• Facebook

Charlton County Historical Society


The Charlton County Historical Society is located in the Lois B. Mays Historical Research Center, at 20 Cypress Street, in Folkston, Georgia. Our office houses a collection of artifacts, and a small library that includes bound early editions of the Charlton  County Herald. You can contact us at charltonhistoryandmore@

Spring Issue of Charlton County History  (click here to download)


Interested in becoming a member, donating or buying something to help support Charlton County Historical Society? Visit our store!

Located in Southeast Georgia, Charlton County was established by the Georgia Legislature in 1854.  In earlier times, Charlton County and the Okefenokee Swamp were the home of the Timuquan, Oconi, Seminole and Cherokee-Creek Indians.  Settlements in and around the great swamp date back to c. 500 BCE. In the 1620s and 1630s, Spanish priests established missions in some of the Oconi villages. Mission San Lorenzo de Ibihica was located on the eastern edge, near Kingfisher Landing. Mission San Diego de Ocone was located on Floyd's Island. 

(See Indians History and Pre-History)

This region became part of the disputed territory between France and Britain in the Seven Years' War (aka the French and Indian War). With the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the land was included in the British territory bounded on the south by the St. Marys River.
The Okefenokee Swamp contains the headwaters of both the Suwannee River and the St. Marys River. In the 1750s, a trading post on the banks of the St. Marys became the first official settlement of European colonists in what is now Charlton County. A small fort  ("Fort Alert") was built there, and was staffed with United States soldiers to protect the settlers from being attacked by Indians and marauding gangs of thugs. Later, the outpost became known as Traders Hill, and with the official establishment of Charlton County in 1854, it became the first county seat.


With the advent of the railroads in the 1830s, a small community known as "The Station" sprung up along the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway route from Waycross to Jacksonville.

It quickly grew to become the town of Folkston and, in 1901, it became the new county seat. Over the years, commerce increased, more settlers arrived and several small villages started up in the county, among them:

Billy’s Island
Camp Pinkney
Chesser Island Homestead
Kings Ferry
Leigh Hill / Sawpit Landing
Saint George
Trader's Hill



In 1909, other interests acquired the land, and tram railroads were built into the interior of the swamp. The Hebard Timber Company's logging operation led to the growth of a lively settlement of about 450 residents in the very depths of the Okefenokee, on Billys Island.


In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt (partly at the behest of his wife Eleanor) set aside 400,000 acres of swampland, islands, lakes, and prairies, in order to preserve the unique ecology and wildlife of the area.  Two months after it was declared a wildlife sanctuary, the Men of the Civilian Conservation Corps Company arrived.  They provided the labor that created the refuge, until November, 1941,  just prior to the outbreak of World War II.  Today this site is known as the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and Camp Cornelia is its headquarters.


For more information on the history of the Okefenokee, visit this link:


Images from Charlton County's early days
*If you have photos of old Charlton County please allow us to scan them for the historical record.* 

Chesser Island Gallery
Billys Island Gallery
Folkston in the 1950s and '60s
Saint George 1910 - 1918

Archive Documents
Photo albums of archive documents including the following:

1855 Tax Digest
1858 Vigilance Committee
1860 Census
1870 Census
1877-1893 County Commission
1887-1890 Bethel Church Register
Late 1800s Superior Court Records
1897-1932 Moniac Justice of the Peace
1913-1928 Voter Registration
1947 Tax Collection
Restaurant Ledger
Register of Posted Lands
Methodist Church Register
Digest of the Charlton County Herald 1908-1945  
Index of the Charlton County Herald 1908-1945  

Lists of Names
  1890 - Members, Bethel Episcopal Church

   1896 - Voter Lists

   1918 - Charlton County Draft Board

   1954 - Centennial Donors


Timeline (NEW - under construction) h
A collection of articles, essays, notes, and excerpts from books to help provide a narrative of Charlton County's past

Biographical Sketches

Biographical profiles of Charlton County citizens, printed in various periodicals over the years

Memories of Charlton 
A 36 page eBook: 
The life story of Madison Gibson as recounted to Lois Barefoot Mays.  Told anecdotally, it is the story of his life beginning in 1895, and continuing through two World Wars and the decades that followed in Charlton County.

Events Calendar


The Charlton County Historical Society offers several books about the area's history for sale:

"History of Charlton County"
by Alexander S. McQueen, 1932

"Charlton County Georgia Historical Notes"
by The Charlton County Historical Commission, 1972

"Settlers of the Okefenokee"
by Lois Barefoot Mays, 1975

contact us at


Robert Milledge Charlton was
a judge and US Senator from

Traders Hill Post Office, c. 1910 -- Postmaster Porte Crayon Tracy stands in the doorway.


MacDonald House Hotel


Digging the Suwannee Canal

Camp Cornelia



Roddenberry Hotel

1890 Folkston.jpg

Map of Folkston



The Okefenokee held a rich bounty of old growth cypress and pine trees, and the timber operations to harvest them became an important part of the local economy. In 1891 a group of Atlanta businessmen led by attorney "Captain" Henry Jackson tried to gain access to the groves. They attempted to dig a canal through the land formation known as Trail Ridge, and drain the waters into the nearby Saint Marys River, but they abandoned their efforts after three years and the project became known as "Jackson's Folly." The community that remained there came to be known as Camp Cornelia.

Folkston circa 1914 

From Our Archive

FolkstonGinAnd feeed.jpeg

This was the Folkston Gin and Feed, owned and operated by Albert Wallace Askew in the early days of Folkston. It was located where the County Extension Office (formerly the Health Department building) is today on the Kingsland Highway/HWY 40, across from the old elementary school.