A segment of Fair Road is now McDougald Memorial Parkway, honoring a mayor who brought Statesboro its sewer system and donated land for the founding of a church and a university, as well as his descendants, some prominent in electronic and print media.
The new designation, from where Fair Road begins at South Main Street down to Veterans Memorial Parkway, is honorary and does not affect addresses. About 75 people met Saturday at Second St. John Missionary Baptist Church for an indoor program followed by the unveiling of the signs.
The Georgia General Assembly’s resolution, which was read aloud by Sen. Jack Hill, devotes one paragraph to John Alexander McDougald (1864-1926), who served first as a City Council member from 1908 through 1910, and then as mayor, 1911 and 1912. The resolution notes that McDougald, successful in the turpentine business, was a major donor in the bid to establish the First District A&M School, now Georgia Southern University, and that as mayor he “cast the vote that brought about a complete sanitary sewer in Statesboro.”
However, “the street is not really being named just for him,” said John A. McDougald’s grandson Michael H. McDougald, now chairman of Georgia Public Broadcasting. “It’s being named for the family as a whole.”
The Bulloch County Historical Society launched the effort to have the street named for the McDougalds and received backing from the city of Statesboro and the Bulloch County government. Hill and Reps. Jan Tankersley, Jon Burns and Butch Parrish then sponsored resolutions in the Legislature, and the Georgia Department of Transportation issued signs for the highway segment.
The resolution mentions other members of the McDougald line, going back to William Alexander and Catherine Bouie McDougald, who immigrated from the island of Jura, Scotland, with their youngest child, Dougald McDougald, to North Carolina in 1841. John A. McDougald was Dougald McDougald’s son.
Michael McDougald, who started his broadcasting career working at WWNS Radio in Statesboro as a high school student in 1946, now lives in Rome, Georgia. Sharing family history as part of the program, he noted that his father, Walter, wrote a newspaper column here called “Cliponreka Cullings,” and that his aunt Ruth wrote a column called “Around Town” for many years.
The late Don McDougald, who was Michael’s brother, and other family members purchased WWNS, the AM radio station, in the late 1950s. From it, Don McDougald later founded Statesboro’s first FM radio station. He is also credited with introducing cable television in Statesboro.
Another brother from that generation, the late Dr. Worth McDougald, became a University of Georgia journalism educator and served as director of the Peabody Awards for almost 30 years, helping establish them among broadcasting’s top honors.
His son Bill McDougald, who attended Saturday’s ceremony, is past executive editor of Southern Living magazine.
Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn is also a descendant of Statesboro McDougalds.
Locally, the big white house that Mayor John A. McDougald began building on South Main Street in 1911 remains a landmark as the Beaver House Restaurant, after passing to his youngest daughter, Ruth McDougald Beaver. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.
The mayor’s nephew, Bernard McDougald, served 30 years on Statesboro City Council and operated the local Amoco oil dealership. Another family member, J.D. McDougald, established a Ford dealership in Claxton. Another, Douglas McDougald, started a large funeral home and cemetery service in South Carolina.
John McDougald’s success in the turpentine and pine rosin industry was a source of the wealth that built that big house. He was a major landowner around what is now McDougald Memorial Parkway, and gave land and money, Bulloch County Historical Society sources said, for the establishment of First District Agricultural and Mechanical School in 1906.
The McDougald-Outland turpentine still stood very near the current location of Second St. John Missionary Baptist Church. When employees at the still sought to built a church, McDougald provided the land, explaining why an African American church founded in 1896 was the site Saturday of a ceremony honoring a family of Scottish descent. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Craig Tremble, gave the invocation and benediction, and the church’s choir performed during the program.
Another historic connection, mentioned in the resolution, is that McDougald’s pine plantation became a site for Dr. Charles Herty’s work to improve the harvest of pine rosin, making it more productive and less damaging to the trees.
Herty’s research has long been commemorated at the Georgia Southern University Museum, and after a formal copy of the McDougald Memorial Parkway resolution was presented to family members, they passed it along to GSU Museum Director Dr. Brent Tharp and local historian Dr. Del Presley for public display.
A reception was held afterward at the museum.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.