Whitesville Picture Show

by Ron Rollins

As told to me by J.T. Cox, with a memory refreshing by Betty Beagle his daughter, who stills lives in Whitesville, Ga.Betty is a retired Harris County School Teacher. She taught at The Old Mountain Hill School until she retired. Her father was a jack of all trades and was called on by one and all from time to time to invent, fix or build all things needed or that went wrong or quit working during the time he lived in our historic community.

J.T. moved to Whitesville area in the 1920’s after graduating from the University of Ga. He worked as a Extension Agent for Harris County; married a local girl ( Miss Mary Hopkins a school teacher at Sunny Side School) in June of 1925 and raised 6 children. In 1932 he bought the Daniel’s place in down town Whitesville. It included a country store, the old grist mill (originally located on mountain creek and moved) and a home.

J. T. built a canning plant and portable hammer mill; to make feed on site at local farms, from grains raised there; later on. The home also came with a DEL-CO power plant that produced 32 Volt power for lights and appliances. It ran on Gasoline and so did the large ( hit and miss) motor that ran the grist mill. They ran on this electricity till REA came into being and he then put an electric motor on the Mill and also a motor on the Maytag washer to do laundry from conventional power and did away with the Del-co Power Plant that had served them well.

In J. T.’s travels and trading J.T. came up with a silent Movie Projector, some movies, and a location to get more movies. I hope to get for copy on site here, of a receipt on movies he showed and ordered for the theater.

The Picture Show

AND THE STORY GOES: In the summer of 1927 after getting the projector J.T. Cox got the idea of what to do with it. As customers and neighbors always came by the store and mill he announced that on Saturday at dusk he would show a free movie to anyone who wished to come .

Whitesville Picture show at the old Mill

For the picture show J. T. placed two large white sheets on the wall of the Mill which was 40ft east of the Cox Store and cut a hole in the wall of the store above the counter. He figured he could stand on the counter and run the projector as well as read the writing for all who attended, as not all could read. It was powered by the Delco system and power was in the store. Also, (the light bulb came on in his head) it made it convenient during intermission to sell candy and refreshments from the store as most that came to view the movie had an account at his store.So it began; every Saturday night at dusk as many as 30 to 40 people came to the movie. They walked, came by horse and wagon from near and far. Three benches sat at the front of the store, they were moved to the store side, some sat in wagons, put so they could see, some brought blankets to sit on and some just sat on the ground. They watched cartoons (Betty Bee remembers from her childhood) and movies while visiting with friends, family, and some strangers every Saturday of the summer. (when it didn’t rain!) Modern Times had come to Whitesville, Ga. and Harris County.

Sometimes in the early 1940’s when times were hard J.T. went out like many others and went into saw milling. It caused him to travel to other states to find work. The Movies stopped being shown. The Mill , Store, and Cannery stopped being used publicly . This was in early 1950,s as his children left for school or jobs and J.T. working out of town.

Whitesville Picture Show

The Road was paved trough Whitesville. now GA. HWY 219, cars and trucks race by not even seeing the old mill still standing there as they go by. The Spirit of the small town is still alive, neighbor still helps neighbor, and the honor system is strong.

If you want a little taste of the honey stop by , drive slow and look. You will still find in the Cox home a sign in the yard that reads” IF AND WHEN PURE HONEY”. Stop in and go to the front porch, on a table there you will see jars of Honey and a mason jar with a sign price is on the honey put money in the Jar we still use the honor system here. You may meet a new friend as people stop in all the time for honey and have been doing it for years You see J.T. Cox’s grandson lives there now and Fred and his mom Betty still work the Bee’s as done when J.T lived there. “Good Whitesville Honey”.

Please visit “Columbus, Georgia Online”, hosted by Mike Dukes. My stories are appearing every Sunday Morning. Look for the block that has “Ins and Outs of Harris, County, by Ron Rollins.

Read all of my Informative and Historical Stories on ColumbusGeorgiaOnline.com

About Ron Rollins 22 Articles
Ron Rollins is the retired Fire Chief of the Whitesville, Ga Volunteer Fire Dept. Ron loves a good story and he can remember them too. The history of Harris County and surrounding areas is tucked away in the memories of our fathers and mothers and their fathers and mothers. You can find our history in old newspaper articles and some in books. Ron thinks we need to keep passing these stories down so he's doing his part. But for Ron and people like him our root folk history would be lost.

3 Comments on Whitesville Picture Show

  1. Maybe we recreate those movie days. I have a traveling film projector. Maybe when the grass turns green and the flowers start to bloom again, we could have a movie night!

    • John it’s a great idea, but the old store is no longer there the sides of the old mill ( still there) have grown up and have a few trees in the way. I know that location could be uses but I will look for a less work involved area and get back with you! Thanks Ron

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