Friday, November 26, 2021

2020-06-04: More Geocaching Through the Backroads of Georgia Counties and a Confederate P.O.W. Camp

So on this second day of our roadtrip through the backroads of Georgia, on our way to North Carolina, we still didn't get very far. After nine hours we've barely gone 200 miles from where we started this morning. Also, we only managed to find 6 geocaches located in 4 new geocaching counties. However we did find a 20 year old geocache that was hidden way back in June 2000! There were a lot of cool historical sites on the agenda today. Let's go for a drive and do some sightseeing...

Our first stop was a virtual geocache (GCGMJY) in Andersonville, Georgia. The Andersonville National Historic Site began as a stockade built about 18 months before the end of the Civil War to hold Union Army prisoners captured by Confederate soldiers. This location became the deadliest ground of the Civil War. Nearly 13,000 men died on these grounds.

Located deep behind Confederate lines, the 26.5-acre Camp Sumter (named for the south Georgia county it occupied) was designed for a maximum of 10,000 prisoners. At its most crowded, it held more than 32,000 men, many of them wounded and starving, in horrific conditions with rampant disease, contaminated water, and only minimal shelter from the blazing sun and the chilling winter rain. In the prison's 14 months of existence, some 52,000 Union prisoners arrived here; of those, 12,920 died and were buried in a cemetery created just outside the prison walls. Conditions were so bad here that the residents of the town of Americus, 10 miles to the south, often complained of the smell blowing in their direction.

The stockade was designed in this location with the theory that a small creek passing through the middle would provide fresh drinking water upstream as it entered at the higher elevation. The lower elevation would be used as a latrine downstream and flush sewage out as the water flow exited the camp. Inadvertently, the prison was designed for death. Stockade posts slowed the drainage, and during dry spells the creek was more of a stagnant swamp than flowing stream. Dysentery swept through the camp. Overcrowding soon fouled the water, and the sluggish current failed to wash sewage out of the prison. The stream's bacteria quickly became lethal.

Today, Andersonville National Historic Site comprises three distinct components: the former site of Camp Sumter military prison; the Andersonville National Cemetery, where veterans continue to be buried today; and the National Prisoner of War Museum, which opened in 1998, and serves as a memorial to all American prisoners of war.

The cemetery site serving Camp Sumter was established as Andersonville National Cemetery on July 26, 1865. By 1868, the cemetery held the remains of more than 13,800 Union soldiers whose bodies had been retrieved after their deaths in hospitals, battles, or prison camps throughout the region. Andersonville National Cemetery has been used continuously since its founding and currently averages over 150 burials a year. The cemetery and associated prison site became a unit of the National Park System in 1970.

These six graves were deliberately set apart among the others. These six prisoners were buried with dishonor. Only enlisted soldiers were held at Andersonville. With no Union officers to maintain order, life in the pen became anarchy. A gang known as the Raiders roamed the prison yard, bullying, robbing, and even murdering other prisoners. Eventually, with the blessing of Commandant Wirz, the prisoners formed a police squad called the Regulators and arrested the Raiders. Before their execution, the six Raider leaders were court-martialed by their peers. Confederates provided lumber for the gallows, which was erected near the prison's South Gate. The remaining Raiders were forced to run a gauntlet formed by their fellow prisoners.

After nearly 2 hours of wandering the grounds, looking at all the large state monuments and memorials, the stockade walls, displays and information boards, and just taking it all in, it was time to get back on the road.

From there we went to another historical virtual geocache (GCGVRY). The town of Americus, Georgia plays a part in aviation history. From the statue and historical marker at the Jimmy Carter Regional Airport: "The "Lone Eagle" first flew solo in early May, 1923 from Souther Field. Charles Lindbergh had come to Americus to purchase a surplus aircraft from the World War I training center. He chose a Curtiss JN4 "Jenny." He got the plane with a brand new OX-5 engine, a fresh coat of olive drab dope, and an extra 20 gallon fuel tank for $500. Lindbergh had less than 20 hours of instruction when he soloed. He practiced take-offs and landings for a week; then having filled up with 40 gallons of gas, he set course for Montgomery, Alabama, to start his barnstorming career. Four years later Lindbergh flew alone in "The Spirit of St Louis" from New York to Paris and into aviation history."

