Farm City tour focuses on area history

Published 11:30 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Imagine an 80-ton rock fireplace.

Imagine that metal bedsprings were used to strengthen its foundation.

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Imagine that very little mortar is visible in the massive, two-story and rising “fireplace.”

That’s hard to imagine and just as hard to believe.

The group of 35 that participated in the Pike County Chamber of Commerce’s Farm City Tour Wednesday couldn’t imagine and could hardly believe the Piney Woods home of Harold and Mary Mitchell.

The Mitchell home was featured on the annual Farm-City Tour that is a part of the Chamber’s Farm-City Week activities, which will culminate with the Farm-City Awards Banquet on Thursday night at Cattleman Park.

The Mitchell home was the dream home of Cameron McQuagge, a Korean War veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart.

“Cameron was missing in action for 11 days,” said his sister Mary Mitchell. “When he came home, he wanted a place of peace and quiet. He built this home, his dream home.”

When the Mitchells moved “home” to Pike County in 2001, they made the late Cameron McGuagge’s dream their dream, too.

“We continue to work on the house,” Mary Mitchell said. “We’re not finished but we love the house just as Cameron loved it and we enjoy sharing it with others.”

Mary Mitchell conducted a tour of the all-wood, 3,600 square-foot house.

“It’s made of three kinds of wood – cypress, cedar and pine,” she said. “The rocks used in the fireplace are all from this area except the ones on the hearth. They came from Georgia.”

Mitchell said the wood used for the floors was salvaged from the floor of the Elba courthouse after “the flood.”

The house is as much a part of the piney woods as the towering tree themselves.

“It’s home,” Mitchell said.

Harold Mitchell conducted a tour of the grounds and shared much of the history of land that’s deed was recorded on deer hide and is a place of final rest for an Indian maid, who married a soldier after the Civil War.

The Farm City Tour also included Mt. Moriah Baptist Church where services have been held continually for more than 100 years.

The Rev. Mack Lowery gave a brief history of the church which was followed by a history of the Mt. Moriah community led by Charles Nunnelee.

Nunnelee showed old photographs of the area that included a natural spring baptismal, the old Curry Post Office and farmsteads and homesteads.

Deborah Huggins Davis presented information about the Pike County Treasure Forest Association and gave information about the requirements necessary for forest land to be designated a Treasure Forest.

Davis said any forested land of 10 acres or more can be considered.

“You must define your Treasure Forest use as timber production, wildlife, recreation, aesthetics and environmental education,” she said. “I chose timber as my primary use because I like to get a little money from my forest. My secondary use is for wildlife.”

Davis said to qualify as a Treasure Forest, a landowner must first submit a written multiple-use plan.

“There’s a lot involved but it’s worth the effort she said.

The tour closed in Orion with a tour of the Orion historic church and an interesting presentation by Keith Roling on the church, its cemetery and the history of the Orion community.

“The Pike County Chamber of Commerce appreciates those who dedicated time and effort to the planning and carrying out of the year’s tour,” said Leigh Ann Windham, Chamber community development director. “We appreciate all of those who were on the tour. They all did an outstanding job. The tour was fun and informative and everyone enjoyed every stop. We want thank our Farm City Committee Chairman Randy Hale for putting the tour together and all of those who participated. It was an outstanding tour. We thank everyone for making it such a great success.”