Georgia Genealogy Trails

"Where your Journey Begins"


Dodge County was cut off from Telfair, Pulaski and Montgomery in 1871, and named in honor of William E. Dodge of New York, who had made very liberal investments in that section. It is bounded by the following counties: Pulaski on the north and northwest, Laurens on the northeast, Montgomery and Telfair on the southeast and south, Wilcox and Pulaski on the southwest and west The Ocmulgee river runs along its western and southwestern border. Little Ocmulgee, a tributary of the Ocmulgee, runs through the county. The county is also watered by Cypress, Crooked, Sugar and Turnpike creeks.

Eastman, the county seat, is on the Southern Railway at a point which was selected for a depot and station in 1871. It is a flourishing little city containing 1,235 people, and is blessed with a splendid supply of pure water from Artesian wells. The water is distributed in mains on the various streets and supplied to the houses just as in large cities. It also boasts an ample fire department Its export trade reaches $2,000,000. These exports are 10,000 bales of cotton, 5,000 car-loads of lumber, potatoes, peas, peanuts, cane syrup, cattle, wool, chickens and vegetables.

Just outside of Eastman is a large saw and lumber mill, and ten miles below it is another, which does most of its business through the banks of Eastman, of which there are two, with an aggregate capital of $50",000.

Eastman has a splendid public school system, and churches of the

leading denominations. The public schools of the county are flourishing. In the 45 schools for whites there is an average attendance of 1,306, and in the 26 for Negroes, an average attendance of 932. It has also a large furniture factory, and at Cox, just below the city, is the Colville Crate factory.

This enterprising little city was named in honor of of William Pitt Eastman of New York, one of the most tireless promoters of its interests.

The lands along the Ocmulgee, Little Ocmulgee and their various tributaries, are very productive. Their average yield per acre is: corn, 15 bushels; oats, 10 bushels; wheat, 10 bushels, rye, 10 bushels, sweet potatoes, 100 bushels; field-peas, 8 to 10 bushels; ground-peas, 30 bushels; seed cotton, upland, from 500 to 1,100 pounds; sea-island, 350 pounds; crab-grass hay, 2,000 to 3,000 pounds; corn forage, 2,000 pounds; German millet, 4,000 pounds; sugar-cane syrup, 350 gallons.

According to the United States census of 1900, the production of cotton in 1899 was 10,729 bales (upland).

The lands of the county are especially valuable on account of the fine timber which is sawed into lumber and sent to the markets. The naval stores obtained from the same source are of great value. All the enterprises of the county are prosperous, and the population is increasing rapidly. The winter climate is delightful. Eastman, though considerably below the Middle Georgia belt, is 356 feet above sea level. The thermometer in Dodge county has never been known to register 100, and sunstrokes are unheard of here.

By the census of 1890 Dodge county had 11,500 sheep, with a wool- clip of 24,634 pounds; 7,366 cattle, 434 working oxen, 2,525 milch-cows with a production of 3,980 pounds of butter and 172,435 gallons of milk; 600 horses, 640 mules, 12,000 swine, 32,000 poultry producing 46,000 dozen eggs. The production of honey is small, only 550 pounds.

Area of Dodge county is 495 square miles, or 316,800 acres. Population in 1900, 13,975; school fund, $10,083.52.

By the Comptroller-General's report for 1900 there are: acres of improved land, 233,234; of wild land, 112,828; average value per acre of improved land, $2.66; of wild land, $1.23; city property, $208,663; shares in bank, $44,718; gas and electric light companies, $10,000; money, etc., $152,093; merchandise, $64,117; cotton manufactories, $3,500; value of household furniture, $87,170; farm and other animals, $103,118; plantation and mechanical tools, $93,859; watches and jewelry, $5,366; value of all other property, $81,773; real estate, $967,601; personal estate, $676,723. Aggregate value of whole property, $1,644,- 324.

Property returned by colored taxpayers: number of acres of land, 16,914; value of land, $45,017; city or town property, $6,668; value of merchandise, $472.00; money and solvent debts, $779.00; household and kitchen furniture, $9,405; watches, jewelry, etc., $274.00; farm and other animals, $23,124; plantation and mechanical tools, $4,069; value of all other property, $917.00, Aggregate value of whole property, 190,824.

The tax returns for 1901 show an increase over the returns of 1900 amounting to $107,186 in the value of all property.

Population of Dodge county by sex and color, according to the census of 1900: white males, 4,193; white females, 4,077; total white, 8,270; colored males, 2,928; colored females, 2,777; total colored, 5,705.

Domestic animals in barns and inclosures, not on farms or ranges, June 1, 1900: 69 calves, 48 steers, 150 dairy cows, 67 horses, 27 mules, 296 sheep, 680 swine, 13 goats.

Source: "Georgia, Historical and Industrial" By Obediah B. Stevens, Robert F. Wright. Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer

The Eastman Riot

Eastman, the capital of Dodge County, in what is known as Middle South Georgia, has an unusual record. Here a hanging occurred in 1882, in which four men and a woman suffered the penalty of death. This is believed ,to be the largest number of people ever legally executed at the same time in any place In the United States. The hanging was the culmination of what was known as the Eastman Riot, and to the credit of the town, although it was only in its teens, the law was allowed to take its course, and Judge Lynch was kept in the background. It is an interesting story and deserves to go down in history as one of the bloody chapters of the Black Belt.

