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Homeland, Georgiia: The Vision

Homeland, Georgia: Forming the 1906 Colony Co.

Homeland, Georgia: Promoting 1906 Colony

Okefenokee Smokehouse of Homeland

Homeland, Georgia:  The Vision

By Austin Hickox

Charlton County Herald

June 17, 2009

It all started in 1905 when George Washington Moore, Cyrus W. Waughtel and a group of investors began searching for a large tract of land, in just the right location, to fulfill their dream of developing a colony-type community. It needed to be situated in the warm climate of South Georgia and near public transportation – in those days the railroad.

Moore was the financier and one of the two founders of the 1906 Homeland Colony Company. He was born in Madison County, Georgia on June 14, 1862.     

A very well-educated man in his time, Moore accumulated vast land holdings in North Georgia, Kingsland, Homeland and Texas. The Homeland Colony venture was well on its way to becoming a success when Moore died an untimely death on March 18, 1908.

A steam boiler at the sawmill he and Waughtel owned in Homeland blew up, decapitating Moore. He was sent back to Madison County by train for burial in the Vineyards Creek Baptist Church Cemetery without ever realizing the fulfillment of his venture.

Waughtel grew up in a Christian home and was educated in some of the best schools Pennsylvania had to offer at the time. He became a life-long educator himself, both in the schools and church.

Having been closely affiliated with P.H. Fitzgerald (organizer of a colony in Ben Hill County, Georgia and the 1904 St. George colony), Waughtel was apparently the mastermind behind the 1906 Homeland Colony Company venture.

Waughtel lived to see the City of Homeland incorporated in 1909 and held the elective offices of city councilman and mayor, He passed away on February 2, 1949 and is buried in the Pineview Cemetery in Folkston.

Their vision was to survey, plat and map out the Homeland Colony Company domains, complete with business and residential districts, public square, park, cemetery, streets, alleys, post office, school, churches, etc. They would then sell business parcels, home sites and small farms.

Sales would be mainly focused on retired Civil War veterans and other northerners yearning to relocate south away from the harsh, cold winters and backbreaking snow-shoveling of their hometowns.

Railway transportation through Charlton County had set the stage for such a venture in 1881-83 when the Waycross/Jacksonville rail line was completed. The opportunity was enhanced even further about 1902 when the Nahunta rail line (Jesup short line) was added.

Potential land purchasers and vacationers alike could board a train in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Illinois and many other points in the north and midwest on a daily basis and, in less than two days time, be in Homeland.

Before the coming of the railroads, the same trip could take several weeks by horse and wagon traveling over the muddy, poorly maintained roads of that era or negotiating the eastern coastline and inland rivers by steamship and riverboat where water travel was available.

The “Iron Horse, as the Native Americans called it, had opened up new frontiers deep into the heart of sunny Georgia and Florida. George W. Moore’s and Cyrus W. Waughtel’s vision of Homeland, Georgia was about to become a reality.

Next:  Acquiring land for the venture.

Homeland, Georgia: Forming the 1906 Colony Co.

By Austin Hickox

Charlton County Herald

August 12, 2009

By late 1906 the land for what would later become the City of Homeland had been purchased, the timber was being cut and stumps removed from an area large enough to lay out the town. C.W. Waughtel and G.W. Moore had planned it well and soon they had surveyors staking out city bl0ocks, lots and streets.

As the fledgling community progressed Waughtel & Moore soon recognized the need to raise promotional funds by taking on investors and selling shares of stock in the new venture. Of course, in those days (under Georgia law at the time) Incorporation could be certified by petitioning the courts to approve articles of incorporation as long as certain provisions of criteria were met.

In November of 1906, Waughtel, Moore and a group of petitioners, represented by their attorney Mr. Seth Evans, drew up a petition of Articles of Incorporation. The petition was filed on the District Court Docket to be considered by Superior Court Judge T.A. Parker.

That Petition of Articles of Incorporation were hand written (and well-written, I might add) on legal size notebook paper and is remarkably well-preserved today after more than one hundred years.

(Note: Rather than attempt to print excerpts from the Incorporation Petition this writer prefers to reprint it as follows, in its entirety, verbatim, exactly as it appeared in 1907 when it was delivered to Judge Parker for consideration.)

The Petition.    Georgia, Charlton Co.

