Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
Back in the early days, people in Bulloch County — particularly in Statesboro — had some curious thoughts about the way things should run. Take the subject of animals, for instance, and most particularly, those roaming freely throughout the four corners of Main Street.
Now, it’s kind of hard to imagine herds of wild beasts roaming downtown, but, nevertheless, it was a very serious problem. It all started with Bulloch County’s population of porkers. These “lousy, miserable, filthy things” as the newspaper called them, were fouling the city streets and monopolizing the city’s few sidewalks.
On the second Tuesday in September in1895 the question of what should be done was put to the citizens of Statesboro. They answered “no more hogs” loud and clear. The new law now stated that a farmer must have 1/8th of an acre set aside as a hog-pen within the city limits. Furthermore, the law stated that any hogs found within a mile of Main Streets could be beaten senseless if citizens accosted by them should choose to do so.
On the first day of the law’s enforcement, nine of the county’s most influential and successful farmers were hauled into court. J.F. Olliff, B.H. Olliff, H.E. Coleman, J.C. Webb, J.R. Miller, J.F. Akins, J.G. Waters, J. Blocker and H. Rollins were all fined $1 for having restive razorbacks that refused to remain penned up. In addition, eight of these critters were hauled off to jail.
It wasn’t long before the next confrontation came to a head. This time it was the city’s ever-increasing number of dogs that caused a ruckus. In 1906, Mayor Moore was forced to declare that the new-fangled automobiles and their drivers should not feel free to run over dogs they came across.
This declaration was prompted when L.F. Davis’ chauffeur Mahoney, driving Dr. Semple’s shiny new machine sped by Prof. J.E. Brannen’s house and ran over the family dog. Brannen promptly chased down the offending “autoists” and dressed them down for driving in such a careless fashion. He then demanded immediate reparations for the damage this “devil-wagon” (to use his words) had visited upon his family dog.
Not getting satisfaction, the matter went to court. Upon getting into court, Brannen cited Mahoney for driving at the unheard-of speeds of at least 8 miles per hour past his house, which was the legal limit for these “autoists” within city limits. He then claimed that they may have been going as fast as 15 miles per hour down the street, which drew gasps from some of the assembled citizenry.
Mahoney didn’t produce evidence to the contrary and was therefore fined $10 for speeding. Davis was quoted as having offered Brannen $25 for the dog, which was apparently refused.
Shortly thereafter, local Frank Alderman was forced to travel to the Pasteur Institute to be treated for rabies, and Walter McDougald was bitten by a dog in Clito, and had to go to Atlanta for three weeks of intensive treatment. Therefore, in June of 1908, the city council passed a new law stating that all dogs must be muzzled between April and October of each year.
Anyone caught letting their dog(s) run loose un-muzzled was to be fined between $1 and $10.
On Oct. 5, 1908, Statesboro City Clerk Blitch pled guilty to letting his dog run un-muzzled, and was fined by the judge, who along with the city’s mayor chided him for not obeying the law that declared pet dogs were as likely as wild dogs to contract rabies.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.