In January 1941 there were more than 200 landowners still residing on their property in the upper part of Liberty County destined to become a part of the Camp Stewart military reservation. They were informed by U.S. District Judge William H. Barrett that they would have to vacate their land by March 24, 1941.
The Liberty Independent Troop, now Battery B, 101st Separate Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti-Aircraft), commanded by Captain Paul E. Caswell was placed .on federal active duty on February 10, 1941, and assigned to Camp Stewart. The Seventh Regiment, New York National Guard, was redesignated the 207th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft) and assigned to Camp Stewart the same date.
The Liberty County Board of Commissioners was authorized by the General Assembly on March 27, 1941, to divide areas of the county into districts they deemed suitable to comply with existing state laws. It also empowered them to appoint a County Planning Board and a County Board of Adjustment.
The Hinesville Lions Club, which lapsed into inactivity in 1940, was re-established in 1941. Its presidents since that year include Fraser F. Rambo, L.B. Graddy, William A. Gassaway, Glenn E. Bryant, Barney H. Rocker, Ryle Tatum, Earl F. Phillips, Richard C. Cohen, E.D. Steel Jr., Buddy Deloach, Gene Nisbet, Homer Smith, and T. Vance McSwain.
The Taylors Creek post office closed forever on June 30, 1941. Its postmistress was Lillah Eugenia Ryon Martin. Her husband, David Jackson Martin, had been postmaster at Taylors Creek for 33 years when he died in 1939.
The Hinesville Telephone Company in the summer of 1941 had 200 subscribers and six pay stations in Liberty County, 27 pay stations at Camp Stewart, and three switchboards in its original home in the Way Building. Six operators worked around the clock for $45 a month, while linemen received $3 a day wages. The company was valued at $19,000.
The final Homecoming Sunday at Taylors Creek Methodist Church was held on May 25, 1941. The church building was torn down.
By spring of 1941, Hinesville was plagued by problems it had never known before. Two roads known as “Boomtown” and “Zoomtown” led from Hinesville to Camp Stewart. Alongside each road there sprang up shoddy “juke joints” with gambling devices, fast food stands, and novelty stores. Prostitutes and other undesirable persons frequented the areas. Many persons squatted in makeshift shelters in the woods between Hinesville and Camp Stewart. They had no sewage disposal, and tapped the city water line illegally. Fences and “cattle guards” on approaches to Hinesville were torn down. Hogs, cattle, and even mules roamed about the city.
During the summer of 1941, the government secured a right-of-way and started laying railroad tracks from the main line of the Atlantic Coastline Railroad at Walthourville through the outskirts of Hinesville to Camp Stewart. The project was completed on November 19, 1941. There was heavy traffic on the line throughout World War II.
Brigadier General Richard F. Cox, the post commanding general, left on March 28, 1941. He was succeeded by Major General William H. Wilson, who left on August 14, 1941. He was succeeded on September 1, 1941, by Major General Sanderford Jarman. Brigadier General Earl H. Metzer assumed command of Camp Stewart on February 1, 1942.
A travelers-aid office was established in Hinesville early in 1942. It reported 138 inquiries for living accommodation in October of that year. That, however, represented only a few of the persons who daily besieged ministers, storekeepers, the county welfare, housewives, and officials in the Liberty County Courthouse in their search for a place to live.
The housing situation in Hinesville was slightly better in early 1943. But overcrowding, extremely high rents, and the relentless search for living accommodations continued. The federal government built housing units in Hinesville, but they were for persons connected with Camp Stewart. The soldier’s wife and family could not use the federal housing. Many dependents searched in vain for housing, and then went home.
Because wages at Camp Stewart were high and those in Liberty County low, the Hinesville city council had difficulty keeping regular employees to clean the streets and collect garbage. The streets were often littered with rubbish. Garbage containers overflowed and dogs and cats scattered their contents. This was a problem faced by the city council throughout World War II.
Lacking a proper supply of labor, employers in Liberty County turned to child labor. Children from the ages of 12 to 16 could earn as much as a school teacher. They hung around Hinesville day and night, attended school irregularly, and ate and slept at odd times. They always had a good supply of money, and became problems in several ways. Vagrancy, stealing, and abuse of public property by children became commonplace. A 15-year-old boy was accused of helping burn down the motion picture theater in Hinesville. The Liberty County Superior Court ordered six children sent to the state training school. Thirty cases of juvenile delinquency were reported by the clerk of the Liberty County Superior Court in September 1943.
The 477th Anti-Aircraft Battalion was assigned to Camp Stewart in 1943. Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence A. Strobel was commander of the all-black organization. Relations between those soldiers and white citizens of Liberty County became strained. At one time it was feared that race riots might develop. But the riots never occurred.
A system was initiated at Camp Stewart in 1943 of training newly activated units with the assistance of older, fully trained organizations. The system became standard practice at Camp Stewart for the duration of World War II. The post had a strength of 40,000 troops during the winter and spring of 1943-1944, and new units were constantly arriving to replace those shipping out for overseas duty.
