Saturday, August 22, 2015


 Stump Speaking in Dublin 

No one in late Nineteenth Century Georgia was more popular. During the War Between the States, General John Brown Gordon was one of General Robert E. Lee's most trusted lieutenants. After the war, Gordon staunchly fought reconstruction. Elected to the United States Senate in 1873, Senator Gordon, the first ex-Confederate to preside over a senate session, convinced his old enemy, President U.S. Grant, to rid Georgia and the rest of the South of corrupt northern officials who had been placed in power by Grant's successor, Andrew Johnson. He would return to Capital Hill in 1891, but in 1886, Gordon found himself embattled once again, not on the battlefields of Virginia, but in the most vicious of all war like combat, state politics. 

  With all of his popularity throughout the state, Senator Brown couldn't garner the support of Laurens Countians during his first gubernatorial campaign. The day - June 22, 1886. The occasion - a political speech by Senator Gordon. The location - the yard of the First Baptist Church in Dublin. 

The politicos of Dublin and Laurens County should have seen it coming. That morning it looked as if was going to rain. Supporters of Gordon's opponent, Senator Augustus O. Bacon, wanted to stage a rally of their own that day. Major Hanson of Macon had arrived the day before in hopes of espousing the platform of Senator Bacon. Bacon's men acknowledged that the day would belong to Senator Gordon, but requested that once the senator had finished his oratory, that their man be allowed to address the crowd. At first, the Gordon committee refused, though they were offered full reimbursement for the cost of the stand and seats. So the Bacon men retorted that they would stage a rally of their own in the courthouse at 11:00 a.m. In an act of political respect, a consideration still in affect in those days, Major Hanson vetoed the suggestion stating that all the crowd gathering to hear Senator Gordon would have gone home before the main speech was scheduled to start. 

It was 9:00 o'clock in the morning and Senator Gordon was not at the Dublin and Wrightsville Railroad depot on the east side of the river. It was later reported that the train had an accident up the line and that the honored guest and widely heralded general was relegated to riding a mule into town. Gordon finally arrived around 1:00 o'clock, a mere hour before his speech was scheduled to begin. Upon his arrival, Gordon was adamant that no one, including Major Hanson, would be allowed to speak for Bacon on his stand. Reportedly, Gordon promised that if Hanson was allowed to speak, "I will contact my committee in Atlanta to send a man after Major Bacon at his every appointment and make it hot for him." Several hundred men gathered around the grounds of the church to hear the Senator speak. 

Most of them actually came to hear Major Hanson. County Court Judge Mercer Haynes, a former mayor and postmaster of Dublin, and Confederate veteran, rose to introduce the illustrious guest. Gordon rose to speak. His reception chilled the hot air of the first day of summer. People in the crowd asked questions. Gordon responded petulantly. To make matters worse, two of Gordon's supporters, inebriated with several swallows of liquor, interrupted the General frequently and in an ugly and idiotic manner, which only further instigated the crowd to become even more indignant. 

After about twenty minutes, Gordon's eloquent speech turned into rambling gibberish. Temperatures and tempers were rising. All of the shady spots were covered with people. Gordon's voice faltered. He called for a water glass with sugar and honey added to help him get the words out of his raspy throat. During the next two hours, Senator Gordon attempted to rebut the charges of which he had be condemned for during the campaign. Gordon challenged his hecklers by asking that if he was guilty that he "be buried beneath an avalanche of votes and that he be driven from the society of decent and honorable men." 

Just when he nothing more to say, or couldn't say anything more, Gordon turned to James B. Sanders, a young attorney who had just moved to Dublin to practice law, pulled on his coat sleeve and then jerked it. "Now make your remarks; go on; now is the time," Gordon ordered as he remained on the standing, talking until Sanders began to speak. Bacon backers protested loudly, yelling," Hanson! Hanson! Hanson!" Gordon and the nervous Sanders refused to yield the stand. The overwhelmingly Bacon crowd urged Hanson to take the stand, some even volunteering to "clear the way." Owing to his love of peace, Hanson declined the violent alternative and waited for the commotion to subside. Dr. R. H. Hightower yelled out, "Then we'll go to the courthouse!" Captain Rollin A. Stanley, the local president of the Bacon club, spoke out that in the interest of good order that Major would be better served by leaving and making his remarks elsewhere. 

Hanson agreed. Those who wanted to hear about their man raced to the courthouse. Within five minutes, there were only about forty or fifty people left before the grandstand. One Bacon supporter, Attorney T.L. Griner, remained to chastize Senator Gordon. Amid cries of "You're killing time" and "That's your way," Griner protested, "The committee promised us the stand!" Gordon and Griner went back and forth "They did! - They didn't." 

An announcement was made that a reception was going to be held in front of the stand. When no one approached, aides and supporters nudged those still remaining to step forward. Gordon greeted the lingerers in his own personal and amiable way by placing his left hand on their shoulders and saying something gracious to them. Those who remained slowly began to ease away. Gordon, in an effort to keep the reception going, re-shook the hands of those still on the stands. Within thirty minutes, virtually no one was left. Seeing that his continuing presence was futile, Gordon joined his escorts and retreated back to Wrightsville. 

Major Hanson spoke for ninety minutes to an agreeable and cheering crowd. He attacked Gordon for being a privy counselor to Victor Newcomb, a railroad speculator and a convict lessee. 

A mass meeting was held at the courthouse on July 6, 1886. Bacon tallied 360 Democratic votes and Gordon managed to garner only 248. John T. Chappell, Louis C. Perry, and Thomas B. Felder, Jr. were elected as delegates committed to Bacon. Statewide, Gordon won the Democratic nomination by a count of 252 to 74. With no Republican candidate of any consequence, Gordon was assured of winning the election in November.

In the end, Gordon triumphed, despite the vicious opposition he faced under the shade trees of the First Baptist Church and which must have seemingly been as fierce as that he received from the Army of the Potomac some twenty years before. Within 18 years, Gordon would die. All was forgiven as thousands of Dubliners and Laurens Countians gathered inside and outside the sanctuary of the First Methodist Church for a memorial service to honor one of Georgia's greatest heroes of the 19th Century. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


An Oral History

They were born during the last years before the Civil War divided America.  They grew up during the horror of that war and the hard times which followed.  From those primitive times, the Stevens sisters witnessed a most miraculous transformation in America.  During their long lives, the sisters witnessed the coming of electric lights, radio and television.  They were transported by horses, railroads, automobiles and airplanes.  This is their story.

Anna, (left)  the eldest daughter of Joseph E. Stevens was born in Laurens County on October 11, 1859.  Ella, the youngest daughter, was born on January 28, 1861 as the legislatures of the Southern states were debating the issue of secession.  Too young to understand the cataclysm whirling around them, the girls were not too young to know that their father, a corporal of Co. C. of the 57th Georgia infantry, was killed near Vicksburg, Mississippi while on picket duty.  Their mother, Margaret,  was a daughter of Edwin and Malinda Holmes.

The Stevens girls  were born and raised reared in  Dublin. Their father, whom they barely remembered, came here in the mid 1930s.  Before he enlisted in the Confederate Army, he helped to build the court house, which was still standing until the 1930s and was known as the Court Square Hotel.

Way back in the autumn of 1931, the sisters sat down with a Dublin Courier Herald writer to reminisce about the days of their youth, long ago in Dublin, Georgia.  That account was published in the November 14, 1931 edition of the Dublin Courier Herald:

There was only one physician, Dr. Hudson, who was followed by Dr. Harris Fischer and Dr. Peyton Douglas.  There were only two church denominations here in our youth, Baptist and Methodist with only one church Building. The building stood on the same place where the First Baptist church now stands.  When the city was ready to build a new church, the old building was razed and given to the colored people to build them a church, which was used for a number of years for both worship and school purposes.

