(Note: The following is part of a series of articles looking at the history and evolution of agriculture in Georgia and Bulloch County.)
With the completion of railroads throughout the Wiregrass and the establishment of many smaller portable steam-powered sawmills, it was no longer necessary to float trees downstream to be milled.
In 1893, D.P. Averitt Sr. moved to Statesboro from the Guyton area and established a large sawmill some three miles west of Statesboro. He then opened a planing mill within Statesboro’s city limits.
Soon, Averitt and businessmen John M. Mitchell, J.W. Olliff and J.A. Brannen opened the new Statesboro Manufa-cturing Company. Then, fellow lumbermen J.N. Wood and J.N. Shearouse started the Shearwood Lumber Company. The Fred W. Darby Co. set up shop in Statesboro as well.
In 1898, Arthur Howard, along with his brothers John, George, Nathan and Jud, arrived in Bulloch County and quickly established their own lumber business. They specialized in buying used-up turpentine trees from the naval stores operations in the area.
The Howards, it was reported, would move 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 one thousand feet of lumber.
Bulloch County was soon flush with sawmills: there were 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 more just outside of Bulloch: 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 had established their mill in Statesboro. They built it 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.
Even to this day, the Howard and Shearouse family businesses are still in operation, as are a number of other smaller lumber concerns. Timber, it appears, will always be a part of daily Bulloch County life.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.