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Exploring old South Laurel Street

POSTED: June 19, 2014 5:47 p.m.
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Shown is an ad for Tarver Hodges' produce business.

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In 1951 and 1952, Frank Arnsdorff and the Allen brothers (George and Albert Allen) bought the Springfield Lumber Company across from the Methodist Campground in Springfield. George Allman of Oliver had previously operated the mill. They also had a planing mill there in a building nearer the railroad on the back of the lot where they dressed lumber. Remnants of that building still exist in a thicket of underbrush.

After a fire burned and destroyed the mill, Frank Arnsdorff bought the Allen brothers’ interest in the business. The saw mill was rebuilt by Frank and portable sawmills were used here and there on the timber tracts. The mill operated until the early 1960s.

During the days when the mill operated, and in the acquisition of timber, Springfield Lumber employed up to “30-some” people. M.W. Bragg kept books and Victoria Usher worked in the office.

Mr. George Allen spoke highly of the level-headed Mr. Frank, saying that he was a very honest man and was kind. Mr. Allen said he did a lot for other people, like taking loads of wood he donated to widows who were unable to pay for wood to keep warm.

After World War II, an American Legion Post No. 209 was established in the late 1940s. They used an old building that once belonged to the Church of Christ in Rincon for their meetings.

Around 1950, they built a concrete block building (which sits just north of Gnann’s Fix It Shop). My uncle Edwin Exley is one of the charter members who established the post. A barbecue pit, built by Sol Ginn, covered by a tin shelter was on the property until more recent years.

The building was rented often for community events and family reunions for many years before other venues became available. During the 1950s and 1960s, a square dance was held for the public every Saturday night. Musicians were Ravenell Weitman on the piano and Melvin Newton. Fundraisers like barbecue dinners were common from this location.

There was a women’s auxiliary unit that supported the men. The ladies raised funds and built a room onto the back of the facility for their meetings. Post 209 and the women’s auxiliary are still active now with veterans of Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

George Brinson had a sawmill that operated when he established the Brinson Railroad in the early 1900s in Springfield in the now wooded area opposite the American Legion and south of the current business Gaffney’s Cheap Seats.

The state of Georgia has maintained a building for the state Department of Transportation to operate from for many years. A road crew and equipment work from the work yard and office there just north of the American Legion.

Jim and Lillian Simmons established Simmons Grocery in the late 1940s just north of the DOT.  They offered Gulf gasoline and kept a small store for many years. Lillian continued to operate the store after Jim died. As her health failed, the store closed in 1969. The store still stands. Tommy Simmons now lives in Jim and Lillian’s adjacent home. He parks a vehicle under the old canopy in front of the store.

Tarver Hodges operated Hodges Produce in a building about where the Family Dollar store sits today. He dealt in retail and wholesale produce. Tarver raised some of his own vegetables and purchased from local farmers and from farmers markets. Seasonal plants were available for sale. He had a cane mill using a mule in the fall to show people how a mule-operated mill squeezed cane juice and he sold the juice. He did not boil syrup on site.

Through the years Tarver’s produce also operated at the northeast corner of Laurel and Second streets.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society.  If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact her at 754-6681 or hesheraldexley@aol.com.

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