             There was only one school building in the city at that time, which stood on the site where the High School Building now stands.  It was still being used when Horace and  Effie Geffcken reached the school age and they entered their school life there. The mail service was poor at that time.  It was sometimes brought on horseback or in a buggy from Toomsboro, as that was the nearest railroad station. The mail was often delayed for several days at the time, especially in rainy weather as there was no bridge across Hunger and Hardship Creek.

              In 1871, the mother of these two women died. They remember and can give the names of each person who lived in Dublin at that time. The list follows:  Col. E.C. Corbett and family; Charlton Smith, farmer; Col. James Thomas, Proprietor of the Old Troop Hotel; Henry Herrman, merchant; William Tillery, Shoemaker; Elijah Benton, tax receiver. F.H. Rowe, merchant; George Currell, farmer and merchant; Col. Rivers, lawyer; Col. W.S. Ramsay, Baptist minister and school teacher; R.A. Stanley, Lawyer: Bryant Herndon, Dr. Douglass; Dr. Fisher, Ben Dixon, farmer; John Keen, Capt. Hardy Smith ordinary; Mike Burch, Wright Stanley, William Hester, W. E. Geffcken, father of Anna Geffcken's husband; James Reinhardt, merchant; L.C. Perry, T.P. Sarchett, merchant; W. J. Scarborough, Mr. Hollaway, T.H. Rowe, merchant; J.T. Duncan, merchant; Col. J.M. Stubbs, lawyer, William Pope, merchant.  Dr. Fischer had the only drug store in the city at theat time.

           There is an interesting story about the Court  Square Hotel  It is bound up in the lives of its builder, Mr. Stevens and his descendant.  It has already been stated that the building first served as a court house.  Later it was moved and became a clinic, managed by Dr. Edmundson and Dr. Thompson.  About this time, Mrs. Spivey's youngest daughter, Bonnie Belle granddaughter of the builder finished a course in nursing at the Rawlings Sanitarium in Sandersville and  came back home and located.  In a day or two she was called on duty by Dr. E.B. Claxton on her first case and made

her first dollar within its walls


             One day, Dan Smith decided to ride out and see the train.  He took a fine horse, one which had never seen a train and rode bravely forth.  The place to see the train was finally reached and Mr. Smith enjoyed the sight immensely.  Not so the horse.  The animal became very hard to hold and began acting in a very strange manner.  Mr. Smith thought nothing of it and continued to hold the animal, so it would not run away.  In a few minutes the horse began to tremble and a little later fell to the ground, frightened to death.

              Another happening of the past, which concerns Mrs. Spivey and Mrs. Geffcken, occurred during the Civil War.  When Jefferson Davis passed through Dublin, he stopped under a china berry tree near their mother's house. She was greatly upset thinking that the men were Yankees.  She was almost ready to flee to safety when the men passed on.  Later in the same day, after she had forgotten her fright, she saw another group of men nearby and realized that they actually were Yankees, who were following Mr. Davis and his men. She was again afraid for her children and home, but soon discovered that even the enemy can be friendly at times,  for the blue-coated Yanks rescued her horse which had fallen into a well in front of the house.

The girls recollected that they went to school in the same building that their father did.  Mr. Stevens built his house on the spot of the former Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad Depot at the intersection of South Jefferson and Marion Street.  At the end of the block up the hill toward the courthouse was the home of John Dasher which was located on the future of the First National Bank Building and the new location of Georgia Military College.

Anna, the eldest daughter,  She married Mr. William Frederick Geffcken, a South Carolinian carpenter and inventor, who claimed to the youngest person in Laurens County to serve in the Confederate Army and died in 1923.  The Geffckens, who lived on Pine Street had three children: Mrs. Effie M. Fort of Dublin and Horace and Frederick Geffcken of Portsmouth, Va.  Anna died on January 28, 1951 and is buried in Norfolk, Virginia.

Ella, (left) the youngest Stevens girl, married A.K. Spivey, who died in 1911. The Spiveys, who lived on the corner of Gaines and Washington Street,  had four children;  O.W. Spivey, of Rebecca, Ga., Lavada, (Mrs. D.F.) Bush, Bonnie Belle (Mrs. W.R.) Wynn and J. Hilton Spivey of Atlanta. Ella, who died in 1934, three years after the Courier Herald interview, is buried in the cemetery of Bethlehem Baptist Church at Condor, near East Dublin.

The oral histories of the Stevens girls gave us some insight into how life was like in the decades following the Civil War, which ended 150 years ago.  Please take the time and sit down with a senior citizen and record the stories of their lives so that those who come after us can take a remarkable glimpse back into our past.


As the construction of a new bridge over the Oconee River begins at a place known as Blackshear’s Ferry, let us take a look back at some of the legends and mysteries of one of Laurens County’s most ancient of landmarks.

The first of a series of ferries owned by War of 1812 General David Blackshear and his sons came into operation in 1808.  Two centuries later, eroded by rushing waters,  remnants of this mystical place still remain.  Most of the people who ever rode across the rushing waters on the rickety ferry boat are gone now.    For those who did, their recollections of their youth have now faded.  Like the ancient proverb says, Blackshear’s Ferry never gives its secrets.”  So, let us take a look at some the ancient mysteries which surround Blackshear’s Ferry, some four crow fly miles north of Dublin on the Oconee River.

Rock Shoals

One of the most enduring mysteries goes back more than four centuries.  English colonists under John White settled on Roanoke Island along the coast of North Carolina in 1587.  When White returned three years later, he found the colony completely deserted, except a small sign on which was carved the word “Croatoan.”  One of the myriads of theories as to what happened to the lost colonists was that they traveled south into what would become Georgia some century and a half later.   Legend tellers would swear to you that these wanderers made their way across the Oconee River at the shoals, some quarter of a mile down the river.  While the legend sounds good, like many legends do, you decide for yourself, though logically this legend is probably not true.

Even more cryptic is the legend of the “Indian Spring Rock.”    Julia Thweatt Blackshear saw the rock.  She described it as four feet high and seven feet long.  One of the sides of the rock, which lies about a mile north of the ferry, has been carved as smooth as if were cut by a marble cutter.  Mrs. Blackshear reported that across the face there are written, or carved, mysterious hieroglyphic letters.    Likened to Egyptian characters, these letters have been said to form a long line across the entire surface of the rock.  This legend is true.  What remains a mystery is where the rock is.  Did Mrs. Blackshear mean true north, which would put the rock somewhere in the vicinity of Springfield, the home of General David Blackshear.  Or did she mean, north along the river near where Blackshear’s original ferry once was located?  If so, on which bank did she mean?    For all you mystery solvers, this is one you solve.  The trouble is, with the ever changing course of the river, the legendary “Indian Spring Rock,” may now be submerged waiting for millennia before someone deciphers its ancient message.

Interestingly just down the river from the ferry on the eastern bank of the river is another mysterious rock.  Lying on the steep slopes of Carr’s Bluff is a limestone rock similar in size, but not in shape.  Lying on its side, the rock resembles half of a perfectly split  elongated heart.    While there are no markings on this rock, which is similar in size, it is puzzling how this massive rock came to rest some fifty feet up the side of a near cliff.     This rock does exist. The question remains, “How did it get there?  Was it rolled down the cliff as an anchor  by Jarred  Trammel and James Beatty, who established their own ferry there at the point where the ancient Lower Uchee Trail crossed the Oconee River on it way from the Creek Indian lands in southern Alabama northeasterly to the area around present day Augusta on the Savannah River?  


