Saturday, May 4, 2013


 Thle-Cath-Cha  - The Broken Arrow

He was a man of two people - one white and one red.  His mother’s people, the Lower Creek Indians, called him “Tustunnugee Hutke,” or “White Warrior.”  His father’s people were Scottish Highlanders, who immigrated  to Georgia during the state’s  infancy.  William McIntosh never abandoned either of his people, all the time struggling to maintain the precarious balance between the two nations during the first quarter of the 19th Century.  It was his desire for peaceful coexistence that led to his death - an untimely and senseless death at the hands of his own bitterly divided people on April 30, 1825.  This occasional  visitor to Laurens County was one of the most important and influential Indian leaders in Georgia history.

William McIntosh, a son of a  British officer during the  American Revolution, was born in Wetumpka, an Indian village in eastern Alabama northwest of Columbus, Georgia.  He was nurtured in the Indian ways of life by his mother, Senoya, and his Coweta Indian uncles.  His father, William McIntosh, Sr., sided with King George during the War for American Independence.  William and his half-brother Roley,  son of their father’s second Indian wife, were put on board a ship bound for Scotland, where they would receive a formal education.  William was interested in learning.  Roley was somewhat less interested.  The boys were spirited away from the ship by their Indian uncles.  Their father, oblivious to their absence until the ship had sailed, continued on the voyage to his ancestral homeland.  Discouraged by the way his sons were being raised, the elder McIntosh left his family and returned to McIntosh County on the southeast Georgia coast. William’s uncles taught him all of the things he needed to know about life.  As he approached manhood, William was given leave to visit his father’s home.  William made one final trip to the coast to attend his father’s funeral.

About two hundred years ago, William was chosen as Chief of the Coweta town, at the age of twenty five.  He married Eliza Grierson, a woman of Scottish and Creek parents.  The couple’s first son, Chilly, was born at their home on the Tallapoosa River.  McIntosh, then Chief of all of the lower Creek towns, encouraged commerce with white merchants and traders.  The Lower Creeks believed that their “mixed-blooded” leaders were best suited to deal with the leaders and the people of the United States.  McIntosh stood more than six feet tall -  a height which made him a near giant during his day.  He was light skinned, but retained his Indian features of dark eyes and hair.  He wore buck skin pants and a calico shirt.  His headdress consisted of a turban with a single feather plume.

As tensions became more strained between Georgians and the Creeks (and even among the Creeks themselves), a war between England and the United States broke out in 1812.  McIntosh was commissioned a major in the U.S. Army.  He led a contingent of Indian warriors under the command of Generals John Floyd and John Coffee.  McIntosh led his warriors in support of Gen. Andrew Jackson’s legendary victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  In near total disregard of the Indians who remained steadfastly loyal to the U.S. Army, Jackson negotiated a treaty.  McIntosh believed the treaty took too much lands from the tribes who had supported Jackson.

In the years which followed the war, McIntosh and his family moved to a new home on the Chattahoochee River.  It was during this time when McIntosh maintained a home near the springs on the west bank of the Oconee River.  The springs, known later as Well Springs, is located south of Dublin  in the Rock Springs Community.  While he was visiting in Laurens County, he sent his son Chilly to school in Dublin.

Relationships between the Americans and the Seminoles flared up again in 1817.  McIntosh was commissioned a brigadier general and was placed in command of thirteen hundred Creek warriors.  They fought in several engagements with their mortal enemies, known as “The Redsticks.” After six years of fighting, McIntosh left the army, still torn by the strife between his two peoples. His uncle, Chief Howard, the leader of a friendly Cheehaw village, was killed by members of the Laurens County Dragoons under the leadership of Captains Obed Wright and Jacob Robinson.

