Pages Navigation Menu

Freeman Springs Farm - Rocky Face, Georgia

History

Freeman Springs Farm

Circa 1836

 

The Old Home Place, built circa 1836

The Old Homeplace, built circa 1836

Around 1834, Benjamin F. Freeman of North Carolina learned of land available to settlers in the State of Georgia.  Land acquired by “brokers” after Land Lotteries were held was being sold.  Benjamin packed his family and started the journey to Georgia to begin a new and promising life for his family.  The land had previously been claimed by the Cherokee Indians, and many of those Indians still lived in the area among the new “white settlers”.   Benjamin F. Freeman came to Georgia in 1836 and purchased beautiful farm land in 1837.  The area of his land was known as Dogwood Valley in Walker County.   Dogwood Valley was named so for an old Indian Chief named Dogwood, according to W.H.C. Freeman (born in 1839 on the farm, son to Benjamin). The land was a perfect farming location containing ponds, a creek, and a freshwater spring, along with flat lands for pastures and more land atop a small ridge.   The family built their new home, a small cabin and began farming the land. The farm provided everything the family needed to live.  They grew cotton, raised pigs, yard chickens, cattle, and planted crops.  Soon the family was erecting other buildings around the farm… barns, a smokehouse, a slaughter house and cribs.  The Freeman family lived peacefully with the Cherokee Indians, but in 1838 the last of the Cherokee Indians were forced from their homes and placed in stockade forts to await their departure westward, a tragedy known today as “The Trail of Tears”.  The Freeman Family is the only people who have lived on this land other than the Cherokee Indians.  Many Cherokee artifacts can still be found on and around the farm.  In 1853, this part of Walker County became part of Whitfield County.

The Freeman family struggled as many families did in Dogwood Valley during the Civil War.  The women of the family planted crops and kept the family going while the men were away.  The farm at that time grew cotton along the high ridge overlooking the pastures below.  Union Forces passed and camped near the area.  Many people come to search for civil war relics around the farm, and many have been found. W.H. C. Freeman (son to Benjamin and the next family member in line to inherit the farm) was a lieutenant in the 39th Regiment, Ga. Infantry, Company C.  He fought through the Civil War and surrendered under Johnston in North Carolina.  WHC Freeman later became a Notary Public and Justice of the Peace in 1868, and was State Representative from Whitfield County in 1900 & 1901.

John Benjamin Freeman, son of WHC Freeman, was the next in line to inherit Freeman Springs Farm.  As a young man, John’s two older brothers attempted to persuade John to join them in their line of work, and a promising investment.  The work for this company had moved the brothers to Texas.  But John would not hear of it, his life was farming and on the farm he would stay and invest his monies.  He continued farming with his father.  He grew the farm to include flocks of sheep and horse breeding.  The investment made by the other brothers worked out too…the company for which they worked and invested being “Coca Cola”.   John and his wife had three daughters, the last being Billie Freeman Collins, mother to the current owner, William Freeman Collins.

The current home on the farm was built around 1919.  The home has been remodeled and added onto several times.  Much wood in the current home came from the original homestead.  The rock foundation of the home was built from rocks hauled over from the ridge on the farm.   All the rafters in the home are hand hewed.  An old dugout cellar under this house was where the Freeman Family stored potatoes, onions, syrup and many other items.

Church gathering at the Springs, circa 1900

Church gathering at the Springs, circa 1900

 

The springs at Freeman Springs Farm flow from beneath the northern slope of a high hill into the headwater stream of the East Chickamauga Creek.  In earlier times the springs were a source of water for the Indians.  For many years the area around the springs was a community center for recreation.  Both young and old citizens gathered at the springs for picnics or just to get together.  The run-off from the springs provided a cool wading place for the youngsters.  The area was kept in excellent condition by the John B. Freeman Family.  The area was an ideal picnic/recreational area for many years.   Freda Collins Lassiter (now deceased), sister to the current owner, could recount stories told by her mother Billie as she was a young child.  Billie could remember Gypsies coming to camp around the springs every year.  They (the Gypsies) would exchange their crafts, wares and trinkets with the Freeman Family in exchange for food.  Billie stated this would be an exciting time for her and her sisters, Ruth and Dora.  In 1989, water rites to the spring water were secured by Dalton Water Light and Sinking Fund to aid in furnishing water for the city of Dalton. 

Other water sources on the farm include the East Chickamauga Creek, which runs through the farm.  The creek has supplied water for the grazing animals since the first days of the farm.  But, it also provided summertime fun for the area children.  One of the “deep” spots of the creek was named the “Blue Hole” by the kids and it was the swimming spot for many years.  A huge pond (small lake) atop the ridge was, and is still to this day, a favorite fishing spot for many locals.

The farm has seen many changes in its 175 year history, from the days of horse and buggy to the conveniences of today’s farms.  The work mules and horses have been replaced by tractors and ton trucks.  Along with growing crops and animals, Billie and her husband Fred Collins built a dairy barn in 1954.  The “Fred Collins Dairy” operated on the farm into the early 1970s.  The family started growing chickens for a poultry company from the 1970s up to 2005, when the current owner, Freeman Collins retired from the poultry business.  Mr. Collins still raises beef cattle on the farm, owning Simmental and Black Angus.  The farm also operates a seasonal agri-tainment business during the fall offering hayrides, pumpkins, and a cornmaze.  A “country store” shop located in the old dairy barn offers jam, jellies, handmade soaps, candles, and other goodies.  Today the farm is owned and operated by William Freeman Collins, great-great grandson to Benjamin Freeman.