FALL TOUR OF HOMES FEATURES HISTORIC PLEASANT VALLEY
Capture the spirit of one of Murray County's most historic areas--the Pleasant Valley Historic District--during the fall color season! Hear stories of early settlers of Murray County. On Sat. & Sun., Nov. 3 & 4, 1:00-4:00 p.m., the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society continues its tradition of offering historic home tours. Tickets are $15 for adults & $10 for youth 6-16. There is no charge for children under 6.
Located just north of Eton & east of U.S. 411, the Pleasant Valley district includes some 500 acres that was first home to Native Americans. Following the tragic days of Indian Removal, the valley was one of the first areas to be occupied by settlers from other parts of Georgia & Tennessee following the 1832 Land Lottery. Those early families included the Adair, Bates, & Loughridge families whose descendants still own much of the same land.
The Pleasant Valley Historic District extends from the CSX--originally the L & N-- Railroad to the Old Federal Road, along Loughridge Road to Crandall-Ellijay Road. Stops on the tour will include the Loughridge-Cole House at 590 Loughridge Road & the Bates-Loughridge House on Crandall-Ellijay along with three historic cemeteries--one from each of those original families. Along the way, visitors will see other historic homes including the Harris House, Plemons Home, the John Bates House, a historic bridge, & travel through a historic railroad underpass. Pleasant Valley’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places is due to the number of historic structures & its continued used for agricultural purposes after almost two centuries.
Leaving Eton on the Old Federal Road, the tour will begin at the Loughridge Cemetery where a number of prominent Murray Countians are interred. Among them are R. M. Gudger, well-known county official of the 20th century, & Ben Keith, the sheriff killed in the line of duty in 1907. Farther north on Old Federal are the rebuilt Cohutta Spring Hotel, the Harris Home, & the John Bates Family Cemetery.
John Bates, a veteran of the Indian Wars of the 1820s & 1830s, & his "consort" (wife) Barbara are buried there. Memorial stones to other members of the family have also been erected there. John and his brother, Julius, were the first to call the area "Pleasant Valley" and both raised large families here. Descendants are now scattered across the country.
At the intersection of the Old Federal Road & Loughridge Road is the railroad underpass, constructed in 1908 to provide easier access to the Valley. Traveling east, the next landmark is the historic Mill Creek Bridge, built in 1922. The single lande steel- encased stringer bridge is one of only 13 remaining bridges of this type in Georgia--& the oldest!
A house was first built at 590 Loughridge Road in the late 1800s for the former Miss Julia Loughridge after her marriage to Jathan Gregory. In 1951 Julia's nephew, James Loughridge & his bride, the former Nell Ruth Davis, purchased the place & planned to restore the old farmhouse. When that proved unfeasible, they gutted the original building & built a new house on the same foundation, using some of the original features. James was a well-known Murray County farmer, contractor, & chairman of the local Board of Education. Nell Ruth was a beloved home economics teacher at Murray County High School through several decades. They raised their children--Dr. David Loughridge, local veterinarian; Ann, retired technology specialist with the Murray County Schools; Steve, current interim school chief in Murray County--in that house. James acquired additional family acres adjacent to this house over the years.
In 2017, Dr. Mary Beth Loughridge Cole & her husband, Seth, began restoration of the second house & found that it, too, had lots of structural concerns, so they gutted the house & rebuilt it again--still on the original foundations & reusing lumber from the 1800s house. Their family now includes two little girls who are the sixth generation of Loughridges to live on the farm. Refreshments will be served here.
At 699 Loughridge Road is the current home of Dr. & Mrs. David Loughridge. Like his mother before him, David serves as a trustee of the historical society & is co-host for the tour. The house can be traced back to the 1830s as the first home of the Bates family in the Valley. Expanded in the 19th century by James George Alexander Loughridge for his large family & restored in the 20th century, this section of the original farm also has some historic outbuildings--the wheat house, smoke house, & well house.
Continuing east on Loughridge Road is the Plemons-O'Neal House, dating back to the 1800s, & the Adair Cemetery--a little bit off the road, but still accessible. Edward Adair was also an original settler of the valley with ties to the Cherokees. At the corner where Loughridge Road meets Crandall-Ellijay Road is the site of the Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Crandall-Ellijay Road runs mostly on the original 1830s Westfield Road, named for pioneer resident David Westfield. Another Bates-Loughridge house, built in the 1880s as the home of the Bob Bates family, was purchased by Jimmy Loughridge in 1914 & remodeled for his bride, Etta Jane Dickey. Their daughters were Eunice, better known as Peg, & Ruth Ann. Peg married long-time state senator, W.W. Fincher. Ruth Ann married Eton mayor-attorney-& Georgia State Court of Appeals judge Charles A. Pannell, Sr. Today, the Fincher-Pannell descendants still own the house & farm—including a smoke house, barn, chop block used during hog-killing, horse-drawn farm equipment, & the original well house.
