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7-15-04 The Dawson “Homeplace” on Cliff Dawson Road- Oconee County—PART 1

Recently the Dawson farm on Cliff Dawson Road, known as the “home-place” to at least six generations of Dawson’s and Daniells, was sold. 

      Countless cherished memories were made for several generations at the Daniell and Dawson Homeplace.   It is quite a legacy for a sizable number of descendants, starting with Pappy Daniell’s children in the late 1800’s and extending down through Pop Dawson’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the 1990’s.



July 5, 2004


The History and Sale of Dawson Homeplace on Cliff Dawson Road


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.


 Circa 1999


HOMEPLACE SOLD: Recently the Dawson farm on Cliff Dawson Road, known as the “home-place” to at least six generations of Dawson’s and Daniells, was sold.  My father, Rayford T. Dawson, was the last owner of the house which was previously owned by his parents, Cliff & Hassie Dawson, and before that by his grandfather, Young Henderson Daniell.  Young Henderson (Pappy) was brought back to this home after being murdered at a church conference in Winder in 1904. YOUNG HENDERSON DANIELL (PAPPY) KILLED IN WINDER IN 1904  http://avoc.info/info/article.php?article=917&PHPSESSID=1cd8bb4eafd840a8ea7a078a4482c473




Young H. & Susan Daniell

Young Henderson DANIELL 1849-1904

m. Susan Jane ROBISON - 1849 - 1930

1.  Thomas Chaffin DANIELL 1870-1895
          (Chaffin is a family name from our Montgomery line)
2.  Oscar DANIELL 1871-1874
3.  Lilla DANIELL 1874-1938
4.  Allie DANIELL 1876-1881
5.  Myrtle DANIELL 1877-1879
6.  Wattson DANIELL 1880-1971
          m. Hassie WIER 1885-1955
7.  Katie Bishop DANIELL 1882-1954
          m.  Alcy Pope WHITEHEAD 1878-1952
8.  Hassie Browning DANIELL 1883-1955
          m.  Royal Clifford DAWSON 1880-1949
9.  Josiah DANIELL 1885-1957
          m. Lila THORNTON
10. Nellie DANIELL 1889-1971
          m. George Jones
11. Dewitt DANIELL 1892-1974
          m. Ola Matthews 1894-1914


Daddy Cliff Dawson died in the back bedroom of the house in May 1949. I was in the backyard and remember when it happened.  Rayford (Pop) Dawson died in the front room on June 5, 1995, with his children and grandchildren spending time at his bedside.  Rayford Dawson’s Will left the home and farm in equal shares to his eight children (of which I was the eldest) to be held together until the death of  his wife, Lois Terry (Mama & Granny) Dawson, who died July 6, 1998.


Some of the children wanted to have the house and use it for a residence. But, Alas, it was not to be!  With eight children (plus in-laws and grandchildren) there were many different opinions and desires.  After several years of Probate and litigation, the house and  farm were sold by the eight children on June 3, 2004, to Steve Ebert, Tom Little and J. Timberlake who plan a subdivision called “The Old Farm”.   Much emotion got involved in the probate and led to the  ultimate solution of selling  the entire Homeplace and dividing the money in eight equal shares as the Will provided.


After my grandfather, Cliff Dawson, died, my father and three of his sisters, Becky, Sue Nell and Roberta, bought the farm.  We moved in the home house in April of 1954.


GROWING UP IN FORTIES AND FIFTIES:  This is where we lived when all eight of us graduated from Oconee County High School on Mars Hill Road.  I graduated there in 1958 after attending the Watkinsville School for 10 years.  It was the place where relatives would visit after attending graduation, weddings and funerals.

 Annie Wellborn Painting in 1998-- Annie visited in the early forties and remembered cotton, chickens, mules, wash pots, folks nd more.


I remember eating our meals around the “big table”.  Daddy liked to talk “politics” and sports.  Mama was a good cook and we always had a full table of food.  It was where we gathered for Christmas evenings and shared a meal and exchanged gifts until the family got so large that we drew names.  Pop and Granny had 22 grandchildren who spent much time and made many memories at the Homeplace.  Many a family volleyball game, softball and other games were played on Sunday afternoon in the front yard.   Many a family photo was made at Easter, Christmas, Fathers Day, Mothers Days and birthdays.


