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Traders Hill

Traders Hill  downtown 1921 Postcard2.jpg

History of charlton county

By Alexander S. McQueen

Traders Hill, Georgia Postmasters

by Lois Barefoot Mays

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Eddie Lambert's Memories

by Eddie Lambert

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Herman O. Smith

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On this page:
1  Excerpt from "History of Charlton County,"  by Alexander S. McQueen

"Traders Hill, Georgia Postmasters"  by Lois Barefoot Mays
Petition to Change the Courthouse Site
"Eddie Lambert's Memories"
"Retrospection" by Herman O. Smith
Eddie Lambert's Memories
Traders Hill, Georgia Postmasters
Excerpt from "History of Charlton County" by Alexander S. McQueen
'It cannot be definitely determined the exact time Trader’s Hill was established as a trading post, but it was probably about the year 1755, for we have recorded history, backed by authentic documents, of a settlement in this territory at that time.
Trader’s Hill was the head of navigation of the St. Mary’s river for many years, and was a village of considerable importance in the early days of the State’s history. This village was settled on the banks of the river, and a rude stockade or fort was maintained for several years, garrisoned by United States soldiers. The communication and report of the military commission sent by Governor Rabun in 1819 to ascertain the true head of the St. Mary’s river, refers to Trader’s Hill as “Fort Alert” and the report mentioned the fact of a company of regular troops of the United States Army being stationed there at the time. This report is given in another chapter.
This fort and garrison was maintained to protect settlers when the Indians were on the “war path,” and it is entirely probable that the old fort was established by the English before the Revolutionary War in the dispute which was carried on with Spain for over a century. At one time during the pioneer days when the fort was not garrisoned by United States soldiers, a band of Indians crossed the St. Mary’s river from Florida and brutally murdered a white man named Fleming. Hon. S.F. Mills, Sr., now deceased, gave the author the following account of this incident: “That after murdering Fleming the Indians plundered his home, taking what they wanted. They bound his wife with strong buck-skin cords and carried her to the banks of the river where they set their hungry dogs on her. The dogs bit her severely, but after the Indians had left she managed to free herself by biting the thongs in twain, and then ran all the way to the fort on the Satilla river, about 18 miles distant. A party was formed to pursue the murderers, but they had made good their escape into Florida.”
A remarkable incident of this raid by the Indians was the sparing of the lives of the two Fleming children. There was a baby boy just a little over three weeks old lying in a cradle and being rocked by his brother, three years old. The Indians never attempted to harm these children, and the three weeks’ old Fleming child grew up in this county (then Camden), and, after reaching manhood, married Miss Elizabeth Mills, member of a prominent pioneer family. This baby, spared by the Indians, lived to reach a ripe old age, as did also his three years old brother.
Trader’s Hill remained a pioneer trading post of a few stores and bar-rooms until 1854, when the county of Charlton was created and this village selected by the voters as the county-seat. This seemed to give the old village, probably established by the English during the dispute with Spain over the territory between the St. Mary’s and Altamaha rivers, new life, and the old town became the center of commerce and culture for a vast territory of Southeast Georgia and North Florida.
The principal industry of this old town was trade between the storekeepers and the pioneer farmers and this was chiefly the exchange of merchandise, shot and powder, for furs, hides, wool, cotton, beeswax, tallow, etc. Every store-keeper was a trader and every mercantile establishment carried, as a matter of course, a well stocked bar. These bars were responsible for frequent brawls, for the pioneer was, at times, a hard drinking, fighting individual, but these fights were usually of the “fist and skull” variety although several killings are credited to old Trader’s Hill.
This old village remained a thriving center of trade until the construction of the old S.F.&W. railroad from Savannah to Jacksonville, and the establishment of the town of Folkston on the railroad. After two or three unsuccessful attempts the county-site of Charlton County was, after a very bitter fight, removed from Trader’s Hill to Folkston in the year 1901, the first court being held in Folkston in October, 1902.
When Trader’s Hill was selected as the county-site of Charlton county in 1854, it was provided in the Act that a court house and jail be built at once, and accordingly a two-story wooden courthouse was constructed, the ground floor being utilized by the county officers as offices and the trial court room, and the upper story was used as a grand jury room and there was also a room for the petit jury out on a case. It was, at one time, also used as a meeting place for the Masonic Lodge.
The jail was constructed along rather unique lines. It was a high structure built of hewn logs and the logs studded with spikes, and the only entrance being at the top of the first story. When a prisoner was carried up a stairway one story he was then sent down a ladder into the jail, and the ladder was then withdrawn, leaving the prisoner the only chance of escape by scaling the straight walls, and if he could do this he would then have to break open a trap door locked from the top side. The door was placed about the center of the top of the first story, and was locked by a pad-lock from the outside. As there were no “human flies” in those days, after a prisoner was let down to the bottom of the jail, the ladder he used to get down on withdrawn and the opening at the top locked, there were no escapes. When a man was put in the old Charlton county jail he usually stayed “put.” An old citizen informs the author that Daniel R. Dedge, the first sheriff of Charlton county, was a hardy pioneer, a man of courage and rare common sense.
Shortly after the creation of the county two negro slaves were tried by a citizens court and summarily executed; this incident will be given in another chapter.
In the early days it seems that very little comity existed between the States, especially between Georgia and Florida, and the fact that the court house at Trader’s Hill was located near the banks of the St. Mary’s river which was the dividing line between the two States, gave the officers, especially the sheriffs and bailiffs at court, a great deal of trouble. At that time Florida was a vast, wild, undeveloped territory.
A prisoner being tried for a bailable offense had the opportunity of waiting for a verdict, and if unfavorable to him, make a dash for the river, and if he could out-run the sheriff, reach the river and swim across, was safe from pursuit and punishment, and could remain free so long as he remained in Florida. This meant virtual banishment, however, and one convicted would never attempt to come back to Charlton county or to Georgia. These escapes across the border were of frequent occurrence, especially those who had been out on bail. Those under bond could not be hampered by the sheriff until after conviction, and when they would hear the foreman of the jury read a verdict of “guilty” they would make a dash for the St. Mary’s river, Florida and safety.
The officials at that time could not rely upon the success of extraditions or did not bother about it, for in the early history of this section – and of all Georgia for that matter – it was accepted as a matter of course that every fugitive from justice had “gone South,” and that meant Florida. This is probably the origin of the expression: “He has gone South,” and we say this without any intention of casting any reflection upon our neighbor State.
In the old days a session of the superior court was an event to look forward to, and the people would come to spend the week, for it usually required an entire week for the completion of the business of the court, and in those days, there was no “hurry and bustle” about the courts or anything else.
Most of the jurors, witnesses, parties litigant and spectators – and this meant the entire male population – would attend, bringing their horses, mules and oxen, usually attached to a two wheel cart. They would do their cooking at night around the camp fires, and it was a time to “eat, drink and be merry.”
It was also the occasion for a great many “fist fights,” horseracing and kindred sports.
A famous character who attended these sessions of court was Judge Martin Mershon, a noted criminal lawyer of his day. He lived at Brunswick, and later became judge of the superior courts of his circuit. While engaged in the practice of law Judge Mershon would camp out, drink and spin yarns with the boys all night, and win his cases the next day. He was a master story-teller, and was a shrewd and brilliant criminal lawyer, and was very popular in Charlton county. He was, at one time, a resident of old Trader’s Hill.
During the sessions of superior court the business of horse-swapping and trading was of equal importance with the court itself. The old time professional horse-trader was a master in his line, and the ordinary citizen had very little chance in a horse trade or swap. This fact did not hamper or retard the business of horse-trading, for every time a farmer was cheated he invariably came back for “another dose,” always thinking he would come out ahead the next time, but the “next time” rarely ever came. It was a great game, and while the professional horse-trader was admittedly a cheat and swindler in a horse trade, they were usually a jolly, likeable lot, and it was considered perfectly legitimate to misrepresent the facts in a horse or mule trade. In those days every store was a bar room, and the judge and attorneys joined the jurors, witnesses and spectators when court was not in session and when the drinks were “passed around.”
All that is left of old Trader’s Hill is the beautiful site along the banks of the St. Mary’s river; the giant, moss-draped oaks still stand, and it is yet the beauty-spot of the entire section. There is still one store in the old village, and a Methodist church yet functions there, but it has long since gone to join the ranks of the “dead and forgotten towns” of early Georgia history.
The site of old Trader’s Hill, first known as Fort Alert, is now owned almost entirely by the Georgia-Florida Investment Co., a corporation, and Mr. J.V. Gowen, principal owner of the corporation and manager of its varied interests, lives there.
In the old cemetery lies sleeping many prominent members of the old pioneer families, and every year their descendants come from the “four corners” to visit and care for the graves of their ancestors.
The pioneers selected a beautiful spot for their seat of government, and it is today a spot of matchless beauty. The old court house and jail have long since been destroyed; the old stores and bar-rooms have passed away in decay; the residences and boarding houses have long been torn down and removed, but, skirting the old site on the south the magnificent St. Mary’s river placidly flows toward the Atlantic Ocean, and through the giant, moss-draped oaks the south wind still speaks of fierce combats, noble adventures and sweet romances of an almost forgotten past.
Postmasters of Traders Hill, Georgia

