By R. Ward Harrison, Editor

February 10, 1950

A native of the neighboring county of Camden, Mr. John B. Southwell has been a loyal, public-spirited citizen of Charlton County for the past twenty-five years and for the greater part of that time he has been a resident and business man of the city of Folkston.

Born September 6, 1897 in the Tarboro section of north Camden, Mr. Southwell lived in that community, obtaining his education in the public schools of the county. On February 16, 1925 he came to Charlton County to make his home at Toledo where he was associated with the Toledo Manufacturing Co. as bookkeeper and in charge of the office and commissary work.

In July 1932, Mr. Southwell terminated his regular full-time connection at Toledo and moved in to Folkston, since which time he has been a resident of this city. On coming to Folkston, Mr. Southwell, in association with Dean Gowen, organized the Gowen Oil Co. to take over local distribution of Sinclair Oil Company products. Mr. J.V. Gowen, Sr. later acquired the interest of his son, Dean, in the business which continued in operation for several years under this ownership management.

In October of 1937 the concern was reorganized when Alva J. Hopkins, Jr. purchased the half-interest of Mr. Gowen in the prosperous and growing business. Thereafter the concern was organized under the name of Southwell-Hopkins Oil Co. under which it has continued in successful operation to the present time. During the war years while Mr. Hopkins was serving in the armed forces Mr. Southwell carried on the management direction of the business alone, the increased demand taxing his capabilities to the limit. Upon his return from the service Mr. Hopkins resumed his duties with the concern which is now recognized as one of the leading gas and oil distributors in this area with storage tanks and distributing facilities centered in this city.

As an individual enterprise under his sole ownership and management, Mr. Southwell has recently completed a modern service station and café building located on the new route of U.S. Highways 1-301 three blocks north of Main Street. His enterprise involves a considerable investment, being the largest, most attractive establishment of this kind in this section of the state. The service station is dispensing Sinclair products and engaging in a general accessory and service business and is being operated by Mr. Southwell’s son, J.B. Southwell, Jr., while the café is under the management of Mrs. Leon Askew. The new enterprise is proving a successful business venture, being well patronized by both tourists and local people. The buildings and surroundings are a credit to Folkston, having attracted widespread favorable comment.

Since coming to Charlton County to reside Mr. Southwell has not only built up a successful business career but has established a reputation as a businessman, a citizen of the highest integrity, worthy of the confidence and trust of his fellow citizens. He has been an active and willing worker for the progress and advancement of the community and county, carrying out his obligations as a citizen in full measure.

He has cheerfully devoted his time and energy to the public service whenever called upon. In recognition of his outstanding qualities of leadership, he was elected as Charlton County’s representative to the General Assembly, serving during the 1941-1942 session. He also has served continuously as a member of the Folkston City Council since January 1936, being a member of the present board.

He is a member and a Deacon of the Folkston Baptist Church, being an active worker in church circles.

On February 18, 1923, Mr. Southwell was married to Miss Marie Horton of Jesup. They have three children, two daughters, Rosa Lee, now Mrs. Robert O’Neil of Uvalda and Betty, now Mrs. Lamar Wainwright of Eastman and one son, J.B. Southwell, Jr. who is associated with his father in business. Mr. and Mrs. Southwell have recently completed one of the most attractive homes in the city located on north Highway One near the site of the new service station-café enterprise.

Charlton  County Archives