A young Southern belle, a feisty hellfire-and-brimstone preacher and a few other “ghosts” from Bulloch County’s rich historical past graced the Bulloch County Historical Society’s 42nd annual meeting Monday night as local actors performed a locally written play.
Virginia Anne Franklin Waters, BCHS executive director, wrote “Lord Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise!” and the play was updated by puppeteer and artist Scott S. Foxx. The performance encouraged members of the audience to interact with cast members as they brought local history to life.
The play is filled with historical references to the formation of area churches. Back in the late 1700s and early 1800s, people met underneath “brush arbors” — shady outdoor shelters covered in brush, often located near a creek that could be forded from both sides.
The cast included actors portraying characters from the past whose descendants now live in the Bulloch and surrounding areas.
Character Susan Alderman Franklin, portrayed by Brittani Howell, explained the meaning behind the play’s title through some of her lines: “Back when the parish (areas that now include Bulloch and Screven counties) was nothing but pine trees and wilderness, folks would gather along the river under the brush arbors, hence the saying, ‘I’ll see you on Sunday, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.’ A site near shallow water that could be forded on both sides was the most desirable. Someday a log cabin church will be built here, and who knows? Maybe it will stand and house the faithful for years to come.”
Guests at the dinner meeting were encouraged to participate in the play by singing along with the cast as they performed verses from popular hymns.
After the dinner and play, Waters gave a director’s report, listing several accomplishments the BCHS saw over the past year. These included the replacement of some road signs that went missing at Statesboro’s Eastside Cemetery; the performance of the “Ole Scarecrow Statesboro Medicine Show” skit for Bulloch County’s third-graders and plans for a new historical puppet show for area fifth-graders; and plans for historical signs for the town of Register and the Burkhalter/Old Indian Trail.
William “Billy” Griffis was honored with the society’s Smith Callaway Banks Volunteerism Award; Alex Lee was recognized for service to the society and community; and a check for $3,200 was presented to the Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern University.
The BCHS also presented Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore and Statesboro police Deputy Chief Rob Bryan with framed historical photos of Statesboro’s first five police officers.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.