By Lois Barefoot Mays

In January 1909, Porte Crayon Tracy, [Aug. 7, 1866-April 9, 1943] a resident of Florida and owner of Tracy’s Ferry at Traders Hill landing, became the first postmaster.

There was no post office at Traders Hill and the growing community needed a better way of handing the mail than the usual practice of dumping it out on a counter in an unused corner of someone's business, and letting people sort through it whenever they expected a letter or a package.

The people of Traders Hill begged Mr. Tracy to be postmaster, but he didn’t want the job as he was too busy to be tied down to this responsibility. His neighbors said that he could set his own terms, if he would just agree to be their postmaster. 

Mrs. Minnie Haddock Tracy, wife of Mr. P.C. Tracy, in an interview of January 17, 1974, told of the terms under which he accepted this responsibility:

Porte Tracy told his friends that he would agree to work in the post office only two hours each weekday, and that arrangement was accepted. He picked out a good location, which was an old cooper's shed (for barrel-making) that was on the left side of the road as you go toward the river. It was about 15' x 15', which he divided up into a waiting room and the post office, separated by a wooden customer counter.

Then for two hours each weekday, the new post office became the gathering place at Traders Hill. After the letters were delivered by a mailman on horseback (for a while W.R. Keene, of Traders Hill, was the carrier) patrons came to the little building, asked for their mail and bought stamps, money orders and postcards.

Postmaster Tracy installed four boxes and collected rent on them each month. He was paid a commission of three cents for each money order and the fees from all stamps sold. (Stamps were two cents at that time.)

Continuing under this informal agreement, Mr. Tracy carried out his postmaster duties until March 1913, when the government eliminated the Traders Hill Post Office and the mail for this village was sent to Folkston.

According to the official records of the Charlton County, Ga. post offices in the National Archives of History in Washington D.C., the following citizens served as Postmasters at Traders Hill, Georgia, beginning in 1852:

Roberts, John,  April 1852

Mizell, John,  October 1852

Smith, Francis M., November 1856

Guckenheimer, Isaac December 1858

Smith, Francis M.,  September, 1859

Jones, Benjamin F.,  February 1866

Copp, Allen,  December 1867

Jones, Benjamin F.  February 1870

Hatcher, Robert,  February 1874

Crabtree, James B., February 1887

Crabtree, James B., February 1889

Leigh, Owen R.,  June 1889

Mizell, J.S.,  January 1897

Mattox, Sarah J.,  April 1899

Hatcher, Isaac T.,  July 1905

Hatcher, Robert,  July 1906   He died in September 1908.

