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THE MCDONALD HOUSE, ONE OF THE CITY’S OLDEST BUSINESS ENTERPRISES

 

Charlton County Herald

Editor R. Ward Harrison

Nov. 11, 1949

 

Established in 1914 the McDonald House is one of Folkston’s oldest business enterprises in continuous operation under the original management. The modern hotel building with a large store room on the ground floor in which a general mercantile business was carried on was built in that year by the late Benjamin Griffin McDonald.

The hotel and general mercantile business was then operated under the management of Mr. and Mrs. McDonald until the death of Mr. McDonald in 1932, being regarded as among the city’s leading and most successful establishments. Following the death of Mr. McDonald the mercantile business has been gradually liquidated but the McDonald House, Folkston’s only hotel, has continued in active operation by Mrs. McDonald, assisted by Miss Rachel Wainwright, who has been with the family for many years. The McDonald House continues to be one of the leading hotels of this area, well patronized by the traveling public.

Benjamin Griffin McDonald and Lucy Bernice Lang (McDonald) were among the very early settlers of Folkston, coming here to make their home soon after the town was established in the early 1880s. A native of Ware County, he came here in 1885 when he was nineteen years old from what is now Grady County, Ga. Soon after coming here he entered the mercantile business, in 1887, in partnership with L.M. Bedell, Henry Renfroe and Dr. A.P. English, being the active manager of the business.

In a few years Mr. McDonald bought out the partnership and became sole owner of the business. His first store a wooden structure, was located on the corner just east of where the McDonald House now stands. He was for many years one of the city’s leading merchants.

He was the first mayor of the city of Folkston and also served several terms on the Board of Aldermen. He served several consecutive terms as a member of the Board of County Commissioners. He was also Ordinary of Charlton County from 1896-1900 and from 1904-1908. During the last years of his life he served on the Board of Trustees of the Folkston Consolidated School District, most of the time as chairman of the board. He always took an active interest in the education of the youth of the county, and in all movements and betterment of this section.

He was connected with the Citizens Bank from its organization in 1911 and served as its vice president. He was also chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee for many years.

In April of the year 1895 Mr. McDonald was married to Lucy Bernice Lang, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Felder Lang. A native of Camden County, Mr. Lang moved to Charlton County in 1869 from Grady County. He was then a young married man, having united in marriage with Miss Martha Mizell, a sister of the late William Mizell, Sr.

Mrs. McDonald was born in 1873 at the Lang family home six miles east of Folkston. She has made her home in this city since her marriage in 1895. Although they had no children of their own, Mr. and Mrs. McDonald reared a foster daughter, Martha Grace Lang, a niece of Mrs. McDonald, now Mrs. R.H. Bragg.

Throughout the many years of her active life Mrs. McDonald has been highly regarded as one of the city’s most useful citizens. Although now in declining health she has always been most generous and helpful to those who were unfortunate or ill. She is well known and loved throughout the entire community for her many acts of kindness and charity.

She has been a devoted member of the Methodist Church since her early girlhood days. She has three sisters, Mrs. C.A. Howell, deceased; Mrs. W.G. Meggs and Mrs. Kate Dane, both of Miami and two brothers, Louis E. Lang, who died several years ago and Guy C. Lang of Branford, Fla.

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