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HOMELAND, GEORGIA: THE VISION

By

Austin Hickox

Charlton County Herald

June 17, 2009

It all started in 1905 when George Washington Moore, Cyrus W. Waughtel and a group of investors began searching for a large tract of land, in just the right location, to fulfill their dream of developing a colony-type community. It needed to be situated in the warm climate of South Georgia and near public transportation – in those days the railroad.

Moore was the financier and one of the two founders of the 1906 Homeland Colony Company. He was born in Madison County, Georgia on June 14, 1862.

A very well-educated man in his time, Moore accumulated vast land holdings in North Georgia, Kingsland, Homeland and Texas. The Homeland Colony venture was well on its way to becoming a success when Moore died an untimely death on March 18, 1908.

A steam boiler at the sawmill he and Waughtel owned in Homeland blew up, decapitating Moore. He was sent back to Madison County by train for burial in the Vineyards Creek Baptist Church Cemetery without ever realizing the fulfillment of his venture.

Waughtel grew up in a Christian home and was educated in some of the best schools Pennsylvania had to offer at the time. He became a life-long educator himself, both in the schools and church.

Having been closely affiliated with P.H. Fitzgerald (organizer of a colony in Ben Hill County, Georgia and the 1904 St. George colony), Waughtel was apparently the mastermind behind the 1906 Homeland Colony Company venture.

Waughtel lived to see the City of Homeland incorporated in 1909 and held the elective offices of city councilman and mayor, He passed away on February 2, 1949 and is buried in the Pineview Cemetery in Folkston.

Their vision was to survey, plat and map out the Homeland Colony Company domains, complete with business and residential districts, public square, park, cemetery, streets, alleys, post office, school, churches, etc. They would then sell business parcels, home sites and small farms.

Sales would be mainly focused on retired Civil War veterans and other northerners yearning to relocate south away from the harsh, cold winters and backbreaking snow-shoveling of their hometowns.

Railway transportation through Charlton County had set the stage for such a venture in 1881-83 when the Waycross/Jacksonville rail line was completed. The opportunity was enhanced even further about 1902 when the Nahunta rail line (Jesup short line) was added.

Potential land purchasers and vacationers alike could board a train in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Illinois and many other points in the north and midwest on a daily basis and, in less than two days time, be in Homeland.

Before the coming of the railroads, the same trip could take several weeks by horse and wagon traveling over the muddy, poorly maintained roads of that era or negotiating the eastern coastline and inland rivers by steamship and riverboat where water travel was available.

The “Iron Horse, as the Native Americans called it, had opened up new frontiers deep into the heart of sunny Georgia and Florida. George W. Moore’s and Cyrus W. Waughtel’s vision of Homeland, Georgia was about to become a reality.

Next: Acquiring land for the venture.

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