If you walk down the western bank of the Oconee you will find a ditch which runs parallel with the river and at times sinks to a depth of more than twenty feet from the top of the river bank.  The trench, which spans out as wide as a hundred feet, runs in a southwesterly direction from the ferry down to the point where the Lower Uchee Trail intersects with the river bank at a tall bluff at Carr’s Shoals.


This is a mystery solved.  In the early decades of the 20th Century, when river traffic was beginning to wind down, but when electric power needs were begin to swell, some thinkers proposed the idea of a canal from the area around the ferry down to Dublin.  The canal would be filled with water.   The proponents believed that since water flowed downhill that the resulting drop in elevation along the route could be utilized to generate electricity at the southern end of the canal.    They also believed that in times of raging high waters and rocky low waters,  flat boats, loaded with cotton and other valuable commodities could be carried by horse and mule teams along a tow path.  To increase and diminish the flow of water along the canal, the builders built gates, one of which can still be seen about half way down the path.  The project failed for the lack of money and utility.

Dr. Arthur Kelly, esteemed archaeologist of the Smithsonian Institution, called them “the most exciting and wonderful Indian mounds that he had seen on his exploration of the Oconee River.”  Situated near the river crossing was the ancient Indian village of Ocute.  It was here in 1934, where Dr. Kelly and his party found an old Indian burying ground with at least eighty to one hundred graves.  Strewn and scattered across the ground were arrowheads and pottery deemed by Kelley as “entirely different from any others found in Indian mounds across the state.

But just where were these mounds?  Were they at the crossing site, which to his dying day Kelly, and his colleagues,  believed was where the Spanish explorer crossed the Oconee in his journey in 1540.  Were they further upstream or downstream nearer the Country Club?    Even though Dr. Kelly warned Dubliners about commercial exploitation of the site and challenged them to raise a mere two hundred dollars to help establish a fund to explore and document the site in addition to Federal help with the labor and volunteer help by the ladies of the John Laurens Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Alas, Dr. Kelly went off to Macon to survey what became the Ocmulgee National Monument.  The legendary village of Ocute, or whatever it may have been called, is still there, just waiting for the time when the next archaeologist comes along to reveal the truth about what was really there.

Julia Blackshear in her  article in The History of Laurens County, 1807-1941 names the village as Kitchee, which according to her description would have located just to the north of the Dublin Country Club.  She tells the story of the time when the final council of the residents of Kitchee was held.  Three aged Indians appeared before the great white chief, General David Blackshear, and asked his permission to allow them to remain on the lands of the ancestors and to guard their graves until their deaths.  The General graciously granted their requests and allowed the ancient and honorable  scions to live there in peace.  When the last of the trio died, the residents of the community buried him along the side the other two.    Just where this ancient burial ground lies  remains a mystery, perhaps for the remainder of time.

The area around Blackshear’s Ferry remains an ancient and mysterious place.  Please remember that the area is privately owned and to ask permission before visitation.  Despite the thoughtless efforts of the apathetic, the river, thanks to conscientious sportsmen and river keepers, remains virtually pristine. And keeping it that way along with respecting the remains of a long ago people should always be our goal.  

The Ancient Tumuli at Fish Trap Cut

Laurens County has several documented archaeological sites along with numerous other areas where projectile points and pottery pieces have been found.  The most well known site is the twin mound site at Fish Trap Cut.  This ancient landmark, centered on the two mounds, was occupied by various groups of Native Americans for as many as twenty centuries and as many as twelve thousand years.

The major period of occupation seems to be during the Mississippian period, with minor occupations during the early and late Archaic Periods and the Woodland Period.   Some time in the 9th Century A.D., a culture of Native Americans began to flourish throughout the valley of the mighty Mississippi River.

The culture which lasted for seven centuries stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Typical of the culture were people who constructed small to massive earthworks for homes, temples and burial grounds.

The Fish Trap Cut  site, typical of a Mississippian site, is located on the west bank of the Oconee River at a point 150  meters wide with a broad flood plain of two miles in width -  the largest section within 30 miles in either direction. The soil there  is Norfolk Sandy loam, a rare type of soil.

There are no signs of Middle Woodland Swift Creek  occupation at the site.  There are minor signs of a Lamar/Bell occupation on the northern edge of the site.  Dr. Mark Williams concluded that the site may have been used  as a camp for people who were migrating south toward the Spanish settlements on the Georgia Coast and Florida during the sixteenth century.  The site may have been the political center of the chiefdoms of the lower Oconee Valley.

The lower mound on the southern end of the site is most likely a ceremonial mound. Recent probes have found very little evidence of any type of cultural material in the mound, which has a diameter of 100 feet at the top and 160 feet at its base.   The mound is flat topped with an average height of three meters and is made of red clay with a thirty inch cover of sand.

The upper mound was most likely the home of the chief and was probably built first. Today it stands in grove of hardwoods and is only two meters in height but appears moderately larger than the lower mound due to its location on a bluff overlooking the river.  Much more cultural material has been found in the upper mound, which has a commanding view of the cut in the river’s edge.

An examination of river maps prepared near the end of the 19th century indicate that the cut was actually the old river bed and not a totally man-made feature.  It is possible that the cut was formed by connecting the riverbank with the upper end of an island in the middle of the river.

After his examination of the site in 1994, Dr. Mark Williams of the University of Georgia determined that the mounds were built during a period from 1200 to 1350 A.D.  It is most likely that the mounds were only inhabited for a period of 50 to 75 years at the most.  The site would have normally been inhabited by 50 to 75 persons. Firewood, the only source of fuel for fires, was soon decimated for a radius of miles.  The people would then move to another site while the vegetation at the old site regenerated.  

Some archaeologists believe that the inhabitants would also be forced to move when their village became infested with insects and in particular, fleas.

The society was built around a "talwa" or "okli" or chiefdom.   The chief was usually an elder member of the community and commanded the respect and honor of all. He served not only as leader, but as a judge and lawmaker.  In order to keep the large number of people under control these chiefs were afforded the status of a diety.

Investigations of the distances between mound sites along the Oconee River valley have revealed an interesting fact.  Nearly all of the mound sites are almost exactly twenty eight miles apart.  The mounds at Fish Trap Cut are 60 kilometers miles below the Shinholster Mound site.  The mounds are almost 60 kilometers above the legendary village site at the junction of the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers in lower Telfair County.

Villages were laid out with some forms of fortification ranging from light to heavy.  Some villages used ditches and small earthworks while larger villages used wooden palisades.  The center of the town was usually a plaza surrounded by public buildings and the dwellings of the townspeople. Dr. Williams and his team found evidence that a village was located between the mounds beginning around 100 B.C.

The village was laid in a circular pattern about two to three hundred meters in diameter with at least eight houses.  The pottery shards found here are those from the Deptford period.  Deptford period pottery was predominant during the latter part of the early woodland period. The village, 200 meters wide and 300 meters long,  is the earliest known Woodland village site in Georgia.

The majority of the Fish Trap Cut site, named the Sawyer site, by Dr. Williams, is owned by the Laurens County Sportsmen’s Club.  The upper end, including the upper mound, is owned by the Archeological Conservancy, based in New Mexico.

