Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295.
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Editor Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Courtesy of Kevin Gaissert.

Looking at Dolly Brooks' pictures.

Looking at Dolly Brooks' pictures.

Laura Dalton, Beverly Gaissert Simons, Frank Gaissert IV, Allison Gaissert Moore, and Kenan Moore.
The Ending of an Era - Gaissert Home Contents to Be Sold in an Estate Sale and Home to Be Sold at a Later Date
By Editor Becky Watts

WILLIAMSON - Take a trip back to a time when peach orchards and muscadine vines were plentiful along Hwy 362/Williamson Road just past the intersection of Moreland and Rover Zetalla Roads. Train tracks used to run parallel to the main road and come right up in front of a two story home with stately columns standing back from the roadway. The home was built in 1827.

There was a big house by the road and beside it, a little house that was a replica of the big house. There were two barns behind the big house—one that was taller than the house, and boxwoods, magnolias, and other trees around the property as well as a couple of smaller structures with thick walls that were used for cold storage and whatever else was needed in the old days before electricity.

There used to be a house across the road too with fields of cotton at one point in time and peach trees at a later point in time as far as the eye could see. Cotton was first, but boll weevils destroyed the crop. Peach trees were next though that crop also took a beating one year in the cold as well. At one point, there was also a muscadine vineyard beside the main homeplace.

There were about 640 acres in all. Family members came together to tell stories and walk the property and home before this weekend’s estate sale. What Pike County Times heard last week was pretty incredible!

History of the Homeplace

“Spalding County, in west central Georgia, was created in 1851 by the state legislature from parts of Fayette, Henry, and Pike counties…Comprising 198 square miles, the county was named for Thomas Spalding, an influential statesman and planter from coastal Georgia.”

This article from The Georgia Encyclopedia online also names “the Orr-Williamson-Gaissert Homeplace (also known as the Old Gaissert Homeplace, the Williamson Place, or the Mary Brook Farm)” just northeast of Williamson as a place of interest in Spalding County. When the homeplace was built, it was in Pike County but later lay within the boundaries of Spalding. The article tells that the site won a 2002 Georgia Centennial Farm Award, “which honors families and farms for preserving their historic properties.”

The Gaissert Homeplace (Mary Brook Farm) was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 by George Gaissert. A metal plate was placed on the outside of the house to commemorate this change. https://npgallery.nps.gov/AssetDetail/NRIS/73002145

A Griffin Spalding Historical Society Facebook post from November 24, 2019 says the following: “Today’s Griffin Spalding Historical Society photo is of the old Gaissert Home on Williamson Road in the town of Rover in Spalding County. Built in 1827 for Burrel Orr, the original structure was a plantation plain style home. In 1843, the house was sold at a sheriff’s sale, after which the property changed hands several times before it was purchased by Henry Williamson, the son of Issac Williamson, for whom the Pike County town of Williamson is named. In 1894, the house was acquired by a local bank and was rented out to various families. In 1906, George C. Gaissert and wife Mary Jane Brinson Gaissert bought the house and made a number of substantial changes and additions to the home.”

According to Ancestry.com, there were 30 Gaissert families living in Georgia in 1880. That was the highest population of recorded Gaissert families in the United States at that time.

According to New Georgia Encyclopedia, Spalding County was created in 1851 from parts of Fayette, Henry, and Pike Counties. Griffin was actually incorporated in 1841 when it was located in Pike County.

At one point during the Civil War, Griffin looked to be a target on one wing of Sherman’s troops as they followed the railroad toward Macon, but General “Fighting Joe” Wheeler’s headquarters were in Griffin hear the edge of Stonewall Cemetery which encouraged a turn toward Locust Grove and Indian Springs. Later on, a Union calvary detachment rode into Griffin and burned the railroad facilities distributing stored goods to the poor in that area. https://sherpaguides.com/georgia/civil_war/midwest/griffin_area.html

There is a lot of history tied to Pike County and to Merrybrook Farm. Merrybrook Farm used to be located in Pike County before the property lines were changed.

George Gaissert was married to Mary Philips Brooks Gaissert. George passed away in 1980, and Mary passed away in 1993. www.findagrave.com/memorial/17026080/george-clark-gaissert

Family Memories

Merrybrook Farm used to be one of the largest peach farmers in the southeast. They leased a lot of property for peaches too. There are a lot of stories tied to peaches and the old homeplace.

