The following story, sent in by Randy Cole, appeared in THE NEWS OBSERVER on Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
Higdon’s Store left its mark
Place names often die hard. Such a place is Higdon’s Store in Fannin County. Listed on the 1897 map, the earliest we could find of Fannin County when we compiled the Fannin County History book, today the location is listed as Higdon. Let’s take a historical visit to this place in Fannin.
Ask almost any of the old-timers how to get to Higdon’s Store and they will tell you, “Take Hwy. 2 from State Highway 5, and go by Chestnut Gap. Proceed on and cross Fightingtown Creek and you’ll get to Higdon’s Store. But no store is there anymore.”
How did Higdon’s Store get its start, and how does the name hang on, like a legend deeply ingrained? People were responsible, of course, and “naming a place after what was found there, gave it its name” (a quotation from Byron Herbert Reece’s poem, “Choestoe.”)
In federal records of US post offices, we learn that Higdon’s Store was indicated as the "late Chestnut Gap” — a misnomer, because Chestnut Gap did not move. The post office at Chestnut Gap closed temporarily and Higdon’s Store [not far away] filled the void, organized as a post office on Feb. 4, 1888, with Reese Sebastian Higdon as first postmaster. Perhaps he got his impetus to begin a post office from his grandfather, Reece J. McClure, for whom he was named. McClure had established the Chestnut Gap Post Office in 1853, a year before Fannin County was formed.
The Higdons operated a country store at the crossroads, and it was customary in the 1800s for convenience and accommodation to secure a postal permit as another service to customers
Reece Sebastian Higdon, born in 1853, was the fourth child of Leonard Higdon and Mary Ann McClure. On July 31, 1889, Reece’s younger brother, William Thomas “Bill” Higdon (b. 1867) became postmaster. Reece and his wife, the former Nora Fain, left the county and moved to Oklahoma. Bill and his wife, Mary Elmira Arp Higdon, managed the store until 1914, but the job of postmaster was held by various people. The postoffice official records show appointment dates for the following at Higdon’s Store: John T. Deering, Dec. 14, 1896; Samuel Newton Higdon, Jan. 30, 1905 (Reece and Bill’s youngest brother); William T. Higdon, Feb. 10, 1909 (his second appointment); Delia Sisson Higdon, Sept. 18, 1914 (wife of Samuel Higdon); Joseph B. Johnson, acting postmaster, Jan. 31, 1934, confirmed Nov. 26, 1934; Mrs. Mamie M. Jones, acting from Feb. 8, 1935-1935, when “Store” was officially dropped from the post office designation. Betty L. Postell was the last postmaster appointed at Higdon Nov. 34,1960, until the Higdon Post Office was discontinued April 28, 1961 and mail received through the Blue Ridge Rural Route.
Samuel and Delia Higdon had a country store there at the homeplace where Leonard Higdon had settled in 1853. It was a friendly place where people came to trade their chickens and eggs for “store bought” goods, and to exchange the latest in news, local and national political views. Towering nearby they could see the mountaintops of Sally Ann, High Top and Watson Gap. Set in this picturesque landscape was Higdon’s Store, a place that still holds onto that name, even though the post office and store may now be only a place name and a memory for descendants of those early settlers and other citizens who hold in great respect the contributions of ancestors to a way of life in a place.
Ethelene Jones is a retired educator, free-lance writer, author, poet and editor of “Facets of Fannin: A History of Fannin County, Ga.” She may be contacted at edj0513@ windstream.net or at (478) 453-8751 or by mail at 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, Ga., 31061.
Click here for photo images of Higdons Store.