Monday, December 14, 2015

140 Christmases . . . and Counting!

Photo by permission of Georgia Archives--Vanishing Georgia Collection 
Christmas began with the greatest miracle of all, Immanuel, "God with us," and everything those words signify. Since that long ago time, unexpected and unmerited wonders happen regularly. Some miracles are certainly more important than others, but don't discount the less obvious but awe-inspiring elements scattered throughout the background of your world.

One quiet marvel is practically in your backyard--the Dean house--which has been a part of Woodstock for 140 Christmases. Built in 1875, the brick home on Main Street across from City Chambers is often overlooked as hundreds of vehicles drive by it every day. The Dean house is the oldest remaining home in Woodstock and, maybe, for a half dozen miles around. The charming abode has withstood Reconstruction-era taxation, nearby fires, the fall of the cotton market, the Great Depression, area windstorms, the 2009 flood, and modern-day development.

For this article, I've digitally retouched the photo, formerly scratched and spotted. The Vanishing Georgia website enables you to study their collection through a digital feature designed to enlarge an image. I uncovered a few aspects not easily seen in the 5 by 7 tintype. I'm guessing this post-Civil War photo was taken in autumn. Mature leaves hold onto the trees, but the man in the foreground, grasping a sapling, is dressed for cool weather. He wears a nice hat and frock coat. He is dark skinned, and so are the two little girls on the front porch who hold what appear to be dolls. The highlighted fellow must have been important to the family to be so prominently situated. At the time, Woodstock was beginning a period of prosperity as a cotton trade center. A white woman sits in a rocker, and a young boy in overalls, perhaps her son, gazes from his chair beside her. An older lad is perched on the porch rail. Two horsemen, to the right, pose on their horses--the taller male is possibly the homeowner and the other rider, perhaps another son. Oh how I wish we knew the circumstances of this photo reflecting a time when Main Street offered only dirt to travel on.

A view of the Dean house December 2015
The first owner of this home, G.A. Merritt, a retired doctor-turned-farmer, sold the home to Dr. W.L. Dean who moved in with his bride in 1884. The beloved physician tended the sick and the dying within the Woodstock locale and farther, traveling to those who needed him. In 1906, illness claimed the doctor's life. His wife was left with six children to support. The oldest son, Linton, took up the responsibility. He turned the family's new but suddenly-defunct drugstore into a successful general store that sold necessary household items and patent medicines. Disaster averted. Another wonder to ponder happily.


Woodstock is a wonderful place at Christmastime. Area churches go all out, putting on nativity plays and creating inspiring music. This year, Thrive Chapel provided a temporary rink for ice skating, Shops and eateries decorate befitting the season.


I can't leave you and this post without sharing views of Woodstock waiting for another Christmas to arrive. Wishing you all things merry and bright!
Our trees may have lost their leaves but we have decorations to distract us.


Christine's Creations is always available to help us get ready for the season.


Ivy Manor adds cheer to Main Street.



Now that's a wreath!!


Believe it or not, this year Woodstock is ornamented with December roses. God's grace is never-ending.




Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock.
She is author of the contemporary Woodstock novel series: The Heart of a Child 
                                                                                                   The Power of Her Smile