The History of Kinderlou Forest
The following is based on a historical account of Kinderlou, written in 1920 by a descendant of the land’s original owners, Catherine McRee Carter.
A farming community, the land was settled by Francis Jones and his wife, a widow with one daughter, Rachel Inman Spain. By 1860, the Jones’ family was living in a large house on the property, with several small villages around the land, housing a variety of workers, including convicts rented from the state of Georgia at a time when there were no brick and mortar prisons.
A young civil engineer, George Randolph McRee, happened upon the springs at Kinderlou and camped for a time there with his men while working on a nearby railroad line. McRee fell in love with the Jones’ granddaughter, Rachel Lavinia Spain, but the Civil War interrupted their courtship for several years. McRee returned from the war safely and married Rachel, settling the half of the plantation she inherited from her grandparents.
Rachel bore him four sons but died a short time after the last birth, leaving McRee a widower with a large plantation to manage and young children who needed a mother. That task fell to his childless sister, Lou McRee, who raised the boys and guided them into adulthood. Each McRee son attended college, and each returned to till the land they were raised on, which was divided evenly between them upon their father’s death. In honor of their surrogate mother, they named the land “Kinderlou,” or the “children of Lou”. (Kinder is the German word for children).
While the plantation thrived for many years, with its own sawmill, cotton gin, turpentine still, syrup maker and even a cigar factory, subsequent generations succumbed to the temptations of the modern world, leaving the land to move to nearby cities in the early 1900s. Over time, nearly all traces of the former community were reclaimed by nature, and forests thrived. Dozens of ancient Live Oak trees that once lined the plantation can still be found throughout the property today.
The Langdale Company is as dedicated to the preservation of the land as its original owners, and the future of Kinderlou Forest is as promising as its storied past.