Metcalf Touched Up
HIGH-WAYS AND BY-WAYS OF THOMAS COUNTY
“Tis, Indeed, A Goodly Land.”
HOMES OF PLENTY, AND PLENTY OF HOMES FOR ALL.
I regret that an interval has come between the letters commenced three weeks ago under the above head. It was made necessary, however, by circumstances over which I had no control, and if I be allowed to control the future, it shall not occur again.
I shall take my readers this week to that part of the county contiguous to Metcalfe, before the Thomasville and Monticello railroad was built, and consequently before the flourishing village was dreamed of, this section was covered with large plantations.
Prior to 1861, I use this term advisedly, because I have grown tired of hearing the expression “Before that way,” there was not more prosperous section of the county, or, indeed, of Southern Georgia, than this belt of country. Its fertile lands had made its owners rich.
Such men as Dr. Isaac Mitchell, father of T. C. Mitchell, William Ponder, Sugar Forrest, John Montgomery, Richard Thomas, Robert Roddenberry, Elijah Neel, Sheldon Swifty, John I. Parker, William Howard, had grown rich from the products of the soil, and their homes were fine types of what the homes of the south were before the dreadful scourge of war had passed over our fair Southland.
This may not be the place nor the time to pay tribute to the men and women of the old south, but I cannot restrain the desire that wells up within me to say that they, the pioneers, in giving the world a type of civilization which, while it had its faults, was as far superior to the shoddy tendency of the present age as gold to the baser metals. Of these men it may truly be said, they were all brave and honorable, of the women, they were all fair and noble.
Then the days of railroads came after the way and the country contiguous to them had begun to take on a new life, it was but natural that districts remote from great arteries along which ebb and flow the tide of modern travel and traffic should fall into the background. This was true of the section of which I am writing.
In 1888, however, a new day beamed, and it was the precursor of a period that will bring a more substantial and abiding prosperity than this section has ever before known. August 27th of that year, the Thomasville and Monticello railroad was completed to Metcalfe, and a month later it was opened to Monticello. It was my good fortune to be one of the first parties from Thomasville that went down to Metcalfe, the young village among the pines. Honorable S.G. McLendon chaperoned the party, and he did it as he does all such things, gracefully and well.
The place has been so-called in compliment to Dr. John T. Metcalfe of New York, who has been and still remains such a staunch friend to our county and people.
When the village was located, T.C. Mithcell, who owned the lands of the west side of the road, and James S. Lilly, who owned those on the east side of the road, gave a half interest in one hundred acres of land to the S.F. and W. Ry Co., and under the impetus of this far-seeing policy, the growth of the village was rapid.
W.D. Stegall had begun the erection of a storehouse even before the railroad was completed, and, with J.H. Davidson, who had a contract on the road, opened a stock of goods a few days after the first train run to the place.
A few weeks afterwards, Mitchell and McIntyre of Monticello, built and opened a branch store here, which they put in charge of J.B. Thomas and Homer Young.
R.H. Manning moved here from the neighborhood of Lake Iamonia and opened a business.
Then T.J. Montfort and C.C. Wheeler, both living across the Florida line, opened a store in the thrifty young village.
J.M. Ruskin and Son opened a mercantile business from which they elder Mr. Ruskin retired a few months afterwards, his interest having been bought by F.A. Richter of Cairo.
In January, 1889, Dr. W.A. Monroe and Mr. C.C. Wheeler opened a drug store next to Stegall & Davidson’s, and they are still doing business at the same place.
Dr. Monroe has a fine practice, extending several miles in each direction.
Mr. E.N. Connell had been a partner with Mr. R.H. Manning when the latter first began business in Metcalfe, but later he formed a co-partnership with his father, Mr. W.T. Connell, and they are still doing business together. Both these gentlemen are Floridians, and indeed, quite a number of the citizens of Metcalfe claim the “Land of Flowers” as their birthplace.
In February of the present year, Messrs. Crenshaw & Crewshaw moved to Metcalfe from Centerville, Leon County, and opened a store immediately in front of the depot.
Hancock Brothers had operated a saw mill a few miles from Metcalfe before the building of the railroad, which they moved to the place soon after the road was opened. These gentlemen were unfortunate enough to lose their mill by fire a few weeks ago, but they are building, and in a few weeks its merry tune will again be heard. The same gentlemen started a steam gin here last fall, and they turned out many bales of the fleecy staple.
