Trip To Camden County

By W.L. Geiger




By request of my highly esteemed Bro. A.A. Andrews, I set out on Saturday morning 6th inst., at 2:40 o’clock to visit Ruhama church in Camden County, Ga. This church is located on the road leading from Folkston to St. Mary’s town, and about half way between the points above named. Some part of the machinery about the engine that was carrying us along having given way, we were detained in the woods for an hour or more, which threw us behind just that much, as we were exactly upon schedule time when the accident occurred. After the necessary repairs we moved up pretty rapidly and reached Folkston only one half hour after schedule time. Bro. Andrews was here waiting for me.

Soon we were on the road to travel sixteen or more miles in a buggy before the church house could be reached. At Centervillage we called a halt to take breakfast at the hospitable residence of Bro. Marr.

I tried to preach in Centervillage in 1856, which was in my ministerial boyhood days. How changed since then! The village has gone down. There are but two or three families living there now and no business carried on. The old church house still stands there, but it has almost crumbled from age. No people worship in the town now.

Breakfast being over we harnessed “Sallie”, Bro. Andrews’ fine mare, to the buggy and were off for Ruhama which place we reached about 12 o’clock.

A large congregation had assembled and were spending the time in singing and prayer. We were soon among them and being introduced by the pastor, was in a few minutes trying to break to them the “bread of life”. I remained with the brethren until Sunday evening and preached for them three times and gave them a Sabbath school address and talked upon Missions before the “Woman’s Mission Society”. The congregations were large and well behaved.

Bro. Andrews is acting as Missionary in the St. Marys River Association under appointment of the State Board. He is the right man in the right place. He is energetic and persevering. Being well informed in the doctrines and being popular as a preacher, he is calculated to do much good in the destitute field. He is outspoken and fears not to declare the whole truth as it is in Jesus on every suitable occasion. His plain preaching is having its effect too. He is building up churches very rapidly and his members are becoming well informed in doctrinal points. May he be long continued in this field of labor.

The surface is generally low and level and the heavy rains that had fallen almost continuously for two weeks previous rendered traveling very unpleasant and had very materially injured the crops.

The people in Camden do not farm very extensively yet they seem to live very independently and by the way have excellent tables and elegantly furnished houses. In point of intelligence and good morals they will compare favorable with any people I was ever among. The principal money crops they raise are sugar cane and sweet potatoes for which they usually find ready sale in St Marys or Fernandina or ship to some foreign market. They also raise corn and oats and peas sufficient for home consumption. In some parts of the country a good deal of rice is raised. The principal means for raising money is timber, which is hauled to the St. Marys in round logs and drifted either up or down the river on the tides to the mills. I was told that a great deal of money is realized in this part of the country from the sale of those round logs, as they are carried to market at very little expense.

I spent Saturday night with Bro. W.J. Caldwell, one of the deacons of Ruhama church, a true Christian gentleman in every sense of the term, with a very interesting family. Bro. Caldwell has a beautiful farm and an excellent orchard. He has about one hundred grape vines now bearing, something over one hundred orange trees, a part of which are bearing, quite a number of apple, peach and Laconte pear trees with a few nut trees, all of which seem to be doing well. He has also the most magnificent flower garden I have seen in a long time.

Sunday night I spent with my good Bro. G.H. Peoples, another one of Ruhama’s deacons. Bro. Peoples lives on the bank of the St. Marys at a steamboat landing, Oak-Well. A post office is kept at this point and two mails are opened and dispatched weekly. The mail is brought on a boat which runs a regular schedule from St. Marys town up the river to some point above Oak-Well.

The country is noted for its good health. The people seldom have any use for a doctor and I was told that there has never been a case of typhoid fever in this part of the country, and but few cases of malarial fever of any type.

The range is good, and you may find plenty of beef, mutton, pork, milk and butter at any farmer’s home.

I did not while gone visit “The Land of Flowers” but from Oak-Well I had a view of it and became acquainted with a good many of the Florida people at church on Sunday.

Monday morning I took leave of Bro. Peeples and his kind family and with Bro. Andrews started for Folkston, where I expected to take the train for home. We were, however, too late for the morning passenger and being earnestly requested to do so, I consented to remain over till night and preach for the people in town. A telegram was sent home notifying the family that my appearance would not be put in till next morning at 1:30.

In Folkston I became acquainted with Mr. J.P. Stallings, who married Miss Clem Bryan some years ago. I was several years the pastor of Miss Clen’s parents when their membership was at Providence, Tattnall county and was her teacher for one year at “Dead River”. Four years ago Miss Clem wrote me requesting that I should visit and preach for the people of Charlton county where she was then living. I could not go at that time. I then lost sight of her and forgot the name of her husband. While in Camden I learned she was dead and that her bereaved husband was residing in Folkston. He gave me a cordial welcome to his house and I became acquainted with his two motherless children, one a little girl about six and the other a little boy about three years old. Mr. Stallings is engaged in truck farming and seems to be doing well.

After preaching at 7 o’clock I took the homebound train at 9. and arrived with the loved ones at 1 in the morning much benefited, I trust, by the visit to Camden County, Ga.


W.L. Geiger

June 15, 1885

Charlton  County Archives