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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Statesboro named in honor of Thomas Jefferson
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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.

 

The town of Statesboro was thought to have been named to honor Thomas Jefferson's political philosophy of “States Rights.” Statesboro was made the county seat of Bulloch County in 1803. The county's first post office opened in Statesborough in 1823, and the first postmaster was John Wise. 

A wealthy Maryland businessman who had settled in Augusta, George Sibbald (often misspelled as Siebald) was convinced by the Georgia Legislature to donate 200 acres for a “judicial center” on the wilderness frontier. His Georgia Asylum Company needed this center before the legislature would consider approving his grandiose plan. Siebald had purchased over 500,000 acres of land on which he and his “Georgia Asylum Company” intended to settle thousands of new European immigrants. 

The new city of Statesboro was incorporated by act of the Georgia Legislature in 1866. According to the United States census of 1900, the town of Statesboro had only 1,197 inhabitants, while the rest of Bulloch County had 2,491 residents. Believe it or not, the community of Statesborough was located 5 miles north of Groveland. The town of Stilar was listed in Hemperley's book “Cities, Towns, and Communities,” but nothing else is known.

The community where Stilson now sits was first called Sibbald, after George Sibbald. The later community of Stilson, however, was built around the stagecoach stop at the Haskell Simmons place. Later, it sat astride what was the Savannah and Statesboro Railway line. 

By 1900 Stilson had a population of 138. According to surviving first person records, the town is named after Stilson Hutchinson.

Hutchinson was instrumental in getting the new Savannah and Statesboro Railway to pass through this area, obtaining rights-of-way from local residents. 

Resident William J. Strickland applied for a post office to be called Stilson. In fact, the first son of county Commissioner J.E. Brannen and Ida Strickland Brannen (his daughter) was named after Stilson Hutchinson. 

The first postmaster was William J. Strickland in 1899, and the last postmaster was Edith Hutchinson in 1966. The Zickgraf Lumber Company had a big sawmill operation in Stilson. Believe it or not, at first the Georgia Teachers College’s post office, and its campus, were both called Studentsboro. The post office was renamed soon afterwards, this time as the Collegeboro Post Office. The first postmaster was Dr. Guy W. Wells, who became the college president from 1926-1934. Jackie A. Strange replaced Wells as postmaster.

 

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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