Bullhead Bluff (unincorporated county).

Map of Bullhead Bluff

Map of Bullhead Bluff in Silco District
General Highway Map of Camden County, Georgia.  Available through the Camden County Courthouse 912-576-5601

Located off of Hwy. 110 near the Charlton County border, Bullhead Bluff is nestled against the south side of the Satilla River.

In an area commonly referred to as Silco, Bullhead Bluff is a small community of families, many of whom have lived here for generations.

Camden's Challenge mentions that a Georgia Militia detachment under the command of Lt. John Gray was stationed out at Bullhead Bluff during the 1790's as defense against Indian raids.  (CC p25)

There were numerous timber mills located nearby – including Owen's Ferry and Burnt Fort.  In fact, the railroad owned and operated by the Suwannee Canal Company went from the Okefenokee Swamp in Charlton County to Bullhead Bluff.  (CC p64)

Bullhead Bluff Plantation was originally owned by Joseph Thomas, Sr.  He deeded the property to his son, Joseph, Jr. in 1829.  I'm not sure what happened to these Josephs, but my guess is that they are related to Eliza Thomas, who married D. Britton Manning; that would certainly explain how the Mannings got a foothold in Bullhead.  (CC p36)Montfort Island, Near Bullhead Bluff, on the Satilla River

Photo to right of Montfort Island, Near Bullhead Bluff, on the Satilla River.

The Manning Family

Since the mid-1800's the Manning family has owned much of the land out there.  Over the years the original plantation has been subdivided into smaller and smaller pieces.  Many families of Mannings still call Bullhead Bluff home.  In addition, the Manning family cemetery is still in use and is one of the few well-maintained private cemeteries in the county.

The earliest Manning I have a record for is Damon Britton Manning (5/30/1860-1/24/1936), the husband of Eliza Thomas (8/18/1864-9/4/1949), they are both buried in Brazell Cemetery, south of Kingsland.  Was Eliza Thomas a daughter of Joseph Thomas, Jr.?

Damon Britton, Sr. and Eliza were the parents of:

  1. Damon Britten Manning, Jr. (June 02, 1893 - December 30, 1971 Manning Cemetery - MC) Damon, Jr. married Bertha Bennett (October 20, 1898 - February 06, 1975 MC).  They were the parents of several children, including, but not limited to:
    • Carroll Manning who married Mary Alice
    • R. Owen Manning (died May 2000 MC) who married Mary
    • Newton Allen Manning (died 1998 MC) who married Ida C. (April 19, 1933-December 27, 1994 MC).
    • Ford Damon Manning (February 02, 1921- January 08, 1992 MC) married Martha Cain.
    • Coey C. Manning (September 11, 1922- February 01, 1989 Colesburg Cemetery) married Ruby S.
    • William A. Manning (December 20, 1926- April 04, 1996 MC) married Reabozo "Bea" Gibbs.
    • Clifford Murphy Manning (April 02, 1933-present) married Teresia Ulrich.
    • Bernice Manning (September 05, 1935- February 26, 1997) married _____ Reed.
  2. King David Manning (January 14, 1899 - November 07, 1989 MC) King David was the father of
    • Darling Britten Manning (November 23, 1930-February 01, 1988 MC).

(These are not necessarily in order.)

Freedmen's Cemetery

There's another old cemetery at Bullhead that has a very interesting story behind it.  Robert Stafford was a wealthy plantation owner on Cumberland Island.  After the Civil War his slaves, of course, had to be freed.  Some of them ended up settling around Bullhead Bluff.  The cemetery goes by many names including "Stafford, Gibbs, and Silco."  It's right off of Bullhead Bluff Road (on the north side) but as it's in the woods it isn't noticeable from the road.  It's in terrible shape.  Several times the river has flooded the cemetery and caused the coffins to rise out of the ground.  County workers put them back but of course the damage to the stones is great.  Most graves aren't legible anymore.  Many of these freedmen took on the surname of Stafford.  While I could not find any marked Stafford graves when I visited the cemetery in 1998 or 1999, Mary Bullard, in her book, "Robert Stafford of Cumberland Island" writes that she found many Stafford graves when she visited in 1988.

