Along Yellow Creek Road
|The John Pascoe house sits on a crest on the west side of Yellow Creek Road overlooking the Etowah River. Photo courtesy of Don and Sammie Rainey|
By Anita Rosen
Yellow Creek Road, an important local north-south connector for more than two centuries, has recently benefitted from careful growth by entrepreneur Robin Loudermilk and preservation of area history by the Pascoe-Leslie-Rainey families.
In 1826, English miner John Pascoe sailed to America with two brothers, Samuel and James.
Under-age Samuel, stowed away in a barrel in the ship’s hold, was surreptitiously released at night to row a small boat for exercise, accompanied by one of his brothers. On a stormy evening, John and Samuel were separated from the ship but made landfall somewhere on America’s east coast.
James, arriving with the ship, may have spent the remainder of his life in Pennsylvania. According to “Heritage of Cherokee County” (1998), John and Samuel arrived in Georgia in 1826, just before the Trail of Tears and final removal of the Cherokees.
|Scanned photo of Samuel and Mary Jackson Pascoe: Close inspection of Samuel Pascoe reveals a shadowy depression in his forehead, evidence of an injury from a mining accident. Photo courtesy of Don and Sammie Rainey|
After mining for several years in Lumpkin County, John obtained a stake near the south end of Yellow Creek Road and along the Etowah River from Maj. Wyley Petty, a wealthy farmer in Cherokee County. John struck gold and purchased the original stake and all adjoining lots north of the river.
Just east of Yellow Creek Road’s present path, Pascoe erected a stamping mill, where ore was brought to be crushed for extraction of precious metals. On the west side, overlooking the mining operation, he built a fine home for his English fiancée. Construction of the house took four years.
A few weeks before the wedding, Pascoe succumbed to poisoning from exposure to mercury used in gold mining. Although the estate was contested, John’s intended heir – his brother Samuel – ultimately bought the property at auction. He moved into the house with his wife, Mary Jackson, and there they raised 13 children.
Mary and Samuel met when he was recuperating from a bizarre mining accident. During a demolition, debris struck Samuel in the center of his forehead, leaving a gaping hole. The doctor filled the puncture with a melted gold coin, his nurse, Mary Jackson, tending to the rehabilitation.
|Salvaged handmade bricks from four original chimneys at the Pascoe house make up the current chimney. Photo by Anita Rosen||This floor-to-ceiling carved oak mantel imported from England by John Pascoe remains a dominant feature of the house. Photo by Anita Rosen||Sammie Rainey sweeps the entry to her home. The holly, planted by John Pascoe, is reputedly one of largest existing in Georgia. Photo by Anita Rosen|
Upon Samuel’s death, the estate was sold to Creighton Mine Co., which had bought the Franklin Mine in 1883. The Pascoe home was used to house corporate executives.
|Thomas McDill assembled the Pascoe house replica on display at the Raineys’ home. Photo by Anita Rosen|
In the early 1900s, Edward William Axson, a Creighton superintendent, lived in the Pascoe home. Axson – younger brother of President Woodrow Wilson’s first wife, Ellen – was raised under their protection in Bryn Mawr, Pa., after his parents died. A studious man, Axson met his wife, Florence, a musician with the Boston Symphony, while studying chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
|A timber bridge blends into the woodland trail at Woodhaven Bend. Photo by Daniel Rosen|
But bad fortune again prevailed. In April 1905, the Axsons and their toddler son set out to cross the Etowah at Moore’s Ferry. The horses spooked, hurtling them to the landing, where they plunged into the river. All three Axsons drowned.
In 1913, shafts installed below the river to access underwater mineral veins collapsed. It was reported that the implosion created a vacuum, pulling in trees from the banks of the river. For a short time, the Etowah purportedly flowed upstream. This catastrophe ended mining for Creighton Mine Co.
Dr. George McClure, who had worked as the Creighton company physician, purchased the property. The separate building he erected next to the Pascoe house – a store on the first floor and a surgery on the second level – remains on site. When McClure died, his son, Dr. Wilson McClure, bought the property at auction.
The Leslie-Rainey families
In 1955, after part of their property was condemned to build Interstate 85, Doraville residents Sam and Bonnie Leslie bought 524 acres in Cherokee County from Dr. Wilson McClure. Their holding encompassed much of the Creighton property, including the Pascoe house.
Within a decade, Yellow Creek Road was relocated to its present path, splitting the property. The road was paved, easing winter access to schools in Canton for the active Leslie family.
In 1960, one of the Leslies’ daughters, Sammie, wed Donald Jackson Rainey Jr., a direct descendant of Samuel and Mary Jackson Pascoe. In another tie to the house, Dr. George McClure was the attending physician at the birth of Donald Rainey’s mother.
In 1998, when the Leslie estate was probated, Don and Sammie Rainey bought the Pascoe house and portions of the original holding; the remainder was purchased by investors. The circle complete, Don and Sammie Rainey now live in the home once occupied by Rainey’s Pascoe ancestors.
|Covered picnic facilities top original mine foundations at Woodhaven Bend. Photo by Daniel Rosen||Rustic structures support a swing along the Woodhaven Bend nature trail. Photo by Daniel Rosen|
Woodhaven Bend on the Etowah
Using the Etowah as a dividing line, the portion of the Leslie estate north of the river that was sold to investors later was purchased by real estate developer Robin Loudermilk.
|Lights and a fireplace complete the covered shelter at Woodhaven Bend. Photo by Daniel Rosen|
Loudermilk has strong ties to the area. Family vacations to the Tate Estates on Burnt Mountain brought him past the Creighton property. When the land became available, Loudermilk purchased 282 acres and built the gated community of Woodhaven Bend on the Etowah.
Loudermilk is passionate about preserving the area’s integrity and history. As a first step, he constructed a mitigation bank along the river to restore native flora destroyed by cattle. Loudermilk received approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to replant the buffer with hardwoods which once had grown on the site. His plan was so successful it serves as a model for other mitigation bank restoration projects, including three of his own.
Woodhaven Bend’s agricultural zoning eliminates curbs and gutters, and the large home sites – from 4 to 15 acres – add to the country-gentleman ambience. By using existing foundations from the mine, four shelters were permitted along the two miles of Woodhaven Bend’s riverfront. Loudermilk appreciates the rural: While there are no tennis courts or golf course, walking and equestrian trails are available. Small-craft ramps provide access to the Etowah.
Respectful development by entrepreneurs like Loudermilk and a passion for preserving and honoring the area’s history by families like the Raineys protect the connection between the gold mines of the 1830s and today’s traveler along Yellow Creek Road.
Smoke Signals, August 2012