The site at Fish Trap Cut is one of only two places in Laurens County which are currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  To travel to the site, travel south from the Laurens County Courthouse on Georgia Highway 19.  Cross Interstate Highway 16 (take exit 52 if traveling along I-16) and take Sportsmen’s Club Road (first paved road on the left) and follow it to the river.   The upper mound is on your left and the lower mound is on your right in the club’s complex.  Please contact the site manager before entering the site.

When you visit the mounds, remember they are one of our most treasured cultural resources and as such, should be treated with utmost dignity and respect.  Digging on the site for artifacts is absolutely prohibited by Georgia law.  If you want to look for arrow heads  (points) there are virtually hundreds, if not thousands, of places to find them throughout the county.


Laurens County, Georgia's Revolutionary War Veterans' graves

The Known Graves of Laurens County's soldiers of the American Revolution.  Courtesy of Loree Beacham and Billy Beacham, the Laurens  County Historical Society and the Find A Grave project.

Gen. David Blackshear
War of 1812
Private, N.C. Militia
Blackshear Cemetery

Peter Calloway
Pvt. N.C. Militia
Blackshear Cemetery

Benjamin Darcy/Darsey
Pvt. Georgia Militia
Buckhorn Methodist Church

James Darcy/Darsey
Lt. Georgia Militia
Buckhorn Methodist Church

William Darcy/Darsey
Major Georgia Militia
Buckhorn Methodist Church 

The Darcys/Darseys
Buckhorn Church

John Shine
North Carolina Militia
Blackshear Cemetery



For most of the Nineteenth Century the pastures of Laurens County and its neighboring counties  were covered with sheep. The sheep came to this area as a result of the influx of Scottish Highlander families into east and southeast Central Georgia in the decades following the War of 1812.   While no records of the numbers of sheep exist prior to 1850, many sheep grazed on the Wiregrass lands along with the cattle brought in by the Scots.

While cotton was a major cash crop of our area, wool production continued to grow until the beginning of the Civil War.  Most of the uniforms of Georgia's Confederate soldiers were made from wool and not cotton.

In 1850, the United States began taking a census of agricultural activities for the first time.  During that year there were 7606 head of sheep.  Forty one farmers had over fifty  head.  Sixteen of those owned more than one hundred.  The largest sheep farmers were those men who owned the largest plantations.  Samuel Yopp had five hundred sheep on his plantation between Dublin and Dudley. That year, the sheep produced a half ton of wool.  Nathan Tucker, a large plantation owner in the extreme northeastern corner of the county had 366.  Freeman H. Rowe and Gov. George M. Troup had over two hundred head each. Other farmers who had over hundred head were David Harvard, James Stewart, E.H. Blackshear, Reuben Warren, A.C. Hampton, Henry C. Fuqua, Samuel Miller, James Barlow, James Stanley, James White, and Josiah Gay.  

In 1860, there were slightly over one-half million sheep in Georgia.  In Laurens County the number had declined to just over six thousand.  The number of men who had one hundred head remain about the same.  While large sheep herds were scattered all over the county in 1850, a shift had already occurred by 1860.  The largest sheep owners were Nathan Tucker, James Stewart, Freeman Rowe, and Samuel Yopp.  The major sheep herds were located in three areas.  The first area was located along the northeastern line of the county from the current day Highway 80 northwest to the Buckeye Road.  Large sheep farmers in this area were A.J. Hilburn, Dougal Stewart, Alexander Graham, Aaron Odom, C.S. Guyton, Nathan Tucker, and E.H. Blackshear.  These seven men owned twenty seven percent of the sheep in the county.  Another concentrated area was along the southwestern line of the county from the Cadwell area northeast toward Montrose.  Large sheep farmers in this area were John White, Benjamin Burch, Robert Faircloth, Alcy Faulk, Allen Thompson, Hayden Hughes, Samuel Yopp, and John W. Yopp.  These men owned twenty percent of the county's sheep.  One other large sheep farmer was Freeman H. Rowe, whose farm was located at the southern tip of Dublin from the Oconee River west to Telfair Street.

During the Civil War and its aftermath, the number of sheep in Georgia plummeted to sixty percent of its pre-war level.  On the other hand, the number in Laurens County rose to 8502 in the 1870 Census.  Slightly more than eleven tons of wool was clipped in the year preceding the census.  The number of sheep was only slightly less than the number of cattle and swine.

Nineteen men and one woman, Mrs. Nathan Tucker,  owned over a hundred head of sheep in 1870.  The largest farmers in the county were James Stewart and John White who each owned five hundred.  James Stewart clipped fifteen hundred pounds of wool, while John White reported that he had not clipped any.  Aaron Odom was the third largest farmer with 450.  Sheep farmers who were increasing their herds were Vaughn Hilbun, Josiah Gay, J.T. Rogers, U.G.B. Hogan, Samuel Roach, David Alligood, J.G.F. Clark, John Wynn, Benjamin Burch, Wright Nobles, Rachel Robinson, and James Herndon.

In 1880, another dramatic shift began to occur in sheep farming in Laurens County.  Only Warren Carter, Duncan Graham, and John Holmes had more than seventy five sheep in the northeastern part of the county.  Production in northwestern and southeastern Laurens County was minimal.  Hardy Alligood of Hampton Mills District had thirteen hundred head with nearly four hundred lambs being born during the year.  Most of the large sheep farms were then located in the Pinetuckey District which encompassed the southern quadrant of the county.  Alfred Burch had slightly over one thousand  head while William Burch had seven hundred head.  Other large farmers were Benjamin Burch, Ben Burch, Hardy Gay, James B. Gay, Wm. B.F. Daniel, John McLendon, John White, John G.F. Clark, John Grinstead, and Jasper Gay.

Sheep herding became more profitable than cotton farming, despite the ravages of dogs who killed many of them.  Sheep thrived on the grasses in the open ranges of southeastern Central Georgia, known as "The Wiregrass."  The prime range stretched westerly from Bulloch County toward Telfair and Laurens and thence southwest toward Worth and Berrien Counties.  In 1890,  there were four hundred and forty thousand sheep in Georgia.  Thirteen thousand one hundred of them were in Laurens County.  The number of sheep outnumbered the total number of cattle, including milk cows.  It may have been a poor year since the wool clip had dropped to nine thousand pounds.  Within ten years,  the numbers of Georgia sheep decreased by forty percent.

Laurens County finished a close seventh in the number of sheep in Georgia in 1890 coming within seven hundred of fifth place.  Laurens County's position was mainly due to its tremendous size.  The leader was Emanuel County which had nearly twenty thousand and clipped over two and one half pounds per sheep compared to the three quarters of a pound produced by Laurens County's sheep.  Other counties ahead of Laurens were Bulloch, Berrien, Tattnall, Worth, and Telfair.  The forty two hundred sheep of Johnson County produced over two pounds of wool each.

The number of sheep began to steadily decline in the 1890s.  With the clearing of timber lands in southern Laurens County and the improved use of fertilizers, farmers turned to cotton which became more profitable than wool.  The practice of sheep herding  disappeared in our area.  Although long forgotten, it was a major part of the agricultural activity in our county for nearly six decades.

Friday, June 19, 2015



Sir Basil Hall made it his mission to travel throughout North America.  He sought out to explore and chronicle the former British colonies known as the United States of America.  Sir Basil made his way through the forests and streams of Middle Georgia during his journeys in America in 1827 and 1828.

