America went “dry” and on January 16, 1920, began the “noble experiment” of prohibition of liquor. Within two months a group of local citizens formed the Law Enforcement League of Liberty County to assist the county sheriff in enforcing the law. It was composed of W.N. Hill, DJ. Dawson, B.A. Deal, and C.W. Farmer.
The Liberty County coastline, beset by the British navy during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, now became a battleground where the U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement officials regularly fought a losing battle with “rum-runners.” Stories still persists about this or that Liberty County resident who became wealthy smuggling in illegal spirits.
When the Roaring Twenties began, there was prosperity in many parts of America, but there was an economic depression in Liberty County which did not get better as the decade progressed. Twenty-five persons were on the county pauper rolls in 1923.
Local young ladies raised the hem-lines of their skirts, the player piano was replaced by the phonograph, and jazz music and a dance craze known as the “Charleston” became a part of the local scene. Young people danced the “Charleston” behind closed doors, however, because local preachers still considered dancing a sin.
The county commissioners hired inspectors and range riders to inspect livestock and make sure they were “dipped” in chemicals to protect them from ticks and other pests. A central “dipping pond” was established in each of the county’s communities. The county commissioners charged livestock owners $1.50 for each animal “dipped,” and the money went into the county treasury.
The Liberty Independent Troop was reorganized on September 17, 1920, as Troop B, First Separate Squadron. Donald F. Martin Sr was its first captain, Floyd E. Miller was its first lieutenant, and Joseph B. Fraser Jr. was its second lieutenant. Martin and Miller resigned in a few weeks, and Fraser was elected captain, with C.J. Martin Jr. as first lieutenant, and Lonnie A. Knight as second lieutenant. Knight then resigned, and Ernest V. Martin was elected second lieutenant.
In was in 1920 that Hinesville Chapter No. 166, Order of the Eastern Star, was chartered with 22 members. Elizabeth Jackson was its first Worthy Matron, while Jessie Delk Dawson was its first secretary. The organization was dissolved by its members in less than two years.
It was also in 1920 that Liberty County lost about 30 percent of its population when Long County was instituted by the General Assembly, carved out of Liberty County land, and named for Crawford W. Long, a physician of Athens, Georgia, who was a developer of surgical anesthesia, and not related to the Long families of Liberty County.
Some of the earlier residents of Long County were Robert Sallette and his descendents, Joseph William Hughes Sr. and his descendents the Baxter families, Hendley Foxworth Horne, and Harry and Elizabeth Ann McDuffie Williams Thomas Lee Howard Sr. resided in that part of Liberty County which became Long County, and served as state representative for both counties before and after 1920. It was in his home at Jones Creek that Hugh Dorsey plotted a part of his campaign strategy which elected him governor of Georgia in 1916.
Some local law enforcement officers in 1920 were indicted by the Liberty County Grand Jury for the lynching of two black prisoners. They were tried in Liberty County Superior Court. Two of them were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms. Judge Walter W. Sheppard said this when he sentenced the men:
“Lynching is worse than murder, for it is murder of the law. The men you murdered were in the hands of officers of the law and were wards of the state.”
It was not the first time, nor tragically was it the last time, that black men were lynched by white men in Liberty County.
Candidates for election as county sheriff in 1920 were incumbent J.H. Baxter, J.D. Stafford, and W.H. Sallette. Stafford won. Walter W. Sheppard was a candidate for representative from the First Congressional District. He did not win.
Joseph B. Way in 1920 sold his turpentine still in Hinesville to Donald F. Martin Sr. and J.M. Fleming. Ernest V. Dunlevie then purchased the still and arranged for Martin and Fleming to operate it for him.
The Liberty Independent Troop was redesignated Troop B, 108th Cavalry, 23rd Cavalry Division, in April 1921. On November 9, 1921, a football game was played on the race track at the National Guard Armory in Hinesville, between Savannah High School and the Georgia Hussers (Troop A, 108th Cavalry). The teams traveled from Savannah to Hinesville in trucks. A group of 40 girls, all members of the R.R.R. Club at Savannah High School, rented a truck and came along to cheer for their school team. Savannah High School won 10 to 0.
The General Assembly on July 28, 1921, changed the number of road districts in Liberty County from five to three, and specified that the board of commissioners would henceforth consist of three members. The change came about because a large part of Liberty County became Long County the year before.
The Hinesville-Flemington Women’s Club was established in 1922 by Edna R. Fennell, the county home demonstration agent. It was never a large organization. It nevertheless staged a pageant in Hinesville on George Washington’s 200th birthday, staged still another pageant in Savannah, Georgia, during Georgia’s bicentennial year, and planted the first flowers and shrubbery on grounds of the Liberty County Courthouse. It sponsored the first garden clubs in Liberty County. Presidents of the Hinesville-Flemington Women’s Club include Maria Boulineau Fraser, Mamie Caswell Brinson, Bessie Hines Stafford, Beulah Hines Fraser McCall,and Lillie Mae Fraser.
