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Effingham lost a great citizen
From left to right are: front row, Gladys and Frank Arnsdorff, and back row are their sons and daughters-in-law, Sylvia and Wayne Arnsdorff and Sandy and Oneil Arnsdorff. Not pictured is son B.F. Arnsdorff. - photo by Photo submitted

Effingham County lost a fine man, Frank Arnsdorff, on Dec. 10, 2007.

Born Benjamin Franklin Arnsdorff on July 3, 1912, to Johnnie and Lillie Edwards Arnsdorff, he was a seventh generation Salzburger. He lived “within hollering distance” of his home out from Springfield toward Clyo all of his life. He had a sister, Anna Julia A. Bragg, and two brothers, W. Bertie and J. Oren Arnsdorff.  

Mr. Frank was educated at Green Morgan School and completed the seventh grade there, the highest grade available in the long gone rural community school. An additional education through the 11th grade was not possible at Clyo School because of a six-mile walk one way and lack of transportation for him at the time. So Mr. Frank went to work.

His father had instilled in him “if you want to eat, you ought to work.”  And work he did from his teens throughout his life. Circumstances in the family kept his family living on the old home place to care for his grandmother.  

They farmed and grew cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, watermelons and garden vegetables.  

“I knew what it was like not to have money, but I did not know what it was to be without food,” Mr. Frank said.

Mr. Frank worked on the family farm, which was located on the present Arnsdorff Loop, until he borrowed $250 at age 20 to buy a second hand truck. Working all of his life self employed Mr. Frank said he “never had a job with a salary.”   

In 1936, the 24-year-old married, Miss Gladys Seckinger who grew up in the community and had attended school with him.  They had and reared three sons: H. Oneil, Benjamin Franklin Jr. (“B.F.”) and L. Wayne Arnsdorff. Mr. Frank and Mrs. Gladys stayed on the family farm taking care of his parents until they passed away in the 1960s. He spent the last part of his life nearby in a home he built for his wife and him on Old Dixie Highway.

Mr. Frank used the truck he began business with to haul cordwood, cross ties, produce to market or any items others hired him to transport.  He recalls hauling pulpwood to Savannah for $5 a trip and at that time gasoline cost 15 to 18 cents a gallon. He raised truck crops such as potatoes and watermelons he hauled to market.

In 1940, a hurricane brought many trees down, so he rented a saw mill and operated it for a while until according to him “it (the trees downed) played out.”  

According to Mr. Frank he “made my (his) first thousand dollars” cutting piling for creosote in the Bloomingdale area. When the Savannah shipyard opened, Mr. Frank proudly hauled in the “second load” of pilings when the gate opened for the trucks in line. Although not in service in World War II, he did help supply material for the government at the shipyard.

He rented a saw mill from Mr. Hardy Ford and did “piece work” buying timber and sawing lumber for a while. In the summers, he would buy produce and carry it to market all over the country. Sometimes he went to Old City Market in Savannah, arriving in the evening and spending the night to sell early the next day.  

On the truck, he went to Columbia, S.C., a lot and also to Augusta, Atlanta and Florida from Jacksonville to Miami. Traveling as far away as Ohio taking watermelons or produce, Mr. Frank bought vegetable items there to bring back to markets in Georgia. He recalled going to Texas with cabbage and onion plants.   

About 1945, he was in the sawmill business with Wilton Arnsdorff. They bought tracts of timber and later got a bulldozer to clear land which Mr. Frank ran while Wilton tended the mill. They stayed in business for a good many years, dividing the business so that Wilton got the bulldozer and Mr. Frank got the sawmill which he later closed down.  

In 1951 and 1952, Mr. Frank and the Allen brothers (George and Albert Allen) bought the Springfield Lumber Company across from the Methodist Campground in Springfield. They also had a planing mill there and dressed lumber. After a fire burned and destroyed the mill, he bought the Allen brothers’ interest in the business. The saw mill was rebuilt by Mr. Frank and portable sawmills were used here and there on the timber tracts. The mill operated until the early 1960s. During the days he ran the mill and in the acquisition of timber, he employed up to “30 some” people.

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.  

In 1953 and 1954, Mr. Frank served as county Farm Bureau president and later served a term as vice president. He was active in the Springfield Chapter, operating a farm over his entire lifetime. Mr. Van Morgan ran Mr. Arnsdorff’s farm for many years until his sudden death at which time, Mr. Frank farmed some again himself until about age 75. Later on, that farming was his vegetable garden.

Another business endeavor was a partnership with Albert Grovenstein in Springfield around the mid 1950s and early 1960s. They operated G&A Motors, the former Dedge Dodge Dealership.

To be continued next week.

This article was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society.  If you have comments, photos or information to share please contact her at 754-6681 or email: