Shingleroof Campmeeting


Ten Generations of Worship in the Pioneer  Tradition
Located in Henry County, Georgia U.S.A
Documented by Gene Morris Jr.
Henry County Historian
A Local Legacies Project Submitted to
The U.S. Library of Congress in 1999


Chapter Seven


The Old, Old Hotel

The old, Old Hotel was constructed in 1902 on the east side of the campground where the caretakers tent is currently situated and it served those who wished to camp but did not own tents until it was replaced by the Old Hotel in 1944. The William R. Cook, Sr. Family operated the hotel between 1917 and 1939, with the exception of a few years. The Cook Family has produced an interesting history titled Our Years at Shingleroof, . The following are edited excerpts from that history. "The hotel was a big two-story barn like structure. The crude building had two sleeping areas upstairs, separated by a common wall Sleeping upstairs kept the sawdust from getting in bed with you. Downstairs a large covered porch all across the front of the building was filled with chairs and built-in benches. There were two front doors, one led to the store, dining room and kitchen area, the other to the downstairs sleeping areas. The rate for a week's stay was $7.50 if you furnished your own room and $10.00 for a furnished room. Preparation for running the hotel usually began early in the summer when vegetable patches were planted, all with a view to being in production at campmeeting time. Young chickens were put aside and a calf was fattened to be slaughtered at campmeeting time. After the crops were laid by', preparation began in earnest. The hotel floor was raked free of all old sawdust and all wood surfaces were washed with a mixture of potash soap and water. The wagons went over to Miller's Mill for loads of fresh sawdust. The grounds outside the hotel were cleaned and swept with 'brush brooms'. This included making a weed and brush-free path to the privy concealed in the woods across the road behind the row of tents. Each tent had its own, but the hotel privy was a 'three holer' since the general public as well as the hotel guests used this one. About a week before campmeeting began. Daddy would get restless and persuade Mama to move. The night before the great day the two-horse wagon would be backed up to the front door and the one-horse wagon to the side door. It was like the excitement of Christmas Eve. About two o'clock in the morning everyone arose, had breakfast and the loading of wagons began. Furniture, mattresses, trunks, etc. were loaded on the two-horse wagon and the big wooden ice box used for cold drinks in the store, wash pots for hot water and cooking, coops of live chickens, cans of lard, cured hams, bushels of sweet and Irish potatoes were loaded on the one-horse wagon. Small children were allowed to go on the wagons to get them out of Mama's way. The cook stove cooled enough, after the early breakfast, to be handled by the time the wagons returned for the second loads. By noon, the cookstove was in action at the hotel, beds were being made, curtains hung, etc. You could always play in the 'branches' leading from the springs. Small children found the hill from the little spring' hard to climb, much less tote a bucket of water. Each tent had buckets and dippers strategically placed and long handled gourds were plentiful. These were used to dip water from the springs. You would get a dipper gourd and go to the spring many times a day, hoping to see or be seen there or in route by someone new. Hundreds of dates were arranged through these maneuvers. The Coca-Cola truck delivered crates of Cokes, a week's supply, the Nu-Grape, Orange Crush, chocolate milk, and strawberry and cherry cola came on Thursday too. The Henry County Supply Company truck arrived on Friday - the Henry County Supply Company was a store our family owned in McDonough. Walt Justus would arrive at the appointed time with a truckload of store stock like Cracker Jacks, penny candy, chewing gum, ginger snaps, chewing and smoking tobacco, snuff, a hoop of cheese, and other items to be sold in the hotel store. Several bunches of bananas along with glass display cases came from the Supply Company. Three hundred-pound blocks of ice were delivered to the hotel daily, except Sunday, and were stored in big sawdust piles behind the hotel. A large amount was needed daily to have an adequate supply for iced-tea, ice cream freezers, the large wooden drink box, to keep the icebox cool and to keep ice in the water buckets at the front of the hotel for the guests to have ice water. The water toters spent much time picking ice off the big blocks for iced tea and for the ice-cream freezers. Some of their other chores were to kill and pluck chickens, all of this in addition to keeping a plentiful supply of water for everyone's use in the hotel The little spring' was used for this purpose. In the early morning the women were busy with the 'slop jar' or 'thunder jug' processional. No one wanted to be seen with one of those things in their hand, yet they must be emptied every day, or else. The women tried to get out of the hotel, through the back door, across the road, and down the path into the woods. After dark, you sneaked them back inside, hopefully unseen. With so many people living in such close quarters, this took some maneuvering. Using one at night presented problems. The slightest rattle of a lid alerted everyone you were about to use a pot and unless properly cushioned by putting it on a pillow, you could bear rain felling unmistakably clear. During the depression years the hotel fell into a state of neglect. The roof leaked, the siding needed replacing and it was in a generally run-down condition. One year it rained so much that most of the bedding got wet. The sawdust got wet and it was a general disaster. When we finally moved home it took several days to get everything dried out. As finances improved, the Trustees made the necessary repairs. Things were tough all over, but everyone still found a way to go to the campground. Ice cream for the hotel store was made at the rear of the hotel and under the trees on the south side. There was a five-gallon, three- gallon, two-gallon and one-gallon freezer. Two or three flavors were available at any given time. These were all hand cranked freezers. The store was closed during church services and no sales were allowed on Sunday by order of the Trustees. There was always a service during campmeeting when all the cooks, water toters and nurses were honored. They sat up front in the tabernacle. This was a daytime service and some beautiful singing could be heard coming from their combined voices. They provided the music for this occasion. Frequently they would select one of their group to render special musical offerings. On Thursday night before the beginning of campmeeting a group of adults always attended church services at Springfield Baptist Church's annual protracted meeting. The adults chaperoned all the mature young people on the campground and were accorded a place of honor by the colored people of Springfield. The group from Shingleroof would gather and walk in a body across the road to Springfield. The dynamo house stood on the north side of the tabernacle, somewhat concealed behind the choir section of the building. When the engine started up, it was a 'putt-putt' sound that could be heard all over. Everyone knew the system was being charged so the lights could burn in the tabernacle during the night service. If the lights started dimming during the service Mr. Roy Turner would go out and start the engine to generate enough light. The lights were left on after the service at night and the young people would congregate and talk, go on the lighted path to the spring, Mr. Felix Morris (1870-1951), the McDonough policeman, served as campmeeting bailiff and kept things pretty much under control day and night. He was the back-up help to the parents who were the self-appointed keepers of discipline." 

End of Chapter Seven


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