McIntosh established a ferry across the Chattahoochee at Coweta.  He was assisted by Joe Baillie.  The Chief built a large tavern and inn at the famed mineral water springs in Monroe County, which became appropriately known as Indian Springs.  As more and more of Georgia was being settled by white settlers, McIntosh became involved in negotiations between Creek and Georgia officials.  A meeting was held at the McIntosh Inn at Indian Springs in 1821.  Despite his deep-seated objections to the U.S. government’s treaty proposals, McIntosh reluctantly signed a treaty ceding more lands to Georgia.
In 1823, George M. Troup of Laurens County was elected governor of Georgia.  Troup pushed for the removal of all Indian tribes from Georgia. Relationships with the Creeks became more tenuous.  Various towns of the Creek Nation were at odds with each other.  Troup, in an ironic quirk of fate, had an ally in his efforts to rid Georgia of the Creek and the Cherokee.  Chief McIntosh’s father was a brother of Catherine McIntosh, the mother of Governor Troup, making the two leaders were first cousins.

While some have questioned the closeness of the cousins because of their strong efforts in support of their respective constituents, the two men consulted with each other on the matters of Indian lands.  According to local legend, an accord was reached between the two leaders at McIntosh’s home at Well Springs.  McIntosh stood firm in his belief that interaction with the white people would strengthen his tribes.  Troup took an opposite view.  His determination to remove the Indian tribes led to a war of words with President John Quincy Adams. President Adams eventually backed off of his demands for Troup to desist with his plans for Indian removal.

A second treaty between the United States and a council of  Lower Creeks, led by McIntosh, was signed at Indian Springs in 1825.  The new treaty provided for the ceding of all lands claimed by the Creeks in Georgia in exchange for a comparable amount of land in Arkansas.  A bonus of addition land and cash was awarded to McIntosh for his role in convincing other chiefs to agree to the terms of the agreement.  When the leaders of the Upper Creeks learned of the treaty, the outraged Creeks attacked Chief McIntosh in his home,  setting his elaborate house on fire and stabbing and scalping the martyred leader. 
It is said that his son Chilly, who went on to become the first School Superintendent of the Oklahoma Territory and a Confederate field officer, ran from the scene all the way to the capitol in Milledgeville to inform the state of the massacre. 

Chief William McIntosh has been called a hero by some - a traitor by others.  He was one of the most intriguing characters in our state’s history.  His murder was condemned by both of his two peoples.  Eventually the members of his family were pardoned by the tribal council.  They left Georgia for the Indian territory of Oklahoma, where they followed in the footsteps of this once great Creek leader.

Friday, April 26, 2013



At the dawn of the history of Laurens County settlers, sought out the prized lands along the Oconee River.   Small rafts and canoes were the only method of traveling along the river.  Over a half dozen ferries were established during the first decade.  Laurens County lies near the upper end of the navigable portion of the Oconee River.  While Milledgeville is generally regarded as the terminus of the navigable river, actually boatmen found that Rock Landing was as far as they could travel.  At the southern end of the river was Darien, a prime seaport in early Georgia history.

Furs and hides were highly sought and were shipped to markets in New York and Philadelphia.  Many were brought in by Indians to Fort Wilkinson.  Rates were set at 50 cents per hundredweight for down-river trips and 75 cents per hundredweight for up-river trips. By 1803 there were 16 boats engaged in the shipment of corn, tobacco, and cotton. 

In 1805 the Oconee Navigation Company was granted a charter by the legislature.  The Company sought to make navigable that portion of the river north of Milledgeville to Barrett Shoals near Athens.  Despite the best efforts of its incorporators the company failed.  The pole boat remained the only way to travel on the Oconee for over a decade.   The inhabitants of Dublin would flock to the river when a boat pulled up to the banks loaded with supplies and groceries from Darien.

The lack of good roads elevated river transportation as the primary means of hauling large quantities of agricultural products.  In 1815, the Georgia legislature appropriated ten thousand dollars for the improvement of the Oconee. Two years later a statewide system of river improvements was implemented.  Samuel Howard, who organized the Steamboat Company of Georgia, was granted a twenty year monopoly on Georgia Rivers.  The United States Supreme Court outlawed the practice in 1824.

Before Macon became an established port on the Ocmulgee River, Dublin became the most important inland trading center of Central Georgia.  George Gaines and Jonathan Sawyer had recognized the potential in this area a decade before.  Gaines established the first ferry in Dublin about the year 1806.  New York businessman Redolphus Bogart began purchasing some of the lands along the river in 1811.  Two years later he purchased 174 acres for the unheard of sum of seven thousand dollars.   In those days seven thousand dollars would be the cost of ten to fourteen thousand acres of undeveloped land.  Bogart sold the property to Gilbert Aspinwall in 1814 at a profit of three thousand dollars.   

