by Mr. Bedell, Woodbine plantation was originally named for a red flowering
vine (trumpet honeysuckle) which was plentiful in this area. There is very
little left of this vine within the city limits today - but this vine can
still be found in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Woodbine Plantation was huge; in fact, it was one of the largest
plantations in the area. The main crop grown there was rice. It is still
located on the banks of the Satilla River.
Nestled on the banks of the St. Illa, now known of as the Satilla River,
the town of Woodbine has been around since the 1880s or 90s. The rice
plantation was originally granted to Elijah Clarke by the state of Georgia
It was then sold Nathan and
Joseph Bixby. Later, Nathan Bixby's widow sold her share to Joseph and
Charles Drayton. John Bailey bought Joseph Bixby's share in 1835. It then
remained in the Bailey family for many years. It is said that during the
Civil War, Northerners destroyed the plantation house. In 1882, the
overseer's house was destroyed by a tornado. Despite the disasters and the
many changing of hands, Woodbine continued to be a successful plantation.
In 1893, the railroad took over transportation of rice from the vessels
on the Satilla River. In fact, the railroad ran through on the actual
plantation itself. Mr. Bedell, the owner at the time, allowed this under one
condition: that the first community would be called Woodbine. It became the
official name of the growing community when Woodbine was incorporated on
August 17, 1908.
Johnston died in a RR accident. As no one knew how to contact his family,
his remains were interred near the tracks in Woodbine. This is the only
known grave that lies within the Woodbine City Limits. I find it curious
that while a nearby marker says that he was a "hobo" - apparently folks knew
him well enough to know his exact birth date. I have heard an alternate
story that he was a railroad worker. Photo--Downtown Woodbine 2001
Text from nearby marker: "History tells of the "Hobos" - wanderers,
and vagabonds. People who made their home in the boxcars of the 19th and
early 20th century railroads.
For many, this was a way of life, learned from other professional
train raiders or by first hand experience. They rode the trains,
stopping now and again in a city or town to beg for their supper or look for
day jobs or maybe something a bit longer, but always listening for the call
of the whistle, that irresistible lure of the track, calling them back to
man, Campbell, was one such hobo. Local legend holds that Mr. Johnston fell
from the train one fateful night and was killed at this site. Local
officials buried Mr. Johnston and the stone marking his grave was donated by
the Woodmen Of the World."
Present day site of the railroad tracks that ran through Woodbine.
They've been removed and a park with a boardwalk laid in their place. This
runs between Oak Street West and Oak Street East.
With the coming of the railroad, changes were made. Streets were laid,
businesses were popping up, including a hotel and a post office (established
in 1894). Mr. George W. Brandon was the first mayor. Travelers entering from
the north had to cross the Satilla River. Owen's Ferry was in use until 1917
when a toll bridge was built. In 1941, Rawl's Pecan Co. was started. It was
a rather successful business. It grew to cover Florida and South Carolina.
You can still see a "Rawl's" when you enter Woodbine from the South on
Highway 17 on your right.
In the 1920's, the remaining plantation land was sold to Mr. Barnes. He
then sold it to Mr. Van Drosky. When Mr. Drosky died, Mr. Barnes again took
over. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Barnes disappeared. To this day, no one seems
to know what became of him.
In 1923, Woodbine became the County Seat. It used to be in St. Marys, but
at the time, Woodbine was easier to access then St. Marys. In 1928, the
Woodbine Courthouse was built. It remains the County Seat today. In 1953,
the Town of Woodbine was re-incorporated as the City of Woodbine. In 1946 a
hospital and clinic were built and in 1948 the Camden County State Bank was
Present day Woodbine pictured right
A visit to the old County Courthouse would be in order on any trip to
Woodbine. It is a large, ornate building in the center of a square.
In addition, the Bryan - Lang Library, also located at Courthouse Square,
is the place to go for information on this area. It holds most of the old
documents and information on the history of the County. By the way, it is
only about a block away from the Courthouse.
Woodbine is still a small town. It is a quiet place to live away from the
noise and traffic of St. Marys or Kingsland. There are many old houses and
other types of buildings still in use in Woodbine. In fact, my mother-in-law
recently began renovating the old Proctor House. I will add photos of the
renovation project throughout the coming year!