The lady in this photograph was Mrs. Effie Tinnell Sharp Bush [1887-1980], widow of Georgia’s last surviving Confederate soldier, William Joshua Bush [1845-1952]. ‘Uncle Josh’ as family and close friends knew him, was afforded the honorific ‘General’ Bush in recognition of his connection to the Civil War. I haven’t been able to confirm it, but it’s likely that Mrs. Bush was also the last surviving Confederate widow in Georgia. This snapshot was made in the late 1970s during a town festival by a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who graciously gave me the photograph.
Tag Archives: South Georgia People
Georgia’s southernmost town, St. George, is located within the “Georgia Bend” of the St. Marys River. This historic postcard, mailed from St. George, illustrates a picnic held along the river in February 1909. I have no idea what occasion warranted such a photograph. It must have been a really mild winter, though, as a few of the boys are standing in the river.
I made this photograph in 2010 and somehow forgot all about it until working on my archives today. It’s quite unusual to see a horse being hitched at a convenience store, though I’m sure Surrency once had more than its fair share of horses. These young men even made sure to “park” the horses within the marked parking spaces.
Bad weather didn’t keep people away from this year’s 34th Annual Catface Turpentine Festival in Portal, which bills itself “The Turpentine City”. The recently named Bobby Ronald Newton Turpentine Museum (background, above) is the focal point of the festival. In 1982, Denver Holllingsworth and the Portal Heritage Society suggested restoring the old Carter still and with enthusiastic community involvement, the old boiler was finally relit. The Carter still is one of only three remaining in Georgia. The two other stills are located in Tifton and Walthourville.
As he’s been doing since the festival’s inception, Mr. Roger Branch is on hand each year and eager to tell you anything you might want to know about the history of what was once South Georgia’s biggest industry. Roger is the retired chairman of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Georgia Southern University and has always been interested in preserving historical and cultural aspects of life in South Georgia. I like to think of him as the “Ambassador of Turpentine”. The calendars behind him were produced for many years by the American Turpentine Farmers Association (ATFA) in Valdosta and feature annual winners of the Miss Gum Spirits of Turpentine contests. The ATFA disbanded in the early 1990s, as commercial production of turpentine disappeared from the scene.
There are several of these old markers on the walls of the Turpentine Museum, from the Carter & Son turpentine operations. F. N. Carter, Sr., put Portal on the map as one of Georgia’s centers of the naval stores industry in the 1930s and along with his son E. C. Carter maintained this vital part of the area’s economy until the early 1960s.
David King, from the Georgia Museum of Agriculture at Tifton’s Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), is an expert on the distillation of turpentine and runs the old Carter still at the festival.
The museum’s namesake, Bobby Ronald Newton, was a longtime volunteer at the festival and was instrumental in preserving the area’s turpentine history.
The little building beside the still is filled with all sorts of memorabilia, from signs and calendars to tools and even catfaces themselves. To those who don’t already know, the name catface was given to the slashes cut into pines to gather sap. They’re said to resemble cat’s whiskers.
Also on display are Herty cups (below left) and other early innovations for the collection of sap.
Perhaps the most popular item, though, is the hardened gum rosin itself, which has a gem-like appearance.
A variety of vendors and activities for the kids insure a good day at the festival.
Come and learn about this vital part of South Georgia’s history, and have fun in the process.
You might even try some Rosin Potatoes.
Hot boiled peanuts really are a sort of Southern caviar. If you don’t understand, you probably never will. But as any Southerner will tell you, we love ’em down here! Georgia leads the nation in peanut production, so there are plenty to go around. Roadside vendors like this one are a link to the past and no small town in South Georgia is worth its salt if it doesn’t have at least one. Amanda Jones Little says this seller “has the best in town” and nice produce, as well.