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William Marshal Olliff

There’s a street named Olliff in Folkston and this is why: Attorney William Marshall Olliff, one of the most forceful, influential men in the history of Charlton County, came to Folkston from Statesboro soon after the town received its birth certificate, a court order creating its municipal charter in 1895.

By the spring of 1896 this resourceful man had begun the county’s first newspaper, The Charlton Enterprise, probably the genesis of the present Charlton County Herald, and was on his way to becoming Folkston’s chief architect for progress for more than twenty years.

Building his home, on Olliff Street, about three blocks from the center of the village, by the turn of the century Mr. Olliff was leading the effort to move the county seat to Folkston. Progress in rail transportation was bypassing the village of Traders Hill, its courthouse and jail, and Folkston had the railroad with its depot-freight bay, stores and more families. After a county election, publicized relentlessly in his county newspaper, a new brick courthouse and jail was soon being built at the end of Folkston’s Main Street.

Among other civic responsibilities, Mr. Olliff served as Mayor of Folkston, City Councilman, Solicitor of the County Court, and was the chief organizer of the first Chamber of Commerce. He was also a trustee of Douglas Agricultural College, now South Georgia College.

He and some of his friends spent several years and a great deal of time convincing Georgia state leaders to plan U.S. Highway One so that it would come through Charlton County. Their non-stop action in this matter resulted in the paving of the Central Dixie Highway from Racepond to Boulogne. The new roadway brought spectacular jobs and industry to the citizens.

During World War One, this south Georgia man’s influence for good was felt as far as Washington D.C. where he had been called upon to serve on the American Commission to Negotiate Peace.

When Mr. Olliff was only 53 years old, in 1917, he died of Typhoid Fever. It has been the custom in Folkston for many years to recognize and honor families of importance by naming the city streets for them. The three-block-long Olliff Street was officially “Olliff Street” until the 1920’s when it was changed to “Palm Street”. It was changed back to “Olliff Street “ last year. Although there are no Olliffs living in Folkston at this time, there certainly should be a street with his name on it, especially the street about three blocks from the center of his adopted hometown.

NOTES on WILLIAM MARSHAL OLLIFF

 

One of Folkston’s almost forgotten pioneers.

Came to Folkston from Statesboro in 1894.

Married Josephine Proctor of Waycross.

Only attorney in Folkston until he died in 1917.

The town’s chief architect for progress in its early years.

Built home on Olliff Street in 1898. See page from 1910 Census attached.

Began Folkston’s first newspaper in 1898.

Influenced his nephew L.E. Mallard to move to Folkston. He was another much-loved citizen.

Adopted orphaned nephew, Alton Olliff, and raised him.

Led the successful effort to move county seat to Folkston in 1901.

Served as Georgia State Senator.

Served as County Commissioner.

Served as Mayor of Folkston.

Was member of Folkston City Council when he died.

Served as Solicitor of Charlton County Court.

Served as trustee of the Douglas Agricultural College, now South Georgia College.

Chief organizer of Charlton County Chamber of Commerce in 1912.

Most active mover to get wooden bridge built across St. Marys River, replacing ferry.

One of the prime movers to get road from Waycross to Folkston paved:…the Central Dixie Highway. Then Folkston really began to prosper.

One of the most outstanding tributes to this man’s character, integrity and patriotism was:

During World War One he was chosen to serve on the AMERICAN COMMISSION TO NEGOTIATE PEACE. His unselfish service was cut short by his untimely death of Typhoid Fever in May 1917. He was only 53 years old.

It would be hard to find another person who served as devotedly for the community of Folkston as this remarkable man.

Jack R. Mays, Charlton County Historian

September 14, 2006

re: Olliff, William Marshal ("Colonel") / Good Roads Movement

CHARLTON COUNTY HERALD

December 7, 1945

TRIBUTE PAID TO W.T. ANDERSON, EDITOR AND PIONEER ROAD BUILDER

By T.W. Wrench

The recent death of Editor W.T. Anderson of the Macon Telegraph touched my heart because in his passing we have lost a true friend – some of us know not the extent of his friendship for we people in Charlton County.

It recalled to my mind the first time I met the distinguished editor. It was in the hey-day of the Good Roads Movement and the boosting of pioneer road paving. Mr. Anderson, with some interested citizens along the line, had advised us they were making a preliminary trip over the proposed highway and the late Col. Olliff and myself in the Colonel’s Ford met the party at the Ware County line above Racepond.

We left Folkston at 6:00 o’clock and it took us three hours to make the trip. Editor Anderson and his party, which had dwindled to himself and two others in his car, showed up shortly after our arrival. At that time we had enough sand in the road at Racepond to build a mansion, and traveling was not on a feathered bed of ease. Col. Olliff’s car ran hot and had to be abandoned just after we crossed the railroad at Homeland. The road at that time running east of the tracks. The editor took us aboard and we arrived at Folkston in due time.

As we passed Uptonville, Mr. and Mrs. Frank, both of whom have now passed out of this life, waved us a greeting.

After luncheon Editor Anderson gave us an inspirational talk that helped boost our morale greatly.

{This is much longer and mentions Mr. Oliff again. It’s mostly about the roads.]

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