Conversations around the kitchen table have been happening for generations in the Echols family. For over 100 years, the farm has bonded the family through decades of change, both for the farm itself and for the surrounding county. Judy Cooper and her twin sister Julia Lindsay still live on an original piece of the property and remember their life on the farm fondly.
“Our mother Grace was the daughter of T.L. Echols, and she was born in 1914,” explains Judy, surrounded by old photos, receipts and memorabilia spread across her kitchen table. “We put together a timeline of her life for her 90th birthday at the church, with significant events from her life and from the world. That was quite interesting to see.”
Generations of Echols have lived and worked on the once active farm, helping pick cotton and raise chickens since the days when Paulding County had only one main dirt road. As cotton became less valuable to sell, T.L. Echols moved toward matched mule raising, an important commodity for the community as gas was rationed during the world wars. T.L. Echols earned enough money to send his three daughters to college, where they trained to become teachers in the local one-room schoolhouse just 12 miles up the road.
“Daddy was never much of a talker, but their mother Grace really was,” laughs Pam Echols, Judy’s older cousin and the daughter of Robert Echols. Robert was the youngest son of T.L. Echols and the owner of the farm after his father passed. “I wish we had listened more back then; they had so much to share about that time and all our family members.”
Now, though the Echols family is spread across the country, their influence in Paulding County remains. “We have seen this area really develop throughout the years. When we went to high school there was only one stoplight in the whole county,” explains Judy. Now, Paulding County acts as one of the bedroom communities for Atlanta, with developers moving in to build strip malls, hospitals and suburbs to replace the sprawling farmlands.
When the time came for Pam and her brother, the final family owners of Echols Farm, to sell the land, they wanted to help preserve the name and legacy their family had built over the decades. “It was a gut-wrenching, emotional decision,” says Pam. “I knew I didn’t want to sell to a commercial operation that would put in a gas station or something else to ruin the beauty of the land.”
“I found Windsong through one of our cousins, a realtor that helped guide the sale,” explains Pam. “I did my research. I went out to the other Windsong communities and watched as they built from the ground up. I could tell, then, that these were houses built with care and precision. When I asked them to keep the Echols name and they didn’t hesitate, I knew that this was the exact right decision.”
Now -- more than 100 years after the farm was purchased by their grandfather -- Judy, Pam and Julia treasure the pieces of their past while planning for a new future. “It has been wonderful to be able to share our history with the Windsong community and watch it come to life in their Welcome Center,” says Judy. “I gave them all the materials I had, and they’ve done a wonderful job of preserving our story with the timeline and other historic artifacts and memorabilia from the community.”
As the development of the Echols Farm community continues, the cousins already have their own future homes picked out. “The place I want to move in to isn’t built yet, but I can wait,” laughs Pam.
“You better put your name on it!” counters Judy, smiling as she shows off the paintings she’s created for the Welcome Center. “We all would love to move there. It’s a beautiful place, the aesthetic of the Windsong communities really makes our homes look wonderful.”
A comfortable silence falls over the women as they fondly remember their time on the land that helped shape them. Windsong will carry on the Echols name, welcoming home a new community to bond over the peaceful land that generations have enjoyed.
To learn more about the Echols Farm community, visit our the community page or our community Welcome Center, now featuring historical pieces such as a timeline, family artifacts, and paintings by Judy Cooper.