Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
William Wright announced on April 14, 1860, that he intended to set up a “fish trap” on the Great Ogeechee River near the junction of Great Lott’s Creek. An ingenious fellow, Wright opened this sort of self-serve fishery.
Wright arranged with Alexander J. Habersham and John B. Watts of Effingham County to use their land to build this “fish trap,” which was very much like a dam, or what was known as a “weir,” in which a specific shaped pattern of rocks or wood is laid out on the river bottom, with a wooden trap placed at the mouth of the “trap.”
Most fishing in the colonial days was done during the seasonal fish runs, or migrations when there were great numbers of these fish to catch. During these events, temporary weirs were often set up to direct the fish to the spear.
A weir is something like a partially underwater fence across a stream with only one way for the fish to get through. Weirs directed fish into traps or nets waiting at the other end.
Fish traps work as follows: migrating fish swimming upstream will go upstream no matter what. Finding their way into, and then apparently, out of these traps, the fish won’t usually turn around to get back out.
The only real limitation to using weirs and fish traps was when the water was running too quickly, as the speed might rip the traps apart. There were V-shaped traps, curved traps, and L-shaped traps, to name a few.
Bedford Everett and Deacon Howard Kirkland of the Mount Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church sold two acres for $4 between Everett’s land and the mouth of the Great Lott’s Creek owned by the church on June 23, 1890.
Some locals began referring to the church as the “Fish Trap Church,” the cemetery became known to many as “Fish Trap Cemetery,” and the bridge was informally renamed the “Fish Trap Bridge,” the nearby school became known as the “Fish Trap School,” and the road was renamed by many “Fish Trap Road.”
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.