21 September 2011

The Lost Towns of Newton, Jasper, and Morgan

From the September 2011 Issue of "About Covington to Madison" Magazine

Welcome back to The Piedmont Chronicles. I hope this column finds you well. Thanks to everyone who read and responded to the previous edition's write-up of Hayston, GA. This month we will cover some of the lost towns of this area. Personally, I've always been very interested in the concept of ghost towns, vanished settlements, and things of the like. I find it fascinating and hope you will too!

The Lost Towns of Newton, Jasper, and Morgan

New Berlin – Throughout the 1800's many towns and villages would come and go in Newton Co. One of those was a settlement called New Berlin. New Berlin was founded on Haynes Creek in the late 19th century by German settlers in the area now known as North Oxford. There was a Post Office there from 1883-1887. It was thought that the town had a store and possibly a sawmill and a few other businesses. The exact location of the settlement is not surely known as the town would disappear and return to nature.

Newton Factory/Webbville (Factory Shoals) – South of Covington, right on the Alcovy, is what is now known as Factory Shoals. Way back in the day, around the mid 1800's, a factory was started by a Mr. John Webb. Mr. Webb was originally from Virginia and had moved to Georgia in the 1820's. His cotton mill was a major operation. Also in this area was another cotton mill as well as a grist mill in addition to some other businesses and several homes. For the most part, most of the operations ceased after the Civil War as Stoneman's Raiders showed little mercy to the area. Before long this town would go the way of so many others (Smith's Mill as you may remember from the Jasper Co.column or New Berlin for that matter) dying a slow death and eventually returning to nature. A Post Office existed in this village as early as 1832 and mail service would actually continue there until 1902. And according to the Kenneth Krakow book, “Place-names of Georgia,” the town's incorporation as a village would exist from 1854 all the way until 1995! I'm still not so sure that wasn't a misprint, but as yet, have not been able to verify it either way. The aforementioned Mr. Webb was the town's first postmaster and also operated the general store there for many years. Webbville (also referred to as just Webb) could be found on most Georgia maps from the mid 1800's up until the early 20th century.

Leakton/Leakesville – This first jumped out at me a couple of years ago when I found it on the1839 American Atlas map. Based on that map, it was in Jasper Co. right near the Newton Co. line. It caught my eye because I have family that lives in a city called Leakesville, MS. Still to this day, I haven't ever come across anyone in Newton or Jasper. (and I've asked at least a dozen or so folks) who has heard of or knew anything about this village. Maps throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries have it listed as both Leakton and Leakesville including the 1910 Rand McNally map of Georgia. To date I have not been able to find any real information on this mysterious town other than its location. Based on the multiple maps I have seen, it was about 4 or 5 miles south of Mansfield on what was most likely the Cherokee Rd (now known as Hwy 11). If I had to guess, I would think it was somewhere near the present day site of the Charlie Elliott Wildlife center. If anyone has any information on Leakesville—please email me.

Palestine – There existed in Morgan Co., at least for a short amount of time, a settlement called Palestine. The only documentation of said town is from the 1839 Map of Georgia & Alabama Exhibiting the Post Offices, Post roads, Canals, and Railroads by David H. Burr that was used in J. Arrowsmith London's The American Atlas. Based on the map, Palestine looked to be basically right in between Social Circle and Madison and served as a Post Office stop for at least a little while. The town was obviously short lived as it only appears in 1839 and was never again documented.

These are just a few of the vanished towns in our area. Morgan County can also lay claim to the following ones: Austin, Ebenezer, Stallings, Union Mill, and Zachry. Jasper County—Alva, Concord, Palo Alto, South Union, and Woodfin. And Newton County can count Cora, Leguin, Pace, and Sheffield among others.

The following will be coming down the pike soon: A write-up of Starsville, GA; a write-up of some of the unincorporated towns and villages of the surrounding area; some of my genealogical research; and another fictional short-story. Until next time... Marshall can be reached at marshmanslim@yahoo.com