This postcard image shows the pavilion and beach at Crystal Lake in its early days as a tourist attraction, circa 1964. Well known to locals since the 1860s, Crystal Lake was originally known as Bone Pond, for Willis Bone, a Northerner who ran a grist mill at the site. One of the most infamous stories of Irwin County history relates that Bone, a Union sympathizer, gave refuge to runaway slaves and after one such runaway slave was discovered on the Bone property by Jack Walker, Bone shot and killed the loyal Confederate. After a search party located Walker’s remains, an impromptu “court” was called and Bone was hanged at the nearby county seat of Irwinville.
The lake has now almost completely dried up and is no longer open to the public. Owned by the Adcock Family of Tift County, it is leased as a hunting club today.
The story of Willis Bone was taken from Mark V. Wetherington’s excellent book, Plain Folk’s Fight: The Civil War & Reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2005).