During the 1815 session of the Georgia Legislature, $10,000.00 was appropriated for the clearing of the Oconee below Milledgeville.  Among the five commissioners appointed to oversee the operations was Gen. David Blackshear, who had just completed two years of fighting the British and the Indians during the War of 1812.  Blackshear and his colleagues Zachariah Lamar, James Alston, Richard A. Blount, and Jacob Robinson,  expended much time and labor without any reward except the knowledge that they were working for the public good.   The latter of these gentlemen may have been the same Jacob Robinson, who owned thousands of acres along the Oconee River in southern Laurens County. An additional ten thousand dollars were expended in 1817.

River boats began plying the waters of the Oconee about 1817.  In that same year a wealthy Savannah mercantile firm purchased all of the land surrounding Gaines' Ferry for eight thousand dollars.  The firm established a store in Dublin which it operated until 1835.  The senior partner of firm was Andrew Low.  His nephew, a Savannah merchant of the same name, was a central figure in Eugenia Price's Savannah novels.  The younger Low's daughter-in-law, the former Miss Juliette Gordon, was the founder of the Girl Scouts.  

"The Williamson" or "The Georgia" became the first steamboat to reach Milledgeville from Darien on April 13, 1819.  Gradually Dublin and Milledgeville, the state capital, rose to prominence as river ports.  The trip took 40 days due to troubles with low water and snags.  Two years later Samuel Howard arrived in Milledgeville after a 18 day voyage from Darien.   Milledgeville's importance was short lived as reliable transportation was only had during the late winter and early spring.  Farish Carter and John T. Roland's bold plan to use several boats failed in 1824.  

The government of Georgia realized the importance of river transportation and frequently appropriated large sums of money to clear the river of obstructions.  An act was passed in 1826 to clear the river below Milledgeville.  Among those commissioners appointed to oversee the operation were Farish Carter of Baldwin County and again David Blackshear of Laurens County.  The project was revived in 1836 and again on January 19, 1852, when Hardy Smith of Laurens County was appointed as a commissioner to clear the river below Milledgville. 

Although cotton production went up rapidly, river transportation practically died until 1836 when "The Wave" began running up the Oconee from Darien.  It took 5 to 6 days to make the trip to Dublin from the seaport city.  Two other Baldwin County men, Richard J. Nichols and George L. Denning, evidently never succeeded  with their Oconee and Atlantic Steamboat Company which was incorporated in 1837.

The State of Georgia once again renewed its plans to improve navigation along the  Altamaha, Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers in 1851.  Ten thousand dollars was appropriated under the management of a board of commissioners.  The commissioners in charge of the Oconee River were Hardy Smith of Laurens County along with William Joyce, John McArthur and P.H. Lowd (sic) of Montgomery County.

In the 1840s, shippers turned to the railroads to transport their goods.  The Central of Georgia Railroad bridged the Oconee twenty five miles or so above Dublin at Raoul Station.  The trip covered twenty two miles over sandy hills and bad roads and on average took two and one half days to complete.  An old black man, known as Free Isaac, did most of the hauling with his six mule wagon.   Dublin and Laurens County would remain without a railroad for nearly a half century to come.  In 1859 there was a 12 by 26 foot boat loaded with 500 bales of cotton transporting cotton from Milledgeville to Dublin.  Just before the Civil War the men of Dublin decided to build their own boat for use on the Oconee.  Freeman H. Rowe and David Robinson built "The George M. Troup".  Rowe and Robinson named their boat in honor of Gov. George M. Troup who had recently passed away.  Ironically, it was Gov. Troup who so bitterly fought the route of the Central of Georgia railroad through Laurens County which would have alleviated the need for river transportation.  Bob Roberson was the captain of the boat.  His crew was composed of three slaves.  Shade, the pilot, was hired in Savannah.  Elex, a slave belonging to F.H. Rowe, was the cook.  Moses, the property of Roberson, kept the deck in order.
After the Civil War broke out, the “George M. Troup” was given or sold to the Confederate government for blockade running. One river boat, "The Everglade", a Savannah River steamboat, was sold to the Confederate government in 1861.  The boat was refitted and named "The C.S.S. Savannah", the first Confederate steamer.  In 1863 a new "The C.S.S. Savannah" was built. The old steamer was renamed "The C.S.S. Oconee." "The Oconee" sunk off the coast of St. Catherine's Island in a hurricane.

