Pinetucky gave way to greater good when Camp Gordon built

Cemetery is still kept up by Army

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Pinetucky’s farms and churches and hayfields are long gone, along with families who once called the community home.

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Among the homes, churches and other building in the former town of Pinetucky was the Gristmill at Leitner Lake.  SPECIAL
Among the homes, churches and other building in the former town of Pinetucky was the Gristmill at Leitner Lake.

The demise of the tranquil settlement southwest of Augusta was rapid and complete – and began almost 72 years ago, when the U.S. War Department arrived to create what is known today as Fort Gordon.

“It wasn’t just a single place,” said archivist Ed Brown of the history office at Fort Gordon, where some of Pinetucky’s scattered mementos are stored. “It was a series of small settlements, farms, mills, businesses.”

In all, 432 individual landowners surrendered their land through sale or condemnation to accommodate the encampment assembled in 1941 to train troops destined for wars overseas.

William T. Morton, a civilian lawyer from Jefferson County, Ga., was hired to negotiate the acquisition of 55,000 acres – and given formal go-ahead to begin the morning of Aug. 2, 1941.

According to historical accounts, he began his task near today’s Fort Gordon Gate 2. The first landowner he encontered was Alice Stafford.

“We had no difficulty with this lady as she willingly granted the United States the option to buy, with the right of immediate entry,” Morton later wrote. “Almost within minutes after she signed the option, and I reported it, construction crews with machinery moved in and the erection of Camp Gordon commenced.”

Barely a week later, he said, demolition was in full swing and new buildings sprouted “like mushrooms on your lawn after a rainy night.”

Within the vast new military base, the bulldozers also erased almost every trace of Pinetucky, leaving behind only a few chimneys and about 45 Pinetucky-related cemeteries with graves dating back to 1827.

Under an agreement with the former landowners, 646 graves are still maintained by the Army. Some of the markers help remember the families who once lived in the area: Blackstones, Whitleys, Inglets, Whitakers and others remain in Pinetucky.

Aside from fading tombstones and memories kept alive by descendents of displaced residents, other remnants of Pinetucky include the books, photographs, taped oral histories and other items preserved in acid-free folders and archival boxes at the post’s history office.

There are black-and-white views of the Leitner Lake grist mill, looking southwest – and unnamed, smiling children peering from a porch on an old home. One image, dated 1924, shows students from the Hood Chapel School. The post also stores books and essays, all pertaining to the community that was lost for the greater good.

Farris King Hendrix, author of a book titled Pinetucky – Lost Trail Echo, even included a short poem:

“I’m out in Pinetucky,

Looking for my home.

Mama and Dad are not around.

Can’t find the house – the road is gone.

I’m somewhere near Hood’s Chapel-

Let me pause and meditate,

The beauty of the nature trails

He took time to create.”


MONDAY: The demise of Pinetucky, a tranquil settlement southwest of Augusta, began with the creation of Fort Gordon.

TODAY: Dunbarton was dismantled and evacuated to make way for Savannah River Site.

WEDNESDAY: Hamburg was built across the Savannah River with the hope of ruining Augusta as a trading center.

THURSDAY: Slave artisans created hundreds of thousands of stoneware vessels in Edgefield County’s Pottersville.

FRIDAY: Residents of Ellenton were forced to surrender their land to make way for the government’s “bomb plant.”

SATURDAY: The decline of tobacco and commerce along the river led to the extinction of Vienna, whose remnants lie beneath Thurmond Lake.

SUNDAY: With the planning of Clarks Hill reservoir, Petersburg was within the area inundated when the dam flooded 70,000 acres.

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nocnoc 04/08/13 - 04:37 am
Ft. Gordon

Once home of an Artillery/Armor Group is now Signal, MP's and spying.

Maybe it is time to trim the size of the Federal Land grab and return some of the remote area land back to the Richmond County Tax Digest?

There are family cemeteries and heritage that some families would like to have access to, without the current rectal exam process for access.

Also think of the reduction in travel distance between Thomson and Waynesboro, Blythe, Harlem, and Grovetown.

I am willing to bet 1/2 of Ft. Gordon is no longer used for military proposes. So, If the Fed can no longer justify the land grab return it as has happen in other states.

But hold a manual Fish Bowl Drawn, Land Lottery for civilian purchases, otherwise only certain power brokers and politicians will get it.

soapy_725 04/08/13 - 06:53 am
Sargent York and WWI ??

