The history of Haralson County

  A historical sketch of Draketown

October 2004
 


by Peggy Kimball
as retold with additions by Ron Feigenblatt


All the cities and communities in Haralson County have very colorful histories. The Draketown community near the headwaters of the Tallapoosa River is one of the smaller such with an interesting past. Some of the stories are based on oral legends handed down from generation to generation. It is told that long before White people came to Draketown, the Indians called their community "Long Leaf". Settling White miners adopted the name Draketown, allegedly because many of them came from Ducktown, Tennessee. (Aside: Ducktown copper mining led to an important 1904 decision in environmental law, Madison... v. Ducktown... which is still frequently cited around the world today, from Britain to China.)

Legend has it that as more and more White settlers moved in, the Indians were forced to move. But before their departure, the Indians approached one White neighbor, Walter D. Butler, whom they greatly admired and trusted. They told him that because of their respect and friendship for him, they wanted to show him something that no other White man had ever seen - or would ever see again!

The Indians blindfolded Mr. Butler and proceeded to take him on a three- or four-mile journey crossing four or five streams of water. At long last, they took the blindfold from Butler’s eyes and he found himself inside a cave. When his eyes adjusted to its dim light, he discovered that the surrounding walls were full of gold nuggets, a report that for many years fascinated all that heard the story. Mr. Butler was returned home by a similar blindfolded journey, keeping the precise location of the cave a secret.

In the years to come, many would search for the cave, but none would find it. The tale of the gold-studdded cave is but one of the interesting stories Mr. Butler would relate to his friends.

While Butler's gold may have eluded many seekers, another gift of the earth proved much more palpable. People were drawn into the area in search of copper, where many found a large supply of this metal. Their labors are rememberd by today's Coppermine Road.

The citizens of that era related traveling to Marthasville, now called Atlanta. But eventually the new settlement developed a local grocery store, owned by a Mr. Green Carroll. It also established a small school for the area children called Crow’s Hill School. The new school would prove itself very important, because it finally gave many rural youngsters the opportunity for formal education. The grandfather of the late Jim Frank Smith built a dormitory to house its students.

The first village physician was Dr. Hutcheson, and eventually three other medical doctors joined him as residents of Draketown: Ivie Golden, B.F. Eaves, and W.F. Golden. Drawn by the school and the doctors, many moved into the area. There was a gristmill and blacksmith shop, and even a hotel built by Mr. Will Abercombie.

In 1905, the first steam-powered vehicle rolled into Draketown, acccompanied, so a story tells, by a mule trudging along side of it. But only in 1910 did the first internal-combustion automobile come to town: this Model T Ford was owned by Dr. Golden. A year later, four Maxwell cars joined it in Draketown. Of course not all the citizens could afford automobiles, and most travelled by horse and buggy or wagon. It took an entire day to travel one-way to or from county-seat Buchanan, and the children were all excited just to see the railroad train which served it.

In that era, Draketown hosted a Baptist institute. But the same year World War I ended, 1918, it closed, selling its building to the county. Many of the students transferred to other colleges and numerous attendees would spend long years teaching in the Haralson County school system before their retirement.

Little Draketown can boast of famous musical sons, the most recognized of whom flourished a century ago, but whose work even today provides material for recording artists. Homer Franklin Morris (1875-1955) was a well-known publisher and composer who cofounded the Morris-Henson Publishing Company. This firm emerged in the 1920's as one of Georgia's leading gospel music publishers.
 
Homer F. Morris

Morris is responsible for the standard Row Us Over The Tide, which seems first to have appeared in a 1910 collection. It's famous opening verse consists of these touching words:
Two little wandering orphans one day,
Down by the lone riverside,
Ventured at last to the boatman and plead,
Row us over the tide...

Was Morris inspired to write the song by one of the many lovely small streams in the area, perhaps one crossed by Mr. Butler in the tale of hidden gold born long decades earlier yet? No one knows.

Numerous performances of Row Us Over The Tide have been recorded over the years, a recent example being Kathy Kallick's rendition on the MerleFest 2003 music CD. Listen for free to a 1969 recording of Floyd McGinnis performing the song by using the audio player embedded in the Web page here. Two other variants on the song are linked on the same page.

At one time, little Draketown was a very prosperous community. Its long history is full of charming and interesting details. And even in the Internet Age, the gifts of its long-departed residents remain vital.

Today, many townspeople still have tales to tell visitors about holes behind their homes, a link with the history of the copper mines that existed in the area. Fond memories have been shared from generations past to those present of trips to Villa Rica by buggy and to Buchanan by wagon. But only time itself will tell if some latter-day explorer one day finds the mysterious cave of gold nuggets!