In the 1950’s, I also remember helping milk cows in the old barn on the hill behind the house.  We had a B-Grade dairy and had to milk the cows every morning and evening.  We kept the milk stored in a milk cooler in the Old Smokehouse.  One of my fondest memories was dipping some cream off the top and making homemade ice cream in the summer.  Pop and all of his children loved homemade ice cream and banana was a favorite although some in-laws never could develop a taste for it.


In the forties, fifties and sixties, there were always pear, apple, peach and crabapple trees.  There was a prolific fig bush behind the smokehouse.   There were plenty of walnuts, hickory nuts, blackberries and plums.  Mama canned and froze much of these items in the summer.  I am sure that generations in Daddy’s and Mama Hassie’s time in the house did similar things though peaches were dried and potatoes were placed on the ground under the house.  I remember milk being kept in a branch for cooling and water drawn by bucket and windless rope from a well.  A gourd drinking dipper was under the well house and was a joy on  a hot day.


FARM AND FOOD CHORES:  In the 1940’s, I remember mules in the barn and barnyard and my grandfather, father and “hands” coming from the field at “dinner time” (lunch now) to eat and feed the mules.  They would come in response to Mama Hassie ringing the old dinner bell on the roof of the old smokehouse behind the house.   There was much activity in the backyard and at the barns during farming season.  There was an old blacksmith shop where plows were sharpened.  I did some of that as a teenager in the early 50s and plowed our garden with a mule.


The fall, and first cold days, brought ‘Hog Killing” time.   Several hogs would be slaughtered and scalded in the big pot “down at the branch” behind the “big house”.  All hair was then skinned from the hogs and they were hanged from a single tree off a tree limb for “gutting” and dressing.  The ladies were busy in the house making sausage, slicing and preparing hams, shoulders and fat back that would be eaten for months by the family.   This was an annual ritual that occurred in the days of my Great-grandfather Daniell, Daddy Cliff Dawson and Rayford Dawson.


The tractors came in the early 50s and changed much of that.  During Daddy’s time running the farm, there were many folks and much activity going on at any given time.   There was always a big garden and corn for “roasting ears” which we would shuck in the summer by the pickup truck load.  We would shell butterbeans, peas and snap beans by the bushels.  I remember we watched the 1956 Democrat and Republican Conventions on television as we shelled peas and butterbeans.


HOME OF GRANDPARENTS FOR THREE GENERATIONS:  In the late forties and early fifties, other Dawson family members would visit Mama Hassie and Daddy Cliff on Sunday.  There was a big family dinner in the dining room.  Many a political issue, high school basketball and current events were discussed around that table and in that house.


My grandmother and her younger brother, Josiah Daniell, and sister, Nellie Daniell were in their teens or entering adulthood when their father, Young H. Daniell, was slain in Winder in 1904.  It changed their lives.  Mammy (Susan Robison Daniell) eventually moved to Athens.


Daddy Cliff and Mama Hassie bought the Homeplace and raised their ten children there.  Roy, Raymond, Sarah Sue, Ralph, Rayford, Ruhl, Sunie Nell, Senor Rebecca (Becky), Selena Kate and Roberta (Bert) were all born there.  They grew up raising animals, milking cows, raising cotton and attending the school at Watkinsville where most of them graduated.   They courted and married from that house just like their Daniell uncles and aunts did in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.


Mama Hassie Dawson loved flowers and kept many a flower bed in the front and back yards.  She grew pretty roses and many other flowers that I remember from my childhood days.  She gave me flowers to show at the flower show in the old gym at Watkinsville in the late forties.  She took time to talk and visit with her grandchildren.  I remember that she was sad after the death of my grandfather and remained so until her death in 1955.  


Mama Hassie was a wise, patient and caring person.  I will always remember her commenting to me in May of 1950 that it was the anniversary of Daddy Cliff’s death.  The conversation got around to life and philosophy.  She made a statement that made a tremendous impression on me and that I have never forgotten.  She said, “…always be yourself….  Don’t pretend to be something you are not.”    I took that advice to heart and like my father before me I have never cared for “two-faced” or pretentious people. 


My generation of Dawson grandchildren played cowboy while riding broomsticks for horses. We made “strip-downs”  from boards and old wagon wheels.   We also played “house” in the summers under the house where younger children could walk while standing up.  In later years, there were baseball games, basketball hoops and bicycles. 


Countless cherished memories were made for several generations at the Daniell and Dawson Homeplace.   It is quite a legacy for a sizable number of descendants, starting with Pappy Daniell’s children in the late 1800’s and extending down through Pop Dawson’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the 1990’s.