Next door at the South Georgia Technical College was our next cache (GC17V02). The land on which the college now sits was once a training facility for WWI and WWII pilots. This is also the where Charles Lindbergh trained and had his first solo flight. It was converted to a college in the late 1940's. This was one of the airplanes located on the campus grounds.

Over in Crawford County in the town of Knoxville, Georgia more history was to be found. My next two geocaches were located by the old courthouse (GC6C5C, GC3DFJG). Crawford County was created by Acts of the Legislature on Dec 9 & 23, 1822, and is named for William H. Crawford, a Georgia statesman. This building served as the county courthouse from 1823 until a new one was constructed in 2001.

Most everyone has heard of Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, and many other historic highways which played a role in the expansion of this country. US-80/GA-22 passing through town was once known as the Federal Wire Road. This highway, created by an Act of Congress in 1810, entered the state at Augusta, passing through Warrenton, Sparta, Milledgeville, Macon and Knoxville to Coweta Town (now called Columbus). It was formally known as the Stage Coach Road. A telegraph line, the first that connected New Orleans with Washington D.C., was erected in 1848. The wires paralleled this road between Columbus and Macon giving to this section of the old highway the name of the Federal Wire Road. This telegraph line was also the first one to be erected in the state of Georgia.

Knoxville also played a role in Texas history. It was here that Joanne Troutman gave to a company of Georgia soldiers commanded by Col. William Ward on their way to fight for the Independence of Texas, a Lone Star Flag. It was carried to Goliad where James Fannin Jr raised it as the Texas National Flag.

One more that I want to mention... Alexis de Tocqueville, the 25 year old French aristocrat and author of Democracy in America, visited this area during his 1831-1832 tour of America.

Over in Jones County we stop at a park for short hike to our next geocache (GC229DF). The first iron foundry in Georgia was established here by Samuel Griswold, who came from Connecticut, settling in Clinton in 1820. He also manufactured about 1,000 cotton gins a year and ran a steam sawmill and grist mill. Moving to Griswoldville in 1849 to be on the railroad his mansion and factories were burned by Sherman in 1864 when he was making pistols and ammunition for the Confederacy. He died in 1867. Daniel Pratt of Temple, NH, later designer of the Alabama capitol, was at one time Griswold's partner.

Moving right along we made a quick roadside stop for a quick cache in Jasper County (GC5RKVD).

Looping around Atlanta to the northeast side, we arrive at our final geocache of the day. This is one that has been on my bucket list for a long time. Beaver Cache (GC1D) was hidden way back in June 2000 and is the 8th oldest active geocache in the world. I had been close to it many times before, but either didn't have the time or just forgot all about it. That completes one more of my Year 2000 calendar. All that's left now is July and August.

So that was Day 2 of our Florida to North Carolina roadtrip. Like I said at the beginning, we saw a lot but didn't get very far.

On Day 3 it was just driving straight through the rest of the way where we reached our destination at the Lake Norman Motorcoach Resort. For the next few months here working at this project, this will be home:

Come back soon as we will be exploring the backroads of North Carolina and completing the last 7 NC Counties while we're here.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course. But also by using you favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterRVillageGETTR and Instagram. These all link directly to my profile. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

2020-06-03: Another Geocaching Roadtrip Through the Backroads of Georgia

Well our time in Florida is done and it's off to a new project in North Carolina. According to Google it's just a simple 8 hour day trip drive to get there. But where's the fun in that! In reality, it actually took us 2 1/2 days to get there! We try to avoid the Interstate Highways and take the backroads, sightseeing and geocaching along the way.

On this first day of our roadtrip through Georgia, we visited several old cemeteries, old churches, and some other historical places. Finding 14 geocaches, we picked up 11 new caching counties in the process! So come onboard, ride along and see what and who we've found today...