Basil Hall was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on the last day of 1788.  At the age of thirteen, Basil joined the Royal Navy.  While still in his teens, he was commissioned a Lieutenant.  In nearly all of his travels, Basil kept a journal of his daily activities.  Possessing an intense attitude for science, Hall gave details accounts of his observation of nature, as well as the cultures of the lands he visited.  The son of eminent geologist Sir James Hall of Dunglass, young Basil logged copious notes for future scientific papers.  Still in his twenties as a naval captain, Hall was one of the first officers of the British navy to visit Korea, writing of his travels to that far
eastern country as well as those in Japan and China.  In the 1820s, Captain Hall traveled along the western coasts of Mexico, Chili and Peru.     

Just after the Ides of March in 1828, Sir Hall arrived in the ancient city of Savannah.  He commented that the houses of Savannah lacked the charming piazzas and verandas of  her sister city of Charleston.  Though he admired the tasteful way in which the city had been laid out in squares, he lamented that her wide streets prevented the necessary amount of shade of the oak trees along the sidewalks.  Hall thought Savannah's designers would have been well advised to have copied the designs of the French planners of the city of New Orleans.   Hall traveled south along the coast to St. Simons and Darien, where his fellow countrymen had settled nearly a century before.  After several days, Hall and his guides traveled north toward Riceborough and Augusta.  

Traveling west from Yam Grandy Creek on the 24th day of March, Sir Basil's entourage reached the banks of the Oconee River, which he described as "a dirty stream."  He took dinner in a home in eastern Laurens County.  Their meal was somewhat forgettable.  Hall wrote, "When dinner was ready, we were favored with the company of the mistress of the house, who, however, neither ate, nor spoke, nor gave us one look of welcome; but sat at the top of the table, steadily watching all we did. The formality of this superintendence was sometimes not a little oppressive."

Upon his arrival in Dublin on the morning of March 26, 1828,  Sir Basil immediately saw the tell tale signs of a withering town which he deemed to be "the result of mushroom growth of rapid and unthinking speculation."  Hall wrote in his journal, "The inhabitants of some of these juvenile but decaying towns explained to me, that much of the evil which I saw arose from the unfortunate description of their laboring population."  Hall noticed that whites worked, as they expressed to him, with a clog around their feet, like convicts.  "We sir," said a worker, "we are the slaves, not the blacks; we cannot make them work as men ought to work, neither can we get rid of them, nor supply their place with better subjects; they hang about us, and grow up, increasing and multiplying our curses.  They are the only people who do not care how things go on.  You see them always happy, and they have no wants."

Basil Hall concluded  that as his caravan moved further from the coast, the condition of the Negroes he observed improved dramatically.  "We often saw them working in the same field with white men; and I more than once saw a black man seated in the same room with a free person - a thing never dreamt of elsewhere.  They appeared to be better fed, and better dressed also, than the Negroes of the coast; and, from all I could hear, were fully better treated in all respects, and no son generally kept in ignorance.  The beneficial effects of this difference in the condition of the slaves, even to the masters, I was rejoiced to learn, was generally acknowledged."

The  journey continued in a westwardly direction.  As the sun was straight overhead  Hall reported the scenery change.  He noticed that they were leaving the seemingly endless pine barren.  Instead of the dreary forests, the woods were covered with "cheerful oak openings."   The fields were covered with Indian corn and upland cotton.  "The surface was very prettily diversified by irregular high grounds, and wooded glens, decked with peach trees, all in full blossom.  The dogwood, also, which bears a snow-white flower, was in great beauty, together with our old friend, the honey suckle, growing as a tall independent shrub, and giving much interest to the underwood part of the scenery.  

They entered Twiggs County after a long day's journey of more than thirty miles; the voyagers stopped at a house, which they had been told, was open to travelers.  No one appeared to be home. They found a young Negro boy, who found a cook, who with a little bribery, found the keys and opened the mansion.  Their hopes of a quiet meal vanquished when the daughter of the house sat quietly staring at them, as if they were a pack of wild beasts feeding.  Hall wrote, "the show, I presume, was too good to be lost, for the cook, shining from the kitchen, together with her black daughter, and her black son, and one or two more half-naked Negroes, came into the room, and continued moving about during all the time of dinner on one pretense or other, but, in reality, merely to see how the strange people ate their food."  

Sir Basil Hall arrived in Macon on March 27th.   Macon was just in its infancy.  Just as he had written about Dublin, Hall's comments about Macon were less than flattering.  After a brief stay, he proceeded on his westerly course toward Alabama.  In 1829, Sir Basil Hall published his accounts of his travels in America under the title of Travels in North America in the Years of 1827 and 1828. The work was blasted by American critics for his seemingly distressing views of American society.    

During his thirties, Hall traveled through southern Europe.  He compiled a nine volume work which he titled The Fragments of Voyages and Travels.    Basil Hall completed his last work Patchwork, a collection of sketches,  in 1841.  

Insanity marred the otherwise remarkable life of Sir Basil Hall.   For the last two years of his distinguished life, Basil Hall lived in torment.  He died on September 11, 1844 in Haslar Hospital in Portsmouth.     

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Reflections of Two Centuries


Out of towners often ask, "What's the greatest thing about Laurens County?" They ask, " Do you have anyone famous from here?" I say, "It depends on what you mean by famous." I also say "We are the home of the parents of several famous people." Then they say, "Did you ever have a Civil War battle fought here?" I respond by saying, "No but if the Union cavalry had been here one day earlier, Confederate President Jefferson Davis would have been captured here and there would be a monument and museum to commemorate the event. Then I go back to the first question and say, "Well, the greatest thing about Laurens County are her people." I tell them about the life long friendships we have, fellowships which transcend race, religion and social status. Then I tell them how when ever something really needs to get done, there are usually a group of people here that will get it done, though there is always a corps of doubters and apathetic "do nothings" here and for that matter everywhere.

But when my mind really concentrates, I think about the heroes and those who excel in their triumphs of the human spirit. I think about the heroes of the armed services. From the last great war of World War I, to the big war of World War II, to the so called "police action" in Korea, to the misunderstood and maligned war in the jungles of Vietnam, visions of heroes flash through my mind. From Congressional Medals of Honor, to Navy Crosses, to Silver Stars and bronze ones as well, Laurens Countians are unparalleled in their devotion to do their duty for their country. They do it well, with honor, with bravery and they do it in unrivaled numbers. Even in today's mix of regular army and national guard soldiers, more of the citizen soldiers come from this part of Georgia than any other section of the state. We have served our countries from Gettysburg to San Juan to Marne, to Normandy to Hue. No county, and I mean, no Georgia county can match the heroism, gallantry and bravery of Laurens.

Donning a uniform is not the only form of public service. We have served as governors, senators and representatives, both at state and federal levels. Laurens Countians have led the departments of Justice and Agriculture at the capital. Laurens Countians have served on both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of Georgia. Service is not left only to the politicians and the lawyers. Think of the thousands of us who have worked for decades as school teachers, most of the them for a mere pittance. Then there are the public safety employees who work, train and risk their lives while the rest of us sleep, eat and play. The next time you see one of these underappreciated and woefully underpaid public servants, shake their hand, buy their supper or simply say "thank you."
Do the math. If every one of the forty five thousand plus residents of this county performed only one hundred hours of volunteer service that would mean that there would be 4.5 million hours of helping each other. Anyone can do it. Everyone should do it. Don't just think about it. Do it!

Throw adversity at many Laurens Countians and you'll find a champion when the dust clears. Time after time, especially in recent years, the young men and women of Laurens County have shown the entire state that they are champions, not only in athletics, but champion kids as well. We have won world championships in baseball, football and basketball. We have played in the Masters Golf tournament, raced at Daytona and repaired the race cars of Grand Prix champions. Many have been named to All American teams across a broad spectrum of sports. One Dublin teacher was once billed as the fastest man in the world.