Petition To Change Courthouse Site 7-20-1901

State of Georgia  Charlton county


To the Honorable Ordinary of said county


The petition of the undersigned citizens of said county and poll tax payers exceeding in number twofifths of all poll tax payers as shown by the Taxreceiver’s digest last made out of said county shows that it will be of public utility to the citizens of said county to remove or change the county site of Charlton County from Traders hill Ga. the present site to Folkston Charlton county Georgia.


Wherefore your petitioners pray the granting of an order by your Honor directing an election to be held at the various election precincts in said county for the purpose of determining whether or no the county site shall be changed or removed to Folkston Ga and that such other action be taken by your Honor in the premises as is required by the statutes in such cases made and provided and your petitioners will ever pray


John J. Upchurch

J.H. Parker

J. G. Johns

F. C. Whiddon

J. M.  Morrison

T. J. Allen

Gus Swain

E. L. Martin

Miles Albertson

Geo. W. Mozo

T. B. Blount

Tom Piler

Will Smith

C. E. Murrhee

Rev. R. C. Clair

H. W. Gainey

E. A. Parler

C. McCall

Dr. J. W. Strickland

H. D. Carman

W. J. S. Strickland

T. H. Fisher

R. H. Dinkins

G. W. Reynolds

 James Reynolds

James Kinder

Alex Holborn

N. W. Kesney

 G. W. Burnsed

James Cowart

W. J. Colly

Charlie King

S. W. Wooten

J. P. Hines

M. J. Raulerson

 W. W. Mozo

 C. C. Cowart

 Ike Austin

 H. R. Morrison

Jon Bellary

Geo. Griswald

Jon Gilbert

P. M. Duncan

B. A. Griffin

W. O. Raulerson

Dan Murcheson

R. T. Thrift

J. F. Burnsed

H. B. Gainey

M. A. Hodges

C. M. Owens

H. L. Hodges

Matthew Crawford

C. B. Cone

J. G. McLean

Larence Everts

Chas. Berry

J. P. Roddenberry

Sam Hannans


C. L. Mattox

J. J. Mattox

J. P. Johnson

E. N. Grooms

G. H. Robinson

G. E. W. Bryant

J. H. Rodgers

E. T. Hatcher

John Wilson

J. T. Mizell

T. A. Christ

P. Lambert

J. E. Rogers

Burrel Johns

Jas. E. Robinson

E. D. Rogers

N. N. Mizell

O. F. Wilson

Geo. A. Layton

 Will Gibbs

W. J. Neely

Dave Moody

W. L. McDuffie

L. F. Dinkins

W. M. Garret

H. S. Mattox

D. W. Foreman

G. P. Franks

C. W. Baily

 I. D. Dowling

H.  R. Taylor

L. M. Floyd

F. D. Wainright

Aron Taylor

J. Taylor

A. J. Taylor

J. W. Todd

 J. T. Taylor

J. S. Taylor

. F. J. Oneal

. F. F. Daniel

. S. C. Crews

.  J. M. Johns

. M. C. Crews

.  L. C. Crews

. S. E. Lee

. James A. Lowther

. I. C. Johns

. J. B. Robinson

. N. H. Crews

. Glen Hendricks

. Sase Strain

. J. A. Strain

. W. L. Wainright

. E. S. Herrin

. P. C. Riles

. J. D. Herrin

. D. R. Wasdin

. J. A. Prescott

. H. T. Woolard

. C. W. Prescott

. Henry Prescott

. H. T. Petty

. W. G. Higginbotham

. G. W. Allen, Jr.

. D. F. Byrd

. A. F. Byrd

. M. T. Howard

. J. A. Allen

. A. Pritchard

. B. S. Prescott

. S. P. Howard

. J. C. Allen

. L. M. Bedell

. S. E. Oberry

. N. Roddenberry

. M. M. Youmans

. O. S. Chancy

.   J. B.  Not Legible

. E. C. Johnson

. J. W. Roddenberry

. J. Harden

. R. F. Roddenberry

. Hamp Crews

. W. M. Johnson

. W. W. Davis

. Nathan Dixon

. R. A. Hardee

. P. G. Mizell

. W. M. Olliff

. J. P. Stalling

. McD. M. Boothe

. D. B. Coner

. S. F. Mills

. T. F. Kennison

. W. W. Tyler

. G. P. McDonald

. O. K. Harris

. J. R. Guinn

, B. G. McDonald

. J. C. Wright, M.D.

