Rockwell Lodge and Rockwell Church

Sometime in the 1850s the Jug Tavern farm was owned by Dr. J. M. Saunders and he employed Robert James Thompson to build a structure which we know as the old Jug Tavern store. It was built where the Granite Hotel now stands. This building when completed had a good sized hall up-stairs and here was organized a Masonic Lodge, and the name with which it was christened was in honor of a Grand Master by the name of Rockwell.

Copy of a Receipt
Grand Lodge of Georgia
Received of Robert White for charter of Rockwell Lodge
No. 191, Fifty Dollars
Nov. 2, 1854 S. Rose, (or Ross.) Grand Sec.
(The fifty is crossed out which makes me think it a gift.)
In the latter part of 1850, one Robert White, who a few years previous had settled on Cedar Creek got busy and worked up an interest for the betterment of that section. He invited ministers to his home who preached faithfully, and soon the need of a place of worship was discovered. They met and talked, then built the house that stands there today on the north side of the road, at the cross roads, Rockwell Church. Here it was that John G. Howse taught school. Some of his pupils were T. N. Parker, James Cummins, Mae K. Wills, Wess Betts, Elbert Hill, James Morris, George Guffin, Guss Collins, Margaret Howse Hill, Fannie Howse Haynes, Nellie Guffin, Louise Guffin, Sallie Sims, Alfred Sims, Ella Camp Kelly, Fannie Camp Hosch, Tom Parker.

A Record Nov. 8, 1856
“Received of Robert White, a note for seven hundred dollars,
due 12 months after date in payment for a negro man named Spence,
about fifty-five years old, and the title to which it is understood
that said note shall not be of force against Robert White, or bearer,
until said Spence is in the possession of White.”
Signed Isaac Rauls
This Spence was a fine carpenter. As soon as he learned that Mr. White was his Master he came from Beech Creek swamps and gave up, and it was he who built Rockwell Lodge, and Abraham Garrett built the chimneys.

Please allow me to turn back a few decades and show another interest before the year 1829. About a half mile southeast of this place, at what we know as the White Shoals, there was a mill here owned and operated by a Mr. Cates. Near this old mill William Pentecost owned land and sold to Uriah Slaton. Just below these shoals Jesse Francis and Warren Powell sold lands to Lawrence Howse in 1844. Peter E. McMilland and John Glenn made a deed to George Ryerson, in 1843 to land near Rockwell.

West of Rockwell, less than a mile away, once lived Blanton Howse. His son, John G. Howse owned land on which Rockwell was built – Rockwell Lodge and Rockwell Church. East of Rockwell, a half mile, lived and died one William Hill. He is the grandfather of John, Ben, Henry, Robert Hill and Paul Hill.

At this place in 1861 the cream of the South met to muster for service in the Civil War. Here many a wife, sister or daughter wept with heartaches for the going away of loved ones to suffer, bleed and died on the battlefield. This place was built for Betterments, so a school was taught. Some of the teachers were: John G. Howse, who first taught in a log cabin in 1850, later in Rockwell Hall, 1865. Louisa Pittman, (my first school) 1873. Alford, 1874, A. L. Barge, 1876. A.G. Strain, 1877, Bruner, 1878, Lessie Giger, 1879, J. H. Roberts, 1880, Dick Williams, 1881-2, T.D. Irwin and Will Quattlebaum.

I will name a few of the pupils who were sent out from Rockwell: Will Johnson, who died in Mississippi. Wood & Hammond Hinton, also went to Mississippi; Bud Kytle, now in Oklahoma, Calvin Kytle, of Carroll County. Our Ordinary, Charlie Parker; Jack K. Fayette, Henry and Belle Sims; Dave, Henry, Ella, Anna and Ada Camp Crawford, Lessie and Anna Kytle,; Luther, Atticus and Walter Lyle; Edna Moon, Dimp and Willie Moon; Jack and Henry, Alex and Estery Harvin; Will, Ed, Vallie Herren; Alice White and Brothers, Harriet, Ella, Maggie, L.A. and J.H. Howse. I can’t remember to name them all, but there others, Sherwood, Lessie, Lena Howse, Mary and Martha Bradbury; Alice and Cora Bradbury; Thomas Nathan and Sweetey Page, Maggie Hunter, Jenny and Dimp Patman.

The first funeral held in the church was that of Mrs. Cicero Hill, preached there about 12 years ago. Another was that of Mrs. Fanny Howse Haynes, who departed this life last week.

The church was organized about 1871. These good people who meet and worship in this church and Sunday School have more at stake in a historical line than they can dream about. They should be proud of this history and take a still greater interest in old Rockwell, a noted landmark.

Let us look to another mark here. East of here are the graves of Alex Hill and his Father, William. Then Southwest, the graves of Blanton and John G. Howse, Lawrence Howse and James Morris. Then Southeast, a mile away, is the burial place of Robert White. Another nearby place were buried John O’Shields and Nat Pendergrass, who was the great-grandfather of John N. Holder. Then near the Cedar Creek, a short distance above the mill site is the resting place of the Raineys. Here lies the dust of Irwin Rainey, his father and mother. Now just across the Mulberry river, a mile North, rests the remains of M. A. Patman, Joseph Collins, Dilmus Lyle, D. A. Camp, Dr. R. Lyle. Then Northeast a half mile of this graveyard rests the remains of a revolutionary soldier, Maher Shalal Lyle.

Some of these old citizens of the dead are forgotten and neglected. We do not know or else we would not let them lay unnoticed. Time tells us how well these men and women, long gone, planned and labored for betterment for we who are here today. They came into a wilderness, fought the wild growth, built homes and served their Creator as they thought best. Little pride, unselfishness, no usury, but that which my neighbor had was mine, if I needed it.

At the laying of the cornerstone at Rockwell, one William Lyle, a son of Mahere Lyle was living at the Hancock place; he was called and was a participant in the ceremonies, which was the last meeting he ever attended as a masonic body.

Rockwell Lodge, No. 191, was granted a charter in Winder and was finally moved to Hoschton in 1886, and is now one of the oldest Masonic lodges in this section of Georgia, and is in a flourishing condition.

Data compiled by C. M. Thompson, Printed in Winder News, April 23, 1925
Typescript copy (carbon copy on onionskin paper), origin unknown