At the end of July I shared some information regarding the Austell Ferry and its longtime owner, Miss Mamie Wier.
Recently, I ran across a letter Miss Mamie penned to the editor of the "Douglas County Sentinel" in 1946. I thought her opinions were interesting especially regarding what she deemed important regarding the southern end of the county.
She said, "Our paper seems to grow snappier each week, and I note with pleasure the editor shows a trend toward swinging his spotlight circle to include us folks who live in the sticks down below the big highway."
In 1946, Interstate 20 was unheard of, so I'm fairly certain the "big highway" Miss Mamie was referring to is Bankhead Highway.
Miss Mamie did live in what was considered to be "the sticks." Her property bordered Austell Ferry Road which is today's Fairburn Road/Highway 166. As you approach the Fulton county line the property would be on your right.
Miss Mamie wanted to encourage the new trend of the paper in being "snappy" by pointing to some of the spots of beauty, landmarks, and pioneer families in her section "all of which have done a brave part in putting Douglas on the map and keeping her there."
Miss Mamie began with Sweetwater Creek describing it "coming down to the river of flowered stones through Jack's Hills, such being named for an Indian chief, named Jack. Ruins of an antebellum factory, now known as Factory Shoals, was used by the old timers to spin and weave their cotton. General Sherman's soldiers destroyed it, but the ruins, overgrown with trees, and its crumbling walls almost smothered in vines and moss, offer an attractive point of interest and beauty."
Miss Mamie would be proud to know that today the mill ruins as well as the lands Chief Jack roamed are now protected within the confines of Sweetwater Creek State Park.
Then Miss Mamie turned to the spot where she lived writing, "Not far from the site of Aderhold Ferry, and near what was the Austell Ferry, is a farmstead with a house more than a hundred years old. It was built by Mr. Gorman, grandfather of that sweet old lady, Mrs. Wood, who died last spring, 96 years old. For a long time some have said this old homestead was haunted, and that the shades of those gone over the river gather to confirm those opinions, but I have seen enough with my own eyes and heard enough with my own ears to give a leaning towards the pros of the legend."
I'm still working to gather some of these stories, but alas, that's all Miss Mamie tells us in this letter.
Yes, originally the Gorman land passed into the hands Alfred Austell, the Campbellton business owner turned Atlanta powerbroker before, during, and after the Civil War. The Gorman property became the Austell Farm and was the family's place "in the country." Following Austell's death in 1881 the farm passed to his son Alfred Austell, Jr. and that's where Miss Mamie entered the picture.
Some accounts state that Miss Mamie was Austell Jr.'s housekeeper, maintained the farm, and later perhaps his caregiver, but I've had a family member give me wink and a nod and tell me she was "involved" with Austell Jr. but they weren't married.
No matter Miss Mamie's status she ended up with the Austell Farm and ran the Austell Ferry until it was replaced with a bridge in 1937.
There are tales of lots of parties in the old farmhouse along the river given by Miss Mamie for all of her friends that included lots of liquor and dancing as was the custom in some places during the Roaring Twenties.
I wish I had more "tales" to tell about those parties!
Miss Mamie continued in her letter, "There is Anawaqua Creek, named for an Indian Princess, whose body is buried near where the beautiful water course enters the river not far from the Henley, Whitley, and Arnold farms, and in this connection is Turnipseed Lake, full of good fishing."
Of course, Miss Mamie was using the spelling of Annewakee Creek that was familiar to old Campbell County pioneers I've seen on old deeds and letters. "Anawaka" is also a spelling I often see as well. I have more research regarding the tomb or mound that was mostly destroyed prior to the 1960s that I hope to publish soon, but the notion of a princess in the native cultures, well, that title doesn't exist.
Miss Mamie also wrote of other creeks stating, "Down below the Campbellton Ferry enter Lion and Bear Creeks, tracing more scenic beauty than I can describe here. And Dog River sings its way through hills and vales, with music that charms the ear, and mossy banks that entrance the eye. The whole country I have described is full of romantic association if the tales could be told, and human interest legends in abundance."
Miss Mamie certainly knew how to craft a descriptive sentence.
Today, and for the past seven years, I've tried to tell a few of those tales to keep them alive and provide documentation for future citizens of Douglas County.
I'd like to hope Miss Mamie would approve, and that she would consider me to be a bit "snappy."