History of Tyrone GA
(Speech delivered by John Lynch on Founders Day Aug. 20, 1997)
The history of Tyrone is very interesting and begins before the formation of the county. This area had previously belonged to the Creek Indians until the first settlers bought their land directly from the Indians, while others got theirs from the various land lotteries that took place in the early 1800′s.
The first settlers that came here were farmers and many of these were of Irish decent, which makes it very appropriate that the town was later named “Tyrone” by the Railroad people. Life in the early years was much like the frontier life that is portrayed on television and the movies. The families lived in log cabins and had a life style much like that of the family on “Little House on the Prairie”. John Rush was one of the first settlers to come here, and when he and his neighbors took their cotton to gin, they had to go all the way to South Carolina, and this trip took nearly two weeks.
Some of the log cabins of the first settlers are still standing and many are still being used as homes. Some of them have been remodeling with siding and the dependants of the original settler built them occupy many. One of these is Loy Housten home on Briarwood Lane, which had a cotton gin behind it. Mr. Charlie Smith ran the gin. There are several more of the original log cabins still standing, and a complete list will be in “The History of Fayette County”, to be published in the near future.
Some of the names of the first settlers were: Rush, Harris, White, Adam, Laundrum, Ellison, Swanson, Palmer, Hobgood, Stinchcomb, Collier, McElwaney, Whitlock and many more. Some of the descendants of these still live here and probably make up more than half the crowd here today.
During the war between the states, considerably activity took place in this area. A large force of Yankee Cavalry came from the town of Palmetto on its way to Lovejoy, to destroy the railroad there. The Yankee raiders came right through this area and caused considerable damage to the Confederate supplies that were on the road between here and Fayetteville. It also said that a long line of Yankee Infantry marched down the Palmetto Road on the road to the battle of Jonesboro, and some more Yankees were seen on the road that is now Highway 74. Some of the people can still remember hearing their parents tell of hiding food under the doorsteps from the Yankees.
Before the War, the main crop around here was cotton, and after the people here recovered from the war and its effects, cotton once again became the main crop. But corn, sweet potatoes, sorghum, wheat, and oats as well as many other vegetables raised for use in the home.
At the height of the cotton years, Tyrone became quite a large town, that supported eight stores, three doctors, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, fertilizer Company, bank, schoolhouse, hotel, Masonic lodge, drug store, two churches, and a jailhouse. The jail must have been the center of activity, because the old records show that it was kept in use pretty much of the time, especially of Saturday night when the town Marshall received $1.00 extra above the $22.50 that he got for each arrest and conviction. The most common offensive was public drunkenness, with disorderly conducted a close second. One of the punishments for these offensives was to have the offender to clean out from under the outhouses of the town with only a bucket and shovel. This proved to be a deterrent. Tyrone as a town was officially incorporated on August 18, 1911, having been named “Tyrone” by the Birmingham and Atlantic Railroad when they lay tracks here on 1907. It was said that the land around here looked much like the land in the county of Tyrone in Ireland. The first mayor was Mr. E. E.. Jackson, and the first councilmen were Mr. B. E.. McElwaney, Mr. J.H. Knight, and W.D. Flowers. The first town marshal was T.R. Pepper. In 1907, a lot of land 50 feet by 195 feet sold in Tyrone for $1100. In1915, there were 42 taxpayers in the town limits. Electricity came here in the 1930′s, and telephones service in 1933, which? boasted of 5 telephones. In 1948, the paving of the streets was begun. The streetlights were put up in 1954, and the sidewalks paved in 1959.
Over the years, Tyrone has had the influence of religion within its foundation, which accounts for the many churches that have sprung up. These churches are: Hopewell Methodist Church (founded in 1849) First Baptist Church (founded in 1912 with 15 members) Tabernacle Baptist (founded in 1968) Little Vine Missionary Baptist (a Negro founded in 1888 and also doubled as a school).
Some of the old schools of the area were:
Rocky Mountain- A one-room building located on Farr Rd. Mrs. Loy Houston was one of the teachers.
Swanson School- Located on Sumner Rd. Used now as the home of Nathaniel Glover.