In the movie of the same name, Sargent York is sent to Camp Gordon in Augusta for basic training. Was the name used by one of the many military installations on or near Wrightsboro Rd? Or was it just "literary license" by the producers? Always wondered. My mom lived in Pinetucky as a small child. Tobacco Rd ran through that area in route to the Savannah River Bluff behind the Augusta Regional/Bush Field.

There is another Pinetucky Community in south Jefferson County.

Riverman1 04/08/13 - 10:13 am
Ft. Gordon Pays Its Way

There is military training value in having a large post in a rural community. The size of Ft. Gordon makes it more valuable when future cutbacks come. All types of National Guard use the land for training. Air drops from Ft. Bragg are done there.

As far as putting that land back on the county tax rolls, let’s think about that for a moment. County taxes go to the schools and to provide services. Ft. Gordon has their own police, fire protection and social amenities. The residents all have medical care. The Fort pays the county for water. Federal money is given to the counties for every child of a military family attending public schools.

But the big thing is people working at the Fort own homes in the counties and do pay taxes on those homes. The hundreds of millions of dollars the Fort generates in salaries and contracts would sorely be missed if it closed.

Darby 04/08/13 - 12:14 pm
Let's not...

be too hasty.

JENNPAT 04/08/13 - 12:38 pm

my greatgrand parents and grandmother and alots of my people live in pinetucky when the goverment came in and took it over and they all had to move they had farms there their last name was Cawley i know about about pinetucky from hearing my grandmother talk about granddaddy id buried out there his last name was Morris my brother has study all about pinetucky

JENNPAT 04/08/13 - 01:02 pm

I know all about pinetucky that is where my Greatgrand parents had a home and alots of my kin lived they farmed until the goverment came and took it over and gave them little for their land they all had to move and start all over again it was hard on lots of the people because by then they were old My GreatGrand Parents last name was Cawley and my Mothers Dad is buried out there hia Name was Will Allen Morris my brother has done a lot of studing on this

nocnoc 04/08/13 - 08:37 pm
I agree and disagree

Ft. Gordon is a tremendously under utilized Fort.

Over 3/4 of the Base is used for Military activities but a few times a year. About 1/2 is seldom used if ever. The Massive Amount of Land that was grabbed 70 years ago, was for a Major training base for Artillery and Armour.

Once you get out pass Gate 2 it gets to be a ghost town any I am not talking about the NSA installation either.

I was born there B-2, raise on it Story Drive and Tobacco Rd (part dirt) or around it most of my life. I go back to Tobacco Rd as the entrance and Gate 5 was what is now Gordon Trace area. I have fished Union Mill Pond on weekends and cut through the woods out by Hwy 88 more than a few times. Back in the early 80's I was part of a group that wrote, audited and taught the AN-GSC-52 course at Bldg. 916. So I can say I have lived on Ft. Gordon, was born on Ft. Gordon and have been lost in Ft. Gordon back areas more than a few times.

Regarding Parachute jumps coming from Ft. Bragg?
I worked Bragg for years, they have 6 or 7 active drop zones so there is no absolute need for Ft. Gordon as a Drop Zone.

My suggestion does not reduce staff, personnel, active areas or military necessities. Besides the DOD also proposed similar ideas several times in the past when reductions & draw downs were on the table after the cold war.

Returning just the non essential space out near Blythe US-1/GA 88 over to the US 221 & SR 40 would open land for a short cut for a road way to Harlem. It would economically benefit those areas and Thomson. It would shorten the trip to Atlanta and I-20 West, Reduce heavy NO STOP traffic through Augusta and on and on.

Countyman would have a field day reporting the possibilities.

nocnoc 04/08/13 - 08:45 pm

I also have b/w photos of the shanty shacks and share cropper families my dad took back in the 40's. Based on what I have seen in the pictures, selling out was a plus thing for them.

The old Fort Gordon Museum which used to be near the GA R&R bank post location & Toyland (60's-70's) had a big collection of photos that the AC should talk to them about duplicating before they get lost like The Arc of the Covenant, in some military warehouse.

bumblebeerose 04/10/13 - 03:05 am
Where is Gate 4?

Can someone tell me if there is a gate 4 for Fort Gordon and where it is?

my.voice 04/10/13 - 10:17 am
I wonder what the land sold

I wonder what the land sold for in this time?

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