Source: the Atlanta Journal (Constitution) - Feb 27, 1921
by J.S. Hartsfield
One of the oldest towns in Georgia is Mize in Stephens County. Seventy-five years ago it was known as Flintsville. It became a township in 1840. Before that time only two families lived there. H.T. (Henry) Mize moved there in 1808 from Homer, a settlement then in Franklin County, now in Banks, and bought five square miles of land from a half Indian named Payne. Soon after this, C.C. Chitwood, Joel Mabry, Bill Toney, C.C. Addison, Dick Crump, Sam Guest, Isaac Taylor and Abe Nations purchased parts of this land and settled near each other as a means of protection.
In 1847 Thomas Mize, nephew and adopted “son” of H.T. Mize (adopted about 1812-1814 after death of his father Jeremiah Jr. Mize), made application to the government for a postoffice to be named Flintsville. He received the appointment as postmaster from President Polk in the fall of 1847. Athens and Anderson SC were the nearest towns. Athens had only five little wooden stores, and Anderson about the same number.
Some time before the postoffice was secured during the 1830s and 1840s, Thomas Mize built and operated a store, the only one in all that section of the state, and hauled his goods from Athens. He would gather a large number of wagons and load them with cotton or other products and start to Athens to buy and sell. Four days were needed to make the trip and return. He traveled well into the night and started early the next morning. Usually he would spend from two to four days in Athens, camping in town. No homes or taverns were to be found between Athens and Flintsville. A few Indians lived in Georgia at that time, and they were feared. Travelers took precautions apainst an attack by going in numbers and by carrying guns.
The old Mize home, still standing, is more than a hundred years old. It was first built by Henry Mize (b 1751 Lunnenburg Co VA) from large pine logs hewn square and put together with pegs driven in holes bored by hand. The chimneys were made of large rocks 18 x 56. The fireplace is six feet wide and five feet high. In later years, while occupied by the family of Thomas & Martha Lavina Cape Mize’s family, it was weatherboarded with lumber sawed with a water sawmill. The timber is in perfect condition. It is the best heart pine, seasoned before building. This building was weatherboarded by a son of Thomas Mize (Henry Jackson Mize b 1829) who was killed at the battle of Atlanta, and who was buried near Jonesboro. A daughter of Thomas Mize, Sicily b 1841 would become the grandmother of Tyrus Raymond Cobb, the baseball immortal. Another son, William Wofford Mize b 1845 would join the 34th GA Infantry and be involved in numerous battles from Jackson MS, Champion’s Hill, Vicksburg (captured at close of seige & then given amnesty), Franklin, Nashville, Missionary Ridge (had thumb shot off there), Kennesaw Mountain, Battle of Atlanta, Jonesboro and Savannah (he surrendered at Cheraw, SC).
There were no machines to make anything in those days. Abe Nations was the village blacksmith. He built all the wagons and plowstocks used in the community. He was the best workman in that section. In building a cane mill, he cut down a large white oak, fashioned two blocks 16 inches in diameter, turned them by hand and made rollers to crush the cane. A second crushing was required to extract the juice. The mill was one of the most sqeaking things ever heard.
Everything was run by horsepower. In packing cotton, the owner of the gin would put several boys into the press and walk them for two to three days. The ties used were hickory withes.
Abe Nations was the mechanic who repaired guns and pistols. Cap and ball pistols and flint and steel guns were used. These were made using hides tanned a year to 18 months.
Religious conditions were vastly different from today. The church in Flintsville was Baptist. The people would walk from five to eight miles to services. They wore shoes only in company or in going to church. They would take their shoes in their hands until they got near the church and then put them on to go in to meetin’. The pastor was not paid a salary like the modern pastor, but was givenhis pay in twist tobacco; occasionally one of the parishoners would give “the parson” a demijohn of corn “licker”. Whisky could be bought in every grocery store, and was kept in every home. The family kept it on the table and every member drank it.
On Saturday afternoons, the men would gather at Flintsville from miles around to enjoy cockfighting, stick frog, forse racing or foot racing. Near the town was a race track where men ran the best horse in the community, and where they tried their manhood by wrestling, jumping, etc. Shooting matches were popular in those days. Some one would put up a fine young cow, turkeys, chickens, pigs, etc., and charge ten cents for a shot, and the man who hit the “bull’s-eye” got the prize.
When anybody got angry a circle would be made, the contestants would roll up their sleeves and fight with bare fists. After the fight, they would shake hands and be friends. There were no grudges in those days between friends and neighbors.
People then did not believe in race suicide. There is in this community living today a negro citizen of that long ago slavery time -- Jesse Andrews -- who is the father of 28 children. He married when he was nineteen years old and has passed his seventy-sixth birthday. He is active as a man of thirty. He goes to bed every evening at sundown and gets up at daylight. He works daily on his plantation. Frequently he walks to Toccoa, a distance of eight miles, to attend to business, then walks back home.
Not only were there no automobiles in the old days, but few buggies in which to ride. But in spite of that fact, people visited a lot. On Saturday afternoon, the father would saddle the horse and take his wife behind him and ride ten to fifteen miles to spend the night and part of Sunday with friends. Horseback riding was the order of the day. On “meetin’ days” two-thirds of the congregation would take dinner at a near-by neighbor’s house. Everone had a great deal of company on “meetin’ days”. Once a year would be held a “big meetin’” Service at early candlelight was the order for the evening.
Some thirty years ago, the name of the town was changed from Flintsville to Mize. This was done to honor its founder, Henry T. Mize. The old house build by Henry T.in about 1808 had an old kitchen some distance from the “big house” and the old rock curbed well which still stand as monuments of the past. The original street is there and many of the old landmarks.
Note: a few minor revisions have been made to the original article for improved accuracy. JSM