Our first stop after leaving Florida was a geocache in the Howell Cemetery (GC2FPY3) for Echols County, Georgia. The cemetery has about 130 interments, most dating from 1916 through the present. But there is one burial listed on the Find-A-Grave website dated 1839. The small community of Howell once had a post office established in 1899 which remained until 1957. A township was incorporated in 1905, but it was eventually dissolved in 1995.

Also in Echols County is the Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery, previously known as the Cow Creek Baptist Church and Cemetery (GC3F0E8). The church was established in 1847 and the first meeting held in September. The cemetery has nearly 1800 interments and the oldest headstone dates back to 1845. 

At the end of the entry road, there is another historical marker describing an Indian skirmish at Cow Creek. "New here, on August 27, 1836, Georgia Militia companies commanded by Col. Henry Blair, Captain Lindsay, and Capt. Levi J. Knight, fought a skirmish with Creek Indians and routed them, killing two and taking several prisoners. During this summer the Indians had committed many raids and massacres as they traversed the border counties on their way to Florida to join the Seminoles. Georgia troops had been following them for weeks, and overtook this band in the cypress swamp, on the edge of Cow Creek."

Driving over to Lakeland, GA in Lanier County, I stopped by Camp Patten for my next geocache (GCT6ZP). Camp Patten was donated by Mr. Lawson Leo Patten (1896-1983) to the South Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 1965 to further promote the ideals and methods of the Scouting movement.

A half-mile up the road was the Burnt Church and Haunted Cemetery (GC121CF). One of the first churches constituted in the area was Union Baptist Church. It was organized on October 21, 1825 on the banks of the Alapaha River at Carter's Meeting House. Captain Jesse Carter settled the land earlier in 1925 to provide more room for his family, slaves, and hundreds of cattle. In 1836 as a band of Creek Indians passed on their way to join the Seminoles at Noochee, near present day Fargo, they set fire to the Union Church. It was later called the Burnt Church. (Note: I've found conflicting dates for the fire. Some websites have it as 1836 and others 1854. It's possible that there were two fires or that the church was rebuilt in 1854. The church also was subject to a restoration in 1998.)

It is said that the church and cemetery grounds are haunted. A teacher and several of her students, who were using the church as a school, perished in the flames. She and the children were buried along side one another, but time and weather has wiped away all traces of their graves. Stories are told though that loud, unintelligible voices of children can be heard and apparitions known locally as "walkers" can be seen among the many tombstones.

Perhaps one of those "walkers" is this unknown man who hasn't found his eternal rest:

Moving right along, a quick stop for a geocache in Berrien County (GC8CZCH). And a quick roadside cemetery geocache for Atkinson County (GC6NNX5). Continuing to check counties off the list, two quick geocaches for Coffee County (GC617BC, GC6047Y), including this obvious container hidden in plain site.

Moving right along into Irwin County, there was a quick park and grab in the town of Ocilla (GC5JPDC). Followed by a short woodsy walk in Paulk Park in Fitzgerald for Ben Hill County (GC507M3).

And then there's the Wild Hog Express (GC1FZ6C). Located in Wilcox County, the town of Abbeville is said to be the wild hog capital of Georgia.

Then when I got to Eastman in Dodge County, I had originally set to find a cache at the Eastman House in town. But there were some renovations being done outside making it too difficult approach and find the cache. So I quickly look up and find a cemetery cache outside of town.

I'm so glad that was the case because you know I like cemeteries, especially with an old church, and then toss in some history too! (GC1CX07) President Jefferson Davis, his wife and children arrived at this site on May 8, 1865. He had rejoined his wife 20 miles south of Dublin. Traveling with them were the Davis’ four children, Varina, Maggie, Jefferson, Jr. and Joseph. Traveling with President Davis was John Regan, Postmaster General of the Confederacy, Captain Gevin Campbell and Lt. Barnwell. Personal aides John Wood, Preston Johnson, son of General Albert Sidney Johnson, Francis Lubbock, the former Governor of Texas, and Colonel Charles E. Thornburn, a secret agent for the Confederate Government. Traveling with Mrs. Davis and her children were Mrs. Davis’ sister Margaret Howell, Mrs. Burton Harrison, the President’s private secretary, a seven-man mounted military escort, and some of the President’s personal servants.

