Note: The following is the 17th in a series of columns that will describe towns and communities, past and present, that were settled after Bulloch County was first settled. Some have since been cut into other counties.
Many folks in south Georgia have heard something of the story of the town even now known as "Hopeulikit." The town is located 8 miles northwest of Statesboro at the intersection of Georgia highways 25 and 80.
The community’s unusual name actually came as the result of a contest, which was held to help name one of the town's two dance halls. Someone had scrawled the word “Hopeulikit” on the bottom of an entry form on which they had proposed a different name. The judges decided on the last-minute addition at the bottom of his form, and that was that.
At the time of its founding, residents John Paul and Beatrice Ellis owned hundreds of acres of farmland and ran a sawmill and lumbering business, a turpentine distillery, a large truck farm and the local grocery store and meat market and packing plant.
Seeing the opportunity to make some money, businessman L.E. Tyson, who owned the Standard Oil Company in Statesboro, bought several properties in the town, including Dan Beasley's general store and gas station in Hopeulikit, to tap into the ever-growing number of visitors thronging there.
The reason? Young men and women had begun coming from all over the region dressed up in their best attire to dance the night away in the town's dance halls. One of them was known as the Hilltop Dance Hall and was run by the Ellises; the other one became known as the Hopeulikit Dance Hall and was run by Tyson.
Tyson's dance hall floor was 800 feet wide by 80 feet long and could hold as many as 40 dancing couples. It was kept polished by an unusual method: Wax shavings were spread out on the floor while the couples were dancing, which would quickly get ground into the floor, creating a nice, protective coat.
After 1938, when there was a change in management, “an undesirable element” began frequenting the dance halls. There were more and more disturbances, and the locals became quite upset. According to newspaper reports, Tyson got so disgusted, he actually had his dance hall torn down and moved out of town.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.