The Haw Pond School building is referenced briefly in the book, “Crisp County’s History in Pictures and Stories” second edition published by Cordele-Crisp County Historical Society, Inc. in 1978. On page 468 the book states “Haw Pond Baptist Church was constituted in the old school house which joins the church property today.” (This would appear to confirm that the building was indeed used as a school and the school had been there for some time.) The minutes of that meeting indicate the date to be May 10, 1925, during a period when there were many schools in the county to provide educational opportunities in communities before the construction of school buildings at Arabi, West Crisp, and East Crisp. The history states that “Prior to this day, going back several years, Brother George Hobby traveled from Rebecca by walking or horse and buggy to preach for the community. At this time, these services were held in the original school house. The land that the school house was on belonged to W.B. Pate, later the church was built.”
The history then tells us that “The Haw Pond church was named for the ponds on the property near the church which are surrounded by a bountiful growth of May Haw trees. These trees produce millions and millions of haw berries which ripen in the month of May, hence the name May Haw. Because of their generosity and love of their neighbors, Mr. Bennett Pope and his wife, Maude, invited the people from miles around each year to come and gather May Haws for making jelly or jam.
“The largest of these ponds was named the Haw Pond … and there is a yearly phenomena concerning this pond which is known state-wide. Each year an underground river claims the Haw Pond as its own. Each year some member of the Pate family always kept a close watch on the Haw Pond so they would know exactly when it would “go out”. Word spread in the neighborhood that the Haw Pond was about to “go out” and people along the bank, talked and waited. When the Haw Pond water was low enough, the men would get in the water to catch the abundant supply of fish. Mr. Bennett Pate always shared these fish with his neighbors, and there were always many fish to share. The men would sometimes put a net over the hole where the water runs out to join the river so they could catch many more fish. It was a dangerous operation, because the suction of the water was terrific as it was pulled into the underground river.”
The churches were always the center of the community. What a beautiful commentary on rural life in days gone by. We think our research and documentation of the old schoolhouse and church is an important part of what we do…….Almost gone but not forgotten. Haw Pond Baptist church lives on.
As you saw in the introductory, exterior photo, Haw Pond School Building is literally on its last legs. From foundation to roof we see unrecoverable, fatal damage. But, we have arrived in time to photo- document the school’s existence, preserve its history and document its meaningfulness in this rural community. This photo is of the main room and fireplace. As you can see, the structure is failing both inside and out. The school stands due west of the large, attractive and modern church. For decades, children from near- by families received their initial primary educations here. Providing schools like this was a significant role played by many, many rural churches.
This is a photo of one of the smaller rooms at the school. We have no drawing or plans of the school so can only guess this was a classroom.
This is another view of the main(green) room. One of the entry doors to the school is seen on the right of this photo along with a small window which is on the east wall. The front doors were on the south side.
Still in the green room, from this vantage point we see that every element of this structure is near collapse. The front door is severely tilted inward and will soon give way along with the entire front wall as the damaged roof collapses.
In an earlier photo, we saw that the interior of the chimney was falling into the green room and its brick facing was falling away as well. Here we see evidence that the chimney is becoming disconnected from the building and will soon fall away and collapse. The heart pine exterior boards are also deteriorating and falling off. The wooden sills are severely water damaged and rotting. We are viewing inexorable processes of decay that threaten many such buildings. Nothing can stop it now.
The old school house remarkably still stands like an abandoned ship on its failing foundation. We will hate to see her go. But her story in pictures and words will be documented and available for those who care to read it. And, we hope the super-natural filling and emptying of its nearby lake and the Haw trees with their abundant berries will continue to amaze and please us annually for years to come.
Almost Gone But Not Forgotten
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My grandmother, Mabel Wright Spires, taught at this school in the 1800s. Hurricane Michael did a lot of damage and it’s barely standing. So sad to see these old historic buildings just go to waste.
Yes indeed it is. Thanks for sharing Patricia.
What beautiful pictures and commentary about a school and church that we we won’t have much longer. What committed church members and parents contributed to make this community. What difficulties they had that most of us don’t today. Thanks for the record you provide us.