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Sawmill Day marks Allenhurst centennial
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Take a step back in time and see what life was like 100 years ago at the Allenhurst Centennial Sawmill Day scheduled for 9-5 Saturday.
Experience the lives of the Dunlevies, whose lumber company made Allenhurst the hub of a major metropolis back in the early 1900s.
The celebration will take place on the sites of the original three homes belonging to Dunlevie brothers Ernest and Herbert, who were president and treasurer of the lumber yard, and the home of William Robinson, the lumber yard manager.
Allenhurst is named after Byers Allen who operated a sawmill and co-owned the Southern Lumber Co. with Ernest V. Dunlevie, according the book “Sweet Land of Liberty.” When the duo parted ways Dunlevie purchased 200 acres from E.P. Miller for $500 and started Dunlevie Lumber Co. with his brother and J. F. Wadsworth. Their lumber yard reportedly flourished, becoming the second largest in the Southeast with more than 1,000 employees.
According to the 1979 book “Liberty County a Pictorial History,” everything within the town, from the employees houses, store, hotel, church and medical offices was owned by the lumber company and the town thrived until the lumber industry went dry.
Ernest Dunlevie’s house burned in the 1980s. But the homes that belonged to Herbert Dunlevie and Williams remain.
The Dunlevie home was recently acquired by the D.C. Miller Trust and the Georgia Land Trust. It was restored and will be unveiled during the centennial as the Jan and Dennis Waters Educational Center to help the Miller Trust keep the estate as a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary.
The Williams home was later sold to Allenhurst’s first mayor, William C. Cox, who was responsible for incorporating the town.
Cox’s daughter, Amanda, currently lives in the home known as Providence Garden and serves as a town councilwoman.
“My father bought this house and we moved out here when I was only a week old,” Cox said. “I hated to see our one-hundredth birthday go by without us doing something about it.”
Cox said Danny Norman has volunteered countless hours preparing for the celebration.
“Danny used to host the Old South Farm Days at his Tea Grove Plantation for about 20 years,” she said. “He has been my savior and he’ll be bringing his old grist mill to give demonstrations.
“I’ve had people from all over tell me about how they used to go to Danny’s event,” Cox said. “And many tell me they plan to come to see the grist mill and saw mill and I anticipate a good crowd.”
Cox said interpreters will be dressed in attire reminiscent of the 1900s. Cox and a friend Vicki Martin designed and sewed a dress Martin will wear as she portrays Mrs. Ernest Dunlevie.
Cox said there will also be interpreters representing Native Americans and colonial settlers demonstrating musket firing, candle-making and blacksmithing. Walthourville Mayor Pro-Tem Larry Baker will talk about the experiences of African-American loggers during the early 20th century.
The will also be an arts and crafts fair, antique cars, food, drinks and music.
The event is from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 642 Dunlevie Road in Allenhurst. Admission is $2. For more information, call 368-4949.

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