The Liberty County Health Center in 1943 reported a 60 percent increase in cases of syphilis, and reported it treated 50 cases of gonorrhea in one month. There were three venereal disease treatment centers in Liberty County. There was an increase of diphtheria, whooping cough, dysentery, and tuberculosis in Liberty County. They were blamed on the density of the population, generally in the Hinesville area.
The Liberty County Board of Education reported in 1943 that approximately 2,500 children were enrolled in Liberty County public schools. They were taught by 83 teachers. The number of students at Bradwell Institute increased from 439 in 1940 to 672 in 1943.
School lunchroom programs funded by the Works Progress Administration were discontinued in 1942. By 1943 there were only four schools with lunchrooms in Liberty County. The federal government in 1943 allocated $50,000 with which to enlarge and repair white schools, and built a new school for black students in Hinesville.
H.N. (“Mudge”) Stafford was elected mayor of Hinesville in 1942. He initiated a vigorous program of cleaning the streets and collecting the garbage. He worked closely with Camp Stewart officials in establishing recreational facilities in Hinesville. It was during his administration that the first streets in Hinesville were paved. Stafford Memorial Park, a recreational facility on grounds of the National Guard Armory in Hinesville, was named in his honor.
Chain gangs in Georgia came to an end in late 1943. Inmates of the Liberty County Work Camp were moved to the Georgia State Prison in November 1943. End of the Georgia chain gangs was brought about more than anything else by a motion picture in 1934 called “I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang.” One of the persons who saw the film was Ellis Arnall. When he was elected governor in 1943, one of the first things he did was to institute a prison reform. The General Assembly and citizens of the state rallied to the cause, and spiked anklets, striped uniforms, and the governor’s pardon power, which in the past caused scandals, were abolished.
An organization at Camp Stewart produced a musical production which played to packed houses on post for three weeks. It was called “Who Is Leslie?” and was about a New York playboy who was drafted and assigned to Camp Stewart. Female impersonators in the production were named “Hinesville Hedy” and “Boomtown Sadie.”
American Legion Post No. 168 of Hinesville was born at 8:30 p.m., Eastern War Time, on October 21,1943, in the Liberty County Courthouse. Area war veterans met at that time to establish the organization. Fred L. Ginter was elected chairman of the meeting, which was attended by H.A. Bacon, Frank A. Butler, James W. Cameron, L. Lynn Dobbins, B.M. Day, L.S. Faircloth, Thomas H. Groover, Thomas H. Holcombe, James E. Hook, J.A. Johnson, Joseph P. Long, W.F. Mills, Julius P. Martin, Edwin Noble, Henry I. Rahn, J.F. Smiley, and K.D. Wild.
Samuel M. Blair, commander of the First District of the American Legion in Savannah, Georgia, addressed the group and outlined goals and policies of the American Legion. Fred L. Ginter was elected commander of American Legion Post No. 168 in Hinesville, H.A. Bacon was elected post adjutant and finance officer, J. Lynn Dobbins was elected first vice commander, L.S. Faircloth was elected second vice commander, and J.W. Cameron was elected post chaplain. An executive committee was named, with Fred L. Ginter as chairman, and Thomas L. Holcombe, B.M. Day, and W.F. Mills as members.
In 1944, a weekly post newspaper at Camp Stewart was named Shoot ‘Em Down. That was the motto of the Anti-Aircraft Training Center at Camp Stewart.
The U.S. Army Service Forces by 1944 operated a service command at Camp Stewart, under the supervision of the Fourth Service Command at Fort Mcf’herson , Georgia. It made sure that troops at Camp Stewart were properly fed, housed, supplied, and afforded recreational outlets.
There were two guest houses and two large service clubs at Camp Stewart, each with a cafeteria and library. There were two main post exchanges, with 40 branch exchanges all over the post, each with a barber shop and pick-up point for dry cleaning by commercial firms in Savannah, Georgia. laundry for the troops was done by the post quartermaster.
Motion pictures were shown in tent theaters and the price of admission was ten cents. Films were released to military theaters before they were shown in civilian theaters anywhere in the nation. Sixteen-millimeter projectors and films were available for issue to individual organizations. The American Red Cross and the recently organized Army Emergency Relief maintained offices on post to assist the soldier in financial need, or in times of personal emergency. Quite often the latter two were one and the same.
There were seven United Service Organization clubs in Savannah, Georgia. The largest of these facilities was located on Bull Street. All of the USO clubs had a travelers aid, every type of facility for the comfort and recreation of the visiting servicemen, and regular dances where local girls volunteered to dance with the soldiers. All of the USO clubs were racially segregated.
There was a recreational center on East Henry Street in Savannah, Georgia, operated by the special services office at Camp Stewart. It had 500 beds in hutments, showers, a post exchange, and lounging rooms. A soldier could stay there for 25¢ a night. Convoys of trucks transported soldiers from Camp Stewart to the facility on weekends. Other buses ran on a regular schedule during the summer from the facility to the beach on Tybee Island, where big bands still played for dancing in the Tybrisia pier.
