Lee Bethune, Dot Bethune, Jim Stradley Pilgrimage to the Old Simmons Home Site 16 May 2013

On 16 May 2013, we made a pilgrimage to Jasper to discover more of our ancestors. I had found a web site of the Old Federal Road with a GPS link to the old home site. The link sent us to a cinder block building but no evidence of the old site.   See GPS link to the old home site.   We found a Trippe Trail on the map a few hundred yards from the site off Lumber Company Road. Drove to it and found it to be private property with Posted signs to a gravel road. Somehow found a Ned Trippe who was roughly 60 years old and furnished us with endless stories of the Simmons-Trippe home. His Aunt Sue owns the property but was tired of paying taxes on the old home, had it torn down about four year ago. All of the family was very upset and his wife cursed her out. Ned had, as a young man, painted the inside and related how much paint it required, with the old log beams absorbing endless quantities of paint. He believed that cotton was planted in the old days. We related that the census records show James Simmons as a farmer. Ned said that an old shed which appeared to be for hogs was actually (according to folklore) slave quarters. We were unaware that the Simmons owned slaves. However, the 1840 census showed 5 slaves, all female. The 1850 census showed, 7 slaves, mostly female with 2 male children. The  1860 census showed 13 slaves, mostly female with 2 slave houses. Ned also told stories of the folklore of gold being discovered in the branch nearby. The branch can be seen in the map below.

NELSON - SIMMONS - TRIPPE - STANFIELD HOUSE (Copied from Pickens County Library Historical Section 16 May 2013)

Sometime after the Federal Road opened in 1805, a simple one-story log cabin Northwest of present-day Jasper opened as one of many 'taverns along the road. By 1832, General Charles Haney Nelson (1796-1848) of the Georgia Militia occupied the cabin.

Nelson-Simmmons-Trippe Home
Nelson-Simmons-Trippe Home Photo
Simmons Homesite Location 2013
This is the home site as it appeared in May 2013. The GPS had taken us to the Antiques sign.
According to Ned Trippe, the house had been located behind the picket fence.
Undoubtedly, the two oak trees are the ones in the picture above.

Land Lottery 1832 Lot 237 District 12 Section 2
This is the Survey for the 1832 Land Lottery of Cherokee lands. James Simmons owned the property on Lot 237, District 12, Section 2. Each plot was 160 acres, 1/2 mile square. In 1832 Gen. Charles Haney Nelson's cabin and name is shown above right of the "2". It appears that the lottery was won by Henry Allegood from Laurens County. James Simmons purchased the land and property, likely from Allegood, following the lottery. More research to follow.
Note Old Federal Road shown as dotted line.

Nelson came from a fighting family. Charles S. Nelson won his rank in the Seminole Indian wars and later served with distinction in the war with Mexico.
Nelson eventually gave up his cabin to James Simmons (1803-1894) of nearby Saunderstown (Talking Rock). He expanded the cabin with new wings, porches and a half-story with gables. Across the road from the house he operated a log trading post. Simmons was elected to the Georgia Secession Convention in 1860 as a pro-Union member and refused to vote for secession, even as a sign of unity. He did sign that he would defend Georgia and served in the Georgia Confederate State Senate during the Civil War. Robert Scott Davis, Jr.

Its vernacular idiom is visual testimony to the conditions of early settlement. Its log construction embodies and epitomizes the American myth. The evolutionary history of the building from a one-room trading post to a sizable inn chronicles an individual realization of the ideal of hard work and progress. — North Georgia Regional Development Center.

Note: The home was torn down around 2009 when the current Trippe owner became tired of paying taxes.

SIMMONS HOME (Copied from Pickens County Library Historical Section 16 May 2013)

James Simmons was born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina in 1803. His family moved to North Carolina and then, as an adult, Simmons lived in Hall County, Georgia. He married Miss Elizabeth Ramseur and the couple moved into Gilmer County, Georgia. This was a portion of Gilmer Georgia which in 1853 would become part of the newly created Pickens County. The Simmons built their new home on the Old Federal Road about two miles north of the present day county seat of Jasper.

The Old Federal Road was built in 1819 by Andrew Jackson. Jackson needed the road to provide access for his men to south Georgia and Florida where the Seminole Indians were harassing settlers and the federal government ordered Jackson to Florida to solve the problem. No doubt Jackson used already existing Indian paths as a route through the area. It is not surprising that the earliest references to homes in the area are located on the Federal Road. Though the road only the most liberal sense a "road", it served the purpose and provided an access to the North Georgia area that heretofore had been inaccessible. Most of the earliest settlers in the area came from Tennessee and the Carolinas. The Chattahoochee River had served as a natural barrier to the region from south.

