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7-19-04 More History of Dawson Homeplace in Oconee County, Georgia

Several generations of Daniells and Dawsons resided at the Old Homeplace

  1571 Cliff Dawson Road-Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia



July 10, 2004


Much Family History and Countless Memories of Dawson Homeplace


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.


Several generations of Daniells and Dawsons resided at the Old Homeplace.   A bio written about Rayford Dawson before his death in 1995 gives a summary of some of that activity.  That bio appears below.  Meanwhile, photos of some of the residents appear below:



Cliff (died in 1949) & Hassie Daniell (died in 1954) Dawson & Children, Ca 1939

Roy, Raymond, Sarah Sue, Ralph, Rayford, Ruhl, Sunie Nell, Rebecca, Selena Kate, Roberta




Daddy Cliff & Mama Hassie Dawson Ca 1939

With oldest grandchildren: Delores, Dorothy Sue, Charles, Ned, Ed and Billy

(Note:  Peggy was born in 1939, Wendell in 1940, Patsy and Terry in 1941 and many more followed)



Rayford (died in 1995) and Lois (died 1998) Dawson

1972 With Jennifer Dawson, First Girl Grandchild



Rayford T. Pop Dawson in 1994



All of these people and their many children made big impacts on the family Homeplace and the entire community.

Rayford Turner Dawson

                                    1571 Cliff Dawson Road

Watkinsville, Georgia 30677


June 16, 1913----June 6, 1995


   Rayford Turner Dawson was born June 16, 1913 at the site of his lifelong residence at 1571 Cliff Dawson Road, Watkinsville, Oconee County, Georgia.  He was the fifth child of ten, born to Cliff and Hassie Daniel Dawson. He had four brothers and five sisters (Roy, Raymond, Ralph, Ruhl, Sara Sue Norris, Sue Nell Stewart, Rebecca Barnett, Selena Kate Dickens and Roberta Dellinger.)


    His mother, Hassie Daniell Dawson, also grew up at this site.  Her parents were Young Henderson and Susan Robinson Daniell.  Young Henderson Daniell was a founding member of the Watkinsville Christian Church.  He owned several hundred acres around the area now known as Daniels Bridge Road, Hog Mountain Road and Mars Hill Road.  He was shot at a church conference in Winder in 1904 by a disgruntled member of a family that owned property he had recently acquired.  The farm involved in the death is located on Mars Hill Road and is presently owned and occupied by Fred Wayne Dickens, a great grandson of Young Henderson Daniell.


   Cliff Dawson moved with his widowed mother and four brothers and sisters to Oconee County from Oglethorpe County before the turn of the century.  He married Hassie Daniell and they purchased the Daniell home place when the estate was settled after “Mammy,” Susan Daniell, died in the thirties.  Cliff Dawson farmed during the depression; raising cotton and feed grains.  He used mules and mule drawn equipment to operate the large farm.  Cliff Dawson used his mules to help build the Athens Country Club in the 30’s. 


   Cliff and Hassie Dawson were prominent members of Union Christian Church, which was founded about the turn of the 20th century.  Cliff Dawson served as a school Trustee, on the Farmers Home Administration Committee and in other community activities.  Hassie Dawson raised flowers of many kinds and descriptions, particularly roses.  She would frequently have flower arrangements on display and available to a visiting friend.


   Hassie Dawson was the first cousin of Carl Parsons and Frank Norris both of whom served as chairman of the County Commission.  Cliff Dawson was the brother-in-law of David Weatherford who was serving as Chairman of the County Commission when the courthouse burned in the late thirties.  Her grandson and Rayford’s son, Wendell Dawson, was elected Commission Chair in 1988 and held that position at the time of Rayford’s death.


    Rayford Dawson worked with several other men of his age on the rebuilding of the Oconee County Courthouse in 1937 and 1938.  It was part of the Work Products Administration of President Roosevelt to revitalize the economy. Mules and mule equipment were used to excavate the area under the courthouse.


    Rayford Dawson attended Oconee County Schools and played basketball.  He and his brother, Ruhl, were enthusiastic ball players.  Rayford developed an undying interest in high school basketball that continues to this day.  He has missed few basketball games since the 1930’s.  Wood from his father’s farm was used in the building of the old gymnasium on School Street in Watkinsville in 1932.


   On July 22, 1939, Rayford and Lois Margaret Terry were married.  They lived in a little brown frame house on Daniels Bridge Road on the farm of Asbury Bishop.  It was at this house that their eldest son, Wendell Dawson, was born on October 12, 1940.   In 1941, they moved into a tenant house located on the Dawson farm on the Cliff Dawson Road.  While living at this residence, James Terry Dawson, Curtis Daniel Dawson, Hassie Dianne Dawson Daniel, Margaret Jane Dawson Hale and Harry David Dawson were born.   After he moved in the home-house two daughters, Phyllis Dawson Maddox and Barbara Dawson Garrett were born, completing the eight children of Lois and Rayford Dawson.