There were two USO clubs in Hinesville, one for white and one for black soldiers. Both had hostesses and other employees on duty at all times. White soldiers could use two tennis courts at the Hinesville Country Club, but black soldiers could not. There were several night clubs in the Hinesville area, all of them racially segregated.
Nineteen commercial buses a day ran through Hinesville by 1944, and there was a regular bus service from Camp Stewart to Savannah, Georgia. There was a free bus service on post which operated from retreat to taps weekdays, and from noon to taps Saturdays and Sundays. Soldiers with travel orders, or on furlough, rode a bus from Camp Stewart to Savannah, Georgia, where stops were made at the Union Station and Central of Georgia Railroad depots on West Broad Street, and the Greyhound bus station at the corner of West Broad and Broughton Streets. Two airlines operated out of the Savannah Municipal Airport, but Camp Stewart soldiers usually traveled by bus or train. Troop trains were a common sight traveling between Walthourville and Camp Stewart.
More than 50,000 troops were at Camp Stewart by the early summer of 1944. An airborne anti-aircraft battalion, two brigades, and two special groups were trained on post for the invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944.
World War II ended when America dropped two atom bombs on Japan in the late summer of 1945. By the end of the year ~ Camp Stewart was being used as a separation center for redeployed troops. It was inactivated on July 24, 1946. A caretaker detachment of two officers, 10 enlisted men, and about 50 civilian employees was left to guard the post and its property.
Ten members of the U.S. armed forces from Liberty County died during World War 11.Battery B. 101st Separate Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti-Aircraft), in 1945 still referred to as the Liberty Independent Troop, served in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. It had no casualties.
After World War II, a few former owners of property on the Camp Stewart reservation wanted to buy back their property and “go home again.” A paper mill tried to purchase the reservation for its timber. But Camp Stewart, its main post by now a ghost town remained the property of the government.
Contracts were let to civilian firms by the government to harvest timber on the Camp Stewart reservation. A plan was eventually devised by the government by which a share of the timber sales went to the five counties on whose land the Camp Stewart reservation was established.
Many businesses in Liberty County, particularly in the Hinesville area, shut down when the troops left Camp Stewart. The population of Hinesville dwindled as the parade passed by. The “big boom” of World War II became the “big bust” of the post-war years.
Glenn E. Bryant purchased the Hinesville Telephone Company from J.L. Kirk in 1946. He changed its name to Coastal Utilities Incorporated.
National Guardsmen and U.S. Army reservists from several southern states started using the Camp Stewart reservation for their summer training in 1947-48. They built a contonement area near the main post. The Korean Conflict started in August 1950, and the post was reactivated as the Third Army Anti-Aircraft Training Center and later as the Camp Stewart Anti-Aircraft and Tank Training Center.
Commander of Camp Stewart in 1950 was Brigadier General Charles G. Curtis. He was succeeded by Brigadier General Clare H. Armstrong in December 1950. Brigadier General Richard W. Mayo was commander from February 1953 to July 1956. It was he who placed Hinesville off limits to his troops for a short time because he felt it was not a fit place for them to reside and visit.
Battery B, 101st Separate Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti-Aircraft), still referred to as the Liberty Independent Troop, was placed on federal active duty in August 1950, and assigned to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. About half of its personnel went to Korea as filler replacements for combat units. A drive-in movie was built alongside U.S. Highway 82 just south of Hinesville in the summer of 1951.
Tank firing ranges were built at Camp Stewart beginning in early 1954. Tank units from other posts then began using the reservation for training exercises.
Columbus Augustus (“Gus”) May, son of William Henry and Hettie Anna Lang May, died February 11, 1954. He was Justice of the Peace for the 17th Militia District for more than 30 years, and was the mail carrier between McIntosh and Hinesville when he died. He married Nettie Martin Stacy in 1918 and they resided in the Taylors Creek community until 1941. Their surviving children were Columbus Augustus Jr., Walter Stacy, and Wyman Elder May.
Joseph B. Fraser Jr. was general chairman of a bicentennial celebration of the founding of Midway Church and the Midway Society, which took place at Midway Church on April 24, 1954. U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell was the principal speaker. A pageant titled “A Charge to Keep,” written by Josephine Martin and produced by Corrie McDowell Martin, was presented on the lawn in front of the church in the afternoon.
The Coastal Bank on East South Street in Hinesville opened for business on December 23, 1954. Its president was R.C. Brooks, its vice president was Charles A. Purser, and its cashier was E.C. Maulden. Its first depositor was “Salty” Hightower.
Camp Stewart became Fort Stewart. a permanent military installation, on April 7, 1956. It was officially designated “Fort Stewart Anti-Aircraft Artillery and Tank Training Center.” It was redesignated “U.S. Army Anti-Aircraft and Tank Training Center” on January 1, 1957. Brigadier General Paul R. Weyrauch was commander of the installation from 1956 to 1958. He was succeeded by Brigadier General Eric H.F. Svensson. Brigadier General Theodore F. Bogart commanded the installation from 1959 to 1962.
