By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bulloch's 1st 'real' town: From Little Creek to Excelsior
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of articles looking at events in the history of Bulloch County.


The first real town in Bulloch County, Excelsior, was located 16 miles from Statesboro near the Canoochee River by the mouth of Ten Mile Creek. As it sat alongside “Little Creek,” that became its first name.

By the time there were some 100 residents, they had named the community “Red Branch” after local resident Jimerson (or Jimmerson or even Jimps) Kennedy suggested the town needed a colorful name. 

Kennedy and his two sons-in-law, W.W. Olliff and Remer Franklin, along with Dr. Jeff Williams and his son-in-law John G. Jones had begun promoting the building of a school to teach the area's children.

When their new “academy” was established in "Red Branch," Ida Middleton convinced local residents to rename the town Excelsior after H.W. Longfellow’s poem of that name in 1879.

The Rev. Washington L. Geiger became the first school superintendent of the new Excelsior Academy. Geiger had already started Bulloch County’s first newspaper in 1877, the “Excelsior News.”

This became possible after wealthy resident Jimps Kennedy purchased a printing press for him. Kennedy then became the first postmaster, and Excelsior’s post office was established in 1874 in his house.

The 1879 and 1880 editions of “Sholes Georgia State Gazetteer” listed the leaders in the area: Rev. W.L. Geiger, superintendent of Excelsior High School F.H. Ingraham, teacher; Rev. R.J. Williams, hotel."

Continuing, "L. Ingraham & M. Eason, physicians; W. & J. Alderman, blacksmiths; W. DeLoach, millwright; Hershel & Morgan, B. Morgan & Co. and Rev. T.W. Lanier, sawmills; and A. Smith, architect."

And, "B. Padgett, J. Smith and L. Williams, carpenters; J. Cafferty, painter. General Stores owners included: A. & E. Bird; Easton & Co.; Everett, Jones & Co.; J. Parrish, and W. Olliff."

The two planters and farmers listed were J. Everett and J.G. Jones. W.L. Geiger, the postmaster in 1879, was succeeded by J.G. Jones in 1880."

"The Origins of Candler County," by S.C. Taylor (1989), can be found at candlersonsofconfederacy.homestead.com/historyofcandlercounty.html, and was written as a Senior Seminar paper at UGA.

Sholes Georgia State Gazetteer for 1880 gives the following description of Excelsior: “Excelsior (is) a small place, built up during the last four years, containing 100 inhabitants."

And, it was "16 miles from Statesborough courthouse and 30 miles from Ogeechee, (depot) No. 6. (of the) Central R.R., (which was) the nearest telegraph and shipping station."

It added, the town "is 261 miles to Atlanta, has 1 steam mill, 1 high school, and a Baptist church." Residents organized Excelsior Lodge (No. 92) of the Free & Accepted Masons (at the) Excelsior Missionary Baptist Church.

A second newspaper, The Bulloch Banner, was started by Excelsior High School Superintendent F.J. Ingraham. In no time at all, numerous general stores popped up throughout the area.

Local residents Anderson and Elbert Bird each had one, as did the Easons, as well as well-known citizens Everett Jones, W.W. Olliff and Jefferson Parrish. 

A regular U.S. Mail service was established to Excelsior three times a week, but was soon increased to five days a week once the Statesboro to Kellar (or Keller) route was established.

In 1886, The New York Times published an article entitled “Big Families in Bulloch County, GA,” which listed 37 families in Bulloch County that had more than 10 children.

The article stated several of these families lived in the Excelsior area. The two largest families were those of Jack Rushing with 22 children and M.C. Perkins with 20 children.

And, "When Statesboro was connected to the Central of Georgia across the Ogeechee River by the Dover and Statesboro Railway in 1889, it took a giant step forward."

So, that meant around 1900, "several little towns sprang up on the Brewton and Pineora line, (as did) Metter. (Soon), Adabelle, just a few miles from Excelsior, was (served by) the Register and Glenville line. "

In addition, the towns of Brooklet and Stilson were soon served by the Savannah & Statesboro Railway. All of these towns gradually siphoned away the population of Excelsior.


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

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter