Known locally as “The Boils”, this natural Eden is an oxbow of House Creek, a tributary of the Ocmulgee River near the Wilcox-Ben Hill County line, which has been protected by the Fuller family for the better part of two centuries. There are several other well-known boils in this area, including Oscewicee [pronounced ossi-witchy] Springs and Lake Wilco. None of these are open or accessible to the public, though Oscewicee Springs once was. Elizabeth Sizemore recalls another site north of The Boils, Poor Robin Springs near Abbeville.
In South Georgia, the term “boils” is commonly used to describe natural springs found in creeks, rivers, oxbows, and swamps. Water rises rapidly from an underground fissure and appears to be bubbling or boiling. With an average temperature of 68-70°F year-round, unaffected by the air temperature, they are warm in winter and famously cold in summer.
Native Americans would have been the first humans to appreciate these mystical places, using them in much the same ways we use them today. They were likely sacred to the tribes who knew them, both for their beauty and their unique qualities when compared to other aspects of the nearby terrain.
One of their most appealing features is the clear water which gives them a blue appearance, looking more like a tropical sea than a Coastal Plains swamp. Since tea-colored or muddy waters are the norm in these parts, they really stand out. I have treasured memories of swimming in these places as a young man, especially on holidays when we’d float watermelons near the sides to keep them cool.
In the 1940s, biologist Brooke Meanley did fieldwork here, some of which eventually appeared in his book, Swamps, River Bottoms & Canebrakes. Local farmer and naturalist Milton Hopkins and renowned woodcarver C. M. Copeland were also regular visitors for many years, welcomed enthusiastically by “Uncle Guy” Fuller. Hopkins made detailed observations on local birdlife and C. M. Copeland ventured into the surrounding swamps and collected cypress knees to use in his carvings.
The site was documented by David Stanley for the American Folklife Center circa 1977, as well. Some of his notes and images can be found in the Library of Congress.
I’m grateful to Ken Fuller for allowing me to photograph this incredibly special place and to share it with you. My father and I really enjoyed our last visit here, as we do all our visits with Ken and family.
We saw some amazing trees.
This view from the House Creek “side” of The Boils, along with Ken’s lifelong memories of the place, was ample reward for our hike.
According to Cara Cobb, who suggested the location, this historic Plantation Plain was originally known as the Fuller property. Captain Fuller was one of the first family members to settle in the area and he opened a store at the crossroads which eventually became known as Forest Glen. There was also a grist mill and schoolhouse nearby. The house was built later and I can’t confirm a date, but Cara recalls: A long time ago, two dear ladies, the Fuller sisters came by. They had grown up in the house. [This suggests the house may date to the early 20th century, though it looks older, and could be].
The property was known as the Fitzgerald Farm until it was purchased by the New Covenant Christian Community in 1977. Though the house has been sold, some of the property is still part of New Covenant.
You’ll have trouble finding Pope City on most maps today and it’s never really been much more than a wide spot in the road. But this populated place in northwestern Wilcox County was significant enough to have a post office from 1910-1918. This structure was likely the voting precinct or “courthouse”.
This is among the best known and most notable farmhouses in Wilcox County and is the centerpiece of what was once a large working farm. Most of the historic barns and dependencies survive. I have passed it in my travels since childhood and have always admired the dedication of the family to its upkeep.
Daisy Dix Moody writes: This homeplace was completed in 1896 by my grandfather, John Thomas Dix, with lumber milled from the land. The house was subsequently owned and cared for by my parents, Kate and Albert J. Dix. My brother, Marvin, and sisters, Alberta and Joe Ann, and I grew up here with many aunts, uncles, and cousins always around. Currently, our multi-generational family share in the loving care and enjoyment of our family heritage. We are pleased that so many people have enjoyed this beautiful piece of history with us…
In a bend of House Creek just off the Ocmulgee River near the Wilcox-Ben Hill County line is a place known to locals as Spring Lake. Or more likely, Mr. Guy’s or Uncle Guy’s place. There’s a blue spring, or boils, on the property, which actually gives the “lake” its name. It’s a legendary hunting and fishing spot, and though many know of its reputation, only those who have been lucky enough to know the family have experienced it first hand. [I’m grateful to Ken Fuller for the following history. Ken has a passion for the place and its history and I am most grateful to him for the opportunity to photograph this local landmark and share these photos. I have known members of the Fuller family most of my life, but only met Ken recently. A retired Methodist minister, he was filling in for the pastor at my family’s church a couple of weeks ago. He suggested that I come out and see the place, as a small addition was planned for Guy’s cabin and if I wanted to see it in its original state I best do so quickly. My parents and I had a wonderful visit, though I didn’t get to visit the boils on this trip].