Pleasant Valley was a fertile, productive area that supported its residents. It also boasted its own gravity-flow water system that started at the foot of the mountain near the Fincher-Pannell house & ended a mile and a half away on Loughridge Road. During the weekend, the houses will feature numerous displays of historic photographs, a Loughridge pistol & saddlebag, an old musket pouch, an original watercolor featuring the outbuildings on the farm, & even the bullet that caused Sheriff Keith's death!
Dr. Ellen Keith Thompson, a lifelong resident of Whitfield County, has been selected as one of only ten recipients in the State of Georgia for the prestigious 2018 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities.
The presentation was made by Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal in an impressive ceremony on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta.
The Governor’s Awards are presented annually by the Georgia Humanities Council in partnership with the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Office of the Governor to recognize individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a significant commitment to the civic or cultural vitality of the state.
The selection of Dr. Thompson for this distinguished honor caps nearly a half-century of educational and community service in Whitfield and Murray Counties.
Dr. Thompson’s career in education spanned a remarkable 40 years of service in Whitfield and Murray County Schools. Her positions record the success of her long and effective career: classroom teacher, system resource teacher of the gifted, director of language arts, gifted, fine arts, foreign languages, and ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) programs, and fifteen years as Varnell Elementary School principal.
Throughout her career in education Dr. Thompson was an enthusiastic promoter of programs that emphasized arts and humanities for students. She was a prime advocate and campaigner for inclusion of both fine arts and performing arts in the schools, initiating projects and policies that continue today to benefit thousands of students and the northwest Georgia community.
Ellen Thompson’s long and distinguished record in volunteer work is equally as impressive, both in her community and in the state. The range of organizations in which she has served in major leadership roles affirms her strong commitment to the arts and the humanities.
Thompson was a charter member of the 1976 reorganization of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society, and continues to play an active and energetic role in the Society. Today the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society is a vibrant part of the Whitfield-Murray community, and is one of the most successful historical societies in Georgia. It owns, has restored, maintains, and successfully manages eight beautiful historic properties, far exceeding property responsibilities of most communities its size.
For decades Dr. Thompson has been a passionate advocate of the O.N. Jonas Foundation, an organization that sponsors the performance and visual arts in local schools. She has long been a champion of the preservation and promotion of Prater’s Mill and a valuable leader of Lesche, the oldest women’s literary club in the state. For five years she served on the statewide Georgia Humanities Council. And, she has been a supporter of the Dalton Little Theatre, serving in many roles, including board member and (currently) trustee.
A crowning achievement by Dr. Ellen Thompson came to fruition in December 2016. Her love of local history, literary talents, and educational career came together in the publication of Historic Photographs of the Whitfield County Schools. Covering a century of the county’s school history from the 1870s to the 1970s, this magnificent 543-page volume is the product of 30 years of research.
Dr. Ellen Thompson received her early education from Dalton Public Schools, the B.A. and M.S. degrees in English from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the Ph.D. in educational administration and supervision from Georgia State University in Atlanta. She is married to Art Thompson, and has three children, Bryn, Graham, and Sarah, and eight grandchildren.
Copies of Dorothy "Dot" McCrory's poetry book, "Too Much Cider in the Applesauce," are available at the Crown Gardens & Archives, 715 Chattanooga Ave., Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Copies are $25. A copy can be mailed for $30. Book sales benefit the Lesche Club scholarship fund.
Copies of the Historic Photographs of The Whitfield County Schools Available For Purchase!
The Historic Photographs of The Whitfield County Schools by Ellen Keith Thompson is available for purchase. If you're interested in purchasing the book, please maila check payable to WMHS to P.O. Box 6180Dalton, GA. 30722 in the amount of $50 (includes shipping and handling). Or, you can purchase the book at the Crown Gardens & Archives for $45 located on 715 Chattanooga Avenue, Dalton, GA. 30722. All the proceeds from the books sales will the basis of the endowmenet fund for the 40th Anniversary.
Hours at Crown Garden and Archives!
To better serve our community we will now be open M-F 10am - 4pm. We will also be open by appointment on weekends and evenings for research and events! To make an appoinment please call during our business hours!
Hours at Blunt House, Hamilton House, and Huff House!
The Blunt House and Huff House are open for tours on Fridays from 10 until 4. Hamilton House is open by appointment by calling the Archives at (706) 278-0217.