Members of the Liberty Independent Troop celebrated the 116th anniversary of the founding of their organization on November 9, 1922, at McIntosh. During a banquet the unit was awarded a Silver Loving Cup by the Georgia National Guard for placing first in drill competition the previous July at Camp McClellen, Alabama.
The Long County Herald (later the Ludowici News) was established in early October 1922. R.M. (“Bob”) Martin, editor and publisher of the Liberty County Herald, was its first publisher. Helen Reid Williams was its first local editor and business manager.
Members of Hinesville Lodge No. 271, Free and Accepted Masons, in 1923 moved their meeting place from the Bradwell Building to the second floor of the Hinesville Bank. It leased the space for 99 years in 1922 for $1,100, with an option to renew.
The 1923 senior class at Bradwell Institute was composed of Louise Ryon, Ouida Darsey, Ivis and Willie Mae Dawson, Sarah Laing, Irene Futch, Malena Joyner, Donald Hines Fraser, Fraser F. Rambo, and E. Leroy Brewton, Their motto was “Build For Character, Not For Fame,” their colors were gray and silver, and their flower was the rose bud. Graduation exercises took place at 8 :00 p.m. in the school auditorium on July 6, 1923. A.G. Overman was the principal, and Laura Martin Fraser the assistant principal and Latin teacher. There was a class play in which Joseph B. Fraser Jr. of Hinesville, and Pearl Collins of Cobbtown, Georgia, portrayed sweethearts. They were actually married on November 14, 1923.
Henry Lowe in 1924 bought and installed a generator on grounds of the Liberty County Courthouse. He wired the courthouse and a few general stores and homes in the immediate area for the first electric lights Hinesville ever had.
Heavy rains in January 1925 caused flooding in coastal Georgia. Extremely high water in the Altamaha and Ogeechee rivers washed out rail lines and inundated parts of the Dixie Highway. Rail passengers were rerouted at Savannah, Georgia, through Macon, Albany, and Waycross, Georgia, to reach Jacksonville, Florida. It was nearly a week before the rains stopped, the water receded, and normal traffic was resumed.
The Citizens Bank of Liberty County at Ludowici was dissolved in 1925. Edward Payson Miller of Walthourville was one of its founders. He became its president and chairman of its board of directors before he died in 1910. Other of its officials through the years were E.B. Rimes, W.A. Rimes, C.J. McDonald, J. Bruce Daniel, and L. Carter.
Lolla Smith, a teacher at Bradwell Institute, and Laura Martin Fraser, principal of Tranquil Institute at Flemington, before 1926 taught their pupils acting, singing, and dancing, and staged what they called “Exhibitions.” An occasional small circus, tent or medicine show played on a vacant lot adjacent to courthouse square in Hinesville. That same lot was used by pupils at Bradwell Institute as a playground until 1926. After the Hinesville Bank built its own structure and vacated the first floor of the building erected by Joseph B. Way, that space was used by local citizens who rented equipment and exhibited silent films on weekends. It became the Wilcox Store.
The 1925 senior class of Bradwell Institute was the last to hold its commencement exercises in the original Bradwell Institute adjacent to courthouse square in Hinesville. That class was composed of Bessie Ashmore, Elise Brewton, Helen Ryon, Eulalia Walker, Paul E. Caswell, J. Dekle Darsey, Edward Dean, O.C. Martin Jr., Donald F. Martin Jr., and Pryor Stafford. Its class motto was “Deeds Not Words,” the class colors were green and white, and the class flower was the white carnation.
There was a split in the Gum Branch Primitive Baptist Church in 1925. A majority of its members voted to become a part of the Georgia Baptist Convention. It advocated the use of foreign missionaries and a more moderate religion. The other members advocated the use of home missionaries and the “old time religion.” The minority members withdrew from the church and founded a house of worship on the other side of the road. It was called Liberty Baptist Church, and its founder and first pastor was Elder Henry C. Hodges. Both churches gradually evolved into Baptist churches with moderate religious practices.
Bradwell Institute moved to a new and modern building about four blocks from courthouse square in Hinesville in 1926. It was a consolidated school which included seven elementary and four high school classes. A.G. Overman was the principal, and his assistants were Laura Martin Fraser and Carol Hutchenson. The first senior class to graduate in the school’s large auditorium was composed of Alvis Waite Bacon, Mary Darsey Bagley, Mary Lucile Folker, Marian Elizabeth Laing, Marion Fleming Martin Jr., Freida Evelyn McLamb, Jordye Mae McLamb, Dorothy Miller, Lucille Screven Norman, Laura Adele Shave, Hillis Mallard Varnedoe, and Agnes Fleming Waite. The class motto was “Semper Altiot.” the class colors were rainbow colors, and the class flower was the sweet pea.
Records of Hinesville Lodge No. 271, Free and Accepted Masons, indicate that the cornerstone of the Long County Courthouse was layed in 1927. There is good reason, however, to believe that the courthouse was already occupied in 1926.
The U.S. in 1926 was 150 years old, and prohibition was the order of the day. The younger generation was sometimes referred to as “flaming youth,” and a dance known as the “Black Bottom” was all the rage. Rudolph Valentino, idol of motion picture goers all over America, died in New York, New York, in 1926.