.  J. A. Hathaway

. Marion Altman

. I. T. Hatcher

. Ishmel Anderson

. Wm. Douglas

. Jehu Paxton

. M. J. Paxton

. L. E. Mallard

. J. Price Robinson

. L. E. Roddenberry

.  Jack Hatcher

.  Joel Brown

.  W. J. Brown

. P. E. Moffett

. Paul Washington

. Charley Baily

. H. H. Hathaway

. J. W. Dickson

, D. C. Layton

. W. R. Wainright

. B. F. Davis

. C. M. Raybon

. Shell Malone

. Wiley Green

. G. W. Haddock

. Tracy Stewart

. R. L. Caruthers

. J. H. Knight

. J. W. Readdick

. C. G. Earnest

. B. F. Scott

. J. R. Ocain

.  John Pollost

. G. W. Roddenberry

. Silas Chatman

. E. F. Dean

. Tom Petty

. T. T. Petty

. L. J. Fickling

. D. H. Owens

. Dixon Thomas

. C.W. Thomas

. A. J. Hodges

. J. W. Vickery

. Thomas Beal

. F. C. Larn

. Geo. Reynolds

. C. C. Cannady

. R. L. Yarbrough

. W. M. Harris

. N. J. Roling

. J. D. or J. P. Canady

. A. Benton

. J. E. Mizell

. John Smith

. R. T. Oquin

. H. H. Crews

. J. W. Dinkins

.  Mose Crews

. Geore or Sesse Crews

. Jerarnell Crews

. Ben Hiskox

. Phillip Wainright

. Thomas Rattliff

. G. W. Anderson

. S. G. Campbell

. Elias Hendrix

. J. C. Carter

. Raferd Carter

. H. T. Carter

. J. J. Griffin

. O. G. Medlin

.  H. J. Mcclain

. R. T. Thrift

. Tom Howell

. Mos Hendrix

. H. N. Johnson

. J. E. Jones

. A. L. Striskland

. W. J. Medlin

. frank williams

. Dempsy Maxwell

. Wm. Perry

. M. B. Elerson

. T. G. Gailes

. John Mixon

. W. R. Anderson

. C. F. Taylor

. Sam Cornelus

. S. B. Phillips

. A. H. Crews

. J. L. Thrift

. S. P. Howard

. J. S. Testen

. Allen Box 

.  W. S. Oquin

. J. M. Oquin

. E. D. Oquin

. T. H. Crews

.  N. L. Crews

. Jesse Barber

. C. Allen

. J. E. Johns

. J. R. McChilard

. Thomas Rhodon

. Jesse Ham

. James I. Ogin

. O. K. Lowther

. W.M. Jones

. J. W. Davison

. Rob Harreson

. Jef Miller

. Edmen Wordard

. J. R. Crews

. Franklin Johns

. Sipell Edward

. J. M. Wilds

. E. D. Wainright

. H. B. Higginbotham

. A. S. C. Wainright

. H. Harris

. D. L. Harris

. D. J. Shiver

. J. D. Dowling

. B. A. Chesser

. Robt Jones

. J. R. Cooper

. L. W. Woollard

. C. T. Thernten

. E. Knolles

. N. B. Russel

. Henry Upton

. J. D. Roddenberry

. H. Morgan

. S. Ostine

. J. B. Kenison

. P. S. Steadman

. Frank Jones

. Simern Murchat

. D. Sikes

. A. L. Loyd

. E. C. Kenison

. D. F. Roddenberry

. W. H. Mizell

. W. H. Boothe

. A. H. Howard

. G. H. Jacobs

. J. Bailey

. Sam Councel

. G. F. Osteen

. E. B. Stokes

. H. Tomlinson

. J. H. Thompson

. John Carter

. T. W. Vickery

. Lenard s. farris

. E. L. Chesser

. M. Sellers

. James Austain

. J. H. Mosley

. A. F. Wildes

. W. J. Rhoden

. S. B. Roddenberry

. E. S. Striskland

. H. A. Crews

. John Leash

. Dan Anderson

. Peter Andersen

. P. B. Higginbotham

. H. J. W. Higginbotham

. W. H. Griffin

. W. E. Suggs

. J. O. E. Adms

. Frank Deely

. Jim Bell

. Jordan Jackson

. Frank Bradley

. S. P. Wainright

. W. N. Murry

. John Durden

. D. F. Anderson

. J. J. Harris

. Harmon Johns

. J. T. Wainright

. A. L. Dinkins

. Wesley Goodman

. Sandy Stewart

. Wm. Thopson

. N. W. Wainright

. Simen Herland

. G. W. Wainright

. R. Wainright

. A. W. Petty

.  John Upton

. L. R. Raulerson

. Lottie Simmons

. Arch Rogers

. W. O. Gibson

. J. M. Wilson

. John A. Wainright

. J. A. Roddenberry

. T. E. Wainright

. C. H. Lloyd

. P. Burgins




The Above petition Read and Considered the prays of petitioners Granted.   It is ordered that An Election be held at the Several Voteing precincts in Charlton County on Wednesday the 18th day of September 1901 for the purpose of Voteing for or against the moveing of the court from Traders hill Ga to Folkston Ga Charlton County  let Notice be published in the charlton County Hearald a news paper as the Law directs.


      G.W. HADDOCK, Ordinary


This July the 20th  1901



Filed and Duly Recorded in my office this 20th day of July, 190l.


Minute Book One, page 71.


      G. W. HADDOCK,  Ordinary

Transcribed from original document

By  Lois B. Mays, February 9, 2007.


As Told To

Lois Barefoot Mays


Fannie and King Lambert lived in Traders Hill, one of the most historic areas of Charlton County, Georgia,  in the tract just south of the cemetery, where they could watch funerals taking place while standing in their yard.  They owned a farm with pigs and cows, and the children had farm jobs to do when they came home from school, such as feeding the animals.


Mrs. Lambert died when Eddie was nine years old and her mother, Mrs. Amy Maxwell lived with the family and helped raise her grandchildren until they were grown. Then she helped raise the children of the youngest son.


The family, like many others, attended two churches – Adam’s Grove Baptist Church and Spatcher’s Chapel Methodist Church at Traders Hill. Each church had a separate Sunday for worship. The church that was having services on Sunday is where they, and other families, went for worship. Eddie is now a member of Bethlehem Holiness Church in Folkston and his pastor is Bobby Roberson.


The Lambert children were: Kado, Pearlie, Nora, Carbert, Sammie, Eddie, Virginia, Mary and Leroy who were twins, and Martha, a baby who died when very young.


Eddie Lambert was born November 10, 1914.