The front yard was filled with bachelor buttons and jonquils, and a line of railroad tracks ran right in front of the house. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) used to ride by the home to get to Warm Springs where he spent much of his time.

Cousin Mary Gaissert Jackson told those at the farm that day that FDR used to stop by the house for lunch with Frank and Adolphe Gaissert. He’d pick up some eggs and peaches as he came though too. Mary has a ton of stories that she shares at every opportunity!

The big barn that used to be behind the house had hay storage up on the second story. A tractor could take a roll of hay up to the top floor!

There used to be 5 lightning rods on the house. Even the trees surrounding the house show signs that they had survived lightning strikes.

Coming to the farm as kids to play and pick peaches and scuppernongs were treasured memories. There is a welded metal swing set outside that is at least 67 years old. The cold storage building by the house was pretty amazing to walk into as well.

There used to be a full porch across the front of the homeplace on the second story, but it was rebuilt with only a small porch because of the expense of wood at that time.

There used to be small, skinny columns holding up the front porch. Those columns are likely encased in the large columns that are now seen on the front of the home. George and Mary Jane ordered the large columns which were made in Ohio and shipped by rail to Williamson where they were unloaded in the front yard for placement on the home.

Grandson George was in the House of Representatives. He was a member of Kiwanis and started Pancake Day in Griffin. He lent the money that was needed to buy the Fairgrounds once upon a time. www.kiwanisofgriffin.com/fair-history

Thomas Spalding (as in Spalding County) is a great-great-great grandfather in the line of Frank Gaissert III's descendants.

Dolly Brooks (sister of Mary Brooks Gaissert) died in plane crash at Orly Field near Paris France on June 3, 1962 when the Atlanta arts community went to Europe on a museum tour of Europe that was sponsored by the Atlanta Art Association. The plane crashed upon takeoff. According to New Encyclopedia Georgia only two stewardesses in the back of the plane survived most of the passengers were from Atlanta.

The article tells how members from the Atlanta arts community had traveled to look at the Louvre and other museums around Europe to get an idea for future galleries to be built in Atlanta. After this disaster, the High Museum and many other museums were built in Atlanta with donations of memorial gifts from around the world.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution chronicles that 103 members of the Atlanta Art Association were among the 130 who were killed in this crash. The Woodruff Arts Center that opened in 1968 is a memorial honoring those who died at Orly.

When family members were walking through the rooms upstairs, they came across three pictures that were painted by Dolly Brooks. These pictures were purchased from the estate to take back to Mary Gaissert Jackson. Dolly was a well-known Griffin artist and member of the Atlanta Art Association.

The house passed from the Gaisserts to the McCallums. There used to be boxwoods and a ton of flowers around the house before it was bought by the McCallums.

Ralph McCallum, Jr. lived at the farm with his wife, Nancy, and was restoring the 1827 farmhouse when he passed away. His military memorabilia and an old metal storage locker than still has a Bangkok address on it.

Ralph McCallum was a lieutenant in the US Army attached to the CIA in Bangkok, Thailand. They lived in Bangkok for about three years.

There were numerous items from that area of the world in the parlor at the front of the house. Ralph passed away in 1994, and Nancy in 2018. www.findagrave.com/memorial/193407485/nancy-jeanette-mccallum

Trisha Dabbs advised Pike County Times of the McCallum part of the home's history.

Allan McCallum (son of Ralph and Nancy) recently passed away and the contents of the home are being sold in an estate sale. Military and personal effects were sent to family members out in Oregon.


The contents of the home are being sold in an estate sale this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 21-23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information about the estate sale can be found at https://www.estatesales.net/GA/Williamson/30292/3555369

The home will be sold at a later date.

History from the family and hearing the stories from the past were a treasured time to family members as they walked the property at the old Gaissert homeplace.

Thank you to Trisha and Gene Dabbs for allowing me to come out and view the old homeplace, and thank you to the Gaissert Family for giving a walk back through history!

Pike County Times took many pictures before the sale and with family members. The entire photo album can be viewed on Becky Clark Watts' Facebook Album "Gaissert Homeplace Before Sale Pics 2023". PLEASE NOTE: Just because something is seen in my photo album (like the Camaro), it may not be at the estate sale, but many of the items are available. Check the Estate Sale link above for more information.