Georgia Tenant Cabin from the Turpentine Days

Turpentine Plantation Cabin | Mitchell County, GA | c. early 1900s

In the years following the Civil War, a new wave of settlers came to the South in droves looking for fresh air, warmer weather, and land to farm and hunt. At the same time, extensive railroads were built stretching further into Georgia and Florida.

At the time, land in this area was relatively inexpensive due to various factors ranging from depressed crop prices, over-farming and an infestation of the boll weevil. Seeing an opportunity, many of the plantations in the region were acquired by wealthy families from the Northeast and Midwest. Since then there has been relatively little turnover, and most of the hunting lodges in this part of Georgia are still owned by descendants of the very same families that first invested in the area over a hundred years ago.

They would arrive in this part of south Georgia to find rolling hills and extensive long-leaf pine forests centered around an emerging Winter resort town called Thomasville. Bringing wealth from industry and business ventures with them, they forged their own vision for the next chapter of history on these former plantations.

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About 50 miles north of the Florida line and located on the Flint river, the farms of this area were fertile for turpentine harvesting and hunting, specifically bobwhite quail.

The cabin featured here would’ve been built around 1900-1920 for tenant farmers who supported themselves by working for large landowners in exchange for temporary housing and access to farming equipment. The board and batten house was a two-room cabin with a small kitchen area in the back. Wooden shutters cover the windows which likely never had glass panes. 

Unfortunately, in 2018, Hurricane Michael came through this region and leveled whole pine forests as well as many buildings, including this interesting example of a tenant house from the turpentine era.


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