Recalling the Old Hickory Club
By Mary A. Browning

Most of us have heard of the Clarence Mackay estate, which was a hunting preserve of wooded lands that lay along the East Fork of Deep River, off Guilford College Rd., and north of Jamestown. The Mackay lodge was in what is now Cedarwood.

Not as many have heard of the Old Hickory Club, located between the Mackay property and Hickory Grove Church. Finding out exactly where it was and what happened to it required some detective work. This information came from the Ragsdale Papers at the Jamestown Alumni Archives.

The club was organized by a group of area businessmen, who formed a corporation and sold the first shares in February 1921. At that time, a clubhouse and dam were under construction, and members were invited to visit the site and look it over, according to a notice sent out to shareholders by E. W. Freeze, president, and W. A. Ring, treasurer of the corporation.

Financial troubles plagued the project from the start, however, and building construction went faster than collection of delinquent dues. By June, the club secretary, W. C. Jones, was calling a meeting and sending out proxy forms so that the negotiation of a loan could be considered by the membership. The amount proposed was $200,000, which sounds like a lot of money to yours truly, and must have sounded like even more in 1922.

The formal club house opening was announced for Wednesday evening, September 29, 1921, to be held from four until twelve, with dinner served at six, and music for dancing beginning at nine, provided by the “Elks Band and Orchestra.”

Within the year a new secretary, J. S. Pickett, was sending out a new meeting notice for June 8, 1922, proxies enclosed, with the bad news that the membership would have to consider their choices which were described as: reorganizing, finding additional capital, appointing a liquidating committee, or applying for a Court receiver to liquidate the assets of the club and dissolve the corporation.

On August 11, members received a letter from the club’s committee composed of O. A. Kirkman, C. C. Muse, and C. A Barbee, and High Point auctioneer J. Sib Burton, which notified them of the forthcoming sale of the Old Hickory Club. The property consisted of a 53-acre farm, one eleven-room house and a 4-acre lake stocked with black bass, bream, crappy, and other game fish. It was just off the main road between Guilford College and Jamestown, near Hickory Grove church and the hunting preserve and clubhouse of Clarence H. Mackay, and between the homes of Oscar Hassell and Jess Gardner. One paragraph in that letter makes the property sound like heaven on earth:

“This is one of the best farms in Guilford County, surrounded by good roads with a number of beautiful springs and branches on it. The lake is one of the nicest to be found anywhere, and the clubhouse, built of pine logs standing upright and tongued and grooved together, is beautiful. There are 11 rooms in the house, a large dance hall, two bathrooms, and plenty of large closets. The furniture, consisting of beds, mattresses, chairs, tables, couches, cooking utensils, chinaware, swings, and rustic furniture, one steel range and other articles too numerous to mention will be sold. There is no prettier place in North Carolina for a summer home, country home, or club than this place. The house is built in a beautiful grove, about ¼ mile west of the Guilford College-Jamestown road.”

Sib Burton, a High Point auctioneer, handled the auction of the property on August 14. W. G. Ragsdale, of Jamestown, purchased it. He had been one of the stockholders, and probably had taken an active part in the original organization. In fact, part of the original land had been purchased from other members of his family.

The described location sounds so much like the old Camp Uwharrie owned and used until about 1993 by the Boy Scouts that that possibility was checked out at the courthouse, and, sure enough, that’s just where it was. Although Women’s College inquired about leasing the property, it was sold in July 1925 to C.L. Amos, H. B. Hiatt, J. E. Lambeth and J. O. Moffit, trustees, to be used as a Boy Scout camp.

Now the area is a neighborhood of beautiful and very expensive homes. But as long as the entrance road is named Akela Trail, that old hunting-fishing-camp-lodge flavor will be part of its ambience.

News & Record, Sunday, September 25, 2005

Reprinted with permission of the News & Record  and of the author