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The Waycross Reporter

February 2, 1889

[via Hawkinsville Dispatch]

Race Pond, Ga. Jan. 19 –The exodus to Florida is rapidly decreasing. As soon as official announcement was made of the safety from yellow fever at Jacksonville, every down train for several weeks was packed with northern tourists and invalids. It required from fourteen to eighteen trains daily to transport passengers and freight, and these trains were almost invariably behind schedule time.

We are informed that the first turpentining done in the state was in this county. It was carried on extensively before the war on the Satilla and St Marys rivers. After the close of the war, and the building of the road from Waycross to Jacksonville, the business rapidly extended into the interior, until four-fifths of the county is now boxed.

As fast as the turpentine is extracted the sawmill follows and in a few years this great industry will have utilized the pine forest, leaving a large part of Charlton almost a barren waste.

The best farming land in the county is in what is known as the “Cow House.” This is formed by an arm of the Okefenokee, forming an island three miles wide by ten miles long. The lands in this island are low, but the most productive in the county. No crop is ever lost by too much rain. The soil differs very materially from other portions of the county, the other being of a white sandy, while the soil in the “Cow House” is of a snuff color and as fine as flour. It is well adapted to the cultivation of corn, cotton, cane, potatoes, peas, oats and rice. Fruits and vegetables of all kinds grow luxuriantly. Well improved farms can be bought at from $300 to $500. It is perfectly healthy and convenient to two post offices, while the Okefenokee furnishes an inexhaustible supply of fish and wild ducks.

In our notes of last week we were in error in regard to the western boundary of the county. Instead of being bounded by the Okefenokee as stated, it is bounded by the county of Clinch, the Okefenokee swamp being in Charlton. On the west side there is about one hundred and forty acres belonging to this county and on which one man lives. This citizen has to travel up the swamp, around the head about forty-five miles to give in tax and attend court.

We were requested by several friends, before leaving Irwin, to write up a full description of the Okefenokee swamp for the columns of the Dispatch, but owing to the heavy rains this fall and winter, it is almost impossible to approach the great opening for water. During summer, if we remain here, and when the waters are low, we intend visiting this great watery desert. At this point the swamp is forty miles wide, and is interspersed with islands, the principle of which are Billy’s and Floyd’s. These cannot be seen from this point with the naked eye. Above is Floyd’s on which two families during the war lived and avoided military duty. Billy’s Island is below and abounds with game. Bruin has his lair here, and often forages out on the outer edge of the swamp and carries off many a fine porker. The alligators abound in large numbers and are being made profitable, their hides and teeth bringing a good price.

Quite a large number of stock have been killed by the train in this county. Many that were large stock owners when the road was first built own, now, but a few head. Last Wednesday night, near this place, nine head were killed at one time, tearing them into mince meat. Hard feelings have been engendered on account of this wholesale stock slaughtering and the low price which the railroad company pays for them.

from DeBrahm's Report
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