(31) 16th Militia District People, Post Offices, Railroads, and Roads

As early as 1748 there was a trail from Darien, Georgia, into what became the 16th Militia District of Liberty County. It continued into the unmapped wilderness and was used by trappers, fur traders, and Creek Indians. The trail became known as the Darien Road.


It was through the 16th Militia District that Tories and Creek Indians from south of the Altamaha River traveled to attack military installations and plantations along the Liberty County coast. American forces built a fortification at Beards Bluff on what became the corner of Long and Tattnall counties. It was there, and in that general area, that some of the most violent and bloodiest fighting of the Revo­lutionary War in Georgia occurred.


Robert Sallette , the legendary hero of the Revolutionary War, was a resident of the 16th Militia District. He died at his home on November 28, 1790, and was probably buried in an unmarked grave near Jones Creek Baptist Church.


Land for the Jones Creek Baptist Church was donated by George W. Walthour in 1818. The tombstone of Neoma Shaw, who died in 1821, is the oldest in the church cemetery, but others were probably buried there in unmarked graves before that date.


The Darien Road was used extensively during the period 1800-1860 as a stagecoach route for transportation of U.S. mail. There was a stagecoach station on property of Simon Harrington known as “Sage Plantation.”


Frederick Ransom Lyons came from Massachusetts to Liberty County in 1840. His uncle, Charles Stebbins, owned the stagecoach line from Darien to Hawkinsville, Georgia. Lyons was a stagecoach driver for his uncle from 1840 to 1843. From 1843 to 1847 he operated a trading post at Bells Landing on the Altamaha River in Tattnall County, Georgia. In 1847 he became part owner of a general store at Rice­boro, established a rice plantation nearby, and was post­master at Riceboro during the Civil War. He married Sarah Todd of McIntosh County, Georgia, and their two children were F.S. and Sarah I. Lyons. Both were married and had children.


Some of the early settlers in the 16th Militia District were William Smith Sr., 1788, Francis J. Chapman, 1790, John Baxter, 1795, the Peacock family, 1795, the Vizant, Fletcher, and Beard families, before 1800, Charles Flowers, 1805, Bryan P. Harrington, 1810, William H. Parker Sr., 1811, George Howard, 1812, Henley F. Horne, 1817, and Joseph William Hughes Sr., 1820.


The state militia authorized the organization of the Liber­ty Guards in 1845. Its first captain was James Robinson Bird. Some of its members came from Tattnall County, Georgia. The Liberty Guards maintained a parade ground and armory at Jones Creek, and an auxiliary parade ground near Ebenez­er Church in Tattnall County. Joseph William Hughes Jr. was captain of the Liberty Guards during the Civil War. He was its first captain after it was reorganized after the Civil War until he died in 1887. His son, Joseph William Hughes III later became captain of the Liberty Guards. The Hughes family cemetery is adjacent to the Hughes home, which when this book was written was the home of Thomas L. Howard Jr.


There were post offices at Jones Creek and Beards Creek by 1834 and 1854 respectively. The Jones Creek post office was moved to Hinesville in 1841 in order that the new coun­ty seat might have a post office.


Johnstons Station emerged as the most important popula­tion center in this section of Liberty County after the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad built a depot across the railroad tracks from the home of Allen Johnston. That community eventually became Ludowici.


The Georgia Coast & Piedmont Railroad was established in 1902 and made stops at depots for Rye Patch and Donald in the 16th Militia District before traveling on to Johnstons Station and beyond. It used facilities of the Atlantic Coast­line Railroad depot.


Waterways in the 16th Militia District, named for pioneer settlers, are Jones Creek, Beards Creek, Fletcher Branch, Pigott Branch, and Baxter Branch. The last two run on either side of Vizant Swamp. Headwater of Jones Creek is in Vizant Swamp, and it runs to near Donald. The Baxter Branch School was established at the headwater of Baxter Branch as early as 1890.


The Beulah community started evolving about 1880 in the northwestern corner of Liberty County near the Tattnall County line. A log structure built in the community in 1888 was used as a school and church. Minister of the church was Reverend Norris, who was blind. Children with surnames such as Long, Wilkinson, Swindell, Kirkland, and Smiley attended the school. Its last teacher was Hattie Delk.


Population of the Beulah community declined, so the school was moved nearer to Beards Creek. The school was housed in a small frame building erected for the purpose by James Sullivan and James Horne. Land for the new school was donated by Wiley S. Baxter. It was named New Hope School and its first teacher was Alzada Hodges.


A community grew up around the New Hope School after the Georgia, Coast & Piedmont Railroad was built through the section. It became known as the Beards Creek Station. It had a post office on the county line on the Macon-Darien Road, which later became U.S. Highway 301. The postmaster was Jacob S. Howard, whose wife was Fannie Delk, daughter of William Delk.


Children with such surnames as Fennell, Long, Johnston, Baxter, Groover, Driggers, and Crews attended New Hope School. Its second teacher was Lewis Ashmore of Hinesville. Thomas Watson Long attended New Hope School, completed his education at Georgia Normal College in 1914, and taught for three years at the school he attended as a boy.