The following morning the president’s party crossed the present Highway 341 at approximately where Friendship Baptist Road is now. They followed this route to what is referred to as 5 points. Further along Friendship Baptist Road they would come to Levi (Tiger Bill) Harrell’s farm where they stopped for the noon meal. Turning south, they passed through what is now Rhine and then west to the river.

Mrs. Davis was to remain behind and follow the next day. Fearing the roads would become impassable due to the heavy rains that had started to fall would heighten the chances of Mrs. Davis’ capture, Preston Johnson returned to the campsite to inform Mrs. Davis to leave immediately and join her husband in Abbeyville.

Many have pondered why the Davis’ didn’t stay in the Parkerson Church located just across the swamp. The Parkerson Church is the one of the oldest churches in Dodge County having been built in June 1831. (Dodge County being Pulaski and Telfair Counties at that time.) The original building was a log house built by Jacob Parkerson, a Revolutionary War Veteran who donated the land and the first to be buried here in 1843.

The second burial here is Private William Hannibal Weekes who died in the Civil War at the young age of 28. There are less than 300 total interments at this cemetery.

Next on the list was some more history at the Orange Hill Cemetery (GC8N95D) in Hawkinsville for Pulaski County. There are more than 3000 interments here dating as far back as 1833. There are many large and elaborate monuments here.

One broken headstone I'd like to tell you about belongs to 30 year old Tom Woolfolk. He was convicted of killing nine family members with a short handled axe in Macon on the night of August 6, 1887. He was tried several times in Bibb and then Perry, Georgia and was publicly hung on October 28, 1890. Up until the last minute he proclaimed his innocence. He was one of the last people to be hung before they did away with public hangings.

"The Shadow Chasers" by Carolyn DeLoach, (Woolfolk revisited), is a book about this case. The author uncovered much undiscovered evidence and was able to conclude that the actual murderer was Simon Cooper, a hired hand of the family. After Cooper's death, a diary was found that he had written, notating the Woolfolk murders just as Tom had stated. He had also written a statement, "Tom Woolfolk was mighty slick, but I fixed him. I would have killed him with the rest of the damn family, but he was not at home."

The victims are buried in Macon's Rose Hill cemetery. Its reported that thousands of people also came to Macon for the funeral. That they lined the streets of what is now Spring St. and Riverside Dr. as the horse drawn hearses went by. There weren't enough hearses in Macon/Bibb County to accommodate all the victims and many had to be borrowed from surrounding areas. The victims were Richard F. Woolfolk, father, then aged 54; his wife Mattie H (Tom's stepmother), aged 41; their six children, Richard F. Jr., 20; Pearl, 17; Annie, 10; Rosebud, 7; Charlie, 5; baby Mattie, 18 months old; and 84-year old Temperance West, a relative of Mrs. Woolfolk.

Tom is buried beside one of his sisters from his Father's first marriage to Susan M. Woolfolk. He was the youngest of 3 siblings from the first marriage. His mother passed away shortly after his birth at the age of 24. The sisters from the first marriage were not living with their father at the time of the murders.

One final quick roadside geocache (GC40DP0) in Twiggs County before calling it a day.

We found a total of 14 geocaches today and managed to pick up 11 new counties for our geocaching map. I hope you enjoyed the ride-a-long. Another big day tomorrow as we continue making our way through Georgia on our way to North Carolina.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course. But also by using you favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitter, RVillage, GETTR and Instagram. These all link directly to my profile. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

2020-05-10: Jeeping and Geocaching in a Florida Forest Finding some Creative Caches!