A group of Liberty County businessmen established The Hinesville Sentinel newspaper in 1957. Its only editor and publisher was H.G. (“Hank”) Driggers of Tattnall County, Georgia. His wife, Joanne Driggers, was an elementary teacher at Bradwell Institute. The newspaper was purchased about six years later by Glenn E. Bryant, and then by the Liberty County Herald, and stopped publication.
Paul H. Sikes and Roscoe Denmark established radio station WGML (“Give Me Liberty”) in Hinesville in 1958. It was the first radio station in Liberty County. It was housed in a part of the United Services Organization building constructed during World War II. It burned and subsequent owners of the station constructed new studios nearby.
It was during this period of time that Charles M. Jones established his law practice in Hinesville. He eventually became one of the most competent and successful attorneys in Liberty County history and a state representative.
Liberty County citizens commenced plans to build Midway Museum just after World War II. Private donations provided half of the needed funds. Helen Williams Coxon and Josephine Martin journeyed to the state capitol and obtained the rest from the governor. No two persons worked harder on this project than Martha Randolph Stevens and Corrie McDowell Martin. The Midway Museum was officially opened in 1959.
On November 3, 1959, the federal government agreed to provide a Hill-Burton grant of $220,000 toward the overall cost of $510,000 for a hospital in liberty County. A referendum was held and a large majority of county voters approved the issuance of bonds to finance the rest. The Liberty County Board of Commissioners appointed a Hospital Authority to plan and construct the facility. Its members were Glenn E. Bryant, chairman, Colon Manning, vice chairman, W.A. Gassaway, secretary-treasurer, and Thomas F. Coffey Sr., * and Edgar S. Wells. Liberty Memorial Hospital in Hinesville opened on December 3, 1961. Members of its first staff were Harold Miller, J.A. Mulherin, and Whitman Fraser, physicians, and Tom Limoli, a dentist. Miller was the first chief of staff.
*Thomas F. and Julian Bacon Coffey Sr. resided in Walthourville in 1961, but were residing in Lannet, Alabama, in 1984. Their son, Thomas F. Coffey Jr., became a writer for the Savannah Morning News in 1940. He was at one time its managing editor. With the exception of two periods of time when he was in the U.S. Army and with WSAV-TV in Savannah, Georgia, he has been with the newspaper ever since. He was associate editor of the Savannah Morning News and the Savannah Evening Press when this book was published.
There was a general upgrading of Fort Stewart during the period 1959-1962. A Capehart Housing Project provided family quarters for officers and non-commissioned officers. Training and maintenance facilities, permanent mess halls and troop barracks, and administrative and supply building were constructed.
With the showing of “The Ten Commandments,” the motion picture theater in downtown Hinesville discontinued daily operations on January 4, 1959. It then operated only on weekends during the summer when National Guardsmen and U.S. Army reservists were at Fort Stewart for training.
Battery B., 101 st Coast Artillery Battalion (Anti-Aircraft), by now seldom referred to as the Liberty Independent Troop, was redesignated the 496th Maintenance Company, 648th Maintenance Battalion, 48th Armored Division, Georgia National Guard, in 1959. Its mission was to operate a facility at Fort Stewart which maintained equipment and vehicles used by National Guardsmen and U.S. Army reservists.
Nineteen thousand members of the First Armored Division were transported by rail from Fort Hood, Texas, to Fort Stewart in the winter of 1962 to prepare for an invasion of Cuba during the missile crisis. President John F. Kennedy came to Fort Stewart when the crisis was over and thanked the troops for their efforts.
The Liberty County Courthouse was renovated and enlarged in 1964. Members of the Liberty County Board of Commissioners at that time were C. Russell Smiley, chairman, Hazel Bagley Carter, Eulie Waller, and Hoke S. Youmans.
There were victory celebrations in Liberty County in late 1965 when the Bradwell Institute “Tigers” won the Georgia Class B football championship. Candler Boyd set a school record for rushings and went on after his graduation in 1966 to play football for the University of South Carolina.
M.F. Clark Jr., editor and publisher of the Liberty County Herald, died in 1966. His widow, Lollie Gill Clark, then published the newspaper. Its editor from 1966 to 1974 was Marvin (“Pete”) Clark, her son. The last editor of the Liberty County Herald on a continuing basis was Nicky G. Clark, also her son.
A U.S. Army Aviation School was opened at Fort Stewart in 1966 to meet the demand for more light aviation personnel during the Vietnam War. The U.S. Army acquired Hunter Air Force Base at Savannah, Georgia, and it and Fort Stewart became the U.S. Army Flight Training Center. Hundreds of U.S. Army and Army of Vietnam (ARVN) personnel were trained at the facility.
The Liberty County Board of Commissioners established an airport and industrial park at Walthourville in 1966. Small manufacturers occupied buildings in the park and employed local residents. The Interstate Paper Corporation, the largest privately owned industry Liberty County had ever had, was established near the North Newport River at Riceboro in 1967.