During the war years and beyond the Reconstruction period, river boats were seldom seen on the Oconee.  Once again, cotton had to be hauled to market.  The Central of Georgia Railroad was eventually rebuilt, but some cotton planters carried their cotton directly to Savannah.  S. Yopp sold his cotton for gold in 1865.  Sam Yopp carried his to Savannah and brought home one hundred and fifty dollars.    "The Charles Hardee", "The Two Boys", "The Clyde", and "The Halcyon" made a few trips up the Altamaha and Oconee to Dublin.  In the summer of 1867, citizens of Savannah and others living along the Altamaha, Oconee, and Ocmulgee Rivers formed the Altamaha, Ocmulgee, and Oconee Steamboat Company.  The stockholders of each county were to appoint there own directors.  Col. Jonathan Rivers, a Dublin lawyer and former Confederate colonel, represented Laurens County.  Other local representatives were W.T. McArthur, Montgomery Co.; M.N. McRae, Telfair Co.; and Norman McDuffie, Pulaski County. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles to the northeast in Wilmington, North Carolina, the most radical change in the county's transportation methods was beginning.  Colville and Company were building a new boat to replace "The Caswell" which was getting too old for service.   The seventy foot stern wheeler, "The Colville", was named in honor of the company's senior owner and was piloted by Capt. Robert C. Henry.  

Capt. Robert C. Henry, a native of North Carolina, became the father of river boating in Laurens County.  Capt. Henry served in Company A of the Third North Carolina Cavalry during the Civil War.  At the age of forty Captain Henry, for some unknown reason, left North Carolina for Dublin in 1878.  He brought "The Colville" and fellow captain, Samuel Skinner, with him.   John Colville, the builder of the boat which bears his name, died in 1902 at the home of his neice in Eastman. Captain Henry would go on to make a fortune in the riverboat business.  He turned his interest to timber and banking in the late 1880s.  In 1892 Captain Henry became the founding president of Dublin's first bank, The Dublin Banking Company.  Five years later he built an elegant two story building at 101 West Jackson Street in Dublin.  The building became the home to the bank, when it received its state charter in 1898.  Captain Henry and his wife, the former Miss Louisa Gibbs, were founding and faithful members of the First Presbyterian Church.  Captain Henry was chosen as a director of the Dublin Cotton Mill in 1897.  Captain Henry died in 1900 and was buried in the old City Cemetery.  Years after his death his body was re- interred in the Burgaw Cemetery in North Carolina near his home.  

River transportation lived and died with the rain. The wet season usually ran from mid-fall to mid-spring.  "The Colville" set out for Raoul Station in June of 1878.  Its return depended on the amount of rainfall in the Oconee Basin.  The owners of "The Colville" went to great expense in clearing the river upstream.  The dangers of the river were never more apparent on November 20, 1878. "The Colville" set out for Raoul Station on the Central of Georgia Railroad with a load of cotton.  Three miles above Dublin the boat struck rocks which cut seven holes in the hull causing it to sink in five feet of water.  The boat hands set the cotton off on the banks and worked three days to set the damaged boat afloat.  Capt. Henry brought his boat back to Dublin to repair the damage. 

