Sunday, May 3, 2009

Old homeplace

On a recent visit to cousin Bobby Gene Pennington's house in Georgia, my mother and Aunt Jo came home with some 'new' treasures, actually old photos from Bobby's collection. Bobby has always been a camera buff with a lifelong hobby of taking and collecting photographs, and he is very generous in sharing them too. What makes this particular photograph special is that you can see a portion of the old Sloan-Pennington homeplace.

This house was part of the Sloan estate that passed to Dee Sloan Pennington. It was torn down in 1945 and replaced with a smaller, painted wood frame house, and as far as we know, this is the only photograph that shows evens a portion of the original house.

The house and land came to Ethel Dee Sloan Pennington, in 1934 as part of her inheritance from her mother and father. When her mother, Melissa Caroline Potts Sloan, died in 1934, what was left of the Sloan Estate was divided among their nine living children in a unique way. The Sloan property at that time consisted of nearly 400 acres. After being properly surveyed, the acreage was divided equally, according to value, into nine lots. Each lot was color-coded on the survey map and numbered, then each child or beneficiary drew a number. Dee drew
Lot 4, the 48 hours that contained the dogtrot house.

The house, like most dogtrots of the time, was divided down the middle with a wide exterior hallway. This hallway was commonly referred to as the dogtrot, and eventually the name was applied to the house itself. Dogtrot houses are believed to have developed in the Tennessee Valley region of northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee in response to the Southern heat and humidity. The open hallway captured the breezes and became a shaded area in which families could gain some respite from the hot sun. Notice in this picture how high the house sits from the ground, another way to allow breezes to circulate although the lack of insulation in winter months provided for cold floors!

Dogtrots became popular in the rural south due to the fact they could be quickly and cheaply built. Most basic dogtrots were just two log cabins separated by a breezeway and covered with a common roof. Early dogtrots were just two log cabins with a common roof and a space in between. One side, or one room, usually held the kitchen while the other side was the sleeping quarters. The house that Dee Sloan Pennington inherited actually had two rooms on either side of the breezeway.

On the left side of the Sloan-Pennington dogtrot were the two most important rooms - the kitchen and the gathering room - while on the right side of the house were two rooms for sleeping. The kitchen was the hub of the house were most of the daily activities took place. A large kitchen table dominated the center of the room with benches on either side. According to Bobby Gene Pennington, however, the "monster" of the room was a huge, wood-burning store that contained a reservoir on the side for heating water. Another item in Dee's kitchen was the wooden safe that stored and protected food from flies and insects.

I guess by now you are wondering about the folks in the picture. The nice-looking young man is Gaylord Pennington, Hugh and Dee's son, with his wife, Orva Rae Rutledge holding their young daughter, Gary. The photograph was taken in 1936. Orva Rae was the daughter of Henry A. Rutledge and his third wife, Carmella Melissa Booker.


Tracy said...

This is in reply to your Hood Family post.
Osborne and Malissa Jones Hood (St. Clair Co, AL > Itawamba Co MS > Lamar Co AL) were my GGG grandparents. They are both buried at Herron Cemetery in Sulligent AL. Their daughter Margaret married Jonathan Herron, of course these were my GG grandparents. Jonathan Herron is where I have hit my brick wall with the Herron family, just wondered if you might happen to know anything about this Jonathan Herron?


Ma Jean said...

By inlarging the photo, you can tell the person in the chair is leaning against the porch pillar.
Still wonder who.

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Tracy, contact me via my e-mail on my profile page. I'd like to know more about Osborne. He is in my database as one of the unknown Osbornes. Thanks! Mona