2017-08-17 / Front Page

Hesters Ferry unveiled as offical stop on Jefferson Davis Trail


Lincoln County Officials were joined by members of the board for the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, as Hesters Ferry was officially marked as one of Jefferson Davis stops in his pilgrimage across Georgia toward the end of the war. Present were Lincoln County Historical Society President Gary Edwards, Development Authority Executive Director John Stone, County Commission Chairman Walker Norman, historian and board member Dr. Mark Waters, Chamber of Commerce Vice Chairman Beth Putnam, Councilman and former Development Authority Executive Director Alana Burke, and Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Executive Director Steve Longcrier. Lincoln County Officials were joined by members of the board for the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, as Hesters Ferry was officially marked as one of Jefferson Davis stops in his pilgrimage across Georgia toward the end of the war. Present were Lincoln County Historical Society President Gary Edwards, Development Authority Executive Director John Stone, County Commission Chairman Walker Norman, historian and board member Dr. Mark Waters, Chamber of Commerce Vice Chairman Beth Putnam, Councilman and former Development Authority Executive Director Alana Burke, and Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Executive Director Steve Longcrier. Well over 10 years of labor from Lincoln County entities and the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails (GCWHT) has finally come to frui­tion, as Hesters Ferry was officially marked as a stop on the Jefferson Davis Heritage Trail.

Hosted by the Lincoln County Historical Society, an official un­veiling ceremony of the newly instated historic marker highlighted the Confederate president’s pilgrim­age through Georgia after evacuat­ing Richmond, S.C., in April 1865 – making his way from Abbeville, S.C., to Irwinville in search of his estranged wife and children toward the end of the war.


Historian and member of the board of trustees for the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Dr. Mark Waters was thanked for his intensive help in building up the Jefferson Davis Trail that winds through Geor­gia and S.C. Waters was also the guest speaker for the unveiling event at Hesters Ferry, broaching subjects surrounding Davis’ travels and the “lost confederate gold.” 
(Photos By Jane Ellyn Aaron). Historian and member of the board of trustees for the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Dr. Mark Waters was thanked for his intensive help in building up the Jefferson Davis Trail that winds through Geor­gia and S.C. Waters was also the guest speaker for the unveiling event at Hesters Ferry, broaching subjects surrounding Davis’ travels and the “lost confederate gold.” (Photos By Jane Ellyn Aaron). Opening statements were made by Historical Society President Gary Edwards and County Com­mission Chairman Walker Norman, who thanked those involved, and emphasized that this trail should be appreciated for “generations to come.”


Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Executive Director Steve Longcrier addressed a crowd of onlookers at the unveiling ceremony of the Jef­ferson Davis Heritage Trail marker at Hesters Ferry. Speaking on not only the historical significance of the trail, Longcrier also emphasized the economic impact the trail could have on Lincoln County by pro­jecting that close to half a million dollars a year in new retail revenues could be generated. Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails Executive Director Steve Longcrier addressed a crowd of onlookers at the unveiling ceremony of the Jef­ferson Davis Heritage Trail marker at Hesters Ferry. Speaking on not only the historical significance of the trail, Longcrier also emphasized the economic impact the trail could have on Lincoln County by pro­jecting that close to half a million dollars a year in new retail revenues could be generated. “There were four organizations that came together to do this, which were the Lincoln County Historical Society, the Chamber of Com­merce, the Development Authority, who contributed cash, and Lincoln County, who contributed in-kind services to make this happen,” President Edwards added.

In like manner, Development Authority Executive Director John Stone addressed the audience re­garding the trail’s economic impact on the county.

“When you normally think of economic development you think of tax breaks and luring businesses in, but this is just as valuable,” Stone said. “I want to point out again, my predecessor Alana Burke for having the foresight to put money into this.

“It’s a resource surrounding Lin­coln County’s history, which is a driving tourism factor. We’re just enormously blessed at all of the resources we have,” he included.

“Clearly the alignment with the jewel that we have here, and the deep amount of history that resides in this county – Revolutionary War, Civil War, you name it, there is so much that’s happened – and there’s a lot that the Chamber can do hand- in-hand with the serving body, the economic Development Authority, with the county, with the city, to re­ally frame a vision for this area and to align all of its resources behind it,” Beth Putnam, vice-chairman for the Chamber of Commerce board, added.

Like Stone, Putnam emphasized the new vision of the Chamber to network more, and to work with the very unique outlets – such as the heritage trail – present in Lin­coln County to highlight tourism and entice visitors to make their way here.

As the array of honorary speak­ers pointed out, the Jefferson Davis Heritage Trail has quite the legacy of local efforts and willing bodies that helped propel the project forward on the county’s behalf, including councilman Burke who was thanked for her service as executive director of the Development Authority at the time of the projects beginnings, and dedicated much time to the effort in order to have it established.

“We were introduced to the trail through Jeanie Buttrum with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, along with a new tourism route, and we decided to put all of our effort into it. We felt like it was an important project and we jumped into it seeing the need to bring these markers into Lincoln County,” she explained, emphasizing the worth in not only remember­ing Lincoln County’s history, but sharing it with outsiders.

Burke likewise thanked Mildred Fortson, “who was like a walking historian, and was delighted that the county would be recognized for this,” she said.

In addition to Burke, historian and member of the board of trustees for the GCWHT Dr. Mark Waters was thanked for his intensive help in building up the project – as well as for speaking on Davis’ travels and the “lost confederate gold” at the actual unveiling ceremony – along with Councilman Lamar Wade and Public Works Director Roby Sey­mour for their continuous efforts to see the marker’s fruition.

As completion of the entire trail comes to a close, some 25 mark­ers will have been installed across the state. Including the historical marker at Hesters Ferry, and another marker at Chennault Plantation, 15 logo and trail marker signs have also been installed in Lincoln County alone, with nearly 200 staggered across the state.

“Why are we doing this? Two rea­sons: education and tourism. They go hand-in-hand with this program, they’re the two main factors, and everything else spins off of that,” GCWHT Executive Director Steve Longcrier said.

Having consulted the National Parks Services, the Department of Natural Resources, college profes­sors around the state, “good, local people,” who know local history, along with many, many other people in high and low places across the state “who really care about this,” Longcrier remarked, “we don’t try to come in and tell the history, we just try help you frame it as a continuous story of Jefferson Davis coming through the state of Georgia.

“For the economic impact on this, we have estimated after all the markers are up, all the trails are up, and we get that brochure printed, we’re talking about close to half a million dollars a year in new retail revenues just here in Lincoln County,” Longcrier said.

The Jefferson Davis trail is one of the first of three trails currently being developed by the GCWHT. These three trails – the Jefferson Davis Trail, the Atlanta Campaign, and the March to the Sea – wind through 48 counties in Georgia and include over 130 interpretive markers, along with 1,100 roadway “trailblazer” signs.

On the whole, the objective of the GCWHT is to promote six historic driving trails across the state for its intended purpose to interpret all aspects of the time period, includ­ing not only battles, but societal and political histories. This initiative includes .parking .“pull-off”..informa­tional areas, and brochures, that tie into the website www.gcwht.org.

Once Georgia’s trail marker ini­tiative is complete, the plan is to move onward into South Carolina, and craft the same project.

For more information, contact the Lincoln County Historical Society at 757-831-9556, visit www.lincoln­countyhistoricalsocietyga.org, or visit the society’s Facebook page.

For more information on the Jef­ferson Davis Heritage Trail or the Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails visit www.civilwarheritagetrails.org.

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