Tag Archives: South Georgia Ghost Towns

Dodge Guest House, Circa 1870, Suomi

Built by William Earl Dodge (1805-1883) for use by executives of the Georgia Land & Lumber Company circa 1870, this is the oldest known house in Dodge County*. One of the “Merchant Princes of Wall Street” and a former New York congressman, Dodge’s association with the area came at the invitation of William Pitt Eastman (1813-1888), a New Hampshire industrialist with large landholdings in Georgia and the namesake of the town of Eastman. Eastman brokered a deal with Dodge to have the county named for him in exchange for Dodge’s funding of a courthouse. The only time Dodge ever visited the area was when the courthouse was dedicated. His sons administered his timber interests in Georgia and this community (present-day Suomi) was named Normandale for Norman Dodge. It was the site of the company’s massive lumber mill and once boasted a population of nearly 600.

Throughout the 1870s Dodge’s Georgia Land & Lumber Company purchased, through questionable deeds, 300,000 acres of prime virgin timberland in the area. Hundreds of rightful owners were evicted from family lands and for 44 years a series of armed conflicts, assassinations, and protracted court battles embroiled the local folk in what came to be known as the Dodge Land Troubles. At least 50 people lost their lives during this turbulent period and by the time the debated deeds were finally settled in 1923, putting an end to the Dodge Land Troubles, the land was completely barren. Though owners slowly replanted or converted their lands to agricultural use, animosities remained.

*-A nearly identical house located next door (now demolished) was the home of company agent Captain John C. Forsyth, who was assassinated there at the height of the Dodge Land Troubles in 1890. A group of about eight local men hired a notorious North Carolina outlaw named Rich Lowery to carry out the deed. The conspirators were found guilty in a trial which garnered attention in all the national media, but Rich Lowery was never found, believed by some to have been murdered by some of his co-conspirators and disposed of in a cypress swamp.

 

 

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Filed under --DODGE COUNTY GA--, Normandale GA, Suomi GA

Turpentine Cabin, Tetlow

This is about as good a view as can be had of this shotgun house in northwestern Wayne County. It’s located in the vicinity of Tetlow, which still exists on the map and in a nearby road name, but seems lost to history otherwise. Because there are the remains of several nearly identical shotgun houses at the site, I presume this was a turpentine camp at one time. The area in which its located was heavily involved in the naval stores and timber industries throughout much of the twentieth century; the camp was likely abandoned by the 1960s.

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Filed under --WAYNE COUNTY GA--, Tetlow GA

Folk Victorian Farmhouse, Sumter County

There are two ghost towns in Georgia named Pennington. One is in Morgan County, near Madison, and the other is here in Sumter County, just a mile or two from Andersonville. A large plantation was once located here but it has long since vanished.

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Filed under --SUMTER COUNTY GA--

Historic Farmstead, Lowndes County

Isolated in the countryside near the Lowndes County ghost town of Delmar, this historic farm is one of the most intact collections of original agricultural structures I’ve ever seen in South Georgia. I’m grateful to Mandy Green Yates for bringing it to my attention. Mandy travels the back roads of South Georgia and North Florida finding lots of places like this. Follow her to see what she finds next.

I believe this was primarily a turpentine camp, as the area was well-known for large scale naval stores production. There would have been tenant houses here at one time, also. The structure above was likely the office for the operation.

My favorite structure is the commissary, which would have served all the needs of this small community.

The shingle-sided barn and water tower are amazing survivors, as well. The owners of the property should be commended for keeping this place in such relatively good condition throughout the years.

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Filed under --LOWNDES COUNTY GA--, Delmar GA

Log Tobacco Barn Ruins, Lowndes County

This is located near the historic turpentine community of Delmar.

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Filed under --LOWNDES COUNTY GA--, Delmar GA

Wetherington-Robinson Elementary School, Circa 1956, Delmar

After a long history of operating substandard schools for African-Americans, Georgia began building modern schools for black students in the early 1950s. This effort to delay desegregation was a knee-jerk response to Brown v. Board of Education, and while the state spent a small fortune building these schools, desegregation was a done deal and implemented fully by the early 1970s. Many of these schools still stand throughout Georgia.

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Filed under --LOWNDES COUNTY GA--, Delmar GA

Brantley House, Circa 1880, Brewton

Brewton, originally spelled Bruton, was established around 1888 and was the busiest settlement in eastern Laurens County well into the early 20th century. I’ve yet to locate any history of this house, which has been abandoned for many years. It’s likely among the oldest structures remaining in the settlement. Brenda C. Lumley notes that the house is known locally as the Brantley House.

William Brantley writes: I am the grandson of the builder/owner of this house in Brewton, Georgia. It was completed around 1880. The owner was Freeman Hill Brantley.

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Filed under --LAURENS COUNTY GA--, Brewton GA