Note: The following is part of a series of articles looking at the origin of roads in southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.)
The oldest highway in Bulloch County is also one of the oldest roads in the Southeastern United States. Known to Native American tribes as the “Path to Pensacola,” what became Burkhalter Road was a very important part of the “Path to the Indian Nations.”
Native Americans traveled this route as they traveled from their villages to the trading centers at Pensacola on the Gulf Coast. Called “Camio Reel” by the Spanish explorers, it later became known as the “King’s Highway” by the English.
General Jackson built forts at Long Bluff and Beard’s Bluff along the “Indian Path.” 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.
Members of Burgholser’s family (who become Burkhalters) took over the operation of the bridge until 1901, when Screven and Bulloch counties purchased the bridge. It became a free crossing until it was finally condemned in 1919.
In Bulloch County, the new road passed through Pretoria by Joe Hodge’s store, by the Lower Lott’s Creek Baptist Church, by the “Sinkhole” and Walter Olliff’s home, and then joined the Register to Reidsville Road.
At this point the road became known to many as the “New Burkhalter Road.” From there, it passed Eason’s Chapel Church and Lanier’s store and crossed the Tattnall County border at “Dead Man’s Shanty.”
“Dead Man’s Shanty” got its name from a bizarre murder which took place at this spot where two travelers stopped and had an argument. One man killed the other and dumped his body in the shack, and then proceeded upon his way.
Continuing on Burkhalter Road across the Ogeechee River, the highway finally reached the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers at “The Forks” where the Altamaha River begins.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.