Even though Georgia is nicknamed The Peach State, there are probably still people, even in Georgia, who have never tasted a deliciously fresh Georgia peach. Fortunately for me, I live in the small rural town where the peach industry in Georgia started.
Marshallville was settled around 1820 in what is now Macon County (not to be confused with the city of Macon in Bibb County). The town itself has a population of approximately 1,400 and is located about 13 miles from Perry across Interstate 75, at the intersection of Highways 127 and 49. About 100 miles south of Atlanta, it is a gateway from the east into the middle of the beautiful Presidential Pathways region of our state.
In the latter half of the 19th century, Samuel H. Rumph, whose family was one of several that settled in Marshallville from Orangeburg, S.C., planted some peach seeds that had been unwittingly cross-pollinated from a Chinese Clingstone variety by his grandfather years earlier.
He planted them around 1870, and in about five years they produced a peach so delectable that he decided to name it after his wife, Elberta. It was flavorsome and juicy, yet firm enough to ship to eastern markets in special refrigerated (ice) railcars of his own design. The rest is history.
A commercial peach boom started that supplied up to 18 peach packing houses in and around Marshallville. You can read more about the story in the book White Columns in Georgia by Medora Field Perkerson.
Today, you can still find the home Mr. Rumph built in Marshallville noted by the historical plaque in front of the home. And, there are still many, many peach orchards around Macon County and surrounding counties such as Peach, Taylor, Crawford and Houston County.
To get your own Georgia peaches, stop by William L. Brown Farms north of Montezuma on Highway 49, Pearson Farm north of Fort Valley just off Highway 341, Taylor Orchards in Reynolds and Lane Southern Orchards on Highway 96 south of Fort Valley. You won’t regret it!
Tim Gerard, born and raised in Iowa, currently retired from a career of many chapters, moved to Marshallville in 2013.