Tag Archives: Suomi GA

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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Suomi Road, Dodge County

Suomi Road Dodge County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Were it not for the name Suomi Road, there would be no hint that such a strange-named (for rural South Georgia) place ever existed. The origins of the name are lost to history, but John Goff (Placenames of Georgia, UGA Press, Athens, 2007) proposed that it was likely settled in the 1870s or 1880s when the lumber industry and the Dodge Land Wars were in full swing. It’s located very close to Normandale, a historical community that was the epicenter of the Dodge Lumber operations. Goff guesses that another mill may have been located here and that a railroad siding or station was probably given the name Suomi (in honor of the Finnish word for Finland) by Finnish lumbermen who may have been working in the area. They were most certainly transient workers as Goff posited no evidence of Finnish surnames in the area. The area has a Chauncey address today.

Jerry Jarrard writes: Suomi was a rail stop in Dodge Co. Ga. I remember when Grandpa took down the Suomi sign and put it in the barn. He owned what had been a hotel for the Finnish lumbermen. It sat behind the rail stop. It has since burned. In those days there was a country store beside the Suomi sight. it may have been named Weeks store. A weeks family lived two houses to the right of the old hotel The platform for the rail stop was a concrete pad, which is probably still there.

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Triple-Gable Farmhouse, Suomi

Suomi GA Dodge County Triple Gable House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

I imagine this was a “high Victorian” in an earlier incarnation but it’s nearly gone to the elements now.

Suomi GA Dodge County Abandoned Triple Gable House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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Tenant Farmhouse, Suomi

Suomi GA Dodge County Tar Paper Tenant House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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