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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: First roads are built in Georgia colony
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the first road systems in Georgia and Bulloch County.

The first real road built by settlers in Georgia was described in "A Voyage to Georgia, Begun in the Year 1735," written by Francis Moore in 1744.

He wrote, "On the 30th (of March) Mr. Oglethorpe agreed with Mr. Jonathon Brian to furnish him with eighteen hands to assist him in cutting roads through that part of Georgia."

Oglethorpe had ordered that the road building would start at the Savannah River and go as far as the Ogeechee River in order to create a passable road from Brian's house to the Savannah River.

The Gentleman's Magazine for January 1739 recorded that a regiment of troops from Great Britain had arrived for garrison duty outside of Frederica in September 1738.

According to the magazine, "The inhabitants of the Town went out on the 25th with General (Oglethorpe). ... (They) cut a Road thro' the Woods down to the Soldiers' Fort in a straight line."

The purpose? For "open Communication."

The residents "perform'd this Work in three Days ... near 6 Miles thro' thick Woods" and in the process discovered the Alatamaha River.

Another one of Georgia's oldest roads, Burkhalter Road, started westward from the Indian towns of Palachacolas and Tuckasseeking on the Savannah River near Brier Creek.

Spanish explorers named this route the Camio Reel, and once in control, the British re-named it the King's Highway. Two early forts were built on Burkhalter Road: one at Long Bluff and one at Beard's Bluff.

The Act for the Better Regulation of High Roads and Bridges, passed in 1792, stated that "all such roads or high ways ... shall at all times be kept well cleared from logs, trees, bushes ... (be) thirty feet wide, and ... grubbed up at least sixteen feet in width."

The act stipulated that "county courts of this state shall ... divide the public roads within their county into such number of districts ... and shall ... appoint an overseer or surveyor of each district."

Furthermore, it required that "all male laboring persons between the age of sixteen and fifty years ... (must) work on any road within (their) district ... (for up to) twelve days in a year."

The act also established penalties: Any free male failing to work "shall pay a sum not exceeding two shillings and four pence." An overseer neglecting his duties was to be fined "the sum of four pounds."

Finally, the act established that anyone "deadening any tree or trees" that fell across the road must have the tree or trees removed within two days or pay "four shillings and eight pence for every such offense."

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

 

 

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