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Elsie Stephens
My aunt, Elsie Naomi Stephens, is my father Virgil's only sister. In order of their appearance on this earth, my grandparents' children are:

It's interesting to note that they died in reverse order of their birth.

portrait of Elsie Naomi Stephens, circa 1923

Elsie in the 1920s

Elsie on Florida beach in the 1920s. This is completely unrelated to the Camp Highland story, but I think it's a nice photo.


Elsie Stephens in white dress standing on beach, 1920s.

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Have pictures from Camp Highland or the YWCA Girl Reserves? Please let me know.























Photo: Faded envelope with old negatives from 1920s

It all started with this old envelope of photo negatives.

The mystery of the lost summer camp: part 1

How it began
I asked my relatives to search their homes for old family documents and pictures. My cousin Ann presented me with an old, faded envelope full of photographic negatives. My aunt Elsie's name was on the outside, and I later determined that these dated from 1920s when she was a young woman—possibly a teenager.


Highland lassie
I scanned the negatives and converted them to positive images. I was amazed by the quality of these 80-year-old pictures. Here's Elsie sitting on a railroad track.

But where? That's what I wanted to find out. There were several other clues. Obviously, this was a summer camp for girls. And it must be within travel distance of her home in East Point, Georgia. But did they travel on a train, as suggested by the picture below?

Railroad whistle-stop shelter at Camp Highland, Georgia, 1920s.

The first clue
The word "Highland" on the little shelter wasn't much to go on. I first thought of Highlands, North Carolina. That's in another state, but it's still right next door to Georgia. But after further research, I gave up on that idea. And there was another summer camp with a similar name, and it had a railroad for access, but it was a camp for boys.

RR stop with sign reading Highland


We still don't know the name of Elsie's friend (below), but they appear together in several pictures. In this risque pose, they show a lot of skin between their hose and bloomers. We never knew our old-maid aunt had once been a daring young woman.

Elsie Stephens and unknown girl standing in wooden barrel near railroad at Camp H ighland, 1920s.

Hooray for the Internet
This newspaper article I found through an Internet search was the next big clue. It says ". . . Girl Reserve Leaders have returned [from] Camp Highland, near Atlanta." OK, that's a big help. Now I know the name, and I know that it was near Atlanta. From the pictures, it looks a bit hilly. That would probably place Camp Highland to the north of the city.

But who are the Girl Reserves, and exactly where is this mysterious Camp Highland?


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Last update: August 12, 2016