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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Bay Gall, Bassett, Belknap spring up in Bulloch
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at the founding and general history of southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.

 

Another short-lived community that spring up in Bulloch County was Arlen, located between Rufus and Proctor, that had a population of 91 in 1900. It was located about 2-and-a-half miles north of Stilson, on what used to be the Savannah & Statesboro Railroad line. Curtis Martin was the postmaster.

And then there was long-lost town of Bassett. This town was located halfway between Leeland and the Ogeechee River crossing to the town of Egypt along the line of the Shearwood Railway.

One of the very first real towns in Bulloch County was called Bay Gall. Located between Portal and Rocky Ford, this settlement was the only community in the entire Lockhart Militia District.

After Oliver Finch settled here, his son Dave C. Finch opened a general store here, and then the Mixons opened two stores here. The town was said to have been named after the common Red Bay shrub. Part of this area later became known as Nevils Creek.

The community of Belknap was established around James G. Blitch’s general store on the banks of the Canoochee River close to the tracks of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad.

The post office here opened after the Euphaupee Post Office closed. It was named after either Morris Belknap, the superintendent of the Central of Georgia Railroad.

Some say, however, that it was named after the large plantation nearby of that name owned by John Harn Jr. Harn was the English Colonial Government's Tax Assessor and Collector of St. Philip Parish. Harn moved here in 1764 with his young sons to land he had been granted on the Canoochee River, where he established a large plantation called "Belknap."

On the night of Jan. 27, 1779, he and his second wife Margaret Bird fled across the Ogeechee River to Sir James Wright's Plantation to escape capture during the Revolutionary War. Unfor-tunately, he, his wife, and the plantation overseer were killed by American patriots dressed as indians.

The town of Bellwood was created when George Heard opened a sawmill close to the Ogeechee River. He soon built two bridges, one a toll bridge and one a railroad bridge.

These allowed passage of citizens (for a fee) and his lumber to the Central of Georgia Railroad line which passed through what became the town of Rocky Ford on the other side of the river.

 

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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