Tag Archives: South Georgia Timber Industry
Having last photographed this local landmark in 2009 [see the history of the house and a vintage photograph here], I was determined to get some photos before it is lost forever. I understand that the most recent orders began restoration efforts in the 1990s and were unable to complete the project. I believe the house could, and should, be saved, even in its present state. [I have included the date of 1894 after consulting two sources; it may have been built slightly earlier and I’ll update if I learn more].
A gazebo, which is likely of later construction, remains on the property.
The most interesting dependency, however, is this unique structure just to the left of the house. It is believed to have been Mr. Bedgood’s home office.
Situated behind the iconic Woodland plantation house is this amazing survivor, an enclosed dogtrot thought to have been built by the first McArthur family member to settle here; their ownership of the land dates to 1827. It is possibly the oldest house in Wheeler County. After use as a storage shed for many years, it was restored in 1993.
Colonel Edward Bird (1825-1893) was a successful timber and turpentine operator before the Civil War. He joined Company A, Squadron B, Georgia Cavalry, as Captain. It was nicknamed Captain Bird’s Mounted Company, 2nd Battalion, Georgia Cavalry. Captain Bird was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 17 May 1862 and took command of the 2nd Battalion. He transferred to the 5th Regiment, Georgia Cavalry on 20 January 1863 and was promoted to Colonel in 1864. He commanded the 5th Battalion until surrendering at Greensboro, North Carolina on 26 April 1865. After the war, Colonel Bird resumed his business and remained a prominent citizen of Guyton until his death.
Guyton Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Passing through rural Wheeler County from Lumber City (Telfair) to Alamo, one cannot miss this Eclectic Victorian with Carpenter Gothic details. An exquisite two-story arcade (not visible in this photograph) connects the main section of the house to a rear addition. More than one friend has commented over the years that the sight of the house stopped them in their tracks. It is a standout in South Georgia, out of place in a landscape most characterized by simple vernacular dwellings.
The McArthur family owned portions of the land around the house beginning in 1827. From the shambles of the cotton economy Walter T. McArthur (1837-1894) developed his father’s farmland into a thriving timber plantation and completed Woodland in 1877, the year of his father’s death. A Captain Renwick and Johnus Thormaholon are listed as the architects/builders. Walter was a Confederate veteran and served in the Georgia legislature from 1868-1871. His son Douglas later maintained and managed the property. It was sold in 1917 to Emory Winship (1872-1932). Winship was a career naval officer from a prominent Macon family and primarily used the house as a hunting lodge during his ownership.
The property is currently on the market.
National Register of Historic Places
While I was out photographing with Mike McCall today, we ran into Jimmy Parker, who noted that he was born in this cabin and restored it in recent years.
This commissary was part of the family’s timber and turpentine operations and was at its busiest during World War II.
South Georgia Snowstorm, 2018
The W. R. Browning property is a great example of a rural general store, and it’s relatively intact compared to most I’ve encountered in my travels. It even retains an outdoor shelter.
The window signage is particularly nice, especially this one, indicating that W. R. Browning was not only a shopkeeper but a lumberman, as well. I’m not a good genealogist, but I think some of the descendants of my great-great grandfather, George Franklin Browning, still live in this area. I hope to learn more about that.
Stanback was advertised as a cure “for Headache & Neuralgia”. For those who don’t know, it’s a caffeine-based headache therapy similar to Goody’s & BC powders.
In her History of Dodge County (Atlanta, Foote & Davies, 1932), Mrs. Wilton Philip Cobb wrote: Situated about eight miles north of Eastman, on the Southern Railway, is the little town of Gresston. This town was named for Mr. G. V. Gress, who in 1883 built one of the largest sawmills in the South at this point. In connection with the sawmill was a large dry kiln plant, the first of its kind in this section. Although here was the best yellow pine timber, which was both plentiful and cheap, the mills at that time were having trouble in disposing of their lumber…because of low price and the lack of demand. G. V. Gress was quick to see the advantage of selling a finished product, and he made a trade with a Mr. Moore, of the Moore Dry Kiln Co., to build these dry kilns, which were among the first in the South.
…the Gress mill had a big advantage over the less progressive manufacturers and as a result the Gress Lumber Company built up a profitable business…
…The mill town of Gresston grew and flourished for many years, but like all sawmill towns of those early days, when the mills were through and moved away, the town also went. All that is left of this once flourishing town are a few residences and a mercantile establishment and a large ginnery that are owned and operated by Ragan Brothers…Claud and R. T., of Eastman.
After retiring from the lumber business, Mr. Gress moved to Atlanta, where in 1889 he presented the city with the menagerie that would become today’s Zoo Atlanta. He also purchased the Cyclorama in Grant Park and presented it to the city. He later moved to Jacksonville, Florida.