There is a winding road, cutting through grassy fields, passing a majestic oak and a serene cemetery. This bucolic scene looks inconspicuous and uninteresting. After all, there are many pastoral landscapes all across Newton County. But, this field, this live oak, holds a historic secret. This space was once home to an orphanage, founded by a courageous woman who couldn’t stand seeing a child in need. Her name: Dinah Watts.
Not much is known about our Covington heroine. Her formative years are unfortunately lost to the cruelty that was slavery. While serving the Alexander family of Athens, Watts learned to teach children by creating Sunday school classes; a revolutionary act itself, because slaves were forbidden to read, write, or teach. This passion for education spurred Dinah to apply to Atlanta University, where she graduated in 1883.
In the spring of 1884, she found two orphaned girls who had no place to go in Georgia. Without any hesitation, Dinah took care of these two young girls and found herself taking care of more abandoned children as time passed by. In order to properly house and care for these poor unfortunates, Watts established the Dinah Pace Orphanage and School.
When she died, many remembered her as a remarkable woman who has planted a seed of missionary work, driven up by passion to help people in need. The school closed in 1935 and the property, in later years, was burned down by the county. Today, the Dinah Pace Orphanage and School is merely a green open space, majestic oak trees and a cemetery. A plaque at the Washington Street Community Center commemorates Dinah's contribution to Newton County history.