The young people of Traders Hill made their spending money by helping area farmers gather their crops. Eddie, among others, picked cotton for Mr. Henry Gibson and also cropped tobacco for Mr. Alex Dasher who was the grandfather of Eddie’s future wife, Blanche’s.


King Lambert worked in turpentine for Walter Hopkins at Toledo, a small community about seven miles south of Traders Hill.  The family bought their groceries and clothes at the Hopkins commissary at Toledo.  On Saturdays one or two of the children, and sometimes their daddy,  made the trip over the dirt road to Toledo by horse and wagon, taking with them a list of items needed for the coming week.  The commissary was a large store that had three sections of groceries, clothing goods and shoes, and feed for farm animals. Eddie’s mother bought material to make dresses for the girls, or bought overalls and overall suits for the boys. The commissary building was heated by a gas heater and a wood stove. Miss Eva Mattox helped run the commissary. She later married Noah Stokes who was Walter Hopkins’ partner in the turpentine business. Mr. Stokes’ first wife had died.


Everyone at Traders Hill got along very well with one another, almost as if they all belonged to the same family. Whenever Eddie’s father killed a hog or cow, he shared the fresh meat with his neighbors, and the neighbors did the same thing on their butchering day. King Lambert was a person that neighbors consulted when illness occurred, as he knew old-time remedies.  For instance, there is a small bush in the woods with a tiny white bloom known as Wild Quinine.  This was gathered and dried and when a person had a fever, it was crumbled and steamed in hot water, making a light yellow liquid. The sick person drank this and was soon feeling better. Also, a Trumpet Bush could be dug up and the jointed roots  pulled apart, washed and steamed and the resulting liquid was a remedy for stomach trouble. Eddie was given this medicine as a child and it made him feel lots better. When Carl Jones, a nearby neighbor came to Mr. Lambert one day, telling how sick his wife was, Mr. Lambert said, “Your wife is pregnant!”  This indeed was the problem. Several months later she had a little girl,  LaFayne, who later married Junior Thomas.  Dr. Fleming was the family doctor for serious illnesses.


The school the children attended faced on the Tracy Ferry Road leading to the river. It was a one-room building. Among the teachers were Australia Smith of Waycross, Miss Lottie L. Fisher of Brunswick, and Miss Marie Wallace. The school was divided into two sections, girls on one side and boys on the other, and it graduated students after the eighth or ninth grades.


When Eddie lived in Traders Hill there were two parallel roads leading to the river. About middle-ways, near an enormous Magnolia tree (which at one time was reputed to be the largest Magnolia in Georgia) was the school house where he got his education.  The large building had many windows, but only on one side, still there was plenty of light. It was heated in the winter with a long, low wood heater and the oak wood produced plenty of heat.


In the spring when the magnolias bloomed, the children picked the large fragrant flowers and brought them home. It instantly made their house smell wonderful, and even after a day or two when the petals had turned brown, they smelled sweeter still.  Sometimes they prolonged the beauty of these blooms by putting them in the refrigerator at night, and taking them out each day.


One day Eddie made up his mind that he really liked a cute girl in his class. He picked up a rock before going in the building and while his teacher Miss Wallace wasn’t looking, wrote a note to this pretty girl, wrapped it tightly around the rock and threw it at her. Miss Wallace didn’t see this happen, but the little girl just picked up the rock, leaned over and dropped it through a crack in the floor. That didn’t stop Eddie from trying this again, so the next day he did the same thing, wrapped a note around a rock and threw it at the little girl. She again dropped it, without reading it, in the crack in the floor.


At recess that day Eddie approached cute little Blanche Dasher and asked her why she didn’t read his notes. She told him her parents wouldn’t let her talk to boys unless they came to her house and asked for permission. So that’s what he did. He visited the Dasher home and talked to Blanche’s mother, who gave her permission. Then it was all right for Blanche and Eddie to talk to one another at school.  They had no way of knowing when they were children that they would eventually marry each other.


Eddie was employed by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad as a cook. He prepared meals for the crews on the railroad. His car was parked on a sidetrack and stayed there for months, until that job was finished. His stove used coal instead of wood and he prepared meals for the railroad men. His kitchen car was parked at Augusta for about six months, then Florence, S.C. and Peedee, S.C.  He returned home on the weekends, leaving again on Sunday evening by catching a train at Nahunta. He made many friends in his work and one he especially remembers was a high official of the railroad who would visit Eddie while he was working, and drink coffee and eat pie with him. They had lively conversations, many concerning what the official would do when he retired. His friend was anxious about retirement as he had always been a very active man. Eddie reassured him, and soon his friend was back for more pie and coffee and talk of his concern for his future.


Eddie’s railroad kitchen car was divided into three sections. An outside door opened into his bedroom, which opened into the kitchen and that opened into the dining room, which had another outside door.  Eddie prepared three meals a day, five days a week and like the rest of the railroad workers, went home for the weekend. He didn’t have a big supply of food in the refrigerator so he went shopping each morning for meat, such as roasts or chicken, etc, potatoes for potato salad or mashed potatoes, beans, bananas for banana pudding. Some times he made jelly cake for desert. He used fresh food for each meal. He bought, cooked and served fresh food each day. When the kitchen car was in Folkston, he bought the food a few blocks away, at the Folkston Grain and Grocery on West Main Street.


 The workers lived in “camp cars”, railroad cars also on the siding, which were their bedrooms during the week, and ate in the “kitchen car” for their meals. The men ate everything Eddie cooked and he usually did not have anything left over for the next day. He started from scratch for each meal except Fridays, usually a half-day, and fixed sandwiches for the workers then. The camp cars on the inside held two rows of single beds with a walkway down the middle, sometimes there would be a bunk bed near one end. A bath room was at the end of the car. These camp cars were kept neat and clean and some even had pretty wallpaper. The workers made their beds before they went to work. Since the kitchen car and camp cars were parked on sidings, they were very, very close to the many trains that came and went during the night when they slept. They soon got used to the noise  and would sleep right through it.  At times long freight trains would actually make the cars full of men rock with its vibrations.