Captain Henry joined forces with Dublin lawyer and newspaper owner, Col. John M. Stubbs to form the Oconee River Steamboat Company.  The Company purchased a site for their wharf from Hayden Hughes for $35.00 on February 5, 1879.  The one acre tract was located along the northern margin of Town Branch where it empties into the Oconee River.  The company secured an ideal site within a few feet of the Dublin Ferry. Today the site is just a few hundred feet north of Riverwalk Park in Dublin.  "The Colville" once again was grounded in the water with a cargo of 200 barrels of rosin in July of 1879. Captain Henry secured a flat boat, "The Cyclone", to accompany his boat and to carry heavy loads of guano fertilizer.  Unfortunately the flat boat sunk on February 20, 1880 with twenty tons of T.H. Rowe's guano on board.   Captain Henry took advantage of the situation, going back home to marry Louisa.  

The company was granted a charter by the Georgia legislature on September 17, 1879.  Other founders of the company were local merchants, William H. Tillery and William Burch.  The company was granted the power to navigate along the Oconee River with boats and barges to own, build, buy or charter vessels propelled by steam, or other power.  Captain Skinner remained with the company only a few years before returning to Wilmington.  

When the water was low, boats couldn't move.  Merchants complained.  Farmers complained.  Everyone complained.  One hungry customer set out his frustrations in a poem.

 "The Colville" is coming! Awaken,
  Ye draymen of Dublin and start,
 To bring up the longed for bacon,
     In haste on your wagons and cart.

 For weeks we have fasted in sorrow,
     No bacon or lard was the cry.
 We ate all the meat we could borrow
and promised to pay bye and bye.

 But the hungry farmers are starving
For western grown shoulders and sides.        
 And the Joneses while smiling and carving
Take greenbacks and cotton and hides.

 Thus Dublin is left without bacon,
While farmers are fed from the store.
 Nothing short than a railroad to Macon,
Will keep us from being ashore.

 Ate bullbats, catfish, and suckers
And eels from a foot to a yard.
 While the "Wool Hats" with Dan, Mose and Tuckers
Were feasting on bacon and lard.

 I've talked to the meat hungry planter
Adjured him with tears in my eyes.
 He raised the jug and decanter
An his lard and bacon he buys.

 Let's haste then thro' hogweed and thistle
To the steamer for a ration of meat.
 Ere the farmers hear "The Colville's" old whistle
And take off the good things to eat.

A Hungry Customer
    Dublin, Georgia
September 9, 1882.


With no railroad within 25 miles, river traffic was flourishing.  Henry, much to the dismay of Dubliners, was banned by federal regulations  from carrying kerosene on "The Colville" in 1882.   With Dock Anderson at the wheel a round trip to Raoul Station still took the better part of a day.  Captain Henry began work on a new steamer in April of 1883.  The 100 foot gunnel boat was powered by two Crockett engines built in Macon.  A new flat was constructed to hold the bulk of the freight.   Henry's company put the second boat, "The Laurens" on the river in August of 1883., 

R.L. Hicks, a Dublin school teacher, a partner in the firm fo Hicks, Peacock, and Hicks, and rival newspaper editor, launched the "William M. Wadley" in August of 1883.  The boat was named for the president of the Central of Georgia railroad.  The boat made only a few trips during its first six months of operation.  The "Wadley" soon became the fastest boat on the river, easily beating the fast "Cumberland" in a 111 mile race from Gray's Landing to Doctortown. In  March of 1884  "The Wadley" brought a 150 ton load of groceries, hardware, cloth, and supplies into Dublin.  It was the largest load ever brought here.   In one year of service "The Wadley", after lying idle for three months, made 62 round trips covering twenty thousand miles.  It carried twelve million pounds of freight without a single accident.  Unlike many other boats, only five dollars in repairs were made that first year.  "The Dublin Times", edited by Mr. Hicks often made snide remarks about "The Colville", calling her "that North Carolina Tub".  Hicks cried foul about the Oconee River Steamboat Company's exclusive contract to haul freight to and from the Central Georgia Railroad.  When "The Colville" sunk in shallow water on September 19, 1883, Hicks lamented her return and regretted that she failed to commit suicide. The sinking was a mystery which resulted in the loss of three to four hundred dollars to the freight and furniture on the boat.  The "Cyclone" was tied to the "Colville" and met a similar fate.

