Winnie Roberts Tutton Farm History
The Buford Corn Maze is located on the Winnie Roberts Tutton Farm at Roberts Crossroads, Hall County, GA. It has a long and storied history beginning in the early 1800s.
Hardin Roberts, the family patriarch, was born in 1777 in Laurens, S.C. Roberts married his first wife, Levina Levoiney, and together they had nine children. The oldest, James Roberts, was born in Laurens, S.C. on October 15, 1800.
We know that Hardin Roberts enlisted in the United States Army on July 4, 1814, and was discharged in New Orleans on April 18,1815, when his term of enlistment expired during the War of 1812 against the British. Hardin returned home and moved his family to Hall County, Georgia, near what is now Flowery Branch. He bought land there and began farming.
In 1832, the state of Georgia held the last land lottery of what had been Cherokee Indian Land. Hardin was chosen in the lottery, and acquired more land before he died in 1850. It is not known where Hardin is buried but he is presumed to lie in rest within the Mount Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Buford.
James Roberts, Hardin’s son, was a colonel in the Hall County Militia. He eventually bought a log cabin that had been built by a Cherokee Indian chief, and moved it to the intersection of Hog Mountain Road and what is now Bennett Road. Interestingly, Bennett Road, where the Buford Corn Maze is located, has at one time or another been called either Gaines Ferry Road or Mount Salem Road.
The cabin was erected on the property around 1840. James and his first wife, Sarah Mason, had eight children. Sarah died in 1840 while giving birth to their daughter Sarah Roberts, who later died at the age of five.
One year later, James married Serena Wayne and together they had nine children, one of whom was Starling Roberts (the future father of Winnie Lee Roberts). James was a farmer but operated a store and trading post at the intersection of Hog Mountain Road and Friendship Road (Roberts Crossroads).
Starling Roberts married a local girl, Celia “Lou” Orr. They had three daughters: Ada Florence, Julie E., and Winnie Lee. Ada and Julie both eventually moved away after marrying their husbands, while Winnie married a local young man, Clarence Newton Tutton, and they remained on her father’s farm working the land.
Starling died in 1920 and his wife Lou died in 1933. Both are burred in the Mount Salem Baptist Church Cemetery. After her mother died, Winnie acquired the remaining 47 acres of the Roberts family property. Today, the Friendship Elementary School is located on land that once was part of the Roberts Tutton farm.
Winnie and her husband continued to farm and raise their four children there. Winnie watched as her husband and two of her children eventually died. Miss Winnie — or Mother “T” as her family called her – lived the last ten years of her life with her youngest daughter, Julia Anita Watford, in Roswell, GA. When she died on March 8, 1992, Winnie was just three months shy of 100 years old. She was well-loved and known as a great and special lady.
After her passing, Winnie’s daughter, Julia, inherited the farm. She and her husband, Cal Watford, continued to care for the land until Julia died in July 2004 and her husband Cal passed away in December 2020. Today, the Watford family heirs still own the land where Cal Watford’s vision for agritourism and farm education on the old home site remains alive and thriving with the Buford Corn Maze. The Corn Maze is overseen and operated by its founder and primary owner Rodney Miller, his wife Kendra, and co-owners Jerome and Tina Beggs.
Miss Winnie loved children, and she would be so excited and happy to see the smiles and laughter of families having such a good time at the corn maze area on her beloved farm.
Many of the Roberts family are buried in and around South Hall County. Sadly, most of their graves cannot be located. One exception is the grave site of Levina Levoiney Roberts, wife of Hardin Roberts, that is still marked by a very primitive stone slab in the cemetery at Mount Salem Baptist Church on Friendship Road in South Hall County.
For those interested, Col. James Roberts’ former cabin has been fully restored and is located in Cherokee Bluff Park on Blackjack Road in Flowery Branch – just a few miles from its original location. As a side note, Col. Roberts, a militia man, never fought in the Civil War but several of his sons did.