   During the 1940’s, Rayford farmed with his father (Papa) on Cliff Dawson Road.  They farmed cotton and feed grains and raised cows and hogs.  In May 1949, Cliff Dawson died after a long illness with cancer.  Rayford acted as the Executor of his father’s estate and farmed the family operation for his mother, Hassie Dawson, who died in March 1955.  After his mother died, Rayford and three sisters, Sue Nell Stewart, Roberta Dellinger and Rebecca Barnett, purchased the home place from the rest of the Dawson children.


   Rayford continued to farm the home place having approximately a hundred acres of cotton a year and about a hundred acres of feed grains as well as a small B grade dairy, and hogs.  In April 1954, Rayford and Lois and their children moved into the home house on Cliff Dawson Road where resided at the time of his death.  His mother and widowed sister, Rebecca Barnett, moved into a new home built closer to Hog Mountain Road which is presently occupied by Becky and Connie Barnett.


    During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Rayford rented a number of farms in the vicinity of Butler’s Crossing and Ray’s Corner.  He raised cotton on the Maxey Place (now Oconee Plaza); Dellinger Place, now Indian Hills subdivision; Lathan Place, now Daniel’s Plantation; McCurley, now Lake Forrest Subdivision; and planted grain on the Braswell Place, now the site of Oconee County Middle, Primary and Elementary Schools and others.


   During the mid 1950’s, Rayford took a second job with the ASCS office in Watkinsville.  At that time, the office was in the courthouse and was headed by Herman O’Dillon whose wife, Bessie, was Clerk of Court.  Rayford’s job was a field compliance representative.  He would take a map to individual farms and map the areas planted in certain grains and crops that were subject to allotment. Others working with Rayford at this time were John Christopher, Ralph Dickens, Helen Parrish, Mrs. F.L. Thomas and Mildred Bell.


   In 1958, Rayford started driving a school bus as an additional job.  He had bus #10 that ran the area between Butler’s Crossing and Friendship Church.  He retired form that job in 1978. While doing these jobs, Rayford still farmed and raised a family who helped him on the farm.  Rayford said he had to work at several jobs to support a large family!


    Because of this large family and employment as a school bus driver Rayford maintained a direct involvement with the Oconee County School system for many years.  He had a keen interest in sports and hardly missed any high school basketball or football games.  He was named honorary Warrior for life in 1992.

    In 1958, Rayford Dawson was appointed a voting Registrar by Superior Court Judge Carlisle Cobb, after being nominated by the Grand Jury.  Judge James Barrow appointed him Chief Registrar in 1970 and he was reappointed 8 times. Rayford served with many people on the Board of Voting Registrars including Earl Griffith, Frank Osborn, Frank Parrish, Grady Oaks, Shannon Thomas and Edgar Weatherford.


    Over the years, the registrars would manually check each voter’s certification for voting requirements and updating the voter’s list for election.  Rayford was reappointed by the Grand Jury and Superior Court Judge for nine terms.  With 36 years of continuous service, he had one of the longest public service tenures in the history of Oconee County. 


    In 1963, Rayford purchased the goods and rented the store formerly known during the fifties as Maxey’s Store at Butler’s Crossing on the site of the present Bank of Georgia.  For over twenty years, Rayford operated Dawson’s Grocery, with the assistance of his children and sister and niece, Becky and Connie.  During those years, many students, teachers and members of the community visited the store.  Many had “running accounts” with Mr. Dawson and would pay their bills monthly.  At that time, it was the only gas and food store at the corner.


    Rayford and Lois had, in addition to the eight children, eight daughters and son-in-laws, twenty-two grandchildren, two grandchildren-in-laws and two great-grandchildren.  Rayford was very proud of his family.  Several of them have been involved in sport activities.  Dan was a star basketball player for Oconee County High School in the early 1960’s.  David played football and basketball in the 1970’s.  Margaret, Barbara and Phyllis played with the girls’ team in the 1960’s. 


    Grandchildren have also been active in the sports program having played on the football and basketball teams for several years.  All of the Dawson children, except for Terry who lived in Greene County, lived in Oconee County at the time of Rayford’s death.  Rayford, also known as “Pop” attended Little League games at all of the fields located in Oconee County over the years.  Some days, he would have several playing on the same day and had to do a “round robin trip” to see them all.


    He will be missed.


By:  Wendell T. Dawson


Written in 1994 while Rayford was living.  Updated on June 30, 2004.