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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Milledgeville: 1944

Milledgeville: 1944

1944. Baldwin County, Georgia. "Former slave cabin, Milledgeville vicinity." A locale perhaps best known as the stomping grounds of the writer Flannery O'Connor. 8x10 acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.

 

Fig tree in the back yard

Good eatin' if you can get 'em ripe before the birds do.

Backyard view

The pot was used for boiling clothes. The pole in the pot was used to swish the clothing around in the pot which would have been likely suspended over a fire.

I had a great aunt from Louisiana who continued to boil clothes on Mondays into the 1960s. Didn't believe that a washing machine could replicate this important part of producing clean clothes.

"Slave Cabin"

I thought the same thing when I first saw it. Although it looks like it hasn't received much, if any, maintenance since the War, the brick pillars, paneled door, sash windows, and chimney masonry all look more substantial than other slave cabins I've seen. Perhaps it was originally an overseer's house.

Raised Above The Ground

I'm no expert - what I know is what I've been able to find through Google, and I can't speak to the question of the two story cabin. However as far as I can tell it was not uncommon for the slave cabins to be built on brick piers as is the case in this photo. When you think of it, it makes sense. Unsealed wood in direct contract with the ground rots. Slave owners probably wouldn't want to build new floors or cabins - it's an added expense. Lifting the cabins above the ground prevents this. However their obviously going to try to keep something like this as cheap as they can so they build these piers rather than a full sized foundation.

The cabin

Former-slave cabin makes more sense than former slave-cabin. Guess the woman could be a former slave. She doesn't look that old, although it's hard to tell age from appearance. And we're talking about, possibly, a house slave and on a particular plantation, so, given that, it could be a 'high class' cabin. We don't know what they were doing on that particular plantation.

Really a slave cabin?

We've had an e-mail questioning whether this is actually a slave cabin. Most slaves would not have lived in a multi-room, multi-story home raised above the ground. Perhaps Frances Johnston meant to say "former slave's cabin." Certainly this is not typical of how most slaves lived.

Death of a Bluesman

Milledgeville, is also the place of death of the well known Georgia bluesman Blind Willie McTell, who died there of a stroke in 1959. He was a twelve-string finger picking Piedmont blues guitarist, and recorded 149 songs between 1927 and 1956.

The Garden

Inspite of the obvious poverty this proud lady is still willing to grow some beautiful flowers.

Neighbor

It's an interesting contrast to the house next door which can be seen on the right. That house seems to be fairly new and well-kept. The siding looks perfect and there are nice blinds in the modern windows. It seems strange to have the vestiges of a different time just over the fence.

My First Cousin's Recollections

1944. I saw the light of day that year. Next year we moved to Milledgeville, and I got to see that former slave society upclose.
I notice a second story in that former slave cabin. I'm no expert on the species, but I wouldn't be surprised if that were fairly unusual. My memory of the cabins and shotgun shacks that abounded when I was a kid is of one-story, ramshackle, unpainted board structures that looked on the point of falling down.

Secondary Stairs

Why is there a second set of stairs leading up to a window area?

[Stairway to the second floor. - Dave]

"Slaves had some nice houses"?

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say "Some slaves lived in some nice houses"? After all, slaves couldn't actually OWN anything.

That chimney brickwork needs some repointing, or the whole unpainted tinder-box is going up in a blaze.

The house on the right.

Seems to be in better shape.

Agelessly beautiful

This photo captures the soul of that lady. She is a dignified woman. You can see the pains of living etched in her face. She is dressed like she cares about herself, even though the house has seen better days. Genteel poverty, I think it's called.

Roof Roof

Notice at some point they tar papered over the shingle roof. Now that roof has seen better days. The shingle roof like the house was probably at least 100 years old in 1944. I wouldn't be surprised if Granny was born there.

Milledgeville

was also the pre-war capital of Georgia, and the site of the state's first psychiatric hospital. That's what I think of first.

 
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