After his work on the railroad, he got a job as a cook at the Hilton Hotel in Jacksonville and worked there twelve years.


Eddie didn’t marry until he was 25 years old.  His grandmother, Mrs. Amy Maxwell, anxious for him to fall in love and get married,  kept telling him it looked like he was going to wait to marry until she died. Actually she did die first, in August 1939,  and he married the next month. He was the last of the Lambert children to get married.


His wife was Blanche Dasher, daughter of Lonnie and Maybelle Dasher also of Traders Hill.  It cost $5.00 for the license to marry and Colonel McQueen married them on his front porch. Colonel was living in the Clifton Gowen house at the corner of Sixth Street and Burnt Fort Highway at that time, September 30, 1939.  They had three children, all boys: Freddie, born in Miami, helped by midwife Idella Simmons; George and Eddie Jr. both born at home in Charlton County.  Ella Lambert, Eddie’s sister-in-law, was a midwife and helped get the two younger ones born. Eddie and Blanche also raised their first two grandchildren, Frederick who works for Winn Dixie and Gayle, who lives in Jacksonville.  They also have several other grandchildren.


Both worked as teachers for a while. Blanche taught at Winokur and at Nahunta until the babies were born. Then she stayed home to take care of them, When they were old enough, she went to work as a cook for Mrs. Lois Dinkins. Eddie went to college for a year in Albany, majoring in English and taught for a while the fourth grade class at a school in Jacksonville.


  The reason Freddie was born in Miami was because  Eddie and Blanche had gone to south Florida to work in the gathering of vegetables. Several members of the Traders Hill Bryant family including Robin Bryant, had big truck farms and Eddie and Blanche worked there for a season, gathering a variety of field crops. They were back in Folkston when the younger sons were born.


Eddie’s parents let him have a part of the farm so he built a home there. In the winter it was heated by fireplaces throughout the house. His parents had a big year-round garden, something good growing there all through the year, and Eddie and his family enjoyed these fresh vegetables.  This was where the family lived until August 1943, when they bought a home in Folkston from Berry Lowther, and he has lived there ever since.


Blanche Lambert had heart trouble and died December 15, 1983. She is buried in the Neely Cemetery near the Paxton Road in the western part of Charlton County.  She was buried there because her grandparents, uncles, aunts and other family members are buried there.  Eddie’s parents are buried in the Traders Hill Cemetery.


While living at Traders Hill he worked for J.V. Gowen, Sr. dipping turpentine. He got up at 5:00 each morning and walked to the Swamp where he dipped rosin from the pine trees.  When his bucket was full he emptied it into a barrel. It took 7 or 8 trips with a full heavy bucket to fill up a barrel. He was paid 33 1/3 cents per barrel. The men quit about 4:00 o’clock so they could walk home before dark. When asked if he saw many snakes during that time in the woods, he said once he was walking down a woods trail and heard a hiss. He stopped just in time to keep from stepping on a rattler, who had hissed at him. A dead pine sapling lay nearby and he grabbed it and killed the snake with that.


Some of the men who were his boss during turpentining days were Willie Chesser, Carl Jones and Tom Brock.  Some of his friends who worked with him included Emanuel Sims, Isaac Sims, Neal Spatcher, Owen Spatcher, Edmund Spatcher, Tommy Maxwell, Herman Dasher, Lucius Dasher and Lonnie Dasher.


Some times he drove the two-mule wagon which carried four full turpentine barrels. The barrels were in the woods and had been filled with buckets full of rosin. He put a wooden top on each one and rolled them around to the back of the wagon. There were two poles, seasoned pine saplings hanging off the back of the wagon. This was the ramp the barrel went up to get into the wagon. Eddie carefully placed the barrel on its side and pushed it, by himself, up the poles until the barrel reached the wagon floor.  Then Eddie jumped into the back of the wagon, put the barrel upright, then went through the woods looking for the other barrels. When he had four full barrels he drove the wagon to the still which was in Traders Hill, across the road from his home.  He unloaded the barrels and then took the mules about two blocks away to the mule lot and barn and walked on back home for supper.


He also worked at a sawmill in south Folkston near the railroad. It was run by Jimmie Lee McKendree and Theo Dinkins. His main job there was stacking lumber.


After the War he worked at Wade’s mill in north Folkston. He worked there until it burned down.  His job there was pulling boards off the moving conveyor and stacking them. Different size boards would come down the conveyor and he pulled off only 2x4s or 1x6s, whichever board the foreman told him to look for.


Eddie is a veteran of World War Two, serving in the Army in the South Pacific. The draft board told him to go to Waycross on the bus on April 6, 1944 and meet with others at the Waycross bus station who were also going into the service. He was the only one going from Folkston that day and met a Mr. Medlock and others and they traveled on to Camp Blanding. They were sent from there to Fort Dix, New Jersey for training and then shipped out for overseas duty. He served at Guam, Camilla Island, and Saipan. The soldiers were given tests to find out where they could best serve and since Eddie knew how to cook, that’s what he did.  He was chief cook for the first shift, which was breakfast and dinner, the other shift was the supper meal.


His best pal was George McMillar from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is still in touch with his army buddy as they keep up with one another’s lives.


He had to order the food and keep up with the inventory which was a big job. He knew how many soldiers in his unit he had to feed, but never knew how many other people his soldiers would bring as guests to the meals. He had to anticipate this so there would be plenty of food.  The favorite food of his soldiers were yeast rolls, roast beef and mashed potatoes, beef stew,  broiled chicken and beans.