At the time the Simmons moved into the area they were one of a few white settlers to be found in North Georgia. Simmons lived among the Indians and history says that he was their esteemed and trusted friend. Mr. Simmons' home is rumored to have served as a trading post as well as a tavern on the Old Federal Road. Simmons himself became prominent in local politics serving as a state senator in 1861 and again in 1863. He was a Union man and did not vote for secession. when asked his reason for not voting in favor of secession Mr. Simmons replied, "I thought secession would involve us in war and was too hasty; that the proper remedy would be to petition Congress for our constitutional rights and then if we did not at them it would be time to secede."

The home as it stands today is in poor condition Local citizens refer to the home new as the Trippe house because of the residence in the home of Miss Susie Trippe until her death in February of 1977.

Presently the house is unoccupied and from the appearance of the exterior of the home, much work would have to be done to make the house habitable again. The Simmons Place is a two~story log structure built in true frontier style with a dog trot separating the two main sections of the house. The kitchen was originally built separate from the main house. Though there are still two buildings away from the general area of the main house neither of these is believed to be the original kitchen.

The exterior the house was recovered twice after its original construction. However, when the visitor goes upstairs the logs and mud packing are still visible. In the upstairs of the home there can still be seen the portholes where cannons were located. On the first floor of the home a dog trot was used to separate the living section of the house from the bedroom section. The kitchen is now located in one of these wings. The wood burning stove that Miss Trippe used until her death is still to be found in the old kitchen.

Though the house is in poor condition it is still a monument to the history of Pickens County. Indians slept under its trees while politics were discussed in its parlor. What a shame that a more detailed history of this home is not available. No plans have been made to preserve the home and now that it is not inhabited there seems little hope that the home will stand longer than a few years.

EARLY TAVERNS (Copied from Pickens County Library Historical Section 16 May 2013)

When the Cherokee Nation controlled the land between Georgia and Tennessee there was really no easy road to get to Nashville and Knoxville from Augusta. So the Federal Government got the Cherokees to grant permission for a highway which was called the Federal Road. It was surveyed and paid for by Georgia and Tennessee.

The Cherokees were to furnish taverns about every twenty miles. James Vann opposed the road but planned the building of taverns. The first was near the Chattahoochee River called Vann’s, The next were west of the Etowah operated under the name Buffington and Blackburn in Pickens territory, the third was west of Long Swamp Creek where the Pink MarbIe Mansion stands. it was operated by Ambrose Harnage, a half-breed but he has an Indian for his wife, [Nancy Sanders] a large stout hussy’, These taverns date from circa 1805. Harnage Tavern was part log and part frame with a dog-trot. it was a story and a half high, had two porches with end rooms and a large log kitchen. it was the post office Harnageville and in 1832, Cherokee County was organized and held Court in this tavern.

Across the creek, was the home of Judge James Daniel, the finest house in the Appalachian part of the Nation. He also ran a tavern, since sometimes the creek was flooded and travelers could not get to Harnage’s. Charles [Tsali] Dunbean had a couple of poor cabins which he called a tavern. It was across from the Dairy Queen on GA 53 south of Jasper. At Marblehead, north of Jasper was a tavern Shown on The 1832 Lottery map as lot 237, district 12, section 2 as Nelson‘s. Colonel Charles H. Nelson took up with a Cherokee woman and used this house as a tavern. The missionaries reported that he was living with this woman and staying drunk most of the time. Later, he sold it to James Simmons who turned it into a respectable stopping place and trading post. The building stands in ruins.

Just before the Federal Road crossed Love’s [Mill] Creek where it joined Talking Rock on lot 157 there was a small tavern called Love’s. John Bell, son-in-law of Judge John Martin operated houses of entertainment’ at Love’s and Talloney.

One of the Sanders men, likely John, also operated  a tavern at Sanderstown. These were not places of luxury. one paid for a place on the floor along with whoever was there. Cleanliness was not important  to the owner. Food was common fare. Water was limited. Whiskey was cheap. Usually, the guests were not allowed to associate with the family. Vann’s Tavern put the guests upstairs by stairs which were outside the building. Whiskey was passed through a little window
Submitted by. Charles O. Walker.

A MINI—HISTORY OF PICKENS COUNTY (Copied from Pickens County Library Historical Section 16 May 2013)

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pickens County's history is a saga of growth and change. Until December, 1853, there was no Pickens County officially. The county was part of Cherokee County which encompassed the entire northwestern corner of the state.

The official birthday of Cherokee County was December 26, 1831. The new county was a huge one, consisting of 6,900 square miles. Cherokee County was created from lands which, theoretically, at least belonged to the Cherokee Nation. In 1802 the United States had agreed to remove the Indians if Georgia would cede the States the territory of Alabama and Mississippi. Georgia complied with the arrangement, but the United States did not remove the Indians until 1838.

Settlement in the county actually dates before 1818, but at this time an access route was built which
opened the mountain region. President Monroe, being pressed to quiet the Seminole Indians in southern
Georgia and northern Florida, requested that Andrew Jackson proceed to the area and solve the Indian problem,
Jackson built what is known as the Old Federal Road through the county.

