Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
Whereas in 1810, Georgia sawmills cut lumber worth only $25,400, by 1890 Georgia’s mills produced nearly $6.6 million worth of board lumber.
Most of the Bulloch County lumber was floated down the Ogeechee and Canoochie rivers, with the majority being floated down in the Lotts Creek area of Bulloch County.
When the Ogeechee Canal was completed, most log-raft men willingly paid the toll, as the canal was free of hazards and had an adequate water flow. The rivers did not.
The Riggs family were required by authorities to construct “locks” so that lumber could be floated past the Riggs Mill Dam in order to get across Lotts Creek.
In 1893, D.P. Averitt Sr. moved to Statesboro from Guyton, established a large sawmill three miles west of Statesboro, and opened a planing mill within Statesboro’s city limits.
Businessmen John M. Mitchell, J.W. Olliff, and J.A. Brannen opened the new Statesboro Manufacturing Company. Fellow lumbermen J.N. Woods and J.N. Shearouse started the Shearwood Lumber Company in Brooklet.
At the same time, Fred W. Darby opened his sawmill in Statesboro. In 1898, Arthur, John, George, Nathan and Jud Howard arrived in Bulloch County and quickly established their own lumber business.
The Howards moved their portable sawmill to any piece of woods where they would be guaranteed at least 85,000 square feet of board lumber at a price not to exceed $4.50 per 1,000 feet of lumber.
The whole region soon sported sawmills: the Sheridan and Perkins Companies in Metter; Nellwood Lumber in Grimshaw; Durden Lumber in Parrish; Zickgraf Lumber in Stilson; J.D. Lanier in Lon; Wylly and Gabbett in Pulaski.
There were still others: W.J. Gooding Co. in Belfast; the Foy Mill in Egypt; the Blitch Lumber Co. near Blitchton; and both the Stokes and Perkins Mills on the other side of the Canoochie River.
In 1920, the Howards built their sawmill on Mulberry Street, just north of Hill Street, on the east side of the Central of Georgia Railroad tracks. In 1946, Arthur’s son Claude opened a new mill at the end of Park Avenue.
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.