Champions of the business world can call Laurens County home. Georgia Power Company, the Atlanta Constitution, the Federal Reserve Board and the Coca Cola Company were led by folks from here. Two of us have served as Imperial Potentates of the Shrine of North America, who make it their mission to help needy children.

When all doubts are out of the shadows, the women of our county shine as brightly as anywhere else. For more than eight decades, the fairer sex have shown they can remarkable things. They were the first woman to be a Georgia judge, the first woman deputy attorney general, the first woman to head a medical department of a major black university and the first woman in Georgia to be a licensed dentist. One Laurens County girl founded the first sorority in the world. Another, Gen. Belinda "Brenda Higdon" Pinckney may retire from the United States Army as one of the highest ranking generals, either black or white, in the history of the Army. Heck, one Laurens County man, as governor of Georgia, appointed the first woman to serve in the United States Senate. Our women have been here from day one, garnering few headlines. If you look at IT, they are the reason the headlines were here in the first place. Hug your mom, kiss your wife and encourage your daughter, "You go girl, there's nothing you can't do."

Then there are the thinkers and those who excel when thinking outside the box is a good place to think. In the 1920s and 1930s alone, ten Laurens Countians were writing for major newspapers and magazines around the country. Dr. Reece Coleman helped to develop the first color camera to film the inside of a living human being. Capt. Joseph Logue, former director of the Naval Hospital, reacted to the complaints of the U.S. Marine Corps and ordered the first use of DDT to combat insect bites during World War II.

And last but not least, there are those who refuse tot believe "it can't be done." Take Claude Harvard for example. Harvard, a poor black kid, sold salve to buy a radio, likely the first one in the county. His desire to learn took him to the highest levels of inventions for Ford Motor Company in the 1930s. Major Herndon Cummings and his fellow pilots stood up to the entire U.S. Army and led to President Truman's decision to integrate the armed forces. For the younger crowd, one Laurens Countian convinced networks to air MTV, Nicklelodeon, ESPN 2 and the Movie Channel. Dr. Robert Shurney, who grew up in the care of his grandparents and served his country in war time, went to back to college in his thirties and became, according to many experts, the leading black scientist of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, all without the benefit of a high school diploma.

The list goes on and on, but no matter how many plaques, awards, citations, hall of fame elections and newspaper headlines we garner, Laurens Countians do what they do because it needs to be done or simply it is the right, or the only thing, they can do. What do all of these people and thousands of others have in common? They are all natives or at one time residents of Laurens County just like you. Ask yourself, can you be champion or a hero? Sure you can and it doesn't take anything special; just serve others in your community and your community will serve you. Don't seek recognition. Just do it, do it well and do it with a passion. The rewards will flow back to you beyond all imagination. As we end the first two hundred years of our county's history, I challenge all of you to remember that our most important history is not in our past, but it lies in our future.



Laurens County was created on December 10, 1807 by an act of the Georgia Legislature. The enacting law, in taking the middle portion of Wilkinson County, defined its boundaries as " all that part of Wilkinson County lying between the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers, beginning at the mouth of Big Sandy Creek on the Oconee River running thence sixty degrees west to the Ocmulgee River, thence down the course of the same to the upper corner of the Fourteenth Land District on said river, thence along the upper line of the Fourteenth District to the Oconee River, thence up the same to the point of beginning. The original Laurens County, stretching from the old frontier line of Georgia to the new frontier line on the Ocmulgee, was bounded on the south by the new county of Telfair - created on the same day as Laurens County was formed - and included all of present day Wheeler, Dodge, and Bleckley Counties and a portion of Pulaski County. Georgia honored Col. John Laurens of South Carolina by naming its newest county, Laurens County, in his honor.

The first order of business for the new county was to form a county government. Under the laws prevailing at the time, counties were governed by five justices of the Inferior Court, who were elected by the male citizenry. There was no tri parte form of government as we know today. The Justices of the Court acted as a legislative, executive, and judicial body, sharing jurisdiction of civil and criminal cases with the Superior Court and retaining sole jurisdiction of decedent's estates, guardianships, and marriages, now handled by the Probate Court. The court was given the authority by the Georgia legislature in 1810 to oversee the drawing of petit or trial juries and grand juries for matters pending in the Superior Court, this being due to the fact that the judge of the Superior Court was usually unavailable for the process. The first justices chosen to sit on the Inferior Court of Laurens County were: Thomas Davis, Thomas Gilbert, Edmund Hogan, William O'Neal, and Peter Thomas. William O'Neal had served in that capacity in Wilkinson County from the inception of that county.

Peter Thomas, owing to the fact that as he was a member of the court and that as there had been no county government formed until that time with the authority to build a courthouse, graciously offered the court the use of an outbuilding near his home for holding its sessions until a courthouse could be built. It is reasonable to assume that Thomas had moved to that location prior to the formation of the county. While it is impossible to determine the exact location of Thomas's home, deed records seem to indicate that it may have been near the east side of Turkey Creek in Land Lot 21 of the 2nd Land District, just above the Lower Uchee Trail. The area, although not centrally located geographically, was located near the intersection of the Uchee Trail and an Indian trail leading from Indian Springs through Macon toward Savannah and in the most populated area of the county in the first and second land districts, which had been granted to citizens two and one half years earlier.

The intersection is still known today as Thomas's Crossroads. Major Peter Thomas came to Laurens County in 1808 from Montgomery County where he had been a State Representative and Tax Receiver in 1806. Peter Thomas assembled a large plantation in the area. Maj. Thomas bought Land Lot 21 from Frederick G. Thomas of Hancock County in 1806 and Land Lot 28 from Clement Lanier for $500.00 on October 15, 1808. The sale price of the second land lot, located south of the crossroads seems to indicate improvements to the land, which may have been a small house. On August 10, 1809, Maj. Thomas paid $800.00 for the fractional Land Lot 6, which he bought in partnership with Abner Davis. Again the high price suggests some type of improvements, possibly a grist mill. It appeared that Maj. Thomas had disposed of his land by 1809 and moved away from the area. Then again, he is shown as living in Laurens County as late as February 17, 1819.

The first session of the Inferior Court was held on the fourth day of January, in 1808. The first order of the business, presumably after an opening prayer and preliminary remarks, was an adjournment until ten o'clock the next morning. The first matter heard by the justices was a petition by Andrew Hampton and David McDaniel, who held temporary letters of administration of the estate of William Darsey, who may have died while living in what was then Wilkinson County.

On the 2nd of February, the justices took up the division of Laurens County into districts. Laurens, like all other Georgia counties, were divided into militia districts. The use of militia districts dates back to the earliest decades of Georgia's existence as a colony. Each militia district was numbered beginning in 1804 and was known for many years primarily by the name of the district's captain - a practice which is exceedingly confusing to researchers since the captain was elected on an annual basis by the members of the district company. Every man in the district between the ages of sixteen and fifty were automatically enlisted in the militia. Each district's militia company was the lowest part of a chain of command under the overall command of the Governor of Georgia. In addition to their use for military defense, districts were also used for determining jurisdiction of the Justice of the Peace Courts, boundaries of election districts, values of property subject to taxation, identifying locations of lands in head right counties, and any other purpose provided by law.