Hinesville Lodge No. 271, Free and Accepted Masons, celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 22, 1968. Members of the organization staged a special program for the occasion in the auditorium of Bacon Primary School in Hinesville. Raymond B. Muse, Grand Master of the State of Georgia, was the principal speaker, and presented a Fifty-Year Pin to J.H. Heath.
The motion picture theater in downtown Hinesville closed forever in August 1969. No person worked harder and with more devotion at the theater than Tom Smith of Hinesville. The theater building became a variety store.
A city hall was built on East South Street in Hinesville during the administration of Mayor Glenn E. Bryant from 1962 to 1970. The Hinesville Fire Department became a city function in 1970 with Julian Mingledorff as chief. It occupied the building vacated by city hall just off courthouse square in Hinesville. That same building had once been used to house a drug store.
Six Liberty County citizens died during the Vietnam War between 1966 and 1969.
America ended its involvement in Vietnam in January 1973. A short while later Hunter Army Air Field was placed in a caretaker status. Fort Stewart became a U.S. Army Garrison. During the period 1973-1974 training exercises involving thousands of U.S. armed forces members were staged on the Fort Stewart reservation. National Guardsmen were also at Fort Stewart during that time for tests to determine the feasibility of reducing from ten to six weeks the time required to make them combat ready.
One of the best-known persons in the Liberty County Courthouse from 1954 to 1974 when he died, was J.E. Groover, Justice of the Peace of the 17th Militia District. In the past he was a school teacher, superintendent of Liberty County Schools, secretary-treasurer of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, and Tyler of Hinesville Lodge No. 271, Free and Accepted Masons. He helped hundreds of Fort Stewart soldiers find living accommodations for their dependents, and married hundreds of couples in the parlor of his home at 300 North Main Street in Hinesville. U.S. and Georgia flags in front of the Liberty County Courthouse were lowered to half-staff during his funeral. He was the father of the author of this book.
The First Brigade, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), was provisionally activated at Fort Stewart on October 21, 1974, and officially activated on June 15, 1975. Its headquarters, division artillery, and division support command were activated on September 21, 1975. The First Battalion (Rangers), 75th Division, was assigned to Fort Stewart. Hunter Army Air Field was reopened and became the home of the 145th Aviation Battalion (Combat).
Fort Stewart in 1975 did not have enough barracks and housing for all of the new troops and their dependents. Some of the troops were quartered in the National Guard contonement area, while many of the dependents came to Liberty County looking for housing which was not always available. Some of them had to reside as far distant as Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia.
The lack of barracks and dependent housing was only temporary, however, because a gigantic construction program was already underway at Fort Stewart. Brigadier General Donald E. Rosenblum arrived at Fort Stewart in January 1975 to assume command of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Air Field complex. This is how he remembers his stay at Fort Stewart:
“My experience at Fort Stewart was probably the most gratifying in my army career, because I had the unique opportunity to build a division and a military installation at the same time, and work with officials and citizens of 19 cities and towns in the area.
“When we arrived at Fort Stewart there were empty dependent quarters on post and very few troop barracks. When we departed two years later, all of the dependent quarters, including 1,500 new sets, were available and occupied. Fifteen barracks complexes, and maintenance and supply buildings had been constructed and were occupied. A post office, Federal Credit Union, a branch of the Hinesville Bank, a new post exchange, commissary, theaters, gymnasiums, and other facilities to serve the needs of the troops and their dependents had been established on post during the same period of time.
“The focus of the buildup at Fort Stewart was, of course, on Hinesville and Liberty County where Fort Stewart was, deeply involved. When I arrived there were few homes for sale or rent in Hinesville and Liberty County. Shopping facilities were limited. When I left two years later there was a shopping center, with another being built, several fast-food places, restaurants, and a new motel. Homes and apartments were being built, for a price the troops could afford. All of the local realtors and officials contributed immeasurably in the latter instance.
“Liberty County schools, concerned with over-crowding, nevertheless came forth and welcomed the military children as if they were long lost friends. The military children in turn provided academic, as well as athletic, plusses to the school system.
“There was a constant coordination of effort between military and civilian officials in the area. The Liberty County Board of Commissioners and the mayor and city council of Hinesville cooperated fully, and assisted me greatly in my dealing with state and congressional representatives. U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and U.S. Congressman Ronald (“Bo”) Ginn were two of the staunchest supporters and assisters of Fort Stewart and Liberty County during the buildup at Fort Stewart. It was because of all their efforts that so much was accomplished in such a short period of time at Fort Stewart. It was the best military-civilian relationship I had ever seen.”
Brigadier General Rosenblum was promoted to the rank of major general while he was at Fort Stewart. He was assigned as assistant commander of the XIII Airborn Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in September 1977. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in 1981 and reassigned as commander of the First U.S. Army at Fort George B. Meade, Maryland. He retired in 1984 and established a home at Savannah, Georgia.
The population of Fort Stewart grew from about 3,000 to 15,000 troops, 5,000 on-post dependents, and 2,500 civilian employees working on post. About 8,000 dependents of military personnel assigned to Fort Stewart resided in Liberty County, mainly in the Hinesville area.