WOW, it was a fun day! Welcome back to my AwayWeGo's Geocaching Adventures Blog. Normally my adventures are roadtrips finding geocaches that focus more on the destination. Today was all about finding some creative geocache containers in the Osceola National Forest. So come on aboard the GeoJeep and let's see what kind of crazy caches we can find...

After talking to some of our local geocacher friends, we heard about a fun power trail (a lot of caches along a road at or near the minimum required distance apart) where the majority of the geocache containers were unique and amusing. These were located within the Osceola National Forest in North Florida, not far from the campground which we were staying in Fort White.

After a few hours of wheeling and tromping through the woods, we had found a total of 41 geocaches with only 1 DNF. Unlike the other of my blog posts, I give you the caches GC# and link to the geocache page. However for this blog, because I'm showing you photos of the geocache itself, I'm not going to provide that info so that you might be pleasantly surprised when you find it yourself. Your only hint as to the location is that they are just a few of the nearly 1000 geocaches hidden within the Osceola National Forest.

I leave you now with photos of these creative geocache containers. If these are sparked your interest in this hobby, feel free to ask a question or leave your comments below. I always look forward to hearing from my readers.

See you next week...

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course. But also by using you favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitter, and Instagram. These all link directly to my profile. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

2020-04-19: Geocaching Florida From Fort White to Cedar Key to Find a Closed Island, a Ghost Town, and an Old House

Hello everyone! So after our quick couple of weeks at the Georgia project, we're back in our home state of Florida to start a new project in Fort White! We arrived mid-week and check into the River Run Campground. After working the remainder of the week, we had the first weekend off so it was time to go exploring and geocaching along the rural backroads of Florida. So hop on in the GeoJeep and let's go see what we can find...

First on the list for Saturday was driving on up to Discount Tire in Lake City. After two years and 100,000 miles on the GeoJeep, it was time to finally upgrade to some new tires and wheels. Because we do drive it a LOT, I didn't want to go too big and loose the 16-18 MPG. But I did want something that looked a little more off-road than the originals. I like it! What do you think?

On Sunday, we decided to take a drive on over to the Gulf Coast at Cedar Key. What a great way to spend a spring day but on a beach in Florida, Right? NOT! We drove all the way down here only to find that the island is closed off to non-residents because of the virus. Well so much for that plan. We head back towards Fort White grabbing geocaches along the way starting with two quick roadside caches on Hwy 24 on the way to Cedar Key (GC1AHDY, GC6FJWA).

Approaching Chiefland, we grabbed a roadside geocache on CR345 (GC4YP47). Then in Chiefland, we passed by Barnhill Landscape and they had a landscape display which I just had to stop and get some pics of. This one especially was my favorite of an old school bus crossing a rickety bridge. I give you two versions; the black and white photo below and the color photo from a different angle at the top of the blog post.

The next stop was for a geocache at the ghost town and Levyville Cemetery (GC44F5N). The history of Levyville is short. The Levy County seat for only a few years in the mid-1800's. The town slowly disappeared after losing its position to Bronson in 1870, and was virtually non-existent by the early 1900's. The railroad could "make or break" a town, and bypassing Levyville definitely broke it. There was a brief Civil War skirmish fought in the area as well. The "new" courthouse, built in 1867, which became redundant when Bronson became the county seat, was sold to the newly-formed Masonic Lodge #51 in 1870, and eventually moved to Chiefland. All that remains of this historic town are two cemeteries. This one has nearly 60 interments with the oldest belonging to Levi Wright who died in 1858.

Then there was "This Old House" (GC3HAY9) located in Bell, Florida. I couldn't find anything out about this house or when it was built. It does kinda remind me of the Jed Clampett house before he moved to Beverly Hills.

And finally, an Earthcache at the Suwannee River (GC679MY). This is what natural Florida looks like. The water level was a little high at this time. This is just one of the many public boat ramps to access this 246 mile long river which flows from south Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico.

That's it for today. Not a very big roadtrip, but a nice drive nonetheless. Until next time, see you back here soon...

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course. But also by using you favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitter, and Instagram. These all link directly to my profile. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.