George Harris Bell Article submitted by David Bell
The quoted material below was written by my grandfather, George Harris Bell (1866-1950). He was born in Forsyth Co., a son of William Harris and Samuella Bias (Burruss) Bell, and a grandson of George Washington and Margaret (Phinazee) Bell -- the latter being among the early settlers of Forsyth Co. and George Washington Bell having been an uncle of the Hon. Hiram Parks Bell of Forsyth Co. In 1893 the author, George Harris Bell, married Ella L. Gunter, and the first 5 of their 8 children were born in Forsyth Co. About the turn of the century, G.H. and Ella moved their young family across the Chattahoochee River to Hall Co., a few miles west of Oakwood, where the balance of their children were born and where G.H. was a merchant and a long-time Justice of the Peace. As might be expected -- having left behind many friends and relatives -- G.H. made occasional trips back to Forsyth Co. Upon his return from one such trip, in 1906, he recorded his observations and provided the material to the Editor of "The Gainesville News," who published the account which follows in the edition of September 26, 1906. A lengthy excerpt was re-published in the May 16, 1976 edition of "The Times," in Gainesville, which has graciously authorized reproduction on this site.}
"During a recent visit to friends in Forsyth County,
I took note of the many changes that have taken place since I used to travel
through that section when a boy.
The Brown's Bridge, away back in the 1870s, was a large merchant's mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop and large machine shop, where the manufacture of furniture, wagons, wagon material, bee hives and coffins was carried on. The large dam across the river is about all washed away. Just across the river on the Forsyth side stands the old Brown mansion, the home of Minor Brown during ante-bellum days, and later occupied by Hon. Oliver Clark, who represented Forsyth County in the Constitutional Convention of 1877. This is a large two-story house with boxchimneys and surrounded by a grove of large walnut, locust and water oaks. Just across the public road is the old storehouse where, at one time, a large mercantile business was carried on. Nearby is the homeplace of Bester Allen.
Passing on, we next come to Oscarsville where there is a large school building, Masons and Odd Fellows hall, and two churches. There is also at this place two stores and a large ginnery. This is the old home place of the late Rev. Crawford C. Morgan, a Methodist minister who, during the 1880s, conducted a large tannery nearby. About a mile farther, after crossing Two Mile Creek, there is the old Green place. This was settled by the late James A. Green who was, before and during the War Between the States, a principal keeper of the Georgia penitentiary at Milledgeville. The house, which is a large two-story building with a wide veranda and box chimneys, stands a short distance back from the Federal road in a large grove of oaks. Before the War, there was a post office here called Hartford.
This section also was the home of the Taylor boys, noted outlaws, who terrorized that section just after the War and in the 1870s. Woe be unto the man who gained their enmity, for he was certain to be paid a visit. It was their favorite pastime to go at night to the home of someone they disliked and shoot into the house, throw rails and rocks into the well, tear down fences and outbuildings, cut open feather beds, and sometimes carry away guns, pistols and other things they took a fancy to. Living, as we did, only a short distance from their home, often have we seen them returning on Sunday morning, tired and worn out after making a raid on Saturday night. Many is the Sunday we could hear shooting at their house all day long, practicing with pistols. They literally shot to pieces the plank fence which enclosed the garden.
There also lived in this district a man who claimed to be a "law-abiding man." His friends say there has never been a court, since the county was organized and up to a few years ago, but what this man had a case in court. It was in this district that we attended our first Justice Court. Once a case was tried when a number of citizens were arraigned for "Ku Kluxing," having whipped a Negro and treated him to a free ride upon a rail to the Chattahoochee River at Williams' Ferry, set him across the river and told him never to return. A number of magistrates from adjoining districts was called on to preside at the trial. Excitement ran high, large numbers of both whites and blacks being present, and nearly everyone present being armed with a pistol; however the day passed without serious trouble. It also was in this district that we attended our first election, not as a voter but as a boy twelve years of age. This was the notable race between Billups and Speer for Congress in 1878. We acted as clerk at the polls, and there has been but few general elections since then but what we have helped as manager or clerk.
These things all happened in the days of long ago, and a more peaceable community could not now be found.
Only a short distance west of the Green place is the old Burruss place, having been settled by my Grandfather, John H. Burruss, who moved to that section from Louisa County, Virginia, soon after Forsyth County was organized. This place, set as it is, right on the Old Federal Road, was a noted place before the War. It was a favorite stopping place for travelers and drovers from Kentucky and Tennessee, with large droves of horses, mules, cattle, sheep, hogs and turkeys on their way to Athens and Augusta. It was also headquarters for the stagecoach, a change of horses always being made here. Nearly all the outbuildings and old slave quarters have disappeared, but few changes have been made on the old mansion. Just across the road is the old cemetery where was buried the founder of this place and a number of his descendants. This is now the home of the Hon. A.H. Woodliff, Representative from Forsyth.
Just across Four Mile Creek is the Kellogg place, being settled by H.C. Kellogg who served as a Colonel in the 43rd Georgia Regiment during the War Between the States, and who was elected to the Legislature from Forsyth during Reconstruction days. This old mansion was built at a cost of several thousand dollars; the chimneys and pillars, it is said, cost upwards of four hundred dollars. This is now the home of Dr. G.P. Brice, one of the prominent physicians and farmers in Forsyth County. Nearby is situated the Silver Shoals Baptist Church and school, and only a short distance away is the little village of Pleasant, where is located a large blacksmith shop and store. Near here, at Silver Shoals on Four Mile Creek, in the 1880s, the first and only cotton factory ever in the county was built and operated for several years by W.A. Brown and son. It was later moved to Gainesville, being at present the Dr. Green cotton mill. Just west of Pleasant is the noted Graham farm, where thousands of bales of the fleecy staple have been made . . ."