated the land upon which to build the Friendship Baptist Church in Metcalfe. The church that had been established in 1848 was approximately two miles away (Dollar).
According to the deed records, the Metcalfe United Methodist Church was organized in 1890. “The land for the church, parsonage and patch, and $100.00 in cash was given by Thomas E. Mitchell of Thomasville, Georgia” (Hicks).
A committee with Andrew F. Berry as chairman, raised money to build the church and parsonage. In a partial history of the church, written by Mr. George F. Hicks, a charter member of the Metcalfe Methodist Church, A.F. Berry is described as the “backbone of the church and superintendent of the Sunday School until his death.
Mr. Wentworth Putman Kindred and his family were also charter members of the newly organized church. W.F. Kindred is the grandfather of James Clyde Kindred. When Clyde was a small boy, the church was destroyed by a tornado. Older members of the church, who remember the storm, tell that everything was completely destroyed with the exception of the podium with the Bible on it. That was left standing, undamaged. Clyde’s father, James A. Kindred, and his grandfather, were the carpenters who rebuilt the church.
The Kindreds lived only two houses away from the church. Clyde’s older sister recalls a neighbor’s getting very excited because she saw a small boy in the rafters of the church. That small boy was Clyde, age four.
Clyde has been an active member of the Methodist Church almost all of his life. He is Youth Sunday School teacher and Lay Minister. However, due to the easy accessibility of the churches in Thomasville, enrollment has declined among the youth to the point that if our son is absent, the entire youth group is absent.
According to family members, Wentworth P. Kindred came to the area in 1888 from Worcester, Massachusetts. His grandchildren remember his telling them that he walked almost all of the way. In fact, he told them that he walked so much his toenails came off.
It was only a few years later that other members of his family settled in and around Mayo, Florida. As a young man, he worked as a millwright for a lumberyard in Alton, Florida. After marrying Eva Rachel Berry in 1895 he worked as a millwright at the lumber mill in Metcalfe, and then as a carpenter. There are several houses still standing that he built, plus the Methodist Church.
Wentworth and Eva had eight children, four boys and four girls. Clyde’s father was their second child and first son, James Andrew, born on April 10, 1898. He served in the Navy during World War I. After being discharged, he went to Lockgelly, West Virginia, where he worked in the coal mines for several years. While there, he met and married Hazel Frances Runions.
Hazel was only seventeen when Andrew brought her to Metcalfe. Their family consisted of two boys and six girls. Their second hild and first son was James Clyde Kindred.
By 1889 Metcalfe was large enough to justify a section in the Daily Times enterprise devoted to “Items from Metcalfe” and later, in 1890, “Metcalfe Musings.” The opening of new stores and the construction of residences in Metcalfe were reported in that column. By December of 1889, the newspaper noted that “…we need only a barber shop and bank, and Metcalfe would be pretty well able to take care of herself…”
Agriculture and timber were the mainstays of Metcalfe’s commercial business. The rail service made Metcalfe a center for shipping these products (mainly, cotton, watermelons, and pears). A large cotton gin was in the middle of the town.
In a letter to the Daily Times Enterprise one year after the railroad opened, a citizen wrote “I tell you, Metcalfe is on a regular boom. Cotton is coming right along, and trade is picking up every day. We’re bound to be a live town. No mistake about it.” And for two decades, his prediction was true.
Dollar, Mae. Journal 6. m. Dollar Private Papers. Metcalf, Georgia
Heinsolhn, Lillian Britt and Roy W. Trefftzs. Heritage of Thomas County. Thomasville 1976
Johnson, Sara Julia, Journal 1. Johnson Private Papers. Metcalf, Georgia
Riley, Albert. “High-ways and By-ways of Thomas County.” Thomasville Times – Enterprise. 8 and 9 May, 1890.
Riley, Albert. The Making of a Bank ms. Commercial Bank Private Papers. Thomasville, Georgia.
Rogers, William Warren. Antebellum Thomas County. Tallahassee: Rose Printing Co., Inc. 1963
Thomas County During the Civil War. Tallahassee: The Research Council of the Florida State University. 1964
Thomas County 1865 – 1900. Tallahassee: The Florida State University Press. 1973
Stringer, Harry. Journal 1. H. Stringer Private Papers. Metcale, Georgia.
Winter, Albert. “High-ways and By-ways of Thomas County.” Thomasville Times – Enterprise. 7, 8 and 9 May, 1890.