Burnt Fort Community (unincorporated county)

Burnt Fort Chapel

The Burnt Fort area was one of the first places to be settled in this part of the state.  Edmond Gray came to Georgia with a following of debtors and outlaws.  He was determined to settle the "Neutral" area that encompassed the land between the Altamaha (Glynn Co.) and St. Johns Rivers (Florida).

In April 1755 Gray, and "Gray's Gang" arrived at a spot "30 miles up the Great Satilly River" in an area known as New Hanover.  They laid out a town and set up homes and shops.  This, of course, was illegal.  The English were unhappy that this rough lot was settling in disputed land, Spain was unhappy to find out these renegade Englishmen had started a town, and the Creek Indians were unhappy at this intrusion into their territory.  Eventually, after politics failed, the governor of Spanish-St. Augustine (now in Florida) sent a troop of 30 men to expel Gray's Gang.  In addition, English commissioners were sent to evict Gray'sBurnt Fort School Gang.  Gray notified the townspeople, some of whom refused to leave.  Upon hearing of the Gang's refusal to comply with their orders, the English destroyed the settlement.  What buildings were left behind were the fort and the trading post.

For years afterwards the settlers used the fort as a refuge from Indian raids.  Eventually the trading post disappeared into the wilderness but ruins of the fort were still visible in the 1800's.  Sometime in the 1800's the fort was burned.  Some say Indians destroyed it.

At this time, the name New Hanover gave way to "Burnt Fort."  Eventually the area was opened for settlement.  Trading with the Indians was not uncommon.

Early settlers of the area include, but are not limited to, the Studstills, Parrishes, Crawfords, Browns, Atkinsons, Clarks, and Langs.

From Maine came settlers to operate a sawmill.  For many years afterwards the area became known as a logging settlement.  Names common in the timber industry of Burnt Fort included the Buies, Bedells, Browns, Godleys, Littlefields, and Harrells.  Descendents of these families still live on in the community of Burnt Fort.

Burnt Fort Mercantile StoreA ferry crossing at Burnt Fort was in place until the 1920's.  A bridge eliminated the need for a ferry.  In the 1950's, a new bridge was built when Highway 252 was paved.

The old Buie-Littlefield general store (ca. 1907) at Burnt Fort still stands.  It is only used for storage now.

Today, the sawmills are quiet.  Gone are the bustling days of a timber-town.  Today families live their lives out in the Burnt Fort community, but most rely on jobs outside of the area.  Logging still goes on but the trees are processed elsewhere.  The area is still beautiful and a pleasure to visit.

Few of the old buildings remain.  Some that can still be seen include the old Burnt Fort School, the Godley place, the Buie home, the Littlefield homestead, and the Goodbread house.  Burnt Fort Chapel, while quite beautiful and built very similar to its predecessor, is relatively new.  Unfortunately, the 160+ year old Goodbread house, which lies in the little hamlet of Midriver, is being torn down.  I [Tara Fields] have a few photos taken this year (April of 1999) after the top floor was removed.  There's a ghost story associated with the Goodbread house.  Supposedly, it harbors the ghost of Dr. Eaton who was murdered on the front porch!  I wonder where he will go now?

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