Note: The following is the 28th 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.
Some say the name for the town of Statesboro was chosen to honor Thomas Jefferson's political philosophy of states' rights. Statesboro was made the county seat of Bulloch County in 1803. The county's first post office opened in Statesborough in 1823, and the first postmaster was John Wise.
A wealthy Maryland businessman who had settled in Augusta, George Sibbald (often misspelled as Siebald) was convinced by the Georgia Legislature to donate 200 acres for a “judicial center” on the wilderness frontier. His Georgia Asylum Company needed this center before the legislature would consider approving his rather curious (and quickly abandoned) grandiose plan.
Sibbald had purchased over 500,000 acres of land on which he and his company intended to settle thousands of new European immigrants. Thus, Bulloch County's commissioners acquired the land upon which the county's courthouse eventually was built, hence the naming of Siebald Street.
The new city of Statesboro was incorporated by an act of the Georgia Legislature in 1866. In the final days of the Civil War, as Sherman's right flank was marching toward Savannah in the early days of December 1864, there were numerous engagements between the opposing calvary units of Confederate Gen. Joseph “Fighting Joe” Wheeler and Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, the man the press called the “Merchant of Terror.”
Of the battles that took place between Waynesborough and Savannah, Gen. Wheeler himself wrote, “The enemy (Kilpatrick's forces were said to have numbered around 5,500) had been falsely informed by their officers that we took no prisoners, which caused them to fight with desperation and to run very dangerous gauntlets in order to escape capture, which frequently accounts for the large number of soldiers who were killed.
“In the many fights that ensued, they refused to surrender, leaving no alternative but to shoot or saber them in order to prevent their escape.”
Once peace returned to the region, Statesboro grew rapidly. In fact, between 1890 and 1900, its population doubled. According to the United States census of 1900, the town of Statesboro had 1,197 inhabitants, while the rest of Bulloch County had 2,491 residents.
In 1882, Statesborough had a variety of businesses. The Brannens, Lesters, Olliffs and Turners operated general stores; Daniel Thomas was the town's dentist; W.L. Foss and J.L. Lane were the town's doctors; and Brannen, Griner, Law and Potter (or Porter) were the local attorneys. At this time, Statesboro was situated right between the region's two major railroads — the Central of Georgia and the Seaboard Air Line — both of which connected the town to Savannah.
Statesboro also had three banks, an ice manufactory, a blind and sash factory, an iron works and the Bulloch Oil Mill. The new courthouse cost the county's residents $20,000 to build, and the new Statesboro Academy cost $15,000.
In addition, the city of Statesboro had two large sawmill operations: the Fred W. Darby Company and the Howard Lumber Company, which was established by Arthur, George, John, Jud and Nathan Howard in an outlying region but moved to Statesboro by 1920. Quite strangely, there was another settlement in Bulloch County so named: Statesborough. This was the site of a large plantation located 5 miles north of Groveland.
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.