His boss was Lt. Malloy, whose girlfriend from the states called the kitchen every morning. When Lt. Malloy wasn’t there, Eddie took her message and relayed it on to his boss.  Once he told his boss that his girl was breaking up with him and it upset him. Eddie had a good relationship with his officer and could get by with teasing him.


He was released from the Army after the war on January 7, 1946.


[Charlton County, Ga. Historical Notes, 1972, page 166 and 173: “The following names are taken from the Discharge Records in the office of the clerk of the Superior Court of Charlton County of  those who served in World War Two:  Lambert, Eddie.  Army.  From 4-6-44 to 1-7-46. Asiatic Pacific.]


At one point in his life, Eddie could not find work. He was in Jacksonville and boarding at 6062 Zinnia Street, near Edgewood, and went for a walk. He found a friend Eddie Smith from Hazelhurst, who was boarding with Rosa Lee Stevenson on Ashley Street. Her manner of keeping the two Eddies separate was calling Eddie Lambert “Big Eddie” and calling Eddie Smith “Little Eddie”. The two Eddies went into a bar where Eddie Lambert picked up a newspaper and began looking for “help wanted” ads. He found an ad stating that the Hilton Hotel needed kitchen help. An elderly man sitting next to the two Eddies said “That’s where I work! You go now and apply for that!”  Eddie immediately went to the hotel, applied for the job, got it and went to work the next day. He stayed there about twelve years.


There were two head cooks in the hotel kitchen, Eddie and Miss Beatrice Miller. He still keeps up with Miss Miller, who is still working. She is the cook for First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.


Eddie’s job for several years was cooking breakfast in “the horseshoe” at the hotel, a U-shaped counter that included a stove, refrigerator, freezer, etc. The customers could watch Eddie make their breakfast and most ordered his plate of hotcakes. They were not ordinary hotcakes but a special blend of ingredients that made very delicious pancakes. Eddie’s manager had friends that came in only because of those good hotcakes.  Special ingredients Eddie added to the commercial hotcake mix were syrup and vanilla flavoring.  As he stirred up a new bowl of mix, he added two small individual containers of syrup and a spoonful of vanilla. This made a very special-tasting sweet hotcake that appealed to nearly every customer.


Eddie lived at the boarding house during the week and came back to Folkston on weekends.


Eddie had his 90th birthday this year, 2004, and has decided to take life easier. He enjoys growing a small vegetable garden and even in cold weather has rows of flourishing collard plants.  His good humor and gentle disposition has made him many friends and he spends most weekday mornings at the Senior Center among those he has known for many years.





Charlton County Herald

July 20, 1956



By Herman O. Smith


[Editor’s Note: The article “Retrospection” was sent to the Herald by Herman O. Smith of Savannah. Mr. Smith recently visited in Folkston with several of the older families including Mrs. B.G. McDonald and Mr. and Mrs. William Mizell. This article will be of particular interest to all who enjoy reading of the early times in Charlton.]


Eighty years is a very long time to look back upon.  At that age life consists mostly of dreams of the long ago by-gones, ahead lies only the sunset.


About a year ago I traveled to Macclenny, Fla. over the new road from Folkston down through the “bend” section of Charlton. Somewhere along the way I passed near the spot where my life began way back in 1876. That year our nation celebrated its centennial. Electric lights and power, the telephone and several other inventions had only recently emerged from the experimental stage. It was what Mark Twain called the “Gilded Age”.


As the car sped over the hard-surfaced road my thoughts reverted to a day in 1884 or 1885, when as a boy of eight or nine I passed over the same road which was then distinctly not hard-surfaced. My father, James C. Smith was then engaged in the turpentine and timber business at a place he had named “Sandusky”, seven miles north of the present town of Macclenny, just one mile north of what is still called “Smith Bridge”. On that occasion we were driving through the country to visit my mother’s parents at the old Joshua Mizell place on Bailey Branch. We left at daylight, following what was then called the “Yelvington Trail”. It may have been named for some Indian trader of the early days. The events of that trip are almost as fresh in my memory as they ever were. It seems to me that the road consisted of alternate stretches of soft sand and mud and the progress was necessarily slow but I enjoyed every minute of the eleven or twelve hours it took us to reach my grandfather Mizell’s place.


I remember that we paused at Cornhouse Creek for lunch and there was a tree near the ford on which was carved the name “Robert Ridley”. Mother told us that this tree marked the spot where Ridley, on his way home from Centre Village on a very cold night, had fallen asleep and had frozen to death. I remember the great forests of significant long-leaf pine, although sawmills had been operating on the St. Marys River for a number of  years, these forests had hardly been touched. Now alas, they are gone forever. Nature bestows her gifts with a lavish hand but she seldom restores what man wantonly and wastefully destroys.


We stopped for a short time at Traders Hill as Mother wished to see Mr. John Brooks who was then Sheriff of Charlton County, whom she had known all her life. “The Hill” was then the county seat but there was nothing there but the courthouse, jail, Mr. Brooks’ store, and three or four residences so far as I remember. One of these houses had been occupied by my grandfather Dr. Francis Marion Smith. He was in some respects a somewhat remarkable man. Born in Elbert County in 1814, he entered the Methodist ministry in early manhood and was for some years one of the old-time circuit riders who someone has called “Gold’s Calvary”. His health becoming impaired he studied medicine. Leaving Elbert County he moved to Charlton about the year 1850 and settled at  Traders Hill where for many years he ministered to both the physical and spiritual needs of the people of that section, preaching in a little church at the hill and performing many marriage ceremonies. I have some of the records of these marriages and know many of the names still exist in Charlton until this day. He was a man of very strong convictions and once his mind was made up he was utterly uncompromising. He hated slavery and was strongly opposed to secession from the Union. When the Secession Convention was held in Milledgeville in 1861, he was one of the two delegates from Charlton. The other, I believe, was a Mr. Mershon. When the vote was taken he voted against secession while Mr. Mershon supported it. This did not add to his popularity but time has indicated his  course on that momentous occasion.


