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Bulloch History with Roger Allen
The history of Burkhalter Road
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    The oldest highway in Bulloch County is also one of the oldest roads in the Southeastern United States. Once known as part of the “Path to Pensacola,” Burkhalter Road was a very important part of the “Path to the Indian Nations,” which started at the Savannah River near Brier Creek near present day Oliver, Georgia. The Indians traveled this route on their way from their villages to the trading centers at Pensacola on the Gulf Coast. The Spanish explorers referred to this road as “Camio Reel”, and later was referred to as the “King’s Highway” by the English colonists.
    General Jackson, the commander of American Colonial troops in the area, had built several defensive positions, or forts, at Long Bluff and Beard’s Bluff along the Indian path. Washington County in Georgia had been created from the ceded Indian Lands grabbed in the Treaty of 1784 at the end of the battle for American Independence. This highway was named after Rudolf Burgholser, who had received a grant of 200 acres in 1767 located near Hagin’s Bridge by Eaton’s Gardens.
    This bridge crossed the Ogeechee River, and was first owned by the Nelson family, who then sold it to Walter Allen Hagin’s family, which operated the crossing as a toll bridge. Many members of Burgholser’s family (which had become known as Burkhalter) lived in the area, and a grand-daughter had married into the Hagin’s family. As such, her family took over the operation of the bridge, running it until 1901, when Screven and Bulloch counties purchased the bridge, turning it into a free crossing until it was finally condemned in 1919.
    In Bulloch County, the new road connected many heretofore distant and isolated communities. It passed through Pretoria at Joe Hodge’s old store, passed by the Lower Lott’s Creek Baptist Church, wandered by the “Sinkhole” and Walter Olliff’s old home, and then met up with the Register to Reidsville Road. This road became known to many as the “New Burkhalter Road”. From there, it passed the site of Eason’s Chapel Church and Lanier’s old store, finally crossing the Tattnall County border by “Dead Man’s Shanty”.
    This location got its name from a bizarre murder which took place: two travelers reached this spot, whereupon one man killed the other and dumped his body in the shack, and then proceeded upon his way. Continuing across the Ogeechee River, the highway finally crosses the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers at “The Forks”, from where the Altamaha River actually begins. Nearby sat the ghost town of Colquitt, which is itself the subject of much discussion.
    Throughout its entire length, there is just one town located on Burkhalter Road: Reidsville, whose courthouse sits right on the road. Named after Judge Robert R. Reid, this town is the southern terminus of this historical path, which still fulfills its mission several hundred years after it was first traveled.
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger
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