(Note: The following is part of a series of articles looking at the history and evolution of agriculture in Georgia and Bulloch County.)
As the naval stores business in Bulloch County picked up, the E. E. Foy Manufacturing Co. (owned by E. E. Foy, his son John E. Foy and W. W. Olliff) started a small “tram railroad” (or Foy Railroad) to carry the fallen trees to their mills.
James N. and William Wood, along with B. L. Robertson, started the Wood Manufacturing Co. and then built their own “tram railroad” (or Cuyler and Woodburn Railroad).
F. P. Register set up shop in Bengal, nine miles west of Statesboro, in 1894. As two railroads crossed through his land, he set up his own NS business. His nephew, J. L. Johnson, arrived to work with him, until Johnson built his own still in the new town of Register.
There were other smaller operations: W. H. Sharpe set up a turpentine still along the Ogeechee River, W. B. Meyer set up his still near the town of Laston, and R. L. Graham built a still near the Fellowship Church.
In addition, W. W. Bland opened a still in Westside situated along the Metter Road; the Carr Brothers set up shop in Adabelle; and J. A. McDougald and Jessie Outland (B. T.’s son) opened their own business.
Unfortunately, after several “boxings,” a tree used for turpentine was likely to die. The average life of a “boxed” tree was between four to six years. That meant the “turpentiners” were always moving to new locations as their current crop died off.
On a positive note, this also produced a lot of cleared fields, upon which farmers began growing row crops. As much as ten billion board feet of lumber was cut in the South thanks to the death of the trees due to turpentining.
The turpentiners McDougald and Outland took a big risk and partnered with Dr. Charles Herty in his experiments that produced the famous “Herty Cup.”
This University of Georgia chemist had devised a small pot (at first made of clay, then from galvanized tin) to collect the turpentine.
The Herty Cup was attached to a galvanized gutter that ran around the tree into the cup. Because the sap was protected from the elements, this method produced a much higher quality product than the boxing method. It also reduced the likelihood of insect infestation and disease in the trees, helping them to live much longer.
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.