On the way to work one day in 2005 along Highway 84 I noticed men taking the asbestos siding off the two-story white house at the back of the lot where Chili’s Restaurant is now.
I recalled several years ago, perhaps in the 1980s, that I had watched the destruction of a fantastic yard and the moving of this same house. I wanted to know more about this house and the family that created it. I went to the source that knew all about it — Lucy Olmstead Hamlin.
Lucy is the youngest and only surviving child of Ogden and Eunice Olmstead. They lived at Taylors Creek in Ogden’s father’s home. His parents had died years earlier. Lucy recalled the good times they had living at Taylors Creek, especially camp meeting time. They loaded up most of the household it seemed and set up their “home” at the camp for the week. They even took their cook and babysitter, Aunt Jane Williams. All the children had the best times playing and eating and enjoying the preaching and singing. That came to an end when the government bought the property to make Camp Stewart. The Olmsteads, along with others, had to give up their way of life as they had known it and find other places to call home. Lucy had attended first grade at Taylors Creek School.
She remembered the times of great freedom it seemed for the children who lived in Taylors Creek community. She ran away many times when she was 4 or 5. Across the big fields and through the wild plum orchard she raced to Aunt Jane’s house. Her mother or father always knew where to find her. Lucy said she did not go anywhere without Aunt Jane. This lady had raised her daddy and his six brothers and sisters and all of Lucy’s family.
Ogden found a homesite on the outskirts of Hinesville and built a home beside Highway 82 (now 84). He selected all the timber from land he owned at Taylors Creek and had it processed for building his home.
The ante-bellum style house had stairs and a balcony inside. It had a large living room, dining room, breakfast room, glassed in sun porch, a bathroom and large bedroom downstairs. Upstairs was the grand bedroom, three smaller bedrooms and two bathrooms. The house was heated with individual gas heaters and a floor furnace. There was one fireplace in the living room. The kitchen was equipped with a new gas stove which Lucy was warned not to touch.
Lucy recalls the family moved into their new home in June 1942, after Pearl Harbor was bombed in December of 1941. This was how she remembered when they moved. She was 7 and was fascinated by the running water, bathtubs and commodes in the house. She went from one bathroom to the other and flushed the commodes to watch the water run.
A Savannah landscaper was hired to landscape the three acre yard. He planted thousands of azaleas of all colors. The yard was enclosed with a plain wire fence and there were two cattlegaps in the driveways to keep the free roaming cows and hogs out. The azaleas soon covered the fence. Lucy said she hated the azaleas. She still remembers her parents hollering, “Don’t step on those azaleas!” This was aggravating when a group of young people were trying to play softball and had to be careful around a bunch of flowers. There was a horseshoe driveway that many people drove each spring to take pictures in front of the blooming azaleas. It was a showcase.
It was a wonderful home in which to entertain. Parties, bridal showers and wedding receptions were held there. Lucy recalls coming home on the weekend with several friends to spend the night and her mother would get up even if it was 12:30 in the morning and cook a huge breakfast for all of them, usually bacon, eggs and pancakes.
Mrs. Inez Sikes and her family lived across the road from Lucy. Mrs. Eunice Olmstead and Mrs. Sikes took turns driving the little girls, Flo and Lucy to Bradwell Institute on Washington Avenue. They did not like riding the school bus. Lucy graduated in a class of 28 from BI in 1951.
Ogden John Olmstead, a graduate of University of Georgia, owned a painting business and was a Liberty County Commissioner for 25 years. He died in Hinesville in 1963 at the age of 72. Eunice was the daughter of Charlie Dasher who owned the first telephone company in Hinesville. In later years he owned a small store in Glennville and married (his third marriage). Eunice was the vice-president of the Canoochee Electric Board of Directors and it was part of her job to go around the county and persuade people to join the co-op and get electricity connected to their homes. She was also co-owner of the Pink House Florist in Hinesville. She died unexpectedly from a blood clot while recuperating from surgery at the young age of 62. Ogden and Eunice had five children: Lucy Hamlin, Dot McClain, John, Bill and Thomas Jay Olmstead. A tragic accident happened while the family was butchering hogs while living at Taylors Creek. Little Thomas Jay, 22 months, fell into the scalding water and died from the burns.
After the last son, Bill, who had lived in the house for a while moved to Savannah, the house was sold to Reuben Wells. He is the one that had the house moved to the back of the property and turned around to face McArthur Drive. Dennis Waters also owned the property.