Competition for the hauling of freight heated up.  The Dublin and Wrightsville Railroad was being built from Wrightsville to Dublin. Capt. Henry built a 16 by 80 foot barge to haul 100 bales of cotton during low water.  The railroad reached Dublin in September of 1886.  The Dublin and Wrightsville Railroad, which later merged with the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad, was owned by the Central of Georgia.  Raoul Station on the Central was abolished.  The railroad entered into an agreement with the Oconee River Steamboat Company that allowed the riverboats to use the rail facilities in Dublin in exchange for agreeing to haul goods between Dublin and Mt. Vernon only.   When the W&T built its railroad bridge and the county its passenger bridge, the bridges were built to turn their center spans to allow the steamers to pass through. Boat landings were established at the present site of Riverwalk Park, the railroad bridge, and a block below the railroad bridge.

Changes were being made in the Oconee River Steamboat Company.  Captain Henry was succeeded by Jeff D. Roberson, followed by T.B. Hicks, George B. Pope and A.B. Jones. "The Laurens" sunk after a collision with a log raft  at a double bend in the river on June 9, 1887.  The company suffered a complete loss of $10,000.  Engineer John Graham and pilot Norman McCall were carrying 185 barrels of rosin.  Norman McCall, minister of the First African Baptist Church, was known to be a giant of a man.  McCall anchored a pole in the river and managed to save 150 barrels by retrieving the barrels and swimming to the surface while holding on to the pole.  The company temporarily secured a new boat. With "The Colville" being sold and put on the Ocmulgee River, The Oconee River Steamboat Company went out of business, selling its wharf to Foster and McMillan, brick manufacturers, on July 15, 1887. 

J.C. Blaine, master boat builder of Columbus, Georgia, was hired to construct a new boat for Dublin in the late winter of 1887.  The new boat was designed to hold 60 bales of cotton in 15 inches of water.  It was a sternwheeler with two engines, a boiler, and two smoke stacks.  The 115 foot long boat was constructed from Laurens County timbers at the Dublin Ferry with its engines being built at the Columbus Iron Works.  Unfortunately the name of the boat is not known.

A new company, The Louisa Steamboat Company, was incorporated on September 21, 1891.  The organizers included J.D. and M.E. Robeson of Laurens County.  The bulk of the $10,000.00 in capital stock was provided by H.W. Howard of New Hanover County, W.S. Cook, W.A. Robeson, R.M. Nimocks and R.H. Tomlinson of Cumberland County, North Carolina.  The Louisa Company was authorized to ply the waters between Dublin and Red Bluff, Montgomery County.  Other routes, if expedient and profitable, were authorized by the Georgia Legislature.  H.W. Howard was the original president of the company with J.D. Robeson and M.E. Robeson serving on the board of directors.  (Louisa left)

"The Gypsy" and "The Rover" were built by the Forest and Stream Club, but were used by Col. Stubbs for hauling freight.  Captain William Willard Ward was in command.  Capt. Ward, a native of Florida, was one of the few men of Laurens County to enlist in the army during  the Spanish American War.  In 1901, Capt. Ward went in to the business under the name of the Gem City Steamboat Company.    "The Gypsy", the main boat of the Gem City Company was launched in late July of 1901.  Capt. Ward went into business with John Miller Graham. Graham, a native of Laurens,  was unequalled in Georgia for his skill in building light draught boats used on the upper portions of southeastern rivers.  Graham built or supervised the building of most of the light draught steamers used in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina during this period.  

The Rover

The railroads were now too strong with three railroads coming into Dublin and two more on the way.  Competition  between the steamboats and the railroads was never more heated than during the summer of 1902.  The Macon, Dublin, and Savannah Railroad decided to stop accepting shipments of freight at their dock on the river just below the railroad bridge.  Captains Ward and Graham sought and were granted an injunction which required the railroad to repair the hoist and begin accepting deliveries from the steamboats.  While five railroads were bringing in freight into Dublin, "The Rover" of the Louisa Steamboat Company,  remained tied up at Blackshear's Ferry.  The water level at Dublin was 14 inches below zero.  No boats could move.  

