On March 21, 2014, Bulloch Historical Society members and guests gathered under the old cedar tree in the Rigdon Cemetery on Lakeview Road to dedicate the newest historical marker erected by the Society. The two-sided marker tells the history of Rigdon’s Mill on one side. On the other side, the cemetery’s story is told.
The script on the marker describing Rigdon’s Mill states, “On Mill Creek just north of this marker stood one of the oldest and long lasting water mills in Bulloch County. It was built about 1840 by Daniel Rigdon and his Irish son-in-law, William Gould, using picks, shovels, and barrows. A 100 acre lake was created by the dam. About 1880 the mill came into possession of William H. Roberts and became know as “Robert’s Mill.” Roberts served as postmaster under a presidential commission. The post office was known as Gem, Georgia. The mill soon passed to Robert’s son-in-law James Boyd who was killed in an accident at the mill in 1912. The mill ginned cotton, sawed timber, ground corn into grist and served as a community store.
In 1920 Charles Bland bought the mill and converted it into a recreation facility which he called “Lake View.” Here were held big band dances and water sports such as fishing, boating and swimming. In 1925 Bland sold the mill to a Statesboro consortium for use as a country club. In 1928 the dam broke and was never repaired. The land soon reverted to private ownership.”
On the obverse side of the historical marker, the script describes the Rigdon Cemetery as follows, “The cemetery at this marker is the Rigdon Cemetery. The earliest burial is of Daniel Rigdon (1788-1847) who built the mill and owned 3,039 acres of land in north Bulloch County. His wife, Mary “Polly” Touchstone (1788-1853) rests here as well. William Gould (1818-1906), son-in-law of Rigdon and an itinerate Irish dirt worker and Confederate soldier (9th Ga. Regt.) lies herein. Gould enlisted only months after the attack on Fort Sumter and served the entire war, surrendering at Appomattox Courthouse. Most of the graves are those of owners and operators of the mill including the Roberts, Boyd, and Bland families as well as a large number of their descendants. Also resting here is Sarah Ann “Sally” Hendrix Rigdon (1829-1906), daughter-in-law of Daniel Rigdon, who, with her children, Elizabeth, Ann, Daniel, David and Mitchell, faced down a force of Gen. Sherman’s foraging “bummers” in December 1864 by hiding their livestock on an island in the lake.”
Dr. Charlton Moseley, a retired Georgia Southern University history professor wrote the two scripts for the Rigdon’s Mill and Rigdon Cemetery marker. Dr. Moseley has ancestors buried in the cemetery. The oldest grave in the cemetery is that of Daniel Rigdon (1788-1847) who built the mill and owned 3,039 acres in the area. His wife Mary “Polly” Touchstone Rigdon (1788-1853) is also buried there.
Howard Keeley, the director of the Center for Irish Research and Teaching at Georgia Southern University, a special speaker for the ceremony, spoke about the heritage of local families as the marker was dedicated for the Rigdon Mill and Cemetery. Dr. Keeley talked about the origins of other Irish families in Bulloch County including the Goulds, Blands, and the Brannens, among others. He stated, “At the end of their lives, the sandy Bulloch County soil that, spring after spring, they opened up to farm placed its firm grip on those women and men – not a few of them of Irish origin – are interred here for holy rest.”
This marker is the fourteenth erected by the Bulloch County Historical Society in the past three years in a program chaired by Bill Waters. Joe McGlamery, president of the Society stated that markers like this one are permanent reminders of things that happened in Bulloch County and the people that made Bulloch County what it is today.
The studio that casts the aluminum historical markers for the Society anchors the handsome marker on the mounting post, a seven-foot long octagonal extruded aluminum post. With three feet inserted in the ground, the bottom of the marker sits four feet above grade. The marker is made of aluminum castings with letters in raised relief. Established in l927, the studio’s motto is “Building a Bridge to the Past.”
Upcoming Bulloch County Historical Society historical marker dedications will be held at Akins Mill and Pond in May and Stilson, Georgia in June. July’s dedications include the Word War II Prisoner of War Camp and Airport. Look for other dedications in upcoming issues of Rambling Through Bulloch.
These beautiful markers are possible due to the generous support of the Jack N. and Addie D. Averitt Foundation.