She writes: "A Freedmen's Cemetery

                In Camden County on the south side of the Great Satilla River, there is a freedmen's cemetery, where nearly all the surnames are Stafford.  On a fine autumn day in September 1988 the author visited Bull Head Bluff, where Owen Manning, its present owner, runs a hunting camp.  The land is little changed from how it looked in 1880, when a large number of ex-Stafford slaves allegedly settled nearby.  Manning said that in the early 1890s the economy of Camden County was boosted by timber interests in nearby Charlton County.  The Suwanee Canal Company built a railroad to Bull Head Bluff from its sawmill at Camp Cornelia on the edge of the Okefenoke (sic) Swamp.  Once a thriving terminal for lumber steamers coming up from St. Andrews Sound, Bull Head Bluff provided plenty of employment.  According to Manning's father, the nearby black settlement found work at Bull Head Bluff as stevedores and loaders.  They were "all named Stafford."
                These African-American Staffords lie buried in an old cemetery near what is left of their settlement.  Some of the names are still visible on gravestones:  Grant Stafford was the eldest (perhaps renamed after General Grant?), Peter Stafford, Isaciah (sic) Stafford, Retha Stafford, Gus Stafford, Lonnie Stafford, Lish Stafford, Birdie Lee Stafford, Nathaniel Stafford, Cora Stafford, Pollie Stafford, and Janie Stafford. Manning's father remembered how the Stafford settlement used tubs and barrels for drums.  He often listened to them drumming:  "They played the drums very well; it was impressive."  When the author visited Bull Head Bluff in 1988, Stafford Road was only a rough track, near Silco.  Almost nothing remains of their homes.  I am indebted to Richard Owen Manning of Bull Head Bluff and Folkston, Georgia, for my visit."

I have heard the area referred to as "Plum Orchard."  As there was a Plum Orchard on Cumberland this would support the theory that freed Cumberland slaves settled at Bullhead.

Tick / Cow Dipping VatCattle Fever - babesiosis
Photo by M Jean Manning 1998-2001 ©

In the first half of the 20th century, the federal and state governments worked together (can you believe it?) to eradicate the ticks which cause "cattle fever."  To that end, thousands of "tick or cow dipping vats" were constructed.  The only one left in Camden County is at Bullhead Bluff.

From the USDA APHIS website:  "Begun in 1907, the Cattle Fever Tick  Eradication Program (CFTEP) was the first cooperative state-federal eradication  effort.  In 1943, the two species of Cattle Fever Ticks (CFTs), Boophilus  annulatus and B. microplus, were eradicated from the U.S., with the exception of a permanent quarantine zone between Texas and Mexico.  Today, this "buffer" zone extends over 500 miles from Del Rio, TX to the Gulf of Mexico and  is 200 yards to 6 miles wide.  Outbreaks outside of the zone are rare.  Premises  found to be infested with CFTs are placed under quarantine for six to nine  months, depending on the time of year."

Generally, the vats were constructed of concrete.  The cattle were walked through the vat, which was filled with arsenic.  Today, arsenic is no longer used on cattle and the tick which causes cattle fever has been eradicated.  Unfortunately, it is still prevalent in Mexico where it regularly crosses the border.  However, due to constant monitoring, the ticks have so far not regained any of their territory.  Unfortunately, it looks like they may be growing resistant to current pesticides.

From Tektran's (United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research  Service) web site:

    "The CFT (cattle fever tick) has developed resistance to these pesticides which has led to worries that pesticide control may fail in the near future."

Cattle mortality rate from babesiosis was roughly 50% before the introduction of the tick dipping vats.  Symptoms of infection among cattle provided by UCSB Office of Research:  (definitions provided by www.dictionary.com )

    "Many animals show only mild fever and recover spontaneously. Deaths, which occur  commonly in cattle, are due to either anemic anoxia (deficiency of oxygen in red blood cells) or pulmonary thrombosis (blood clots in the lungs). Other lesions (wounds) stem from the hemolysis (destruction or dissolution of red blood cells, with subsequent release of hemoglobin) and include enlarged spleen, liver, and  hemoglobin uric nephrosis (blood in the urine caused by kidney disease and/or failure)."

Clearly, tick/cow dipping vats served a vital role in the safe keeping of not only the cattle but of Camden Countians livelihoods.

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