When they boats were moving there were often tragic and severe consequences.  Wash Jenkins, an employee of the Louisa Steamboat Company drowned while attempting to carry a barrell of water from the shore to "The City of Dublin."  Two months later the boat sunk after striking a rock at the mouth of Deep Creek opposite Cow Hell Swamp.  The boat was refloated only to sink two weeks later.  Once again the boat was refloated by plugging the hole with a mattress and pumping the water out.

The Rover

It was 1906.  There were good times and bad times.  "The Rover" sunk in the spring and was a total loss.  In Mid October, "The R.C. Henry" sunk at Bonnie Clabber.  The owners enlisted to the aid of "The Southland", the boat of the Simmons Lumber Company - later the Southland Lumber Company. "The Southland" was put into freight service until a new boat could be secured. The Louisa Steamboat Company with no boats followed the course of the Gem City Steamboat Company and went out of business.  Dublin was without a boat.  The good news was the renewed interest by Congressmen W.W. Brantley and Thomas Hardwick along with Senator A.S. Clay in securing funds for improvement of river navigation.

The Oconee River Association was formed in a meeting at Dublin in November, 1906.  The group requested $110,000.00 to improve the river, citing the loss of two boats during the previous six months. While the meeting was going on, Capt. P. J. Keating continued to dynamite snags along the river.   It had been nearly two decades since local congressmen James H. Blount and Charles F. Crisp secured federal money to help in clearing the river. 

Dublin's businessmen got busy and formed a new boat company.  J.E. Smith, Jr., William Bales, O.G. Sparks, J.R. Broadhurst, D.S. Brandon, E.R. Orr, D.L. Emerson, and Izzie Bashinski formed the Dublin Navigation Company.  They hired Capt. Ward to pilot their new boat.  The organizers entered into an agreement with the Altamaha Navigation Company to keep freight moving to and from the Altamaha along the Oconee River.  Before a new boat could be constructed the Altamaha Company sent "The Nan Elizabeth" on a temporary basis.  The Dublin Navigation Company in short order completed "The New Dublin" once again giving Dublin its own boat.  The boat was pronounced the best boat ever built on the river.  "The New Dublin" was sold in 1909 and was put into service on the Savannah River. "The Nan Elizabeth" returned to Dublin.  The legendary boat builder, John M. Graham,  died just before Christmas.  

John M. Graham

As Dublin and Laurens County prospered, pleasure trips along the Oconee were common.   Many of the freighters were quickly converted into passenger boats.   J.A. Jackson, owner of "The Nina" gave trips up the Oconee to the mouth of Big Creek, a favorite swimming hole. Champagne, claret, and other liquids were served.   When a large group of visitors came to town they were often treated to boat rides down the river to the mouth of Turkey Creek, Well Springs, or Bonnie Clabber.  The ladies of the Episcopal Church sponsored a moonlight boat ride on the Oconee.  The price of a ticket was 50 cents. With the sinking of the unsinkable "Titanic" in 1912, river steamboats were no longer allowed to carry passengers on excursions.

The Katie 

Mrs. Harry Hill had fond memories of her trip up the Oconee River from Lothair to Dublin.  In a November 21, 1963 article, Mrs. Hill remembered riding on “The City of Dublin” from Poor Robin Landing.  “Captain Fitchett was the master of the vessel and stopped every few miles to take on cords of wood for his wood burner and freight to transport to Dublin.  She fondly recalled the delicious meals cooked by Uncle Joe Hudson, who later owned a popular restaurant on North Jefferson Street.  “Uncle Joe and Captain Fitchett kept a flock on hens on board for eggs to serve the passengers and crew, and every time the boat docked they would let the chickens off.  When it came time to pull anchor the whistle would blow and the hens would obediently run scramblingly and squawkingly back to the boat and into the pen provided for them,” Mrs. Hill said.

