Timelines 1900 - 1929

 

G.W. Tuten (1861-1917) of Savannah, Georgia, established the Savannah & Southern Railroad and a sawmill at Letford, Bryan County, Georgia, in 1885. He married Georgia Lillian Hendry, daughter of Walton and Faithianne McGillis Hendry of Liberty County, on December 11, 1887.

 

By 1905 Tuten's supply of trees in Bryan County was ex­hausted. He then built his railroad across the Canoochee River into Liberty County to a point near the home of Henry A. and Jane Denmark Swindle on the Sunbury Road about 15 miles northwest of Hinesville. Plenty of trees were avail­able for purchase in this area.

 

Tuten built a depot at the point and named it "Willie" for his oldest child, Nellie Willie Lee Tuten (1893-1919), who married Walter I. Beck of Savannah, Georgia, and had five children. Pearl Sheppard was first agent at the depot. Susey Estille ("Chinkie") Purcell was the second and last agent.

 

A land sale was held on June 28, 1911, to promote the growth of a proposed town around the Willie depot. It had positive results. Buildings for homes and businesses were gradually constructed, and the town acquired a population.

 

Willie Lodge No. 606, Free and Accepted Masons, was in existence from 1911 to 1927. Its original officers were Homer E. Gill, Worshipful Master; Archie J. Tuten, Senior Warden; James H. Smith, Junior Warden; Grover T. Tuten, Secretary; William G. Tuten, Treasurer; J.W. Pinholster, Senior Deacon; Charles V. Tuten, Junior Deacon, and Wil­liam Roan Floyd, Tyler. Its charter members were Elias Brewton, W.A. Clonts, Walter T. Davis, James A. Darsey, Fred W. Elarbee, Joseph L. Futch, William Roan Floyd, Sidney S. Floyd, Aaron E. Polk, B.E. Stubbs, W.A. Strick­land, and J.W. Turner.

 

Elementary schools in the Soules Chapel and Strumbay communities, both near Willie, were consolidated by the Liberty County Board of Education with a school in Willie in September 1912. The school building it constructed had three classrooms upstairs, and an auditorium and another classroom downstairs. It eventually became Willie Elemen­tary and High School.

 

Members of the Soules Chapel Methodist Church in early 1912 decided to relocate their church organization in Willie. They had no church building in town, so Sunday school classes and worship services were held once a month in the school auditorium.

 

Reverend G.P. Reviere in the late summer of 1912 con­ducted a revival under a tent on grounds of the Willie school. It was during this revival that the Soules Chapel Methodist Church merged with the newly organized Willie Methodist Church. A building for the Willie Methodist Church was con­structed in 1913. Furnishings from the Soules Chapel Method­ist Church were used to equip the new house of worship.

 

A U.S. post office was established at Willie, and on August 4, 1915, it was incorporated by the General Assembly as the Town of Willie. There is no evidence that residents of the town ever elected a mayor and council.

 

Tuten's railroad and sawmill came to an end in 1916. Susey Estille ("Chinkie") Purcell married and became an agent for the Southern Railroad. She later founded the Guid­ing Light, a group devoted to care of the elderly, and on May 15, 1981, celebrated her 91 st birthday in her home at Savannah, Georgia.

 


From "Sweet Land of Liberty, A History of Liberty County, Georgia" by Robert Long Groover; Page(s) 71; Used by the permission of the Liberty County Commissioners Office 

 

LIBERTY COUNTY GEORGIA

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Mailing Address

Liberty County Historical Society
PO Box 982
Hinesville, GA  31310

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