On Sunday, August 6, 1882 a big Negro camp meeting began in Eastman. The town at that time was only a small village. Fully three thousand Negroes from the surrounding country came in on several special excursion trains. Provisions were made for a few white people, and :among them was Jim Harwood, a boy about eighteen years old from Cochran, who came to visit relatives. In Eastman at that time there were nice drug stores, most of them being places opened for the sale of whiskey and calling themselves drug stores to keep within the law. Into these places many of the Negroes, both men and women, went to fill up on fire-water, and soon they had reached the danger line.

One Negro stole a watch of another and was detected. He was arrested and taken in charge by two town marshals, A. P. Harrell and B. A. Buchan. They started with him toward the calaboose, but he had been drinking enough to make him obstreperous, and he began an attack on the officers. He succeeded in freeing himself and ran. Buchan, thinking to frighten him, fired at him. The ball hit him just where his suspenders were crossed in the back, and he fell dead.

Great excitement followed among the Negroes, most of whom wore half drunk, and they gathered themselves into a howling mob not less than a thousand strong, and pursued the officers, both of whom mannered to escape. As the mob turned a corner, young Harwood saw them coming, and ran. Thinking he was one of the officers, the Negroes, like n pack of wolves, followed. He ran to the home of Mr. Wright Harrell and crawled under the house. The family was at dinner, and young Harwood ran into the back room and hid under the bed. The Negroes stormed the house, and Mr. Harrell begged them to leave, assuring them that their man was not there. Brushing him aside, they broke into the house and soon found the unfortunate youth. They dragged him out. beating him with clubs and pistols. As they came out with him an old Negro, who had been a slave of his father, forced his way through the crowd, and throwing his arms about the young man's neck, begged that his life be spared. He was beaten into insensibility, and then the boy was shot and beaten to death with pickets snatched from the fence by the members of the bloodthirsty mob. As Harwood was being dragged into the house, Ella Moore, a Negro woman, ran up and made several desperate efforts to cut his throat.

The death of the boy seemed to arouse the Negroes to a sense of their danger, and rushing to the trains they compelled the trainmen, at the point of revolvers, to pull out of town. Many of the Negroes were left, and soon they were fleeing in all directions.

In about an hour fifty or more farmers, armed to the teeth, rode into Eastman. They were organized and began a systematic search for the rioters. The jail was soon filled with prisoners, and there was a strong sentiment to lynch the whole crowd. This was strengthened when it was learned that three people who had been sick had died from the shock they had sustained when they had heard of the riot. There were conservative men enough, in the town to let the law take its course, and soon there were twenty-two prisoners in the jail, with evidence enough against them to convict.

Many of them had been arrested on the testimony of reputable witnesses in the neighboring towns, who had heard them boasting of what they had done.

Five of the twenty-two, Simon O Gwin, Joe King, Bob Donaldson, Reddick Powell and Ella Moore, were tried before Judge A. C. Pate, Tom Eason being the solicitor-general. They were convicted of murder, and all five of them dropped to death at the same moment in the court-house yard on the 20th of October, 1882. Seventeen of the others were found guilty, but recommended to mercy, and were sent to the penitentiary for life. Many of the witnesses of the deeds of this dark and bloody Sunday are still living at Eastman.

Source: "Georgia's landmarks, memorials, and legends" ... By Lucian Lamar Knight - Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer

Villages, Hamlets and Towns

Joiner, a post-hamlet in the eastern part of Dodge county, is not far from the Laurens county line. Eastman, ten miles west, is the nearest railroad station.
(Source: Georgia Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, VOL II, by Candler & Evans, Publ. 1906. Transcribed by Tracy McAllister)

Jolly, a post-village of Pike county, is on the Columbus & McDonough division of the Southern railway, and about five miles west of Zebulon. It has an express office, a good local trade, and does some shipping.
(Source: Georgia
Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, VOL II, by Candler & Evans, Publ. 1906. Transcribed by Tracy McAllister)

Godwinsville, a post-village of Dodge county, is a station on the Southern railway, about five miles southeast of Eastman.  It has an express office, some mercantile interests, school, churches, and is a shipping point for the vicinity.  The population in 1900 was 79.
(Georgia: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form. VOL III Publ. 1906. Transcribed by Marilyn Clore)

Rhine, a town in the southern part of Dodge county, was incorporated by act of the general assembly on Sept. 1, 1891. The population in 1900 was 191. It is located on the Seaboard Air Line railway, seven miles east of Abbeville, has a money order postoffice, with a number of free delivery routes radiating from it, ex­ press and telegraph offices, mercantile and manufacturing interests, and does a large shipping business.
Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form Transcribed by Kristen Bisanz

Sigurd, a post-hamlet of Dodge county, is about six miles northeast of Godwinsville, which is the nearest railroad station.
Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form Transcribed by Kristen Bisanz



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