in Twentieth Century Hickory Flat:
Created by Rachael Dombart, Ashley Anglis, and Teresa Farrell
The following script accompanies a video produced by the senior students at Sequoyah High School in Canton, Georgia. To order a copy of the video, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six miles southwest of Canton, GA, in Cherokee Co., lies Hickory Flat, which was founded around 1820. After the evacuation of the Cherokee Indians, the land was sold through a government land lottery. In the early days, it was mentioned as a possible county seat, but that position passed over Hickory Flat and that honor was given to the city of Canton. The settlers who purchased the land named Hickory Flat for the numerous Hickory trees growing on the vast flat spaces. Since its founding, Hickory Flat has been a thriving, prosperous, and developing area. A close-knit and friendly community, it has focused on agriculture, education, and religion to build up to what it has become.
Swine and cattle were the primary livestock raised here. Almost every family in Hickory Flat owned a cow up until the 50s. We depended on them for milk and butter for bartering, especially when the Depression came, when it was hard for everyone to make a living on the farm. I remember going to the general store at the corner with my mother when I was young. Since we had little money, my mother and I bartered eggs and a few chickens for items we could not raise ourselves, such as flour, meal, sugar, and coffee. The only cash crops in Hickory Flat were corn and cotton. When I was old enough, I would wake up before dawn to work the fields of cotton, which was the single most important cash crop in the county at the time. In autumn, my family and I would gather the large amounts of cotton to take to the cotton gin for processing. There was only one cotton gin in Hickory Flat, and it unfortunately burned down in the 1940s, bringing the cotton industry down with it. My father took what money we had left from our cotton farming and built a chicken house and bought a few dozen chickens, which we used for eggs and meat. We gradually joined the booming poultry industry in the South along with many of our neighbors, and Georgia eventually became the biggest and most important poultry raising state in the nation. After a few years, many more farmers continued to join the poultry industry, and eventually the surplus of chickens became too great for the small Hickory Flat economy to handle. As prices plummeted, most chicken farmers sold their chickens to larger corporations such as Seaboard Farms in Canton, and the independent farmers began to disappear from the county.
The Hickory Flat School started out as a one room building in 1838. There was a large fireplace in one corner of the room that was used to heat the school. The boys would usually help chop wood to feed the stove. There was no indoor plumbing so that meant no bathrooms. Girls used one side of the woods and the boys would use the other. We sat on long benches with no tops and wrote on slates with chalk because there was no paper. School was held for five months in the winter and two in the summer, so the kids would be free to help their families for spring planting and fall harvesting. Eventually the school built on additional rooms and we got desks, which were much more comfortable, and they made it easier to write. When other schools started to be built in the 1950s, the Hickory Flat community raised money and built a gymnasium in an effort to keep their little school open. Fifty years later children are still playing ball in that same gym. A cafeteria was also built from an old army barrack in the late 40s. It had no formal equipment, just old wooden tables. All the dishes were washed by hand. Before the cafeteria, students would go home around noon to eat lunch. One time, the community canned food during the harvesting so that the school cafeteria had food for the students. The people of Hickory Flat always worked together for the good of the community. The school had a successful basket ball team. The boys and girls teams were both very good, even in their first season. And they each were County Champions on many occasions. Basketball was the main recreation and everyone participated. The community also supported a very active 4-H club where my brothers, sisters, and I were involved in several projects such as raising calves, heifers, and steers; canning food; and building a pump house to supply the school with water. Often during the springtime, when the weather was not too hot, my friends and would get together after school in my fathers field where we would race our ponies up and down the length of the field. It was very fun and many times, I won the races. We didnt have any newspapers back then, just a radio, which my family would gather around after dinner to listen to the news and a few radio shows. A few people had cars if they had the money. The cars back then were big and clunky, and by todays standards, very slow. Whenever my father came home from the store in his car, the noise and the dust from the road would always send our cows running. Big family get-togethers were few and far between since it was difficult to get our entire family together at once, and they were usually held for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. But usually, we would just gather the neighbors around on the front porch during the early evening when it was cool and comfortable to talk and drink lemonade or tea together.
My family and I felt a part of a community at the church. At that time, all families in Hickory Flat attended church, either the Hickory Flat Methodist or the Mount Zion Baptist. At my church, I was part of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. Many of my friends from the Baptist church would attend the MYF with me on Sundays since they didnt have a youth program at their church. This brought our denominations together to form one community. My friend would tell me that the only youth gatherings that occurred at Mr. Zion were sing-alongs which they enjoyed greatly, but they wished they had a youth program of their own. I enjoyed listening to the stores my friend would tell me about Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She told me that they attended Sunday school just as I did, and that their sermons were held only once a month, which I found interesting. Their preacher rotated between four churches. I listened to her tell stories of their Baptisms, which took place in the nearby river before the baptizing pools was constructed. After the crop season, my family and I attend Revival. WE would go to church two times a day and eat dinner there as well. The church families spent the whole day in prayer as a community and would host dinner for the pastors and visiting ministers.
The Worley-Quarles house has stood watch over the Hickory Flat community for around 170 years. We can only imagine what the crossroads looked like in the 1830s when she was in her infancy. We do know that one couldnt walk without hearing the constant crunch of the plentiful hickory nuts that gave the area its name. We know that men and women toiled on small farms to grow cotton and the other supplies they needed to survive. We know that church, school, family, and friends rounded out their lives. That much at least remains true. Yet, over a period of many years, the house has witnessed incredible changes. Mules and wagons gave way to automobiles, dirt roads to paved ones, cotton fields to chicken houses, and general stores succumbed to supermarkets. During all of these shifts, however, the Worley- Quarles house has stood vigil. Many old time residents today recall the house and its younger beauty. The fine woodwork of the staircase, Ms. Burts lovely china, the elegant fireplaces in the two front rooms are often mentioned by those Hickory Flat folds who recall visiting the house when they were children. Our children today know it only in its faded form, as a place that has always been there marking the spot at the crossroads. It reassures them with its quiet dignity and its constancy in their ever changing lives and landscapes.
NarratorHickory Flat has obviously changed greatly over the years, as is expected by any growing community. Despite the changes, however, it remains a tightly bonded community of good people who are determined to work together to better the place they call home.
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