In the spring of 1889 Reynolds & Wilkes opened a blacksmith and wood shop in Metcalfe, and they are doing a good business. Mr. Reynolds is one of the best-known citizens of the county. Mr. Wilkes moved here from Columbus. N.S. Eaves, the well-known Thomasville contractor and builder, put up the first houses in Metcalfe; afterwards, Mr. A.S. White built several stores and residences.
W.J. E. Hinson has also constructed a number of houses here; among them, the Methodist and Baptist churches. Mr. Hinson is a native of North Carolina though he has been a citizen of Thomas County for a number of years.
L.V. Rachkley, another worthy son of the Old North State, has been in Metcalfe about 16 months, and his work as a contractor and builder is to be seen on every hand.
W.H. Sanders has recently opened a livery stable in the village, and he is prepared to furnish the public with teams.
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS
Friendship Baptist Church was organized many years ago, and it is perhaps one of the oldest churches organized in the county. The church building is about two miles from the village, and is surrounded by one of the finest oak groves in the state. Near the church is a cemetery in which sleep many of the earliest settlers of this part of the country; men and women that made their impression the day in which they lived, and now sleep peacefully “neath the shadows of the oaks. Soon after the completion of the railroad, a move was made to build a better church for the Friendship congregation in Metcalfe.
Mr. Lilly gave the land on which the building and the public-spirited citizens of the village and the surrounding country gave liberally of their substance, and the neat edifice that points heavenward with unerring finger is a monument to their efforts in this direction. The building has not been finished yet, but the necessary money has been subscribed, and work will begin in a few days and continue until the church is ready for occupancy. The Friendship congregation still uses their old church, but as soon as the new one is finished, it will be occupied. Rev. T.A. White is the devoted pastor, and his eloquence in the cause of his Master, and his zeal for the welfare of his congregation bears abundant fruit.
In the fall of 1889, Mr. T.C. Mitchell, with his liberality, gave the ground on the hill on the west side of the railroad as a site for a Methodist Church, and work was begun on the building soon afterwards. When the church building is finished, it will be one of the charges of the Thomas County circuit.
Thursday, May 8, 1890. Metcalfe’s School. A prominent and successful farmer said to me, “I have drawn by first dividend from the building of the Thomasville and Monticello Railroad, in the good school that has been established at Metcalfe. Before the building of the road, I was obliged to send my children away from home to get school advantages, which was expensive and annoying.” This sentiment expresses the situation exactly, and would be repeated by a score of others. Metcalfe’s school is under the charge of Prof. A.F. Berry, and Miss M.C. English is his assistant. Prof. Berry has had a great deal of experience in the management of schools, and he has always given satisfaction to his patrons. His assistant, Miss English, is also a successful and zealous teacher. The academy numbers nearly 100 pupils and is steadily increasing. The academy building is very desirably located, and the happy faces of boy s and girls going back and forth is one of the pleasantest features of Metcalfe.
Dr. John E. Hannah, so well and favorably known in Thomasville, located in Metcalfe after his graduation a few months ago, and will practice his chosen profession. His friends predict a bright future for him, and he certainly has the elements that will command success. It has been my fortune to know Dr. Hanna long and intimately, and from this knowledge I can unhesitatingly commend him to the good people of Metcalfe and vicinity. McRae Bros. Have formed a partnership with him, and the firm will soon have a neat and convenient drug store completed facing the depot on the east side of the railroad which will be occupied as soon as completed. In the meantime, Dr. Hanna is in R.H. Manning’s store where he has a stock of drugs and his office.
Dr. W.B. Watkins, another Thomasville boy, has located in Metcalfe, and has begun a career that will bring him success. He has his office with Messrs. Monroe and Wheeler, and has already gathered a goodly practice. He is a graduate of the Atlanta Medical College and comes from a family of physicians.
Mr. J.T. Miller, who moved to Metcalfe from Waresboro, holds the responsible position of railroad agent, express agent and telegraph operator, to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
Dr. E.R. Young is postmaster and handles Uncle Sam’s mail service to the satisfaction of the public. The mail to and from Miccosukee is carried from Metcalfe six times weekly, Metcalfe being the nearest railroad point.