3251 McDaniel Road, Duluth
The 125-acre tract of virgin farmland that constitutes the McDaniel Farm property is a rare treasure. The land is a patchwork of forest, pasture, and cultivated fields and is home to a variety of wildlife and native flora. In addition, the property also comprises an assemblage of historic farm buildings including a late 19th century farmhouse, an early 20th century barn, a sharecropper’s cabin, as well as several outbuildings – all of which epitomize the characteristics of a turn of the century farm in Gwinnett.
McDaniel Farm consists of the northern half of land lot 233 in the 6th district. This parcel of land is relatively unchanged since the 1820 land lottery. The records indicate that by 1825 Samuel Scott had purchased one half of original land lot. The Scott family owned this 125-acre parcel of land until 1859 when John Scott (son of Samuel and Elizabeth Scott), administrator for his mother Elizabeth’s estate, sold the land from the courthouse steps to the highest bidder for $450. The purchaser was Eli McDaniel who turned around and sold the property for a profit of $32 to his sons Daniel McDaniel and A.W. McDaniel.
Both Daniel and A.W. McDaniel spent time fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Letters written by the McDaniel brothers during the war express the inhumanity of the war efforts and the men’s desire to return home to the fields of Gwinnett and attend church with their sisters. In 1863, Daniel M. McDaniel died in the Civil War at Moorestown, Tennessee. Eli, executor to the estate, sold Daniel’s 62-acre portion of the land to A.W. McDaniel for $300.
When A.W. McDaniel returned to Gwinnett County in 1865 after the war, he married Eliza Garner (daughter of James Garner). Where the couple initially settled is not clear. A.W. had been the sole owner of the McDaniel farm property since 1863, but according to McDaniel family members the existing farmhouse was not constructed until 1874. A.W. and Eliza McDaniel had five children. When A.W. passed away in 1887, he left interest in the farm to each of his children as well as his wife Eliza. John D. McDaniel began to purchase his sisters’ interest in the farm in 1898, when he bought Ada and Ellanora’s interest for $89 each. By 1903, he also owned Margaret and Cora’s portions of the property. Eliza McDaniel left her interest in the farm to her son in 1923.
As John D. took over the McDaniel Farm in the early 1900s, Gwinnett’s agricultural economy was reaching a zenith that lasted until the end of World War I. By 1919 Gwinnett was one of the largest cotton-producing counties in Georgia and the McDaniel family farm made its contribution to the cotton industry. John D. married Mary Clyde Douglas and they raised a family of their own on the property. They had five children – Eva Mae, who died in 1974, and Louise and Archie D. McDaniel (two children died young). The family also experienced the struggles that farms everywhere in the south underwent during the 1920s and 1930s due to the arrival of the boll weevil, the Great Depression, and the migration of farm workers to factory jobs in the cities.
When John D. McDaniel died in 1933, he left the farm to his wife. At the youthful age of 12, John’s son Archie took over the duties of maintaining the farm. Archie continued to work with the tenant families until World War II. The availability of new technology after the war, such as tractors, transformed many farms in Gwinnett and tenant farming became a thing of the past. Remarkably, the property remained a working family farm in one of Gwinnett’s most populated and developed areas until the death of Archie McDaniel in 1999.
For more information visit www.gwinnettehc.org or call 770.904.3500.