The road winds through the area like a snake. The route which the road follows is extremely curvy, although no natural barrier was present. Jackson's road consisted of little more than removing the trees and pulling a few stumps. Jackson was instructed to bring with him people to manage stagecoach stops and post offices in the region. Two of these were located in the present Pickens County. One was north of the present county seat of Jasper, which was I called Marblehead. Here James Simmons operated the federal facility, which still stands. To the south at Harnageville (now Tate) Ambrose Harnage operated the stagecoach stop and post office. Neither of these men owned the property where they lived; technically, the land still belonged to the Cherokee Nation.

By 1830 there were approximately one hundred twenty—nine white families living in the entire Cherokee County and sixty-seven of these families lived within ten miles of Ambrose Harnage's home. The discovery of gold in the mountains provided the impetus for the General Assembly to hold a land lottery. After this lottery, held in 1832 at Milledgeville, the white settlers in North Georgia actually could own their land.
Choice lots in the lottery were the "gold lots". These lots were forty acres; however, none Of these were found in Pickens County.

With the discovery of gold, white settlers flocked into the mountains. The Chattahoochee River which heretofore had provided a natural barrier to the mountains was crossed bringing settlers in from the south. From the north came settlers along the Federal Road. Few settlers found the gold they craved, but found instead 'rich farming land and another type of gold.

Near Harnageville Henry Fitzsimmons, an Irishman, recognized an outcropping of rock as marble. Fitzsimmons summoned friends from Ireland and the area enjoyed another growth in settlers. Though the marble provided no 'get rich quick' fever, it did provide an incentive for more settlers.

The federal government, in 1839, sent General Winfield Scott to remove the Cherokee Indians from
North Georgia. Indians were rounded up and put in stockades. One of these stockades was located at Sanders
Fort near the present community of Blaine. On December 5, 1853, Pickens County was created from Gilmer and Cherokee Counties. The county was named for General Andrew Pickens of Revolutionary War fame. The population of the county was divided on the east and west sides of the county. The location of the county seat was decided by representatives from the already existing communities of Hinton, Marblehead, and Harnageville. The new county seat was named Jasper, honoring Sergeant William Jasper of the Revolutionary War.

The 1860 census showed the county having a population of 9,705. This was the first census in which the county
was counted separately. When the 1850 census was taken Pickens County was still part of Cherokee and Gilmer Counties.

The Civil War brought division in the county. Men from the county fought for both the United States and the - Confederate States. Cemeteries in the county have markers for both Confederate and Union troops. For a time during the War, Pickens County flew the United States flag.

Though many Catholics settled in the county, there was to be but one Catholic church built here. The Catholics brought with them their religion, but not their church. Lutherans and Presbyterian churches were also started in the county. They evidently did not appeal to the settlers and declined. It was the Baptist, though poorly organized in the beginning, who were to build churches which would endure. Of the churches founded in
the county between 1839 and 1899, two-thirds were Baptist and of these almost one hundred percent are still active, The emotionalism of the Baptist Church appealed to the settlers. Strong ministers in the area also attributed to the growth of this church. Antioch Baptist Church started in 1848 has the oldest cemetery marker in the county. The marker is for Sarah Lowery, born in 1763 and died in 1855.

The economic growth of the county really began with the coming of the railroad. Small industries did exist hip-fore the railroad, such as milling, brick making, metal work, making of wooden shoes, and producing plug chewing tobacco. The Atherton family from Manchester, England bought a mill on Talking Rock Creek and put a grist mill, a saw mill, a wool carder and a cotton gin. Sherman's men destroyed this mill on a sweep through the county. The Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania had no effect on the people of Pickens County. Settlers here probably never heard of the event which occurred years before the county was formed. Moonshine liquor another economically sound venture which Pickens County settlers delved in.

One of the first schools in the county was found in Ludville. The school was built in 1877 and was known as the Ludville Academy. Other schools opened in the county but most frequently these schools were made possible by the generous nature of citizens in the county. Such was the case of the first schoolhouse at Tate.
This school was built in 1866 by Col. Sam Tate and was later expanded by his son Stephen.


Pickens Countians were divided by the issues that divided the nation from 1861-1865. The two delegates from the county to the State Secession Convention in 1860, William T. Day, and James Simmons are buried near each other in the Jasper City Cemetery. Day signed the final1 Ordinance of Secession, January 19, 1861. Simmons was one of the six who refused to sign to the very end, although he did pledge his life, fortune, and sacred honor to defend Georgia "against hostile invasion from any source whatever." Some Pickens Countians raised a Union flag over the courthouse to protest secession. The flag was blown down by a sudden gust of wind.


Lloyd G. Martin, The History of Cherokee County (Atlanta: Walter W. Brown, 1935)
Luke E. Tate, The History of Pickens County (Atlanta: Walter W. Brown, 1935)

J. B. Hill, Tate, Georgia.
Ronnie Byers, Nelson, Georgia.