Seven Branches plaque - story of Ernest Hawkins and Corine Fouts

Seven Branches area of Roswell, Georgia

Genealogy is everywhere we look… on our first of many “pandemic walks” with family, we encountered a large plaque attached to an even larger rock in a newly opened public green space. The plaque reads:

The Seven Branches area got its name from the branch that crossed Holcomb Bridge Road seven times. Before the road was paved and relocated in 1958, travelers found it necessary to ford the serpentine branch, and local residents made use of the branch as a car wash and swimming hole.

Ernest Hawkins came to Seven Branches in 1915. In 1920, he married Corine Fouts, whose family farm was located on Fouts Road, where East Roswell Park is today. The Hawkins home, built in 1928, was the birthplace of the six Hawkins children. The Craftsman style home was a landmark on Holcomb Bridge Road until is was demolished for construction of the East Roswell Library in 2013.

Ernest Hawkins was a true “progressive farmer,” always the first in the community to adopt innovations and improvements. He was a self-made and self-educated man, and through hard work and endless endeavor, he became a large landowner and a successful farmer and businessman. Ernest and Corine Fouts Hawkins remained in the Seven Branches and Newtown area until their deaths, enjoying their children and grandchildren, and leaving a legacy of love and perseverance to all who knew them.

Plaque located on the Sevens Branches property, near the corner of Holcomb Bridge Road and Eves Road, at approx: 34°00’18.1″N 84°17’52.7″W

Great! Accurate?

It is really great to come across a gem such as this when out on a family walk in the woods. My son enjoyed climbing on the rock and even sat (mostly) still while we read the inscription (he got impatient a bit at the end!). It is a really good story. Fortunately, really good stories can still be really good stories even when they contain factual errors.

I have done only about an hour of research, but have found the following errors.

Two of the six children of Earnest and Corine were born before 1928, when the “birthplace” was reported to be built.

I moved to Roswell in 2012, and do not know of a “landmark” home “on Holcomb Bridge Road” at that time. I do remember the huge tree they cut down to build the library. The construction of the Library did start around 2013, but I am fairly certain the house “was demolished” before 2013. I will do more research as I can on this. The best I could do on such short notice, from my keyboard, is the Google Streetview images from August 2012.

Family Farm?

The last point is a bit picky. The reference to the Fouts “family farm” might lead you to believe that Corine grew up just around the corner on Fouts Road. Her parents and four next-oldest siblings were listed in the 1900 Census as living in the Purdy District of Dawson County, Georgia – more than 30 miles away. Corine was born in 1901, her father dies in 1904, and Corine is living with her Mother and three siblings in Forsyth County, Georgia, in the 1910 Census. I have not yet found Corine or her Mother in the 1920 Census. Her brother Mark, five years her elder, registered for the WWI draft while living in Milton County (which was the county for the area until the merger with Fulton County in early 1932). Corine’s older brother (by 18 years) John Henry Fouts was in this area of Newtown, Milton County, in the 1910 Census, on “Seven Branches Road” in 1930 (a few houses away from Ernest and Corine), eventually being listed on “Fouts Road” in 1940.

Corine does not seem to have grown up here. she did have several brothers and many nieces/nephews in the area.

Does it matter?

What we have is an interesting and enlightening bronze plaque, retelling the history of a great green space area. It is fun to see sections of the old Holcomb Bridge road bed along the branch. The trial winds around, crosses the branch, and overlaps onto the old roadway in places.

Does it matter is the history is accurate? Yes, it does, somewhat. It is not terrible when people get it wrong. I get it wrong sometimes. It is disappointing that more research was not done, considering the ease of access to the records. I am good at ferreting out details and perhaps I am expecting too much from others. In any case, I always remember that I may be wrong…

I don’t have strong, verifiable facts in this matter. Perhaps Corine’s father bought the farm and had his son live there and manage it. Perhaps the whole family would mostly live in the Seven Branches area, and just happened to be in the Dawson County home at Census time. Maybe the Hawkins family lived in another house on the same property when the children were born.

The houses and road and the exact timings of events are not the important parts.

The important thing is that these families farmed as neighbors, that they found ways to grow food on the land and to enjoy their children and grandchildren.

And it’s important that the Seven Branches property was purchased by the city for public use (and hopefully preservation as a green space).