To the Superior Court of said Co.,

The petition of G.W. Moore, C.W. Waughtel, W.H. Bruce, John Waughtel, John W. Koons and Eli Waughtel all of said State and County respectfully shows,

1st. That they desire for themselves their associates, successors and assigns to become incorporated under the name and style of the 1906 Colony Company

2nd. The term for which petitioners ask to be incorporated is twenty years with the privilege of renewal at the end of that time

3rd. The Capital stock of the corporation is to be twenty (four added later) thousand dollars divided into shares of one hundred dollars each. Petitioners however ask the privilege of increasing said Capital stock from time to time not exceeding in the aggregate four hundred thousand dollars

4th. The whole of said Capital stock of twenty (four added later) thousand dollars has already been actually paid in

5th. The object of the proposed corporation is pecuniary profit and gain to its stock holders. Petitioners propose to carry on a general Real Estate business to buy sell land either for cash or credit, to improve wild lands build homes and sell the same to establish Colonies to borrow money, and secure the same of liens upon any property real or personal which the said Corporation may own and to make all contracts which are usual or necessary and to do all proper acts which pertain to or may be connected with the Real Estate business.

6th. The principal office and place of business of the propose Corporation will be in the town of Homeland said State and County however petitioners desire the right to establish branch offices at any point in Georgia or Florida.

Wherefore petitioners pray to be made a body Corporate under the name and style aforesaid entitled to the rights privileges and immunities and subject to liabilities fixed by law. This August 12, 1907.   Seth W. Evans    Atty. For Petitioners

On October 30, 1907 Judge T.A. Parker rendered his decision on the Petitioners Incorporation request, as follows, verbatim:

The Court Renders its Decision

After hearing the foregoing petitioners and being satisfied that the same is legitimately within the purview and and intentions of the laws of Georgia and it appearing that said petition has been duly published according to law it is ordered and adjudged by the court that the said G.W. Moore, C.W. Waughtel, W.H. Bruce, John Waughtel, John W. Koons and Eli Waughtel and their successors and assigns be and they are hereby incorporated for the term of twenty years with the privilege of renewal at the end of said twenty years under the name and style of the 1906 Colony Company for the purposes of buying, selling and owning real estate with power to purchase and hold property real and personal to sue and be sued and to exercise all corporate power necessary to the purpose of their organization. It is further ordered that petitioners pay ______dollars cost of these proceedings this 30th day of Oct. 1907.    T.A. Parker, J.S.B.J.C.

According to the 1907 Georgia Secretary of State’s Report, archived in Morrow, Georgia there were only two Incorporations Certified in Charlton County during 1907, one being the “Cina Lumber Company” of Winokur, Georgia with $30,000.00 in stock and the other being the “1906 Colony Company” of Homeland, Georgia with $20,000 in stock.

Coming next: Structuring and promoting the town and the 1906 colony company.

Homeland, Georgia: Promoting 1906 Colony


By Austin Hickox

Charlton County Herald

September 2, 2009

Structuring and promoting the town and the 1906 Colony Company.

By December 20, 1907, Homeland’s Colony Company had been incorporated and the stockholders had elected a slate of officers and a board of executive directors.

They began a massive advertising campaign promoting land sales by mailing out flyers and through newspaper advertisements in such northern papers as those in Chicago, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, New York, Pittsburg and others. Those promotions advertised (almost bragging) the mild daily temperature in Homeland as compared to the frigid temperature up north.

Many of those that came to Homeland to live were so intrigued with the warm climate and investment opportunities here that they became stockholders themselves. As additional stockholders joined in the new venture, more land was purchased. Soon almost ten thousand acres were being surveyed and platted into lots, blocks and small farms.

When the Colony Company was first organized, a post office, railway depot and a general store were built to provide for the needs of those first few residents.

After the advertising campaign began, people came in great numbers. Almost daily, they were unloading off the trains in search of temporary lodging until they could buy or build their dream homes. Before long, rapid growth forced company founders to quicken their pace to build more homes, boarding houses, stores, a livery stable, blacksmith shop, a pressing club, and etc.

Along with all the new arrivals came the need for improved street and drainage – a monumental task in a cutover pine forest. Back then, streets were cleared and constructed mostly by hand labor using the common axe, crosscut saw and teams of horses and oxen. They did employ the use of a simple ingenious device called a stump puller. The puller was made up of a winch driven by a series of gears. The gears were turned by a twelve to fifteen foot long lever pole or sweep that was powered by horses or oxen walking in a circle much like the operation of a cane mill.

Of course, the largest stump in the area to be cleared was used as a fulcrum to anchor the puller to while pulling all the smaller ones around it. When all the stumps within reach of the pull cable had been removed they simply moved the puller to the next area and the fulcrum stump had to be dug out by hand or burned out.

