Monday, October 27, 2008

Helen, Georgia and the Sautee Valley

The Sautee Store - click to enlarge.

Deborah Wilson's Corridors blog has a good and interesting story about the Sautee Valley and the close-by Nacoochee, in north Georgia.

It reminded me of my ties there.

The Sautee Store is a short distance from the famous vacation town of Helen – probably less than 6 or 7 miles south towards Cleveland.

Helen used to not be so famous. As Deborah said it was a logging town. Nearby is Unicoi State Park where Anna and I spent our honeymoon in December 1967, very close to Anna Ruby Falls.

Helen was founded by early settlers which included Richard England and his family. Two of Richard’s children, a male and female, married two of John Hunter’s children. Richard and his family is buried near the center of Helen close to the Chattahoochee River.

Harriet Hunter (with child) and husband Daniel England

Just a couple of miles north of Helen is Robertstown. About ten years after our honeymoon, doing genealogy research I discovered some of my Trammell relatives festered in Robertstown after the killing in Macon County, North Carollina.

On our way to our honeymoon we stopped at the Sautee Store. It was not nearly as artsy and pseudo country and gift shop it is now. But the lady that owned it then was trying to get it that way. Then, it was a one-woman operation. When she learned we had just married she gave us a candelabrum and a cheese cutter - both made of copper. She also owned a store in the community of Vinings in south Cobb County which was like what the Sautee Store ended up being.

Beside the store is an intersection. The oncoming road, if you turn off on it you will pass the Stovall House Bread and Breakfast a few miles up the road on the right. On up the road just a mile or more so you will approach a bridge. Look over to your right and you will a covered bridge from days gone by.

The road now by- passes the beautiful covered bridge, and there are short poles embedded that will not allow a car to drive over it. Underneath it and the new bridge is a beautiful deep looking sedate creek.

The covered bridge is a retired movie star. It was a focal point in the movie “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain” with Susan Hayworth. Several of my Hunter relatives were extras in the movie. The next generation or two down the same family line they were extras in “Deliverance” So, don’t bend over and squeal – it might bring back old times.

In the area someplace Leander Newton Trammell lived. Leander went on to be a lawyer and a state representative. His biggest claim to fame was being the railway commissioner of Georgia. He and his family had a home in Marietta on Trammell Street and also Dalton, Ga., also on Trammell Street. For one day he was technically the legal governor of Georgia by default. When he was a young man he was a neighbor to Moses Harshaw.

His grandson Niles Trammell was president of NBC and responsible for Amos & Andy and also for NBC going into television.

Moses Harshaw married Richard England’s sister Nancy England. Nancy was an aunt-in-law to two of John Hunter’s children, Harriet and William.

Moses Harshaw treated his slaves very inhumanely. He was charged with manslaughter on many occasions. He was known at the time as “The Meanest Man in Georgia”. His tombstone reads, “Died and Gone to Hell”.

When a slave got to old or sickly to be productive and became a liability Moses would carry him up to Lynch Mountain to a steep edge and simply push him off. The stories also said Moses would have an unproductive slave dig his own grave then shot.

Moses also did not believe a slave had a right to ride in a wagon. He felt that was for white folks. When he went to get supplies or whatever else he needed muscle power he would carry a slave but instead of the slave riding in the wagon Moses would put something like a leather strap around his neck and tie a rope or long leather bridle to the wagon and he to run to keep up. Tch tech.

Moses was charged with manslaughter several times, but being a lawyer himself, he knew all the loopholes. He worked on weekdays as a lawyer at Clarksville, Georgia.

Once while in Moses was away in Clarksville a slave child died. His wife Nancy England bought a new dress at the local store for the child to be buried in.

When Moses returned and found out a new dressed was purchased for a slave child he had the child’s remains dug up and the dress removed.

Nancy divorced him.

A couple of years ago we visited Moses House, which was then, and I think still is Stovall Bed and Breakfast. The family that lived there and some people helping were working getting ready for a wedding reception. He told us we were welcome to walk around and look. Which we did. It is a fine old house and finely decorated. The porch goes completely around the house. In the back from the porch you can see a huge green valley with rolling hills.

I wonder if Moses and Nancy ever sat down to appreciate the beauty all around them? To stop and smell the roses, so to speak?

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Blogger Deborah Wilson said...


Good story! I knew that you had stuff over here about Helen - I'm going to add this post to the bottom of the Sautee post on my blog.

It's unbelievable that someone like Moses was allowed to get away with the mean things that he done. But back in the day, I guess men like him could get away with it. Women and children didn't have that many rights and slaves certainly didn't have any.

To dig up a little girl and take her dress off...

I wonder if he was afraid before he died...

Nancy was right to divorce him.

6:03 PM  
Blogger ET said...

Thank you.
I find Moses Harshaw a very interesting man. He must have been a very unhappy man and took it out on the most defenseless.

And what is even more mind bending is the area is so beautiful - how could an hateful man like Moses deserve it?

7:18 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Great picture, you weren't kidding it really did enlarge when clicked! Did you take it? I would love to save it as a desktop with your permission. Thanks for the history lesson, love to ramble 'round on these old Georgia roads.

7:08 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Yes, I love to ramble on and on about Georgia back roads... and thank you, I did take the pictures and you have my permission to use them anyway you see fit.
By the way, do you ever read the magazine "Georgia Back Roads" which used to named "North Georgia Journal"? Now, that is a good mag.

7:18 AM  

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