Hinesville had a population of about 6,500 in 1975. Five years later its population was about 11,000. Less than ten years later three major five-lane highways had been constructed in Hinesville, Liberty Memorial Hospital had been enlarged, Bradwell Park had been built on site of the old Hinesville Methodist Church and the original Bradwell Institute (1840-1925), and a new, large, and modern Bradwell Institute was in operation on General Screven Road. There were three elementary schools in Hinesville, a fourth was under construction, and plans were being discussed for another elementary school and high school. Edgar M. Edwards, superintendent of Liberty County Schools, was largely responsible for the greatly increased effort.
Hinesville city officials in 1975 were Mayor Carl R. Dykes, and council members W.I. Stafford, Bobby L. Fussell (1933-1985), J. Ben Darsey (1922-1984), Alonzo Walden, and Frank Bagley. Members of the Liberty County Board of Commissioners were Glenn E. Bryant, chairman, Hazel B. Carter, vice chairman, and James M. Floyd,177 Earl M. Baggs, and Charles E. Gaskin. Hazel B. Carter was a member of the Hinesville city council for ten years before she was elected to county commissioner in 1959, the first woman in Georgia ever to be elected to such a position. Twenty-five years later she was chairman of the county commissioners.
The U.S. Congress in 1956 authorized a network of interstate highways in America. Interstate Highway 95 was completed through Liberty County in 1976. It was also in 1976 that twin indoor motion-picture theaters were opened adjacent to the drive-in movie alongside U.S. Highway 82 just south of Hinesville.
John E. Pirkle was chairman of the Liberty County Bicentennial Steering Committee in 1976. There were reenactments of pioneer activities, a bicentennial ball, a special edition of the Liberty County Herald, and a day-long patriotic program on radio station WGML in Hinesville was produced and narrated by author of this book. Elizabeth Stevens Amason, regent, and members of Saint Johns Chapter, Daughters of the American Colonists, erected a bronze marker to Lyman Hall at Midway.
The Garden Club of Georgia Incorporated commenced a project to restore Louis Le Conte’s botanical and floral garden at Woodmanston Plantation on June 6, 1977. The Brunswick Pulp and Paper Company donated its lease and option equities in the tract, while heirs of the estate of C.B. Jones conveyed ownership of the land. Mary P. Flanders, chairman of the trustees, Le Conte-Woodmanston Project, said the project was a comprehensive undertaking, with plans to be accomplished in phases.
The Hinesville Fire Department moved to a new fire station, built at a cost of $250,000, and located between city hall and Hendry Street. Julian Mingledorff was the fire chief. He was largely responsible for the enlargement and modernization of the Hinesville Fire Department over the years from a voluntary to a professional fire-fighting organization.
Commanding generals of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Air Field were Major General James B. Vaught from 1977 to 1979, Major General James Francis Cochran III from 1979 to 1981, Major General John R. Galvin from 1981 to 1983, Major General H. Norman Schwarzkopf from 1983 to 1985, and Major General Andrew L. Cooley from 1985 to 1987. Major General Michael F. Spigelmire was in command when this book was published. Major General Cochran retired at Fort Stewart and established a home at Hinesville.
The Providence community was incorporated by the state legislature as the City of Gum Branch in 1979. Its first mayor was Charles B. Todd, and its first city council was composed of Janet McGlynn, Charles Wells, Daniel Parks, and John T. Hodges. Lois Hodges was the first city clerk.
Lollie Gill Clark, owner of the Liberty County Herald, sold the newspaper to a group of Liberty County businessmen in 1979. James (“Jim”) Wynn became editor and publisher of the newspaper, and it was renamed the Coastal Courier. Wynn was replaced by Bobby Branch (1943-1987) in 1981. Wynn then established and published the Hinesville Star, a weekly newspaper, from August 1981 to April 1982, when it ceased to operate. The Coastal Courier was sold by its owners in 1982 to Morris Newspapers Corporation. Phil R. Byrd became its editor and Randy Norton its publisher. Byrd was replaced by Larry Anderson. Byrd continued working for the newspaper, but died a short time later.
It was on April 1, 1981, that the 496th Maintenance Company, the Georgia National Guard organization stationed in Hinesville, was redesignated the 82nd Maintenance Company. Its mission remained unchanged. Its armory was located in what by now was the Liberty Independent Troop Park, and there was a Liberty Independent Troop Association.
Jordye McLamb Bacon died in 1981. She succeeded her husband, H.A. Bacon, as superintendent of Liberty County Schools when he died in 1945, and served in the position until she retired in 1968. Bacon Primary School in Hinesville was named in her honor.
A second radio station began serving Liberty County when WBLU signed on the air at noon, August 2,1982. Its studios were located on West South Street in Hinesville where the home of Samuel Dowse Bradwell once stood. It was established by the Hinesville Broadcasting Corporation, whose board members were E. Lloyd Kilday Jr., president, E.L. Kilday Sr., vice president, Booker T. Burley, and Carl E. Johnson. The Kildays, father and son, were from Claxton, Georgia. Johnson and Burley were natives of Liberty County.
