I had no intention of ever posting this photo because it is simply not a good one. I arrived at the abandoned Simmons Hill Elementary School in Brooks County early in the morning. The schoolyard was being used for storage of construction equipment, so there was no good location to get the school.without the equipment.
I visited this school because I knew it was an extant Rosenwald School that had been expanded over the years. Since I just found a photo of the school when it was first a Rosenwald, I thought I would share that photo.
Reference: Georgia. Department of Education. Annual report of the Department of Education to the General Assembly of the State of Georgia …Atlanta, Ga.: State Printer.
If you’ve ever been to Quitman, Georgia, this eclectic Queen Anne home sits on the edge of town. Built in 1884, it has been empty for years. It’s a home with a great deal of interest in it due to its imposing size on an open field and the continuing myth that it was the site of a double murder. Jamie Snow Branch, and her husband, Lee Branch, were murdered by her brother Livingston Snow on December 17, 1937. These types of homes, rusty yet beautiful, always lend themselves to great stories and myths.
Jamie and Lee Branch lived on North Court Street, north of the courthouse, in town. Census records show that they were living there in 1910, 1920, and 1930. Their death records show that they died on Court Street. The home above is not on Court Street.
The 1900 Census records do indicate that Jamie and Lee Branch were living with her family. Her brothers, Livingston and Russell, and her parents were living at the home with them. Additionally, two boarders lived with them. I suspect this is the home where all of them lived together in 1900, but it is NOT where the murders happened.
The home where this happened is still standing. I used old Sanborn maps of Quitman and Google Street View to determine the location. Street numbers do not match, but it is common for cities and towns to renumber homes and businesses as they grew. Additionally, I utilized tax records to determine the age of the homes. A friend who grew up in the area confirmed which house it is, and it is still standing.
Thanks to Brian Brown for mentioning that the murders might not have happened here, so I decided to research historical records.
The Liberty Baptist Church is located in Grooverville, Georgia, in South Georgia. Built in 1858, the church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. The historical sign on the property shares this info about the church, “Between 1837-1841 the Baptists in this section were stirred on Missions, Sunday Schools and ministerial support. In 1841 the Ocklochnee anti-Missionary Baptist Assn. passed a ruling to dismiss members believing in the “new fangled institutions of the day.” Disagreeing, Sister Nancy Hagen asked for her letter from Mt. Moriah Church and, at her request, was excommunicated. With Elisha Pack Smith, R. T. Stanaland, James I. Baker, Mrs. Sarah Ann Groover, Mrs. Mary Smith, Mrs. Amanda Denmark and Sam Whitfield, she organized this church. The first pastor was Elder R. J. May. Mt. Moriah Church ceased to exist long ago.”
Built in 1933 in Brooks County, Georgia, this school was built with Rosenwald funds to serve Black school children of the county. The Morven Alumni Association, another Rosenwald School in the county, fund raised and helped get the building restored. This school building operated from 1933 to 1959. It now serves as a community building for Barney, Georgia and the surrounding towns. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.