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Bill and David Buchanan could only look on in disbelief as the smoke, still smoldering from their mother’s home place, rose last Wednesday.
Early that morning fire department’s from Moneta, Saunders and Huddleston had been called to a fire at the crossroads of Routes 805 and 737 near Stone Mountain. By the time emergency personnel arrived, the historic Carter family home place was fully engulfed in flames and could not be saved.
“It’s tough,” the two brothers said as they looked at the family gathering place that was now reduced to ashes.
“We could come up here and walk in the house and it was like stepping back 100 years in time,” David said. “Kids today don’t get that experience.”
No one had lived in the home for years, but it remained a showplace of antiques and life at a simpler time. All of the furniture there was original to the house. Most recently the house — now owned by Bill, David and their brother Tom and sister Beth Tracy — served as a gathering place for family events as well as a place where they would bring family and church groups for short stays. For the children who visited it was a chance to experience life as it was lived half a century ago.
Berry Lafayette Carter Sr. bought the farm and deeded it to his son, Berry Lafayette Carter Jr. in 1899. The home was constructed in 1906, built by W.B. English and T. Dellis. Berry Carter Jr. married Eliza Jane Ashwell in 1878 and they raised seven sons and two daughters in that home.
Years later the farm was sold to two of those sons, James O. and Onnie Carter. In 1920 William T. Carter, another son, and his wife Lucy Hancock Carter, bought the farm and farmed the land until Lucy’s death in 1974. She had died as a result of a robbery at the home and the Buchanans’ grandparents didn’t live in the home after that.
Will’s daughter, Lois Carter Reynolds, purchased the place in 1974 and later deeded in to her nephews and niece.
Just behind the home stood another chimney, the remnants of an original log home that had belonged to Bill and David’s great grandparents, built almost 200 years ago. That home remained on the property until a couple of years ago. “We couldn’t bear to take the chimney down,” David stated.
Now both homes are gone, with only their chimneys remaining.
The history of the farm dates back to the 1700s. In fact gravestones by a tree several hundred yards behind the home mark the grave of the Rev. William Leftwich, who was born Nov. 10, 1774, and died April 1846. David said he believed that family received the property through an original land grant.
Calls about the fire began to filter to family members by 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The fire is believed to have started around 5 a.m. and its cause was still under investigation late last week. The last time someone had been in the home was a couple of weeks ago at the close of deer hunting season. Bill said they are always careful to turn everything off before leaving.
“It was a family get-together place,” Bill said. As many as a dozen people could stay there at a time.
During the Depression, the home served as a gathering place for their mother to play with other children from that area.
Numerous antiques were lost as were books that dated back to the 1700s. There was an old Victrola and records, old radios, prints that had been shipped to the states from a family member during World War II and a piano. All that remains are the many memories family members have shared over the years.
“I just can’t believe it,” David said of having lost the home.
“We want to continue to come up here,” added Bill “We love this property.”
And they plan to put something back. “We will have a bunkhouse or something like it,” he said. “It’s not going to be anything fancy.”