Dublin experienced a tremendous industrial growth during the first decade of the 20th century.  Many of the companies involved in wood and wood products used their own boats. "The Nan Chappell" was put into service by the Georgia Cooperate Company in January of 1910.  The Simmons Lumber Company and its successor, The Southland Lumber Company used their own boat, "The Southland" to bring in hardwoods cut from the banks of the Oconee.  J.A. Kelley, Dublin's premier builder, built "The Nan Allen" for the stave plant to ship its hardwood timbers in and the barrel staves out to market. Kelley also built the last boat, "The Katherine S." which made its maiden voyage in 1917.  "The Dorothy T", the new steamer of the Southern Cotton Oil Company, was commissioned here in 1923.  Emily Rentz, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. A.T. Coleman, christened the boat which was named for Dorothy Tennille, daughter of the Vice President of the Southern Cotton Oil Company.  It was used for hauling timber to the stave mill of the  cooperage department of the company. Capt. Woolvin was in charge of the construction with help from Capt. W.W. Ward.  

J.E. Smith, Jr., Dublin's premier businessman, formed his own company, The Oconee Navigation Company in 1911.  A new steamer was built and named in honor of Smith's daughter, Clyde.  "The Clyde S" was captained by J.F. Pritchett and W.W. Mobley.  The 96 feet by 24 feet boat with a tonnage capacity of 124 tons was built by W.W. Ward.  Clyde Smith, daughter of the company president, christened the new boat with a bottle of grape juice, since she was a member of the temperance movement. It worked in connection with "The Katie C.".  Within two months the boat nearly sank when it struck a snag in the river.  A hole in the boat was plugged with a mattress but nearly 200 sacks of guano were lost.  "The Clyde S." was rebuilt in 1915, making it the first boat designed especially to carry passengers.  Before long "The Clyde S." met her inevitable fate.  She was beached on the east bank of the Oconee just below the ferry.  Today you catch a glimpse of her remains opposite the  River Walk.

The river men made one last attempt to improve river navigation with the organization of the Oconee River Improvement Association in the winter of 1911.  During World War I and the severe economic depression which followed the old river boats died away.  During the next two decades one might see a pleasure boat or a boat loaded with plywood plying its way along the waters of the Oconee.  The sound of the whistles were gone forever.  

                 ALONG THE OCONEE
Ernest Camp

On down the noble Oconee they sped,
  The boats well rationed and freighted,
Under skies wondrous fair and serene overhead,
  Through winds with fragrance well weighted -
    Two human cargoes,
    From whose hearts then arose
  A greeting to friends and forgiveness for foes!

On past the white cypress, the willow and gum,
  On past the grand poplar supernal,
On, on with a song and a shout and a hum,
  With the shriek of a whistle infernal -
    On, on did they speed,
    Past the brush and the reed,
  To explore and behold scenic beauty indeed!

On past the broad acres, both fertile and grand,
  On past the by-brooks and the streams,
On past the broad bars of spotless white sand,
  On, on, on their journey of dreams -
    Of sin there was dearth,
    But the gladness and mirth
  Encircled the waters and painted the earth!

When the landing was reached and they rambled away,
  'Mongst the scenes of wild beauty around,
They thanked the great God for the birth of that day -
  For His works of nature profound;
    Then the birds up above -
    Both the mocking and dove,
  Burst out in a greeting of joy and of love!

Then the aged, bent cypress - historic sublime,
  Tall, towered above the old gum,
and majestic like poplars, the markers of time,
  Now swayed in an effort to hum;
    And the twisted bamboo,
    Prone to rock and to woo,
  But muttered in unison, "Remember me too!"

When at last, at a signal, they boarded the boats,
  To return on their trip of delight,
With uncovered heads and moss-entwined coats,
  They looked on the fair and the bright,
    And the zephyrs that strayed,
    Through the locks of the maid,
  Soon had on her cheeks rarest roses arrayed.

On, on, past the willow, now weeping with joy,
  On past the white cypress they sped,
On, on, with the hopes of the man and the boy,
  As the green leaves sighed for the dead -
    on, onward they pressed,
    With the sun to the west,
  As it gave benediction to the day it had blessed!

But the journey is over!  The whistles are blown;
  A loud, ringing cheer is now heard;
The passengers land, and the song of the bird,
  Now stilled, is rembered , I own,
    And the joy of that ride,
    In our hears will abide,
  For 'twas grand and inspiring, and noble, beside!

(Boat ride given the County School Commissioners of Georgia, upon the Oconee River, Wednesday afternoon,
May 4, 1904, by the people of Dublin.)  

The Louisa


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