Two hundred and ninety-five persons were employed by the Interstate Paper Corporation in 1983 at its Riceboro plant. They were paid $8 million annually in wages, and an additional $2 million in benefits. The plant spent more than $15 million a year for wood and other fiber-source materials, most of which went to independent landowners and pulpwood and timber suppliers in a 50-county area of coastal Georgia and South Carolina. The plant produced kraft linerboard used in the manufacture of corrugated containers.
There were 71 houses of worship in Liberty County in 1983. Their denominations included African Methodist Episcopal, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Catholic, Christian, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Episcopal, Holiness, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Nazarene, Presbyterian, United Methodist, and United Church of Christ.
Top story at Fort Stewart in 1983 was participation by members of the First and Second Battalions, 75th Infantry (Rangers) in the invasion of Grenada. Five Rangers died during the action.
Construction of a new hospital complex at Fort Stewart was completed in 1983. It replaced a “temporary” hospital which served the post for 40 years. The new complex was named Winn Army Hospital in honor of Brigadier General Dean F. Winn (1887-1967), a native of Macon, Georgia, a member of the Georgia National Guard, and a surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Group pictures of Lyman Hall, Button Gwinnett, and George Walton were presented by the author of this book to Edgar M. Edwards, superintendent of Liberty County Schools, on April 5, 1983, to hang in the Button Gwinnett and Lyman Hall Elementary Schools in Hinesville. The author also presented portraits of Hall, Gwinnett , Richard Howley, and Nathan Brownson to James M. Floyd, chairman of the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, to hang in the Liberty County Courthouse. Images of the five gentlemen had never before hung in a Liberty County public building. The presentations took place before a large crowd of spectators in the courtroom of the Liberty County Courthouse. Paul E. Caswell was the principal speaker.
A ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Liberty County Superior Court was arranged by the author of this book and took place in the courtroom of the Liberty County Courthouse on November 19, 1983. During the ceremony, he presented portraits of George Walton and Paul E. Caswell, both judges of the Liberty County Superior Court, to Judge John R. Harvey of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit to hang in the courtroom of the Liberty County Courthouse. The latter portrait was painted by Erne Hendry Morris of Vidalia, Georgia, sister-in-law of Judge Caswell. Governor Joe Frank Harris issued a proclamation for the anniversary, and it was read by State Representative Joe E. Brown. Helen Williams Coxon was principal speaker during the ceremony.
A picture of Alfred Iverson and Alethea Bradley Hendry was presented by the author of this book to Mayor James Brown of Hinesville on November 19, 1983. Alfred Iverson Hendry was the first mayor of Hinesville in 1894, and Mayor Brown was his great-grandson. The picture was donated by James Hendry of Blackshear, Georgia, grandson of Alfred Iverson Hendry. The ceremony took place before a large crowd, including many descendents of Alfred Iverson and Alethea Bradley Hendry, in the council room of Hinesville city hall.
Alfred Iverson Hendry was a physician in Hinesville from not long after the Civil War until the beginning of the twentieth century. He had five great-grandsons serving in public office in 1983. They were Edgar M. Edwards, superintendent of Liberty County Schools, son of Robert C. and Georgia Alethea Smith Edwards; Frank Bagley, Liberty County tax collector, son of Thomas Hendry and Bonnie Gross Bagley, and James Brown, mayor of Hinesville, Clarence Brown, chairman of the Liberty County Board of Education, and Joe E. Brown, state representative, sons of Clarence M. and Lettie Bagley Brown.
Thomas H. Bagley (1889-1941) was the Liberty County tax collector for 15 years. He and Lettie Bagley Brown (1894-1980) were children of James R. Bagley, first Town Marshal of Hinesville in 1897, and his first wife, Eva Hendry, daughter of Alfred Iverson and Alethea Bradley Hendry. Georgia Alethea Smith Edwards was the daughter of Henry C. and Winnifred Hendry Smith, and granddaughter of Alfred Iverson and Alethea Bradley Hendry.
Beulah Hines Fraser McCall (1882-1986) celebrated her 100th birthday at her home in Hinesville. County and city officials, relatives, friends, and well-wishers paid their respects to her during an afternoon lawn party staged by her children in her honor.
The illegal cultivation and sale of marijuana in Liberty County was a major problem for Hinesville and Liberty County law-enforcement officers by 1983. Some of the persons found guilty were given long prison sentences.
There was an election of Hinesville city officials in late 1983. Carl R. Dykes was elected mayor for the second time, while Flo Sikes Zechman, Sandy Brewer, W.I. Stafford, Johnny Zoucks and James Watson were elected or reelected members of the city council.
Four persons worked in Hinesville city hall in 1974. Ten years later, 12 persons were required to manage a greatly accelerated flow of city business, and the city council was making plans to enlarge city hall. One of the most vexing problems it faced in 1984 was that of re-zoning property. Residential areas gradually gave way to business districts. The Hinesville Police Force, headed by Chief Robert (“Bob”) Ryon, had 45 members in 1984.