The Justice of the Peace or Magistrate Courts were the third level of courts in Georgia. The Justice of the Peace had the power to try minor criminal offenses and civil cases, along with the power to marry individuals. The first Justices of the Peace, appointed by the Justices of the Inferior Court during the their February session, were James Bracewell and Alexander Blackshear in the first district, John Fullwood and Andrew Hampton in the second district, Elisha Farnall and Joseph Denson, Sr. in the third district, Needham Stevens and Samuel Jones in the fourth district, and William Hall and Robert Duett in the fifth district. Each militia district had two constables, whose main duty was to aid the sheriff in keeping the peace in the district and during court sessions as well. The first Laurens County constables were John McBane and John Pollock in the first district, Gideon Mayo and John Williams in the second district, James Moore and Joseph Denson in the third district, John Jion and Henry Duett in the fourth district, and John Grinstead and William Morris in the fifth district. James Yarborough, selected by a majority of the justices, was named Clerk of the Court of Ordinary.

The cutting of new roads and the widening and improvement of old Indian trails were a top priority for the justices. On February 2, 1808 the justices ordered that a road, the first of three converging at the home of a Peter Thomas and the first seat of the county government, be established from Blackshear's Ferry on the Oconee River to Fishing Bluff on the Ocmulgee River. This road followed the Uchee Trail for the most part, crossing Turkey Creek at the home of Peter Thomas, Rocky Creek at the Indian camp above where the path crosses, Little Ocmulgee River at the path, and ending at Fishing Bluff near the future site of Hartford on the Ocmulgee River. Peter Thomas, Samuel Sparks, Charles Higdon, and William Morris were appointed overseers of the road while Amos Love, Edmond Hogan, and Thomas Davis were appointed as commissioners of the road. The second road ran from Jeremiah Loftin's home to the home of Maj. Peter Thomas. During that first session of the court, the third road opened ran from Green's Ferry on the Oconee River to the home of Peter Thomas. This road ran from the ferry located in Land Lot 292 of the 2nd District in a westerly direction, possibly along Evergreen Road and turning southwest toward the home of Major Thomas.

More roads were ordered to be opened during the second session of the court in August of 1808. A short road from Beatty's Ferry to Trammel's Ferry was cut along the western banks of the Oconee. A major road running from the Oconee River at the future site of Dublin and opposite the community of Sandbar, to the Uchee Trail was cut under the supervision of George Gaines, Benjamin Darsey, and Charles Higdon. This road ran from Gaines's Ferry along or near East Jackson Street through present downtown Dublin and thence along Bellevue Avenue to the point where it turns into Bellevue Road. From that point the road, continuing in a southwesterly direction, ran to the beginning of Moore's Station Road. From that point the road ran across Turkey Creek through the lower edge of Palmetto Lakes Subdivision and striking Little Rocky Creek and then Rocky Creek just below the Kewanee community. From that point the road ran in a southwesterly direction along a road which is now called the Chicken Road through the current day communities of Rowland and Empire where, upon reaching the latter, it followed Highway 257 to the Uchee Trail crossing at the Ocmulgee. This road, known as the Chicken Road, is said to have followed an Indian trail.

An examination of the surveys of area along the road from 1805 to 1807 failed to reveal the presence of any road or trail. During the August 1809 session of the Inferior Court, Jesse Green, Jesse Stephens, Terrel Higdon, Elijah Thompson, and John Underwood were appointed commissioners of a road running the length of the county "from the upper line down the river or the nearest and best way" crossing Turkey Creek at Whitehead's Mill. Thomas Fulghum and Reuben Harrelson were appointed commissioners of the road from Flat Creek to the lower county line. This road appears to have followed the Old Toombsoro Road through present day Dublin and down the Glenwood Road crossing Turkey Creek at what is today still called "Robinson's Bridges." The road may have turned more to the east or continued down the Glenwood Road to the lower county line.

The sale of spiritous liquor, regulated by the Inferior Court, was authorized during the August, 1809 session. Peter Thomas was granted a license to sell liquor at his store on the Uchee Trail near Turkey Creek, while Jonathan Sawyer, who would found the town of Dublin twenty two months later, was granted permission to sell spiritous liquor at the Sandbar. The court then authorized the clerk to approve any liquor license applications, without further order of the court.

Laurens County's white male voters selected Peter Thomas to represent the county in the Georgia House of Representatives in the first state election held in 1808. Thomas was re-elected the following year. Edmund Hogan, another of the first five justices of the Inferior Court, was elected as the county's first state senator. Jethro B. Spivey replaced Hogan in 1809, coinciding with Hogan's move to Pulaski County. Charles Stringer and Elisha Farnell succeeded Peter Thomas in the House in 1810 and 1811, while Henry Sheppard followed Spivey in the Senate.

Laurens County was assigned to the Ocmulgee Superior Court Circuit of Georgia, both created the same day. The first court session was held in an outbuilding near the home of Peter Thomas, presumably the same building in which sessions of the Inferior Court were held. Presiding over the session was Judge Peter Early of Greene County. John Clarke, the circuit's Solicitor General, known today as the District Attorney, tried the first case in the Superior Court. At the first session no case were tried, only six true bills of indictment were found. Charles Higdon, a member of that first grand jury, was himself indicted for bigamy by that same grand jury. Other members of the jury were Benjamin Adams, Benjamin Brown, William Boykin, Robert Daniel, Joseph Denson, Benjamin Dorsey (Darsey), Simon Fowler, Henry Fulgham, John Gilbert, Thomas Gilbert, Leonard Green, Edward Hagan, Andrew Hampton, Mark Mayo, Gideon Mayo, George Martin, William McCall, Charles Stringer, John Speight, James Sartin, Jesse Stephens, Samuel Stanley, Samuel Sparks, George Tarvin, Joseph Vickers, Jesse Wiggins, Nathan Weaver, David Watson, Joseph Yarborough, and William Yarborough. Unfortunately only one of the major court record books of Laurens County is missing, that one being Minute Book A, the first one kept by Amos Love, Clerk of the Superior Court. There is some evidence to indicate that the book was used in the compilation of "History of Laurens County, Georgia, 1807-1841." However, diligent searches of the vaults of the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Laurens County have revealed no evidence of its presence.

Court sessions seemed to bring out the fighting spirit in several Laurens Countians. One of the first indictments was made against Amos Forehand, who in the presence of Alexander Blackshear, a member of the grand jury, wished "that Hell might be his Heaven, if he did not kill the Judge at the flash of a gun if the prisoner then in jail was a brother or relative of his. While this statement was by a legal technicality an assault, the judge, Peter Early, wasn't too pleased. Following the Forehand indictment, the grand jury indicted Samuel Riggins for insulting Clerk Amos Love by kicking him as he was leaving the home of Maj. Thomas. The third indictment handed down by the the October, 1808 grand jury was made against Michael Horne and the same Samuel Riggins for fighting in the courthouse yard, while the court was in session. Four years later William Monroe made the mistake of cursing the grand jury while standing in the door of the jury room and failing to leave when ordered to do so. Christopher Edwards mocked the baliff and cursed in the presence of the jury. James Drake made the same mistake as William Monroe and found himself indicted. Drury Roberts and Benjamin Faircloth were indicted for fighting in the courthouse yard during a session of the Ordinary Court.

The Georgia Legislature of Georgia enacted a law on December 1, 1809, fixing the site of the public buildings of Laurens County in the town of Sumpterville on a lot of land to be purchased by the justices of the Inferior Court. The justices were empowered to be the commissioners of the courthouse and jail with all the powers necessary to maintain them.