In the days of my youth I heard some of the old timers speak of the many tragic incidents that from time to time occurred at the hill, especially when Superior Court was in session. On one occasion, two men, whom we will call Jones and Brown, became engaged in a violent quarrel in the course of which Jones advanced with a drawn knife whereupon Brown retreated up the outside stairway of the courthouse, followed by Jones. Just then my grandfather came up, and Brown, unable to retreat further, called out to him, “Doctor, what would you do if you were in my place?”, to which the old gentleman replied promptly “I think I would defend my life.” Brown drew his pistol and fired and Jones rolled down the steps a corpse.


A short distance from the hill, one road led past the gallows on which a certain man had recently been hanged for the murder of his wife. Unless my memory is at fault the rope had not been removed and the sight of that grim instrument of justice made a deep impression on my young mind. This execution was said to have been witnessed by a large crowd and it is possible the awful sight deterred some youth from a criminal career. The murderer and his wife are buried in the Traders Hill Cemetery but not side by side.


I recall we passed through Folkston which was then but a very small place, dating with the completion of the railroad of I think then 1880 or about that time. Some miles farther along we reached the ghost town of Centreville which was once an important trading post but then completely deserted owning to the departure of its people to Folkston or elsewhere. Many of the stores and residences still remained though I have heard that one or more had been taken down, hauled to Folkston and rebuilt. There was not the slightest sign of life and looking back at that silent settlement it now seems to me that Goldsmith’s “Deserted Village” describes it perfectly.


Before closing this little sketch I will relate an incident which may shed some light on why personal difficulties at public gatherings were so frequent. In the winter of 1897-98 I was teaching school about four miles west of Hilliard. One evening a nephew stopped to spend the night on his way home from court at Traders Hill, where a short time before there had been a desperate encounter between two men in which one was killed outright the other critically wounded.


“Well, Willis,” the uncle asked, “Was there any more trouble at the hill this court?”


“No” replied the nephew. “You see, the Sheriff made every man who had a pistol turn it over to him till court was over.”


“Did you have one?”


“Yes, I had three!”  That was a gun-toting age and when backed up by a quart of mean liquor the results were often disastrous.


There have been a great many changes in the old country, most of them for the better. The distance we traveled on that long-ago day can now be covered in an hour or less. Even the poor now enjoy conveniences and even luxuries unknown to the well-to do at that time.  Every child can have a good education which was far from being the case then. But the beautiful forests of long leaf yellow pine are gone and no longer do ships come up the St Marys to take cargo to “far away places with strange sounding names”. Only the river itself remains the same. She was once a lovely lady and bore on her bosom a by no means inconsiderable commerce. Now that commerce is gone but she’s still a lovely lady and I shall always have a great affection for her.


                                                     Herman O. Smith, 303 East 37th Street, Savannah, Ga.


[Later the following letter was received by the Charlton County Herald, written by Herman O. Smith.]


Dear Mr. Harrison,

In previous article I referred to my grandfather, Dr. F.M. Smith, and to his work in the dual role of physician and minister of the Gospel among the people of Charlton County. Among his papers he left a record of the numerous marriage ceremonies which he performed in the years from 1872 to 1884, and it occurs to me that these may be of interest to some of the present families of Charlton. It is entirely possible that some of them are descendants to the fourth generation of the men and women who took their marriage vows in those far-off days. A few of the names and dates follow:


Jack Washington and Charity Berry – June 26, 1872

James Clark and Caroline Beall – May 3, 1875

Almirah Coplin and Sally Smith – October 20, 1872

James Johnson and Elizabeth Reynolds – November 7, 1875

Andrew Jenkins and Louisa Coats – March 14, 1880

William Chalker and Louisa Elizabeth Lyons – September 10, 1875

Daniel Hodges and Lieucettie Howard – November 30, 1883

Joshua Mizell and Hattie Roberson – April 7, 1883

I  Barton and Martha Ann Missouri Brown – July 24, 1884

Matthew Durrance and Rhoda Padgett – June 28, 1884

John L. Williams and Missouri Taylor


These marriages were extremely informal affairs. If the couple had not obtained a license from the Ordinary at Traders Hill, Grandfather was empowered, as clerk, to issue a license and perform the ceremony simultaneously. The happy pair would drive up, sometimes in an ox-cart, and within a few minutes went on their way rejoicing. As a child I witnessed a number of these marriages and young as I was it seemed to me that it was terribly easy to get tied up for life in a matter of minutes. Grandfather must have tied a tight knot, for there were no divorces, so far as I remember.


Along with these marriage records I found another paper which should be of interest in these days of confiscatory Federal taxes. It reads as follows: “Received of Dr. F.M. Smith receiver of taxes in kind, 50 gallons syrup, 846 pounds bacon in bad condition and three empty bags.   J.C. Friedlander”


This receipt was given at Traders Hill in 1864. It appears that the Confederate Government levied a “tax in kind” to supply its armies in the field, which in that dark year of 1864 were fighting in the last ditch with all hope of victory gone and only a little cornmeal and bacon “in bad condition” between them and starvation.


These people of early Charlton were a simple, hardy lot who had reduced life to its lowest terms. They were for the most part industrious and law-abiding and of high moral character. We of today can have very little conception of the hardships which they accepted and endured without murmuring, and I am sure they transmitted their strong fiber to most of their descendants.


“Let not ambition mock their useful toil, their hopes, their joys, their destinies obscure, nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile the short and simple annals of the poor.”


                                                                        Herman O. Smith

Petition to Change Courthouse Site
Excerpt: History of Charlton County
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