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Past Tense

Opinion: Animals Return to Donaldson-Bannister Farm

Donaldson-Bannister Farm

A horse wanders the pasture at the Donaldson-Bannister Farm during the ownership of the Chesnut Family. David and Linda Chesnut acquired the property in 1975.

It is time for fun on the farm at Apple Cider Days this Saturday, Nov. 13 at Donaldson-Bannister Farm. The festival will feature pioneer crafts, an apple scavenger hunt, a display of farm tools and home goods, decorated scarecrows, and a petting zoo.

It is always fun when animals are on the farm because of the significant role they have played in its 151-year history. Every family that lived on the farm had animals.

When the Donaldson family lived there between 1870-1932, it was a working farm. There were cows, pigs, horses, mules, goats and chickens, according to Fred Donaldson, the last child born in the home. Donaldson recalls he and brother Fletcher being pulled in a small wagon by a goat.

Lois Pattillo Bannister was from Inman Park and played golf, so she was not your typical farmer. However, she did build a new horse barn after she purchased the farm at auction. The barn, which housed her own and other horses through the years, still stands today.

The Roberts family lived at the farm between 1942 and 1946. Charles R. and Jeanette Goan Roberts moved to the farm with their two daughters. Both daughters enjoyed riding horses with friends in Dunwoody. When the Roberts sold the farm to the Ogdens in 1946, a listing of items being sold with the property included two saddle horses, two jersey cows, a mule, chickens and ducks.

Leila Harris Ogden and Henry Ogden acquired Donaldson-Bannister Farm in 1946. The property was known as Boxwood Farm back then. The family had farm animals, but they also had dogs, cats and ducks. The children enjoyed riding horses and being pulled in a wagon by a goat. The Ogdens owned the farm until 1956.

The Smith family lived on the farm from 1956-1974 with their two children. Frank and Hortense Smith kept a wide assortment of animals on the property. In addition to chickens, pigs, cows and horses, the Smiths had turkeys, guineas and rheas.

Linda and David Chesnut acquired the property from Jim Cowart in 1975. The Chesnuts kept horses, donkeys and ponies. One year, 50 rescue donkeys ended up at the farm when their destination place fell through. Linda and David let the donkeys be unloaded and live temporarily at the farm. (Dunwoody Crier, April 9, 2003, “Chesnut House history continues”)

Many who lived nearby the farm recall animals in the pasture during the Chesnuts’ ownership. Children, including my own, wanted to see the horses, donkeys and ponies. Some also asked to pet or feed the animals.

There are three time slots for Apple Cider Days, noon until 1:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. Each time slot is limited to 135 people, so advance tickets are recommended. More information and tickets are available at

You can email Valerie at or visit her website at