Eldrige Cone (1887-1966) was born in Bulloch County, in the small community of Stilson. His parents were Sarah and George Cone. After living in the Stilson area for many years, Eldrige, along with his brother, Enoch, moved to Portal. Education during this period was restricted to the privileged few. As a result, Cone did not receive much of a formal education.
Eldrige Cone and his brother, Enoch, worked in Statesboro. Around 1907, Eldrige decided to work only in Portal where he had a job as a sharecropper working with H. P. Wommack, a Portal farmer and superintendent of Bulloch County Public Schools.
He soon became known by the local farmers as "Bulloch County's Best Farmer."
The success of his farming was quite extraordinary for that time. In 1944, he had under cultivation over 130 acres of corn, peanuts and cotton. Although Cone and Wommack's partnership produced outstanding results, Cone longed to have his own farm. In the 1950s, he purchased 106 acres of land and he continued to be very productive on his own land. He also became the first black farmer in the area to purchase a tractor for farming the land.
Eldrige may not have had a formal education, but his ability to be an articulate and persuasive speaker was frequently heard by the Board of Education while he presented concerns of the Portal community.
The people of Portal would seek his advice about community problems and concerns before deciding how to act on them. He served as a member of the Trustee Board of Willow Hill School and was instrumental in selecting teachers for the establishment. He diligently sought to improve the education of children of color.
Eldrige Cone was known throughout Bulloch County as a man of great character and ability, and most of all, common sense.
He not only was a leader when it came to farming in his community, but he was also in the forefront of the overall improvement that pertained to the community and school.