Once the clearing was complete the road bed and ditches were formed by horse-drawn plows and primitive grading devices.  Cement culvert pipes for street drainage were also made locally by pouring cement mixed with hand tools into a homemade mold and allowing it to set-up. Early Homeland photos show stockpiles of these pipes stacked in neat rows near the old sawmill just off Paxton Road.

The streets were laid out well, even by today’s standards. Using a grid system, the north and south bound streets run parallel to the Waycross to Jacksonville Atlantic Coast Line (now CSX) Railroad. Most of the streets were sixty feet in width, including Hazel Street which is divided by that railroad with thirty feet on the east side and thirty on the west side.

The four streets that border the City Hall Block, (originally laid out as the business district) Ohio, Pennsylvania, Central and Broadway are eighty feet in width. There is some evidence that some of the streets on the outer rim were forty feet in width.

As we travel around Homeland today, it doesn’t take long to realize that there is a history lesson written into naming of the streets. For instance, Pennsylvania and Ohio Avenues were named after the home states of some of the founding fathers. Lincoln and Davis Streets were named in honor of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Moore Street (now Park Street) was named in honor of Homeland co-founder G.W. Moore.

Many were named after locally grown trees such as Oak, Pine, Poplar, Magnolia, Maple, etc. Other streets were named after fruit-bearing trees i.e.: Pecan, Plum, Pear, Peach, Orange, Walnut and Chestnut. These fruit-bearing tree names can probably be attributed to C. W. Waughtel and John Zarfos. Waughtel and Zarfos were known to be accomplished arborists.

Having studied grafting, budding and other techniques to improve varieties, they experimented with and planted grape vineyards and pecan orchards in Homeland, many of which are still bearing fruit today. It is also quite well known that they assisted farmers, gardeners and those just wanting a yard tree or vine, in establishing improved varieties throughout Charlton County.

Next: More on structuring and providing necessities for the fast growing Colony Company town.

Okefenokee Smokehouse of Homeland

By Lois Barefoot Mays

January 2006


Interview with Mrs. Geraldine W. Norwood, May 2, 1990

Charlton County Herald, various articles, 1921-1930

Homeland was still welcoming northern families into the new colony town in the early 1920s, when an unusual moneymaking enterprise was born. Mr. Eli Waughtel and his brother, Mr. C.W. Waughtel, two of the town’s leading citizens, realized that their neighbors needed more jobs in the new community and decided to establish a cigar factory, right there on Pennsylvania Avenue.

On the second floor of the small wooden building which was later the Homeland Post Office, the Okefenokee Smoke House of Homeland was born. The date was January 1921. And by the end of that year the factory was in full production with twenty people, mostly women, employed as bunch breakers, rollers and packers. Even this was not adequate for they had one November order for 16,500 cigars!

The name of this locally produced tobacco product was “The Dixie Flyer.”

Needing more experienced and faster producing employees, the two brothers soon brought in three expert cigar makers from Manheim, Pennsylvania.

Cigars were also produced in several rooms of the Palmetto Hotel, across the street, when the little business needed more space.

Advertising their tobacco products through the mail brought orders from many other states. By 1923, the Waughtels were mailing 4,000 letters at a time and orders for tobacco, cigars and pecans rolled in. The mail advertising increased the revenue at the Homeland post office so much that they soon enjoyed the same class post office as Folkston.

Mrs. Geraldine Norwood, daughter of Mr. C.W. Waughtel, recalled that her father was a good sales representative for the Okefenokee Smokehouse of Homeland. On trips to Jacksonville or other area cities, Mr. Waughtel stopped at many stores along the way, and with boxes of cigars tucked under his arm, he went inside, selling most of them.

Like numerous other small businesses, the cigar factory in Homeland went into a decline at the beginning of the great economic depression of the 1930s and soon closed down. But a large tobacco company in Jacksonville still offered work for women of this area with the following ad:  “Women wanted. Learn to be a cigar operator. Women and girls 16-30 years old. Earn at least 22 ½ cents per hour while learning.  Experienced operators make from $20.00 to $30.00 a week. John H. Swisher and Son, Jacksonville.”  Several Charlton County women began long careers of working for the Swisher Company in Jacksonville and Waycross at that time.

The cigar company with the unique name has almost been forgotten, but it was at one time a vital part of the colorful history of the growing town of Homeland, Georgia.


Forming 1906 Colony
Promoting 1906 Colony
Okfenokee Smokehouse
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