When an elongated dry spell led to an increased demand for wells in 1953, Bulloch County resident J. T. Creasy took advantage of it. A plumber by trade, Creasy sought to augment his income by drilling wells.
Fifty-seven years later, Creasy Well Drilling is one of the best known well drilling companies in this area, and is owned and operated by Creasy's son Noel Creasy.
"I was 19 when my father passed away in 1978," Noel Creasy said. "I thought that I knew everything there was to know about well drilling. I did not. If it hadn't been for ‘Ham' (longtime employee Willie Mercer), I don't know what I would have done."
Creasy said Mercer started working for his father in 1956, and has remained with the company ever since.
"I went to work on Mr. Creasy's farm when I was around 17," Mercer said. "One day when the farm work was over, I just started working for the well drilling company, and I have never left."
Mercer is known throughout the area for his knowledge of well drilling, and is considered by many to be an expert in the field.
"I have known Ham forever," said Raybon Anderson, chairman of the Bulloch Fertilizer Company in Statesboro. "I just think he is such a human interest story. He is dedicated and very, very knowledgeable at what he does. You just don't see folks anymore that are that conscientious. Both he and Noel (Creasy) are good people."
It is quickly evident when talking with Creasy how important Mercer's contributions are and the bond that exists between the two.
"Ham is family to me," Creasy said. "It is hard to talk about it sometimes, because he does mean so much to me and my family. I can't imagine being in this business without him. We are very blessed to have him working with us all of these years."
Mercer said the well-drilling business has changed quite a bit over the last five decades, from the equipment being used to the depth of wells being drilled.
"When we first started out, we did not have rigs like the ones that we have today," Mercer said. "Once we got to the site, we would jack up the back of the truck, and take off one of the tires. We would then wrap the rope around the tire rim and use that to help raise and lower the rope as we drilled. It's a lot different today."
Initially, most of the wells drilled by J. T. Creasy were farm wells. That business has exploded over the years to include residential wells for those living outside of the range of city water and sewer, commercial wells, as well as irrigation wells.
"There are so many people in this and the surrounding counties that do not have access to city water and sewer," Creasy said. "So our business has remained steady. We aren't doing as much new construction as we were just two or three years ago, but we have remained steady through this slow construction period."
Creasy said the depth of the average well is between 450 and 500 feet, and costs about $5,000 to construct. "Once you get past the initial cost of drilling the well, your water costs are minimal," he said. "It's just a matter of maintenance at that point."
Jim Lanier and his family have been using the Creasy's since the early 1960's.
"From a service standpoint, Creasy Well Drilling does an excellent job," Lanier said. "They fix any problem, they come when you need them, and they are just good guys."
Creasy said he hopes that the level of service he and his company provide is a testament to their continued success. "We have been very blessed through this downturn to stay busy," he said. "I hope that is because we have always tried to give great service which is something that my dad always stressed. Ham is a very big part of that as well as Danny Shuman and my son Jarrod."
Mercer said he isn't sure when he is going to retire. "I will work as long as the Lord will allow me to," he said. "I have been doing this my whole entire life, and I love what I do. I just want to keep working and drilling wells."
Creasy is married to the former Tammy Todd. They have three grown children - Jarrod, Lindsey, and Rebecca. The Creasy's live in the Nevils-Denmark area.