The Hinesville city council near the end of 1984 indicated that its incoming revenue for the year would be less than what was required to pay city employees and make improvements and build new facilities for its residents. It approved a $4,071,703 budget for 1985, and raised the city millage rate from 7 to 11 percent. The cost of collecting garbage went up to $6.50 a month.
Liberty County revenues rose from $1,289,749 in 1975 to $4,792,627 in 1984. The property tax base in Liberty County more than doubled between 1975 and 1984. It was $63,401,921 in 1975 and $172,176,691 in 1984. Real property made an increase from $50,552,044 in 1975 to $134,012 J 76 in 1984.
The Liberty County Board of Commissioners in 1984 was composed of James M. Floyd, chairman, Hazel Bagley Carter, vice chairman, Earl M. Baggs, Charles E. Gaskin, and M.L. Coffer. J. Ben Darsey was the county administrator. He died in 1984, and his position was filled by Michael Stewart.
Judges of Superior Courts, Atlantic Judicial Circuit, in 1984 were John R. Harvey of Pembroke, David L. Cavender of Hinesville, and James E. Findley of Reidsville. Robert Kitchings was clerk of the Liberty County Superior Court. He retired in 1984, and his position was filled by Barry Wilkes.
About 14,000 troops were stationed at Fort Stewart in 1984. They generated about $23 million in pay each month. Nearly 3,000 civilians were employed at Fort Stewart, and they generated about $4.6 million in pay each month. Fort Stewart officials reported that more than $83 million was spent on construction at Fort Stewart during the period 1983-1984.
The Mount Zion Baptist Church in Hinesville celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 15, 1984. Reverend Edward Boyd was pastor of the church, and its deacons were Steve Mitchell, Johnnie W. and Welton Riles, Leroy George Sr. and Leroy George Jr., Bennie and John O. Cummings, and James Evans. Mother of the church was Mae Anderson.
Plans for a Midway Industrial Park were announced in late 1984 by James M. Floyd, chairman of the Liberty County Industrial Authority. Money to develop the project would come from $1.2 million in industrial revenue bonds, and a $411,000 loan from the Georgia Development Authority. Floyd was later replaced as chairman of the Liberty County Industrial Authority by William (“Bill”) Verross, retired general manager of Interstate Paper Corporation at Riceboro.
The General Assembly in 1986 approved legislation which changed the composition of the Liberty County Board of Commissioners from five district representatives elected in at-large voting to six representatives elected by district balloting, and a commission chairman elected at large. The legislation also provided for the election of a Liberty County Board of Education and a superintendent of Liberty County Schools, which was approved by a referendum of county voters, on the same district voting plan as the county commissioners.
A camp for the Coastal Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America was built in 1984 near Riceboro. It was completed in 1985 and featured 13 troop areas. Land for the camp was donated by the Union-Camp Corporation at Savannah, Georgia. Some of the construction was done by the 92nd Engineer Battalion at Fort Stewart.
There were ten civic organizations and four garden clubs in Liberty County during the period 1984-1985. T. Vance McSwain was president of the Hinesville Lions Club. Robert Pirkle was president of the Hinesville Jaycees. Sophie Gray was president of Button Gwinnett Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. Lucy Kitchings was president of the Liberty County Chapter, American Business Womens Association. Earl Elam Jr. was president of the Sertoma Club. William Boyle was president of the Red Fez Shrine Club. Harry T. Owen was president of Hinesville Lodge No. 271, Free and Accepted Masons. Mel Sword was president of the Optimist Club. LaNell Crapps was president of the Morning Glory Garden Club. Betty M. Norman was president of the Magnolia Garden Club. Lucy Kitchings was president of the Moonflower Garden Club. Jean Cox was president of the Eliza Martin Garden Club. Carlton Gill was chairman of the Fort Stewart Impact Coordinating Committee. Robert D. Vick worked with the latter activity. He and others were making good progress in 1985 toward revitalizing the courthouse square area of Hinesville.
Hinesville Mayor Carl R. Dykes signed a proclamation in early August 1984 designating Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the second week in September 1984 as the first “Hinesville Founders Days.” Radio station WGML devoted three days of special broadcasts to the event.
There was a general election in 1984. Barry Wilkes was elected clerk of the Liberty County Superior Court. Robert V. (“Bobby”) Sikes was re-elected sheriff. Frank Bagley was re-elected tax collector. Nancy Kitchings Aspinwall was reelected Judge of Probate Court. Edgar M. Edwards was re- elected superintendent of Liberty County Schools. Sanford Carter was re-elected coroner. Al Phillips was re-elected magistrate. Glenn E. Bryant was re-elected state senator, and Joe E. Brown (1928-1985) was re-elected state representative. James G. Martin, a direct descendent of Martin Martin of Liberty County, was elected governor of North Carolina.
The population of Liberty County at the end of 1984 was about 40,000. County and state officials projected that the population of Liberty County by the year 2000 would be 56,000. There was still a lot of life left in the old land yet.