Buckhill School- Located on Cranberry Lane and Hwy. 74.
Askew School- Located at the intersection of Tyrone Rd. and Flat Creek Trail.
Hopewell Academy- Founded in 1849 on land donated by Jared Handly, it was a two story building with a porch across the front, and was located just east of Hopewell Methodist Church. Boys were seated at one end of the room and the girls on the other. In 1929 a new building was built on the west side of the church, and when this building was burned in 1943, it was immediately rebuilt and is still standing.
Little Vine- A Negro church, which doubled as a school. It was a log building. Most of the school buildings had homemade double desks or long benches, some of which were nailed to the floor. Heat was from a wood heater or a fireplace. The school schedule was during the months of June, July , August, January, February, and March in order to benefit the farmers. Children had to help in the fields caring for and picking crops, in addition to doing their school work, which was done by lamplight. Many can also remember walking several miles to and from school.
Some of the Post offices in the area were: “Buckhill”- Which had to be renamed “Dundee” because of the similar sounding post office. It was located between the Rock Cafe and the Rock Quarry. The L.C. Ellison estate ran it. “Stop” was located on Palmetto-Fayetteville Rd. The understandings of how it got its name is that the mailman form Fairburn would come to his route and just stop, turn around and go back. Jim Brown was the postman in the 1890′s. “Tyrone”- Located in the first store building in Tyrone, which was owned by Mare Mann. First postmaster was Mr. B.E. McElwaney. Some of the “mail toters” from the post office to the train were Mr. Pope until 1910, Robert Fair until 1949, and Mr. J.B. McWilliams. Several doctors served Tyrone the years. Some of them were:
Dr. Washington Russell- in 1877 and 1885. He had a two story building on the road to the Rock Quarry.
Dr. John J. Foster- practiced here about 1890.
Dr. Lewis M. Hobgood- 1892
Dr. Marvin Thornston- Built the house next door to the Baptist Church. He went on his calls in a horse and Buggy.
Dr. Bob Lloyd- Practiced here about 1890 near the Flat Creek Church.
Dr. John McDiamid- A Scot who practiced near the Rock Cafe.
Dr. Abraham Burton Jones- Lived in a large house across from the Tyrone School. His practice was in another building south of the house, with a built in drug store.
Another portion in Tyrone’s history that should be mentioned because of the great impact that it had on the people here is the Old Soldier’s Reunion. The originally took place the land between the Hopewell Methodist Church and the cemetery. This was an annual event and was and was attended by hundreds of people. The history of how this event started is very interesting.
After the War the Confederate veterans became much closer to one another and would often get together to talk of old times. The reunion originally took place on the land between Hopewell Methodist Church and the cemetery. This history of how this event started is very interesting.
After the war the Confederate veterans became much closer to one another and would often get together to talk of old times. and reminisce about the war. In 1884, in the small community of Hopewell (Forerunner of Tyrone) Eight former Confederate Soldiers who were friends and neighbors met together and formed a group the called “The Fayette County Confederate Veteran’s Association”. They voted to meet once a year and set the date as the third Friday in July. The first Commander was Mr. Buck Adams, followed by Mr. Tom Farr, Mr. Samuel B. Lewis, Mr. John Eason, Mr. J.G. Hightower and many others.
The eight charter members who started it were: Tom Farr, John Farr, Kiss Handley, Cal Flowers, Buck Adams, Right Cook, Frank Webb, and Allen Chandler. The people of Hopewell Community became noted throughout the state for their hospitality and the reunion became quite a large affair. The membership of the Association increased to as many as two hundred Confederate Veterans from the counties of Fulton, Dekalb, Henry, Spalding, Cobb, Campbell, as well as Fayette County. Many noted people from all over the state would attend the event. A picnic dinner would be served on the grounds of the church and in the 1930′s the event was held in the “new” Tyrone school across the road. This event made quite effect on people here, for it lasted until 1968 when interest played out.
The Old Soldiers reunion put Tyrone on the map so to speak to many people who had never heard of Tyrone otherwise many people associated the name Tyrone with reunion and therefore this event should be considered as a very important part of Tyrone’s past and history.