In the hollows and cut into the hills of White Sulphur Farm, you can still make out the old wagon road that once carried adventurers and settlers westward toward the frontier. They would make their way south from Virginia then turn west to Georgia, hoping a southern route would be easier for finding their way to the promised land of the Wild West.
One of these families, the Reynolds family, left Virginia and made it to Hall County and realized the bucolic foothills, clean spring water, and fertile soil would make for as perfect of a life as they could hope for. The family settled on the banks of the north fork of the Oconee River in 1802 and never left.
The children of that family live and continue to work the farm today. Jane Reynolds Hemmer and John Hemmer built their home on the family farm in 1977 and their son, Lee Hemmer, continued the tradition, building his home on the land in 2008. The Reynolds family is the only one to ever hold a deed to the original property. Garland Reynolds, Sr. expanded the farm during the mid-1900s until it covered its current 300+ acres.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Reynolds family cultivated a variety of crops, including corn and cotton. They also raised a garden for feeding the family and livestock for their own use and to sell at market. At that time, Minor Grey Reynolds also drove the stage coach connecting the railroad depot at Airline with the posh White Sulphur Springs Hotel. On summer nights, he and his children would sit on the front porch to listen to the music from the bands playing at the hotel as it drifted on the wind to their front yard.
Garland Reynolds, Sr. took sole possession of the land in 1930. Over time he ceased to cultivate crops and converted the land entirely to pasture for grazing cattle and raising hogs. He kept a large herd of mixed-breed beef cattle and heritage breed pigs on the property to supply his meat market in Gainesville, then, in later years, taking the cattle to market a few times a year.
When the Reynolds-Hemmer family moved onto the farm in the late-seventies, they helped Jane’s father, Garland Sr., with his herd and added to it. After Garland Sr. passed away in 1990, the Reynolds-Hemmer family continued to raise cattle and hogs on the land.
In the mid-nineties, the Reynolds-Hemmer family sold off the mixed-breed beef cattle in an effort to give the land a few years to rest. That period was short-lived. In 1997, Jane Reynolds Hemmer spotted some “Oreo cows” on a trip in Pennsylvania with friends. She came home and told her husband, John, that she had found their next cattle breed for the farm: Belted Galloways. That same year, John bought Jane a herd of 20 cows as an anniversary present and so started the line of White Sulphur Belted Galloways.
In the intervening years, the Reynolds-Hemmer family has experimented with feeding, grazing, and breeding practices to discover the best taste and quality for their beef. John and Jane Hemmer’s son, Lee Hemmer, became interested in diversifying the livestock of the farm in 2010. He wanted to add a heritage pork breed to the farm’s holdings. After much research, he found Tamworth hogs were best suited for the farm’s environment and had the best pork flavor. Currently he maintains a herd of over 30 Tamworth pigs and Berkshire.