Turpentine Cabin, Tetlow

This is about as good a view as can be had of this shotgun house in northwestern Wayne County. It’s located in the vicinity of Tetlow, which still exists on the map and in a nearby road name, but seems lost to history otherwise. Because there are the remains of several nearly identical shotgun houses at the site, I presume this was a turpentine camp at one time. The area in which its located was heavily involved in the naval stores and timber industries throughout much of the twentieth century; the camp was likely abandoned by the 1960s.

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Filed under --WAYNE COUNTY GA--, Tetlow GA

One response to “Turpentine Cabin, Tetlow

  1. Jesse Bookhardt

    In the Wiregrass Turpentine sections of South Georgia, the practice of building several small board and batten houses(shacks) was common . Almost like slave quarters, they usually lined a road near a main plantation house of the land owner and served to house the Tar Workers. Sometimes the occupants of these small houses used a common well for drawing water. The houses were often poorly and cheaply built and seldom if ever painted. They most often had a small front porch, two rooms and sometimes a shed room on the back. A typical house of this nature would have wood shutters, some had glass window frames. A small fire place in the front room was used to heat the entire house. Many that I remember had no ceilings, just open space to the tin or wood shingled roof. Once we lived near a section of these houses. Some were built with hand- hewn beams from other older structures. They basically were not much different from slave quarters. Based on personal observation and knowledge, sadly many who were housed in these structures were poorly treated and very dependent upon the graces of the turpentine business owner. As the turpentine industry failed, most of these structures were converted to general farm storage. Since they were constructed of raw heart Longleaf pine, these shacks lasted quite a while.
    Some in my family vividly remember Tar Workers traveling early in the morning in a gang to perform their jobs in the woods. They were dressed in tar covered pants and ragged shirts, and old felt hats or cotton caps. Some would be walking and others riding in a wagon pulled by a mule. The tools of the trade such as the hack, the buckets, cups, tins, nails, and dip paddles would be bouncing around in the wagon as the crew moved along a bumpy dirt trail that led into the pine forest. Often a second mule pulled wagon would follow the gang. It usually carried the wooden barrels in which the precious turpentine would be stored and later transported to the still for refinement. As the workers traveled to their daily jobs, often they would be singing African American job songs and church tunes. A lead singer would sing out the words and then the others would repeat his words or add their own. It is a scene that an observer can never forget. The jingle of the harness, the low but rhythmic sound of the wagon wheels grinding against the dirt, and of course the wonderful scent of a South Georgia Pine forest was most impressive. I was a small child as this era was ending, but enough of it was left, to become part of my growing up experience.These events helped make Jeff Davis County and Snipesville, Georgia my beloved home. Good and bad, those happenings made us what we are. Thanks Brian for helping us preserve that which was, if only in our memories.

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