This place came to Fuller ancestors through a land grant in the early 19th century and at varying times they’ve used it as a dwelling place and recreational retreat. Because they’ve always recognized it as a natural treasure brimming with all the bounty that provides, it has changed very little over nearly two centuries of their ownership. Ken Fuller notes: I doubt I will ever take the time to try to run it down, but it feels like nearly, if not all, the property from south of House Creek to Abbeville, east of the Ocmulgee, was land grants in 1832 or there about when the treaty was signed with the Indians ending hostilities. The Wilcox brothers, Gen. Mark and Capt. Thomas, and George Reid were major land holders. John Wilcox III and his sons manned 3 forts on the East side of the Ocmulgee before the treaty was signed.
The property is indelibly associated with Guy Fuller today because he built this tiny cabin as a residence in 1933 and chose to live out his days committed to the simple life here. Guy T. Fuller was the fourth of five children, born less than ten miles away at Sibbie in 1895, to Andrew Wade and Celia Elizabeth Reid Fuller. When he died in 1984, he was buried alongside his parents and siblings at his mother’s family cemetery near his birthplace.
His favorite teacher as youngster in Sibbie was John Moye, no doubt of the old-fashioned headmaster variety. He also attended Providence School in Ben Hill County, Georgia Normal College in Abbeville (Class of 1919), and then the University of Georgia. Ken Fuller is inspecting his Georgia Normal College diploma in the photo below.
After one year of teaching, Guy spent time in the European theater in World War I, and upon returning home was determined to carve out a life for himself as a local educator. A country school teacher whose career began in the era of one-room schoolhouses, he was a lifelong bachelor with no children of his own. But nearly all the children he taught over his 42-year career thought of him as family, hence “Uncle Guy”. He freely shared his cabin and in summertime it was common for the swimming holes on the property to be full of young people. And over the years it wasn’t uncommon for several generations of one family to have been entertained here. While one might draw the conclusion that a man living such an isolated life was an eccentric hermit, his love for people proved just the opposite.
Perhaps an indication of what a genuinely good man he was, Guy Fuller loved teaching so much that he broke barriers of his day by teaching African-Americans to read and write. He told Macon Telegraph columnist Bill Boyd in “A City Slicker Visits Paradise” (3 June 1979): No one wanted to teach the Negroes, so I volunteered to hold classes two nights a week. Some of them walked five miles to come to class. And if I stayed until 2 A.M., they stayed too. They ranged in age from 10 to 76, but by the time school was out all of them could write their names and some were reading from the primer…May sound strange, but that was the most rewarding experience of all my years in the classroom.
Ken writes: The little log cabin was built by our grandfather “Papa Fuller” for his wife “Mama Fuller” so she would have a private cabin. It had a small kitchen off the back with a short covered walkway to it. We children slept in it a lot. Mama Fuller had a terrible allergy to pepper that made arthritis so painful she could not move. A trip to Piedmont Hospital discovered the allergy and when the Dr. took her off pepper she totally recovered and she drove home the new Chrysler Papa Fuller bought and left in the parking lot for her. She had an accident, I was told, that left her with a stiff leg. After that she seldom went to “The Creek” until later in life when her children were grown. After Mama Fuller’s death, it seems that Guy may have used the log cabin as a bunkhouse for the many children that often visited.
Before Guy Fuller built his cabin, there was the Spring Lake Fishing Club House. The Craftsman cabin, complete with sleeping porch, is retaking its place as the center of activity on the property. Ken Fuller shares some of the background: Papa Fuller, Drew Cleveland Fuller, best known as “D.C.” and Drew, had the Fuller Lumber Co. in Ocilla, inherited from his father, Papa Fuller. Drew died in October, 1937 before I was born in January, 1938. Papa Fuller was an Irwin County Commissioner when he died. Can’t remember knowing when he was elected nor how long he served. The Spring Lake Fishing Club probably came from that popularity. My dad was born in 1916 and as a lad of 8 he spent summers up there alone for months at a time. Papa Fuller had a cabin out on the hill a bit away. If you remember the entrance road where it turned to go to Johnny Stokes cabin, Papa Fuller’s house was there – the old well can still be seen, tho it’s covered up. It was there when he died. A number of old cabins were there over the years, but mostly, before 1900, it was a camping, fishing place. Grandpa Fuller, my great-grandfather (Rev. A. W. Fuller), would load the whole family, with cousins, into covered wagons pulled by teams of white horses, and all would go for a week or more, and camp. Uncle Guy and Drew were brothers. Sibbie is named after Sibbie Wilcox Reid, Grandma Fuller’s (Celia) mother.
Presently, the club house, along with Guy’s cabin, is being restored by Ken and Drew Fuller. The work in the club house has been ongoing for some time. The floors have been completely replaced, as the old ones had rotted beyond repair. New window sills and door jambs have been added and other structural improvements, such as re-framing the fireplace, have been completed.
The club house has always been a sportsman’s lodge, serving family and friends for over a century.
The property isn’t accessible to the public, so I’m thrilled to have been able to visit. I spent many summers visiting some of the family’s adjacent land and have always loved the area. It was a magical place to me as a teenager and it’s encouraging to know that it will be preserved for generations to come.