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How Effingham towns got their names
A map of Effingham County found at the Old Jail Museum and published in Progressive Farmer magazine in the 1930s shows many of the old communities and railroad stops in Effingham. - photo by Photo submitted

As you ride through Effingham County you will see names of small communities that are located throughout the county.  

The earliest settlement in the county was the village known as Abercorn. This small village was settled by about 10 English speaking families just prior to the Salzburgers arriving and was located just off Old Augusta Road near the present day Effingham-Chatham County line.  Today it can only be identified as the site of a public boat landing.   

The site of Old Ebenezer, settled by the first groups of Austrians that arrived in 1734, was located down in a swampy area between the present Highway 21, Log Landing Road, Little Ebenezer Creek and Ebenezer Creek. This town was moved in 1736 to the present day site of the town of New Ebenezer, located near the Savannah River on the present day Highway 275. All three of the above towns are non-existent today, with New Ebenezer having only Jerusalem Lutheran Church and a small house as the only buildings left in the town from the original settlement.

Tuckasee King was located near the Savannah River in the northern part of the county. It was one of Effingham’s county seats in the late 1700s. Today it is only a public boat landing.

Elberton was also one the county seats in the late 1700s. This town was located near the Ogeechee River, about a mile from Egypt.  It too is non-existent today.   

The Goshen community was created in 1750, when early settlers were granted 50-acre tracts of land. One of my ancestors was Thomas Schweighoffer, who received a 50-acre land grant in 1754 in this community. Today this community is part of the city of Rincon.   

In 1799, the town of Springfield was created by order of the Georgia Legislature to be the county seat.    

In 1838, the Central of Georgia Railroad tracks were laid through our county. Every 10 miles the railroad established a train station, with every five miles, a half-station or stop. Since railroads used steam locomotives, the stations and half-stations stored firewood and water to keep the steam locomotives going.

The establishment of this rail line created the following towns or communities: Meldrim as a half-station, Eden as station number 2, Doswell as a half-station, Marlow and Pineora as rail stops, Whitesville (Guyton) as station number 3, Tusculum as a half-station, and Egypt as station number 4.    

Since there were two Whitesvilles in Georgia, one in Harris County and the other in Effingham County, when an application for a post office was submitted, it was turned down, because the Whiteville in Harris County had already been approved under that name. Another application for a post office was submitted using Guyton as the name of the post office and the U.S. Post Office accepted it and the town of Whitesville was renamed Guyton.   

The Central of Georgia Railroad was purchased by the S&A (Savannah and Atlanta) Railroad in the 1960s and the tracks abandoned through Eden, Marlow, Pineora, Guyton, Tusculum and Egypt, and the trains were rerouted through Springfield after railroad tracks were run from a point above Ardmore over to Oliver in Screven County. This new route connected to the old Central of Georgia line just below Oliver. Today you can only see pieces of the old Central Railroad bed as you ride up Highway 17 north of Guyton.   

In 1893, the South Bound Railroad was laid, creating the towns and communities of: Exley, Rincon, Birds, Stillwell, Berryville and Clyo as railroad stations or stops.

In 1907, the Brinson Railroad laid tracks from Savannah to Springfield, creating stations or stops called: Coldbrook, Blandford, Rahn’s Station and Springfield. In 1909, railroad tracks were completed to the Screven County line, which created stations or stops called: Bethel Station, Lorenzo, Shawnee, Ardmore and Kildare.

Today some of these names are just small communities with several houses. In the boom times of the railroads they were busy rail stops with depots and railroad sidings. Areas like Berryville and Tusculum had railroad platforms where the farmers loaded train cars with local potatoes to be shipped north. Potatoes became such a large crop in Effingham County in the early 1900s, that the Exchange Bank of Springfield had a sack of potatoes printed on their checks. The old newspapers tell about train carloads of mules and horses arriving at Clyo.

The Central of Georgia Railroad records, located in the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah, show a plan in 1942, to build a produce shed in Guyton to handle the large shipments of agricultural products from Effingham County.

In addition to the communities and towns listed above there is one more community in the county known today as Faulkville. I am sure that I have missed one or two small communities that have disappeared in our 273-year-old county history. It looks like the railroad created most of the towns or communities in Effingham County. I guess 50 years from now the various subdivisions in the county may become our next towns.  

This article was written by Norman V. Turner of Historic Effingham Society. If you have questions, comments or photos to share contact Susan Exley, who compiles the column, at (912) 754-6681 or email: