Tag Archives: South Georgia Turpentine Industry

Aaron, Georgia

You won’t find Aaron on most maps, but this structure is evidence of its past. I will update when I learn more, but I do know that the Aaron family were very involved in the cotton business and likely turpentining. This appears to have been a commissary/general store with a residence on the second floor. Turpentine commissaries were once widespread in this area as the business was dominant here for much of the 20th century.

 

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Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--, Aaron GA

Board-and-Batten House, Dubois

Dodge County GA Highway 23 Board and Batten House Tenant Style Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Likely a remnant of the tenant farming/turpentine era, this house is of a utilitarian style once found one nearly every country road in South Georgia. Quite a few remain, in various states of repair, but I’m seeing fewer and fewer every year.

Dodge County GA Highway 23 Board and Batten House Planted Pines Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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Filed under --DODGE COUNTY GA--, Dubois GA

Catface Turpentine Festival, Portal

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Roger Branch in the Bobby Ronald Newton Turpentine Museum Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Carter & Son Marker Museum Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Bottling Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Barrel Distillation Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

The museum’s namesake, Bobby Ronald Newton, was a longtime volunteer at the festival and was instrumental in preserving the area’s turpentine history.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Bobby Ronald Newton Turpentine Museum Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Bobby Ronald Newton Turpentine Museum Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Also on display are Herty cups (below left) and other early innovations for the collection of sap.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal Georgia Bobby Ronald Newton Turpentine Museum Herty Cup Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Perhaps the most popular item, though, is the hardened gum rosin itself, which has a gem-like appearance.

Portal GA Catface Turpentine Festival Gum Rosin Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

A variety of vendors and activities for the kids insure a good day at the festival.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA People Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Come and learn about this vital part of South Georgia’s history, and have fun in the process.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Crowds Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

You might even try some Rosin Potatoes.

Catface Turpentine Festival Portal GA Rosin Baked Potatoes Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--, Portal GA

Tenant Farmhouse, Long County

Long County GA Tenant Farmhouse Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This has been well-preserved and is likely related to the turpentine industry.

Long County GA Tenant Sharecropper Farmhouse Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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Filed under --LONG COUNTY GA--

Turpentine Cabin, Wheeler County

Board and Batten Tenant Farmhouse Wheeler County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--

Turpentine Cabin, Wefanie

Wefanie GA Long County Abandoned Farmhouse Turpentine Shack Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

From what someone who once lived in the community told me about Wefanie, I believe this was used as a tenant house for turpentine workers. Though it doesn’t resemble most turpentine cabins I’ve photographed, I’ll identify it as such until I know differently. Along with the privy and barn in the two posts that follow this one, it was recently exposed when the surrounding woods were thinned.

Wefanie GA Long County Abandoned Vernacular Farmhouse Turpentine Era Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

Wefanie was never really a town in the proper sense of the word, but was a busy logging and turpentine community with its own whistle-stop in its prime. I have no idea where the name originates.

Wefanie GA Long County Vernacular Farmhouse Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

The cardboard seen below was used for insulation.

Wefanie GA Long County Vernacular Farmhouse Cardboard Insulation Tenant Shack Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

As the Fanta carton would suggest, this was probably occupied well beyond the turpentine era. This is one sight I’m glad to see vanishing.

Wefanie GA Long County Abandoned Turpentine Shack Cardboard Fanta Drink Boxes Used as Insulation Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

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Filed under --LONG COUNTY GA--, Wefanie GA

Abandoned Barn, Wefanie

Abandoned Barn Ruins Wefanie GA Long County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

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Filed under --LONG COUNTY GA--, Wefanie GA