Sacred Harp Sing in Gaskin, 1908

Top row left to right: Charlie Henderson, George Anderson, Maggie Ray, Willis Hobbs, Sarah Ella Ray, Charlie Ray, (in doorway) Mollie Laird, Catherine Cain, (below Mollie) Annie Andrews, Mollie Andrews, Mary Anderson, Daniel Wilkerson, Cleve Donnelly, Mack Keane, Lee Padgett, Dan Anderson, Walter Padgett, J.D. Wooten, Sr.

Second row: George Laird, Sarah Ray, unknown, Nancy Ray, unknown, Delsie Teal, Fannie Teal, Missouri Teal, Mary K. Jeanette Drake, Julia Ray, Dan Ray holding infant Curtis, Lulu Laird, Kate Haines holding songbook, Street Garrett holding Leomon, unknown, Davis Andrews, Perry Bell, Anderson Davis, Joe Sylvester Wooten, John Wilkerson, Andrew Teal, John Teal.

Third row: unknown, Annie Belle Godwin, Lizzie Mae Godwin, Emily Ray holding Bryant, Alice Ray, Mary Ray, Hattie Teal, Duette Henderson holding child, Johnnie Andrews, Dora Garrett holding infant Lanie, behind Dora Eliza Laird, Jeff Davis with infant, Don Powell, Ruth Powell, Will Tew, Done McGowan, Tom Anderson, John Henderson.

Fourth row kneeling: unknown, Ida Bell Drake, four unknown, Ida Laird, unknown, Huron Henderson Sr., in front of Duette, (sipping to the left side of Dora Garrett) Neal Ray, Jim Drake, Ezra Wilkerson, Alex Wilkerson with two of his children.

According to a statement made by the late Iris Alford of the Gaskin area, the photo was taken on a Sunday in 1908 at the close of a Sacred Harp singing school. The event was held at the Juniper Bay Schoolhouse and probably lasted for two weeks. Charlie Henderson was the instructor. Citizens would walk or ride ox carts coming from miles around to attend the Sacred Harp sings, which also served as social functions long before other forms of entertainment were developed.

“The key to the subject is that many of the generations of descendants of those pictured remained in the country,” said Anderson. “These were the descendants of the founding pioneers of the area, many of whom were secretly to the area by Neil McLendan on his first trip back to Lumber River North Carolina.”

The citizens that are pictured lived in the communities of Piney Grove, Juniper Bay (Center Ridge), Pleasant Grove, Glendale, and others. This area is less than 10 miles north of present-day DeFuniak Springs, which was formed in the late 1880s. The Juniper Bay schoolhouse was located near the intersection of U.S.83 and CR-1883. One local resident who remembers the old schoolhouse is local businessman Dennis Ray, whose father is in the photograph.

“I remember when that building was still there, my father attended school there until the fifth grade,” said the reminiscing Ray. “This photo is one of the best examples of a cross section concerning the communities in that part of the county. It is one of those occurrences that was a big social event of the year. These are the whole families, this was truly a multi-community event. What a great photograph.” The photographer is believed to have have been a traveling salesman named Mr. Menge. Chances are that is the only reason the image exists today, due to the fact that no one in the area had a camera.

The image is 101 years old, so no one in the picture is still alive. A large banner showing the notes sung is in the possession of the Walton County Heritage Museum. It was donated by Richard Jackson as was the original photograph with its identifications.

[Text from The DeFuniak Herald, August 20, 2009.]
[Photograph donated by Richard Jackson]

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