A historic and cultural tour of a rural Southern town is given during a walk around the Sandersville, Georgia, town square as Hovey Smith traces the town’s evolution from the 1790s to 2011 with comments on the events, people and things that shaped the community, including how to cook Southern fried chicken.
Huge yellow pines, live oaks and cypress trees greeted those fortunate enough to be among those who received land grants in the 1790s resulting from service or to compensate for the loss of spouses or property during the Revolutionary War. This was first county in the nation to be named for George Washington and was later divided into 13 others.
Oxen, black slaves and much labor by all resulted in nearly all land being put to the plow by the Civil War aided by the arrival of the Central of Georgia and other railroads that enabled cotton to be transported out of the interior of the state and manufactured goods to come in from other parts of the U.S. and Europe.
Sandersville grew from a single store at the intersection of two Indian trails to be the County seat and a thriving community until the winter of 1864-65 when Gen. William T. Sherman’s army arrived at the town, burned the Courthouse, most commercial buildings and many plantations.
Citizens resisted. One did a solo defense of Oconee, while children at the state’s military academies fought because Georgia units were away in Virginia and other states with few men remaining to defend their homes. Only General Joe Wheeler’s cavalry offered dogged resistance to Sherman’s 60,000 men as they proceeded towards Savannah.
Post-war many changes occurred with new immigrants joining the already multi-ethnic population that existed prior to the Civil War. The town continued to grow and prosper through two World Wars, integration and even now sees new immigrants from Asia and Hispanic America.
“This is a nice place to be from. It is a nice place to be now – Sandersville, Georgia, my home town.”