Friends of Lost Corner would like to thank Clarke Otten of the Sandy Springs Heritage Preservation Society for his tireless research of Lost Corner and for giving us so much information about it’s rich history.
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Lost Corner gives us some important clues to the history of Sandy Springs. The property is very unique, as it has only had 2 owners since the Native Americans inhabited the land. There is virtually a complete record of ownership, with few changes over time. The land has remained largely unaltered, as the original homestead structures still stand.
There is evidence of Cherokee Indians living in Sandy Springs and near Lost Corner. After the Trail of Tears when the Native Americans were driven out of Georgia, the land was divided up into 200 acre parcels. Sandy Springs was then called Oak Grove. Most of the land in Oak Grove was distributed during the Georgia Land Lotteries, held from 1805 to 1832. Cards with names were put in one barrel and cards with numbered lots of 200 acres were placed in another barrel. The barrels were spun and lots were matched to owners.
As indicated by the map that Clarke Otten has provided us, there are no clear records that show Lost Corner was included in the land lottery. Lost Corner is also just outside the border of the distributed land of the Oak Grove District. It appears that after the land lottery, Falling Branches (Lost Corner) remained unclaimed and without ownership. Because of its proximity to the river it was a fractional lot. Fractional lots and river front lots (which Lost Corner is) were sometimes not included in the land lottery drawing. These fractional lots were often held by the government to be used as needed. The creek that runs through Lost Corner is Falling Branches Creek and the land was often referred to as Falling Branches.
William and Catherine McMurtrey
Records show that the McMurtrys moved to Oak Grove in 1850. William McMurtry was a schoolteacher and there is speculation that the government gave him this fractional lot to live on so he could set up a school to teach the children of the many farmers who had settled the area. As an educated man, William was also the trustee of the newly landed Sandy Springs United Methodist Church and town of Oak Grove in 1851. His name and signature is on the church trust documents as a witness. The church still sits on the same land today at Sandy Springs Circle and Mt. Vernon Rd. Both William and Catherine McMurtry are buried at Sandy Springs United Methodist Church. They both died of illness within two days of each other in August, 1857.
THE MCMURTRY CHILDREN
William McMurtry and his wife Mary Katherine had two children Rebecca Elizabeth and James Addison (pictured). Records show that they remained in Oak Grove/Sandy Springs. The earliest deed of Falling Branches/Lost Corner shows the land under the ownership of a Levy Wilson 1861. Levy Wilson owned land not far from Lost Corner and married Rebecca McMurtry in 1858. There are records that show James Addison McMurtry fought in the civil war and came home a decorated veteran. Census records show that he and his wife Lucinda lived on the property for many years after the war.
The earliest deed of Falling Branches/Lost Corner shows the land under the ownership of a Levy Wilson 1861. Levy Wilson owned land not far from Lost Corner and married Rebecca McMurtry in 1858. At some point after 1861 Levi Wilson must have sold the land to another family by the name of Scott. Scott is shown on the 1872 county map in land lot 128. He is listed the owner of Falling Branch from 1869 to 1913. There is a rental agreement between Scott and James Addison McMurtrey starting in Dec. 1877. (Again, we know from the 1860 census and the 1864 war maps that the McMurtreys lived there before this particular document takes effect.) Falling Branches is described as about 100 acres and the annual rent was $50. You can still see parts of the original homestead at Lost Corner today.
The McMurtry’s, like the majority of families were subsistence farmers, not the large plantation holders many people associate with the Deep South. They lived off the land, growing food, raising livestock, hunting and fishing. Farmers grew cotton, corn and beans for the market. Evidence on the property shows that Falling Brances/Lost Corner was a small working farm. James Addison died July 14, 1901. His wife Lucinda (pictured in the early 1900s) lived on the property until 1913 when landlord Scott sold it to Fred Harrison Miles.
THE MILES FAMILY
Fred Miles was married to Nancy (Nannie) Hill Dooly and they moved onto the property with their two children Edward and Alice. They had three more children Fred Jr., Margaret (Peggy), and Henry. The Miles family built a 1920s bungalow style house on top of the old 1850’s foundation and added several rooms on. We know from conversations with Peggy that her father Fred was an electrician and sold electricity for Georgia Power and the then recently constructed Morgan Falls Hydroelectric Dam. The house was one of the first in the area to have electricity. Peggy’s father first called the property Lost Corner because those who tried to find it often found themselves lost. He died in an automobile accident in downtown Atlanta in 1931 at the age of 53.
Margaret "Peggy" Miles (pictured) was born on the property in 1922 and died there in 2008. She lived in the house and on the property for her entire life. She was a well educated woman who graduated from Chattahoochee High School and went on to college. She worked for Emory as an epidemiologist. She never married and did not have children. She loved Lost Corner and wanted to protect it for future generations. She deeded Lost Corner to the Trust for Public Land and the City of Sandy Springs. It was her generosity that has made Lost Corner Preserve a reality. For more details see the About Us page.
A Rich History
Peggy remembered Brandon Mill as a functioning, working wood mill. She attended school at the two room school house located near the Morgan Falls Dam (where the current Morgan Falls Rd. is located). She would walk there and back every day. On many weekends, she and her family would attend the church/tent meetings at Sandy Springs United Methodist Church and picnic at the site where the springs originated. There are many stories that Peggy shared about the changes to Oak Grove & Sandy Springs over the years that have been collected and it is our goal to share them all.