Georgia Farmhouse Adapted Over Time

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Fletcher Family Home | Irwin County, GA | c. 1800s

This Georgia farmhouse looks much different today than it did when it was originally built by the Fletcher Family in the mid-1800s. Its original configuration was what is known as a “dog trot” style home, and although the style was popular for many years in this region, it was adapted over time as families grew and conveniences were more available. In fact, if you were able to peel back the boards of any old farmhouse in Georgia, there is a chance you’d find the original, more rustic design of a farmhouse like the dogtrot. Like the Fletchers, many families found that they were able to modernize their homes, bringing these early homes a future.

What is A Dog Trot House?

If you’ve never seen a dog trot home, this style features a wide central hall down the middle, that was usually created by adjoining two separate cabins or ‘pens.’ This design was perfect for the era because it provided private sleeping quarters that were separate from the living space. Off of the back of the house were a porch and a detached kitchen. The circulation from front to back of the house would cool off the rest of the structure and in the Summer, the family dog could often find himself cooling off in the shade of the wide central hall, hence how the name dog trot (or dog run) style house came to be.

Members of the Fletcher Family, c. 1890s, in front of their home when the dogtrot hallway in the center was still open. L to R: Joseph Fletcher, Elias D. Fletcher, Wiley Fletcher, and Duncan Fletcher. Photo from the “Fletcher Family of Irwin County.”

The Fletcher Family

According to a detailed account of the family’s history in “The Fletcher Family of Irwin County And Their Kin,” the Fletcher’s came to Georgia by way of Virginia and then South Carolina. Once they made it to Georgia, the lines spread all over and still have vast connections today. One of the descendants of this line, Wiley, established a family here where he built this dog trot style home to raise 12 children with his wife Caroline.

The Fletcher Family poses in front of their home. Pictured from L to R: an unidentified hired hand, Martha Dorminy Hobby, Martha Ann Judy Fletcher, Willis Henry Fletcher, Joe Fletcher, Rufus Fletcher, and Mary Ann “Polly” Hobby Fletcher.

A House That Changed With The Family

The home that Wiley built would serve more than one generation of Fletchers, but as the family grew and times changed, th house had to keep up. When Wiley’s son, Elbert George McClellan (E.G.M.) Fletcher came of age, he married Mary Jane “Polly” Hobby in 1889 and after some convincing, Polly agreed to move into the home where E.G.M. had grown up, on the condition that it be updated. So sometime between the 1890s and early 1900, the home was reimagined with a fresh coat of paint and a new fence for the next generation of Fletchers.

E.G.M. and Polly raised 8 Fletcher children in this home, most of whom were born within these walls. But as the years went on and the Fletcher Family prospered, it was time for another update. By the early 1900s, dogtrot homes were no longer in fashion for those families who could afford something more modern, so they came up with a plan to adapt the old family home. Sometime before 1910, they enclosed the dogtrot and likely made other upgrades to make the home more comfortable. Elbert and Polly would live together in this home until she passed away in 1916.

YOU CAN ALSO READ:   What Stories Have Been Lived Within These Walls?

While I was researching this home, many locals shared their memories of the Fletcher Family, specifically of E.G.M., a distinguished mustachioed gentleman who spent many afternoons in front of his house in an old rocking chair.

You can imagine how excited I was when I came across an old image of Elbert, mustached and posing in his rocking chair in front of this home with his first wife, Polly. Other locals remembered fondly the well-stocked pond on Elbert’s property that you could pay a small fee to fish.

Elbert Fletcher and his first wife, Polly in front of this home

After Polly passed away in 1916, Elbert married Ruth Turner and the couple would spend the rest of their years together in this home too. Elbert passed away in 1952 and after that, it’s unclear whether anyone lived in it afterward. Today, the house, which sits on a large farming parcel planted with young pines, is not occupied but is still looked after.

Elbert (E.G.M.) Fletcher, seated center with his second wife Ruth Turner Fletcher seated next to him. Pictured behind them are Elbert’s adult children from his first marriage to Polly, L to R- John Bradford Dorminy Fletcher, Ennis Fletcher, Martha Ann Judy Fletcher Oakes, Rufus Fletcher, Rachel Fletcher, and Willis Henry Fletcher.

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  1. Beautiful in tact structure. Very detailed and a gem of it’s time. Man, if those old walls could talk, I can imagine what the stories they would tell. Actually, they do speak to us. We just have to listen. Thank you for this wonderful walk through this amazing home Kelly.

  2. I love these old houses! The Fletcher Family Home reminds me of my childhood and visiting family in Georgia, North and South Carolina ♥️

  3. I love history and the south is packed with it. Hate to see destroyed because you learn so much.

  4. I have been doing family research from where I live is very far from where the family lived in the southern states for over two hundred years. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where my grandparents on my maternal side homesteader over a hundred years ago about 300 miles from where I live now.

    Their name was Fletcher and ranged mainly in Bedford county VA but some did move a bit so I am now wondering about this one too.

    What a wonder idea to photograph all these love old places for the long term.

    Anne Langley

  5. I remember visiting that home as a kid. We would hang on the front rafter & swing out to jump to the ground. It was owned by Jack Fletcher at the time and we are distantly related to him.

    1. Hi Mary,
      I have the same memories of that house that you do. I was very young but will never forget the family getting together there.

  6. Thank you for posting these. Elbert Fletcher was my fathers uncle, and I remember these pictures in my fathers photo albums.
    Elbert is buried in a Cemetary off of Ferry Lake Rd in Tifton and served in the Confederate War.

    Again, thank you for sharing these!

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