Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
Bulloch County celebrated its sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, on Dec. 6, 1946. As part of this celebration, the last-ever Pony Express mail delivery was carried into Statesboro from Savannah on horseback by a group of riders led by none other than Col. Albert M. Deal, a Bulloch County legend in his own right.
Deal was given this bag of mail by Savannah's U.S. Postmaster J. Marcus Stubbs as part of the special Bulloch County sesquicentennial celebration. The “Pony Express” letters were affixed with the special gold seal of the city of Savannah, and were personally autographed by Savannah’s mayor, Peter R. Nugent.
Deal left Savannah at 8 a.m., accompanied by Fred T. Lanier, Thomas C. Smith, George Dean, Georgia Marsh, L.A. Waters, W.O. Denmark, W.W. Mann, Lannie Simmons and Dr. A.L. Clifton. Their group was escorted the entire distance by a Georgia State Patrol detachment.
These "First Day Covers" depicted both the old Pony Express Riders and the new air mail planes. Each Pony Express rider was given the honor of carrying the mail pouch for a five mile stretch of the journey.
As the riders approached the city limits, they were met by a contingent of local dignitaries. Escorted by the Statesboro Police Department, the procession wound its way to Statesboro's airport, where the three day-long esquicentennial celebration of Bulloch County’s progress was underway.
Housed throughout some 20 buildings at the airport, the sesquicentennial celebration show included displays of the L.L. Foss Sea Island Cotton Gin, a 100-year-old saw mill, as well as many of the newest implements available to Bulloch County’s modern farmers.
At the same time, Deal left Savannah on what would be a many-hour-long journey, a special United States contract air mail plane took off from Savannah's airport carrying identical cachets to Statesboro in its trip which took only 30 minutes.
The sesquicentennial celebration also focused a great deal of attention on the many improvements made in the delivery of the U.S. mail. Bulloch County's first two "post offices" were in Mill Ray in E.W. Hodges home, established on June 16, 1847; and at Lott's Creek Baptist Church in Bengal, established on Jan. 22, 1855.
Statesboro's post office, however, moved all around town for the first several decades of its existence: it was located at first, amongst other places, at several "general stores" in the 1850s: at a "Whisky store" in 1873, in Fields' Opera Hall in 1893, and in Dr. J.C. White's Drugstore in 1894.
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.