The legislature directed the justices to set aside at least four acres of land for the seat of public buildings and other county purposes and gave them the right to sell any of the county's land adjoining the public lands. During the February session of the Inferior Court, the justices appointed Amos Love, Alexander Blackshear, Andrew Hampton, John Fullwood, Jethro B. Spivey, Simon Smith, Elisha Farnall, William Yarborough, Leonard Stringer and Stephen Vickers to assist the justices in the location of the county courthouse. The lands were evidently laid out or at least some plans were made to lay out the town. For some unknown reason the Georgia Legislature passed laws in 1812, and again in 1813, authorizing the Justices of the Inferior Court to reimburse purchasers of lots in Sumpterville. The act of 1812 mentions that lots were purchased and that the town of Sumpterville was square in shape.

Contrary to what is found in Laurens County History, 1807-1941, the town of Sumpterville was not located where the home of Peter Thomas was situated, or was it? The town of Sumpterville, according to tradition, was located on the site of the John Fullwood Place in Land Lot 39 of the First Land District, just west of the old Josiah Stringer Place. Fullwood purchased the 202.5 acre land lot on November 24, 1808. The one thousand dollar purchase price indicates that some type of building, or buildings, was located on the land. During the August session of the court in 1811, the justices ordered that Fullwood be paid the sum of thirty six dollars for building the courthouse at Sumpterville. Since there is no evidence of any purchase of any land by the Justices of the Inferior Court either in the deed records or in the minutes of the court, it is virtually impossible to determine exactly where the town of Sumpterville was located. One might determine that Sumpterville was indeed located near the home of Major Peter Thomas at the intersection of Turkey Creek and the Uchee Trail - also at the point where the first three Laurens County roads converged. The Uchee Trail was the best and most traveled road in Laurens County. Thomas's home was located in the 2nd Land District, the most heavily populated in the county. On August 6, 1811 the justices of the Inferior Court ordered that a road be cut from the intersection of the Sumpterville Road and the Gallimore Trail to run in an easterly direction. A year later the court ordered all lands above the Uchee Trail between Turkey Creek and the ridge which divides the tributaries of Turkey and Rocky Creeks to work on the road. This Sumpterville Road may have been the current day Wayne Road or a road which takes a similar path to the Old Macon Road, running parallel to the western bank of Turkey Creek.

The first census of Laurens County was taken in 1810 by Hugh Thomas, who was appointed by the Justices of the Inferior Court. While no names were enumerated, the total population of the county was 2,210. Laurens was third in population among the newest counties in Georgia, behind Baldwin County, the seat of the state government, and Twiggs County, which was rapidly becoming an economic and judicial center in Central Georgia.

With the loss of lands to Pulaski County a year earlier, county residents clamored for more land on the east side of the river. When it became apparent that the legislature would cut off a portion of Montgomery and Washington Counties east of the Oconee and place it in Laurens, local officials began to look for a new county seat. On December 13, 1810, the Legislature appointed John G. Underwood, Jethro Spivey, Benjamin Adams, John Thomas, and William H. Mathers as commissioners to purchase or acquire by donation any quantity of land, not to exceed one full land lot of two hundred two and one-half acres, at or within two miles of the place known by the name of Sandbar on the Oconee River as a site for the public buildings of Laurens County. The commissioners were directed to lay out the town into lots and sell the lots at a public sale, following an advertisement in "The Georgia Journal" and one Augusta newspaper. The commissioners were authorized to use the proceeds of the lot sales to erect a courthouse and jail, with any excess being used for county purposes. As a consequence of the removal of the county seat from Sumpterville, the justices were directed to issue refunds to any purchasers of lots at the old county seat, to cancel any contracts to purchase the same, and to sell all remaining lands at Sumpterville "as they think most expedient," with any proceeds being applied to the building of a new courthouse and jail. It is difficult to determine exactly when the decision was reached. It was most likely the commissioners who made their decision in short order.

The commissioners chose a site in Land Lot 232 of the First Land District about one half mile west of the Oconee River at a point directly opposite the Sandbar, the site of George Gaines's ferry and the traditional crossing of an old road leading from Macon to Savannah. Jonathan Sawyer, a former resident of the capital city of Louisville in Jefferson County, was appointed as Postmaster of Dublin on or before July 1, 1811. The origin of the name of the new town had nothing to do with the ethnic origin of Sawyer, who is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Peter Sawyer. Sawyer's wife, Elizabeth McCormick, died circa 1809 while bearing a child. Sawyer, being the postmaster, made an application to the Post Office Department in Washington for the name of his choosing. He chose the name Dublin, in honor of Dublin, Ireland, the hometown of his wife. Mrs. Sawyer's sister, Ann St. Clair McCormick Troup, was the first wife of George M. Troup, the up and coming Congressman from Coastal Georgia. Mrs. Troup, like her sister, Mrs. Sawyer, met an untimely death early in her young life.
Before there was a post office and before the town was officially incorporated, Jethro B. Spivey, John G. Underwood, Benjamin Adams, and W.H. Mathers conducted the first sale of town lots on May 23, 1811. Purchasers were expected to pay for the lots in four equal installments with the first payment coming due on January 1, 1812. On December 13, 1811, the legislature appointed Jonathan Sawyer, Jethro B. Spivey, John G. Underwood, Benjamin Adams, and Henry Shepherd to act as commissioners of the courthouse and other public buildings granting unto them the power "to lay out and sell such a number of lots as may be sufficient to defray the expenses of such public buildings as they may think necessary."

The choice of a county seat on the eastern edge of the county was predicated on the accession of new lands on the east side of the Oconee River. Three days before the town of Dublin was authorized as the county seat, the legislature approved an act to incorporate a part of Washington and Montgomery counties into Laurens County. The new lands, which had been already been inhabited for more than twenty five years, was described as beginning on the east side of the Oconee River, opposite the Laurens County line, and thence in a direct line to the mouth of Forts Creek; thence up the meanders of the same to the limestone rocks; thence in a direct line to Wood's Bridge on the Big Ohoopee River; thence down the Ohoopee River to Pugh's Trail at the Mt. Pleasant Ford; thence in a direct line to the head of Mercer's (sic Messer's) Creek; thence down said creek to the Oconee River.

With the accession of the land on the east side of the Oconee River in 1811, three new districts were added to Laurens County. They were the 52nd, today known as Smith's District, the 86th, today known as the Buckeye District, and the 87th, which is no longer in existence. The 52nd District included all that portion of the county which was formerly Montgomery County and which was south and east of the Uchee Trail leading northeast from Carr's Bluff and today includes all of Smith's, Carter's, Oconee, Jackson, and Rockledge Districts. The 86th G.M. District included all of the land above the Uchee Trail in what was Washington County until 1811. The 87th District, probably abolished with the cession of the lands along the western banks of the Ohoopee River in 1857 to Johnson County, may have included portions of both the 52nd and 86th districts in northeastern Laurens County.

The practice of naming militia districts ended in the 19th century when permanent names were given to each of the districts. From that point on the 52nd District was known as "Smith's" District, named in honor of the Smith family in general or Hardy Smith, Jr. in particular. The 86th was named the "Buckeye" District for the main community in the district, which was located on the new Buckeye Road, which was formerly the old Buckeye Road, about a mile north of its intersection with the Ben Hall Lake Road. The 341st District became known as the "Burgamy" District, in honor of John Burgamy, who may have been a captain of the district. The 342nd became known as the "Dublin" District for the county seat which lay within its bounds. The 343rd district was dubbed "Pinetucky," probably in recognition of the thousands of pine trees covering this district, the largest district of original Laurens County. The 344th was known as the Hampton Mills District in honor of Andrew Hampton, a prominent resident of the district. The 345th District was named in honor of David Harvard, a prominent resident of the district. The 391st Bailey District was named for Henry Bailey, a large landowner who lived on the Old Toomsboro Road.