Category Archives: Gresston GA

Gresston, Georgia

Gresston GA G V Gress Dodge County Old Mercantile Store Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

In her History of Dodge County (Atlanta, Foote & Davies, 1932), Mrs. Wilton Philip Cobb wrote: Situated about eight miles north of Eastman, on the Southern Railway, is the little town of Gresston. This town was named for Mr. G. V. Gress, who in 1883 built one of the largest sawmills in the South at this point. In connection with the sawmill was a large dry kiln plant, the first of its kind in this section. Although here was the best yellow pine timber, which was both plentiful and cheap, the mills at that time were having trouble in disposing of their lumber…because of low price and the lack of demand. G. V. Gress was quick to see the advantage of selling a finished product, and he made a trade with a Mr. Moore, of the Moore Dry Kiln Co., to build these dry kilns, which were among the first in the South.

the Gress mill had a big advantage over the less progressive manufacturers and as a result the Gress Lumber Company built up a profitable business…

The mill town of Gresston grew and flourished for many years, but like all sawmill towns of those early days, when the mills were through and moved away, the town also went. All that is left of this once flourishing town are a few residences and a mercantile establishment and a large ginnery that are owned and operated by Ragan Brothers…Claud and R. T., of Eastman.

After retiring from the lumber business, Mr. Gress moved to Atlanta, where in 1889 he presented the city with the menagerie that would become today’s Zoo Atlanta.  He also purchased the Cyclorama in Grant Park and presented it to the city. He later moved to Jacksonville, Florida.