Column: Chicken boom, diamonds and other gems of Hall


North Georgia’s poultry industry is generally considered to have taken off just after World War II and especially the 1950s.

J.D. Jewell was the main man who jump-started poultry raising and processing, starting on a small scale until expanding into a company whose name and reputation were familiar worldwide.

But, Hall County thought of itself as a center for poultry raising many decades earlier. Chicken farmers all over North Georgia loaded their wagons and hauled poultry and produce over the mountains into Gainesville, where merchants and residents were their eager customers.

The Gainesville News in 1911 proclaimed, “Gainesville is one of the largest poultry centers in the state … More interest is being taken in poultry raising in Gainesville and Hall County every day. Some of the finest chickens in the country have been grown here.”

Indeed, people might have thought one chicken farmer was a little looney when he paid $15 for a hen at a fair. He knew what he was doing, selling it for $100 a few months later.

A large poultry show was planned in Gainesville in 1912. Dealers in chickens and chicken foods were to display their products. Farmers would be offered prizes for the best examples of poultry. Sunshine Chick Feeds offered $5 gold as its prize for those using its feed. C.A. Dobbs was the local dealer.

An eye on Candler

During his campaign for various offices, A.D. Candler of Gainesville used his nickname “the One-Eyed Plowboy from Pigeon Roost.” One of his opponents had disparagingly called him that, but Candler turned it around as a positive. Candler had lost an eye fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

He was famously quoted after the war as saying, “I felt myself quite wealthy when I found myself the possessor of one wife, one baby, one eye and one silver dollar,”

In 1906, he became totally blind when a cataract developed on his good eye. Dr. W.A. Calhoun removed the cataract, and his sight was restored.

Candler helped rebuild Jonesboro after the Civil War, but lived in Gainesville and served as congressman and governor, among other offices.

Water everywhere

In the early 1900s, local counties and towns were thinking about water and electricity.

Flowery Branch and Gainesville were of the same mind. Flowery Branch citizens in 1911 were working to build a waterworks. It would pump from a mineral spring into a reservoir that eventually would serve all the town’s businesses and residents.

The cost was estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. Citizens behind the project included M.J. Charles, F.T. Davie, C.B. Millikin, Bascom Williams, W.D. Hawkins, O.I. Additon, F.O. Additon, Jeff Woodliff, John Roark and Dr. Hunt.

Flowery Branch also was lighting the town with acetylene gas. A.J. Baugh’s store and K.P. Hall were already lighting the way.

Gainesville was building a new waterworks at the same time. It would draw water from Cry Creek, which now runs into a cove on Lake Lanier and is near the present water intake structure for the waterworks on Riverside Drive.

And Georgia Power Co. had a contract for building a dam on the Tallulah River and merging with Gainesville’s North Georgia Electric Co.

XL diamond find

Stories of diamond finds are legend in Hall County, especially the Glades area where gold miners stumbled onto a couple. But others have been found in other sections of the county.

In 1890, John Chapman found a diamond he described as “the size of a walnut” while digging for gold near Brown’s Bridge over the Chestatee River. It was embedded in some slate rock.

Chapman was offered $5,000 for it, but decided to keep it for himself, or maybe a bride-to-be.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. He can be reached at 2183 Pine Tree Circle NE, Gainesville, GA 30501; phone, 770-532-2326; email, [email protected] or [email protected] His column publishes weekly.


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Elena Johaness

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