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Legend of how the first automobile came to Statesboro
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.

L. F. Davis, who conducted a little machine shop on Vine Street where the cotton warehouse was, had been to Savannah and got the auto fever.  

He bought a second-hand machine—one of those high-wheeled spider-looking machines. He engaged the services of an expert to pilot the car home, and he made fairly good progress until he reached Brooklet. His car stopped and refused to budge.  

Every plow-mule in the fields by the roadside had heard the machine puffing and snorting. Davis’s (mechanic) “loosened up the do-ding and di-do, hammering on the whuzzit and pleading with the diaphragm, the mechanic tried to start it but it refused to budge.” 

Therefore, “Davis prevailed upon a farmer to attach a pair of mules to his car and drag it into Statesboro. He reached here the same night, having made the trip from Savannah in one day.”  

Davis kept his mechanic and day or two and worked on his car. “He found that the great trouble was that the gas was out, and cars would not go in those days without some gas (they do now - or so we are informed)—salesmen’s hot air runs some of them.”  

“Now it was time to alarm the natives of Statesboro and Bulloch County. Somebody’s pony ran and upset a cart, and the petition to bar the ‘devilish things’ from the streets followed. But the devilish thing stayed with us and flourished.”  

“Today mules and horses are a rarity on the streets, and everybody knows what to do when a car stops on the highway. Just step to the phone and call a ‘go-rage’ man. He comes in a jiffy, pulls your car into a shop, and sizes up your pile.”  

Back then, “Everybody who counted himself anybody, owned a nice horse and buggy for pleasure riding. They first paid for their homes...and then bought horse and buggy as luxury.”  

So, “Everybody pays 33 cents per gallon for John D. Rockefeller’s gas to put into installment-bought cars...The one-lunger’s...eight-cylinder offspring goes noiselessly about the streets and is the envy of us all.” 

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

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