A. G. Overman wrote a letter to The Liberty County Herald on Dec. 19, 1975, just a short time before his death in 1976. He told of his love for the city and its people.
I will share that interesting letter but first tell you a little about his background. Personally, I did not know him, but I have heard others speak very highly of him. From reading his letter, he sounded like a very special person that Liberty County was blessed to have.
Overman was a native of Willacoochee, Ga., and graduated from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Douglas. During World War I, he served with the Navy Department in Washington, D.C.
After the war, he returned to Douglas and taught college mathematics before coming to the little town of Hinesville in 1920, where he served as principal of Bradwell Institute until 1941.
During World War II, he was employed at Camp Stewart. From 1948-60, he was an employee of the Georgia State Health Department in Long, Liberty, Wayne and Bryan counties.
Overman was a member of the Hinesville Methodist Church, first chairman of the Hinesville Planning Commission and a member of the Knights of Pythias and Masons for more than 55 years.
He married a Bradwell teacher, Cynthia Kitchen, and they had two children, John T. and Katheryn. He coached the Bradwell Institute boys and girls basketball teams from 1926-41.
This letter is addressed to Nicky Clark, editor of The Liberty County Herald, on Dec. 19, 1975, from Brunswick.
I have noticed that most of the letters written to the editor were written by people who had gripes they wanted to get off their chests. The writer of this letter does not have a gripe that he wants to get rid of. He only wants to tell the people of Hinesville and Liberty County how he has enjoyed living in this wonderful county and among such nice people. I have greatly enjoyed the 55 years in the county and among my friends.
In September 1920, I came to Hinesville from a bustling small city of about 6,000 people. In this little metropolis were two railroads, with their shops, several manufacturing plants, a foundry, a large sawmill and a college in which I was teaching.
I came to Hinesville to become the principal of Bradwell Institute. For 21 years, I served in that capacity. I came to know well hundreds of boys and girls during these years, and have had lasting friendships with them, your mother and late father among them.
Hinesville, at the time of my arrival in 1920, had a population of about 500. The business district was clustered around the Courthouse Square. Perhaps some people have forgotten, but I remember well on the south side of the square was the Methodist Church (the only church in Hinesville at the time).
The bank was on the south side directly opposite the courthouse. It was built in 1911. (Note: Hinesville Bank was still in the Way Building in 1920 and occupied the two-story brick building in 1922.) Next to the bank on the corner was a store operated by a Jewish family.
On the west side of Courthouse Square on Main Street was the J. R. Bagley Store. On the corner of West Court Street and Main Street was the Hines Hotel. Across from the hotel was the E. C. Miller store. Behind it was the Miller home, the largest and most ornate residence, other than the Fraser House.
On the north side of the square was the Ryon residence, and next to it was the Ryon Store. There was a vacant lot next, then a wooden structure used as the city jail. On the east side off the square was a filling station.
South of East Court Street was a store owned by a Mr. Stafford of Taylors Creek. Then there was a two-story brick building and next the drug store operated by Jesse Ryon. This was the hub of the business section of Hinesville at that time.
In 1920, Mr. J. D. Stafford was sheriff, Mr. Ashmore was ordinary and I believe Mr. J. B. Fraser Sr. was clerk of superior court.
I soon found out that everyone was an ardent fisherman or hunter. On the first day of the season, most of the stores were closed with a sign on the door: “Gone hunting — Be open in the afternoon.”
It was a good life in that sleepy little ol’ community. No one seemed to be in a hurry, and everyone seemed to know one another. People meeting on the streets took time to shake hands and talk to each other.
In front of the courthouse was a huge, old oak tree with a bench built around it. By the tree was the town pump. Friends and visitors would gather, visit, swap yarns, pass on the latest news and drink cool water.
I soon learned to love this community and its people. I watched the town grow to the bustling city it is now. (He would be shocked to see it now! — Margie Love) I enjoyed my work over the years along with my church and civic associations. I am blessed with many friends in the area. I have many friends made while their “prof” at Bradwell Institute who are residing now in other states.
I thank you again for the many happy years my wife and I spent with the people of Liberty County. “I came as a stranger and you took me in.” I wish everyone a merry Christmas.
A. G. Overman