Did you attend our exhibit launch on May 16th?
Explore:Lost Corner Sandy Springs, Georgia
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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.
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.
Friends of Lost Corner is honored to now have Melissa Swindell as the Historian member of our all-volunteer Board. With her skills in the fields of American and Museum Studies she applied for, and was awarded, a Georgia Humanities Grant of $2500 in Summer 2022. The grant enabled her to create a detailed exhibit that spans a 3,000-year history through the lens of how each group or person inhabited the area and their lived experience on and around Lost Corner Preserve during that timeframe.
Melissa's deep dive into the history of the area tells the story of Lost Corner Preserve from the earliest period when native peoples lived on the land to when the City of Sandy Springs collaborated with The Trust for Public Land, Peggy Miles and Friends of Lost Corner to create the 24 acre Preserve.
The exhibit will be free and open to the public, as will the accompanying presentation by at least one humanities scholar on the project, at the exhibit opening. You can see this exhibit beginning May 16th when it has a grand opening in the Historic Cottage. Sign up for the FOLC newsletter by clicking on the green button at the top of the page. You'll receive exhibit info and dates for future locations as this exhibit travels the Sandy Springs area to educate more people on the rich history of this important and pristine property.
Lost Corner Preserve is a unique, living time capsule that transports visitors to three distinct eras in Georgia history: Woodland Era habitation, 19th century Euro-American settlement, and 20th century industrialization. Along the river’s edge of the property, Woodland Era fishing weirs are evident by human-altered rock formations. Hidden among the tributaries and trees are the remains of the approximately 170-year-old spring house, and up the hill at the main site is the mid-1800s foundation for the home, upon which the 1920s cottage sits today.
FIRST PEOPLES IN GEORGIA
For over 10,000 years, people have called Sandy Springs their home.
Paleoindians ( > 10,000 years ago) lived in a very different Sandy Springs than we do today. Imagine a park-like landscape for miles in every direction and a climate more typical of the northern United States. People camped in Sandy Springs as they hunted herds of wild game for food. As the Ice Age ended warm weather slowly melted ice sheets and raised water levels. Peoples of the Archaic periods (8000 – 1000 BCE) moved inland from the coast and encountered other groups. Trade increased and new tools such as quartz and soapstone from the Georgia Piedmont Region were used more frequently. Hunting changed from the Ice Age’s large game to smaller animals hunted with spear or arrow points and atlatls.
WOODLAND ERA VILLAGES AND FISHING SITES
Between 1000 BCE – 1000 CE Woodland Era Sandy Springs’ climate and landscape developed into what we know today. The peoples of this era relied on the Chattahoochee River for food. Fishing was a way of life. Fish weirs are man-made fish traps. Remains of seven villages were found near Sandy Springs fishing weirs. Click the image for a brief video about fishing villages along the Chattahoochee (opens in a new window).
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. To learn more about the Georgia Land Lotteries visit the Georgia Archives HERE.
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.
HOW DID SANDY SPRINGS GET ITS NAME?
In 1850 Sandy Springs was called Oak Grove. Roughly 75% of the founding members of the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church were pioneers from Sandy Springs, South Carolina, outside Anderson, who had relocated to Georgia. They traveled south and found the same sandy springs that they were familiar with in South Carolina.
Originally, they settled the area of DeKalb County known as Cross Keys. Eventually enough settlers arrived in the general area of today’s Sandy Springs that it became worthy of its own name, Oak Grove. The church, when it was established, had a campground associated with it that was named by church members as the Sandy Springs Campground. Click HERE to read the full story....
WILLIAM AND CATHERINE MCMURTREY
Records show that the McMurtreys 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 McMurtrey are buried at Sandy Springs United Methodist Church. They both died of illness within two days of each other in August, 1857.
THE MCMURTREY 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 McMurtrey 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 McMurtrey 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 Branches 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 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 McMurtreys, 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 Branches/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 schoolhouse 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.