Hinesville is the county seat and also the largest city in Liberty County. With a population of over 30,000, Hinesville is also one of the fastest growing cities in the State of Georgia in both size and population. The city is located in the heart of Liberty County which is approximately 240 miles southeast of Atlanta and approximately 35 miles southwest of Savannah. Hinesville is the proud home of the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart, Georgia. The presence of the military has contributed significantly to the growth of the area and the city and county share a special relationship of mutual cooperation with the Fort. However, even with the flourishing growth, Hinesville and Liberty County still retains that small town atmosphere where newcomers and long-time residents work hand-in-hand to achieve a better community.
Hinesville was founded and the county seat moved there in 1837. Hinesville was named for Charlton Hines, an early settler who was serving as Senator from Liberty County in the Georgia Legislature, and who was very instrumental in having the county seat moved. Shortly after Hinesville was settled, the Hinesville Methodist Church served as a place of worship for all denominations for about 100 years. Then in 1841, the settlers established a school beside the church which became Hinesville Academy. The founder of the school was Colonel James Bradwell and one of the local high Schools, Bradwell Institute, still bears his name today. From there, the Hinesville Gazette was established as well as many organizations and mercantile businesses. The rest, as they say, is “history”.
Today, Hinesville is a community with an eye on the future. With a comprehensive urban redevelopment plan and a downtown redevelopment master plan for the city already in place, the community is poised to break out of the cookie-cutter architecture which reflects neither a sense of place nor a sense of pride. The development calls for new mixed-use, residential and commercial development that will give the community a cohesive and unique presence while preserving the community’s rich history. All of these wonderful attributes make Hinesville a great community to live, work, and visit!
For families with children, this town proudly houses Liberty County High School, a premiere educational institution build only 15 years ago. And to rally support in the community, the Liberty County Board of Education has spent millions to build a new football stadium that’s scheduled for completion by the end of summer. The stadium will seat more than 6,000 people and generate much excitement and popularity for the excelling athletics at the school. In front of these capacity crowds, parents can either cheer with their children or root them on if they’re playing under the lights.
Flemington is also a good place for physical fitness buffs to trek through miles of pines that are sprinkled throughout the city. Whether Mother Nature, the city, or athletics hold your interest, Flemington is the right choice to call home.
The city is also home to the Midway Museum, Church and Cemetery. The museum honors the community that’s known as Georgia’s Cradle of Liberty. It was built in the raised cottage-style architecture, typical of 18th Century plantation houses. The museum features exhibits, documents and furnishings used in coastal Georgia homes from colonial days until the Civil War. Tour the grounds that include a detached kitchen, salt vat and extensive nature trail. It’s one of the best sources in the area for genealogical research. Also on the property is the Midway Church. Built in 1756, it was burned during the American Revolution and rebuilt in 1792.
This year, the city hosted its second annual Midway Day festival in 2007 with the theme, “Midway: A City on the Move”. Midway Mayor Pro Tempore Clemontine Washington chairs the annual festival.
The city council and the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission have worked on zoning overlays for the city and Midway is considering annexing and continues to study that issue. Several options were mentioned and there was a consensus that Midway did not need to move east, beyond I-95, but might annex in other directions. One suggestion was that the 31320 zip code could be a guide for future Midway annexation.
Riceboro is placing stone on some of its dirt streets and continues to work on road and street problems, such as the extreme dip on the road at city hall. The council has “Welcome to Riceboro” signs and plans to erect them at the northern and southern entrances to the city.
The Riceboro Youth Center is drawing more programs and increased use, and the city has worked on providing the needed parking, safety and other logistical support the facility needs. In March, a Riceboro resident, Lelia Williams, organized an appreciation day for the city’s volunteer firefighters. The unique event drew attention and attendance from a wide variety of community and public safety leaders and workers. Williams said recognition of firefighters was too rare and she wanted to remedy that, saying firefighters are too often not thought about until there is a fire. “We want to thank you and commend you before the fact,” she said to the assembled firefighters. Certificates of appreciation, plaques and other items were given to the firefighters, along with musical tributes and words of praise. County Commissioner Marion Stevens told the group, “You know, I appreciate volunteer firemen because I am one”. Stevens said when a community’s ISO (Fire insurance) rating improves from 9 to 4, homeowners save “a good amount of money in insurance premiums, and they should show support for the firefighters who make it possible.” State Representative Al Williams said firefighters should not be taken for granted, noting official and public appreciation was rare, but should be common. Presentations were also made by Liberty County Sheriff Don Martin and Riceboro City Councilmen Modibo Kadalie and Tommy Williams. Other agencies represented with personnel and equipment at the event included the Bryan County, Midway and Eastern District fire departments, and Liberty County EMS.
No longer a small town of a few hundred people, the city currently boasts a population of nearly 4,000, based on the most recent U. S. Census Bureau data. The Walthourville City Council’s recent decisions to begin an affordable housing initiative, honor the city’s first mayor and explore building a waste water treatment plant are putting the municipality right where they need to be.
The city hosts a number of family-oriented events throughout the year, but the leading celebration is the Walthourville Family Day, hosted this year at Johnnie Frasier Park.
Walthourville is also home to Tea Grove Plantation that was used by Tennessee’s independent film producer Paula Fox last fall as the set for her horror flick, “Sidesho”. Originally planned for filming on Tybee Island, the producer moved production to Walthourville after makeup artist Gene Witham (Planet of the Apes, 1968) convinced her to take a look at the site. “We finally came and looked a week before we were supposed to start shooting and we saw it was perfect,” she said. “There’s so much here. It was just a matter of moving weird things from one building to another to work.” Owned by Danny Norman, Tea Grove Plantation is home to a swamp, classic cars, tools, machinery, buildings, posters and a room covered in issues dating back to 1907.
In the year ahead, residents can expect even more growth. Also, city elections are set for November.
A historical feature is the Gum Branch Baptist Church, founded in 1833 to replace the brush arbor shelter where religious meetings had been held. Since then, Gum Branch has grown to be a modern municipality served by a volunteer fire and rescue service.
Gum Branch was incorporated in 1979 and has an area of .8 square miles.
Like most of Liberty County, Allenhurst is rich in southern heritage. Also, its close proximity to Fort Stewart and the rest of Liberty County gives residents multiple chances to take advantage of vast recreation opportunities, including fishing, hunting, golfing and horseback riding.
Sandwiched between Hinesville and Walthourville, Allenhurst looks forward to joining them in continuing growth and development. The town is working towards better fire protection, improvements such as sidewalks and parks and general progress. The town is about 1.1 square miles in area and about 60 feet above sea level. It was incorporated in 1965.
City Hall Numbers in Above Towns
Hinesville – (912) 876-3564
Flemington – (912) 877-3223
Midway – (912) 884-3344
Walthourville – (912) 368-7501
Riceboro – (912) 884-2986
Allenhurst – (912) 876-2180
Gum Branch – (912) 876-5945