|J.S. “Chick” Wilson• Thu, Apr 08, 2010|
Shady Dale is nine miles northeast of Monticello in Jasper County. It was established as a community sometime around 1880 with 160 residents according to the 1880 Census.
It was originally a Creek Indian village long before the English first arrived. Later it became a local trading post. It is the only other incorporated city in Jasper County.
However, as in Monticello, the charter did not give the town protection from lawsuits so a new charter was issued in 1904.
In the early 1899s the Seven Islands Road passed only a few miles to the north and west of Shady Dale. This was a very important land route from Augusta to New Orleans and brought in many traders and travelers to the town. Later a railroad from Augusta to Milledgeville to Covington and on to Atlanta passed through Shady Dale. Being in the middle of this rail line made it a very popular tourist and trading site.
The Shady Dale Daily Herald announced in 1889 that there were now nine large buildings in the city and built in only two months which is quite a record. With the coming of the railroad, a cotton gin and warehouses appeared, making it possible for local farmers to gin their cotton and ship it by rail to Augusta or Atlanta.
About the time of the War Between the States, Shady Dale was on the road from Covington to the state capitol in Milledgeville. This provided a lot of traffic from the now growing Atlanta, formerly Marthasville, to Milledgeville. Two of the wealthiest men in the state lived in Shady Dale at that time, Mathew Whitfield and J. W. Walton. Whitfield owned the Shady Dale Hotel at that time.
In 1864, General Sherman was in command of the Atlanta campaign and later the famous “March to the Sea” during the War Between the States.
After burning and pilfering Atlanta his vast army moved south of Atlanta where it split into two large units, one containing the 14th and 20th Corps which proceeded to Covington and on through Jasper County after crossing the Ocmulgee at Seven Islands and on through Hillsboro to Clinton and on to Macon.
The other, the 15th Corps and the 17th Corps traveled further north after leaving Covington and passed directly through Madison and Shady Dale. General Sherman spent the night in the Shady Dale Hotel and his officers stayed in the Shaw and Lancaster homes.
In 1887 the Macon-Covington railroad venture headed by a Mr. Frobel and Mr. Machen also passed through Machen and Shady Dale on its way to Athens. It had originally been planned to go to Covington but at Mineta crossing plans changed and it proceeded through Monticello and Shady Dale, crossing the other railroad already in Shady Dale. This helped the local trade tremendously.
Shady Dale later developed into a major shipping point for cotton, peaches and farm machinery but the bubble burst in the ‘30s with the coming of The Great Depression.
Other communities northwest of Shady Dale developed including Kelly, with a large farm and country store operated by E.F. Perry and Sons, and Farrar which also had a large country store operated by Howard Blackwell. All of these communities were in a very fertile area of Jasper County and contributed large quantities of cotton for the mills in Covington, Macon and Augusta. As cotton passed on the area turned to pastures for beef cows and timber growing.
A lot of the old buildings shown have been torn down but the old bank building, through great efforts of the local community led by the present mayor Don Heaton, has been restored into the City Hall Complex. The old bank was owned by O.H.,Banks, a prominent citizen there. Jr. Champion, also a former mayor, brought in a large lumber and pallet business, led the city through several terms.
The local Masonic Lodge led by Merrill Clark along with the Jasper County Lodge has now established the famous Shady Dale Rodeo for 27 years. The Rodeo is put on the first weekend in June each year complete with a local parade and thousands in attendance. Contestants are professional cowboys competing for the big money. Many other local citizens have contributed lots of money and support for this community.
Many beautiful old homes are left in the proud community and much more history is involved in these homes, too much to cover here. Shady Dale is here to stay.
From the Monticello News