In the later part of the 18th century the area we know as Bryan Neck was called St. Phillips Parish as per the direction King George of England.
The area included those lands across the Ogeechee River Basin and included what is now the city of Savannah. To the south of us was St. James Parish, and the area now known as Midway. A governor was assigned by the King to manage each parish.
Our governor was James Wright. He was particularly fond of the area known as Hardwicke.
If you are traveling on 144 spur towards Fort McAllister, Hardwicke is the community on the left just before the marina. It includes the land mass that forms Seven Mile Bend.
James Wright determined that Hardwicke would become the main seaport for Georgia!
When I look at the massive growth of the Georgia Ports Authority, the multitude of giant gantry cranes along the Savannah River and the massive ships that fill the Savannah River, I can only say hindsight is certainly 20-20!
Our wonderful Ogeechee River, although second only to the Savannah River in length, would never have survived the modernization of shipping.
The flow of the river and the lay of the land may have been considerably different in those days because it was also considered as safe harbor for the British fleet at war with Spain.
Governor Wright was recalled to England by the King for activities not in keeping with British law.
The next governor abandoned the concept of Hardwicke being a major seaport and proclaimed Savannah to be the center point of shipping for the colony of Georgia.
Then came the Revolutionary War. When we gained the right to govern ourselves and became a separate nation, names were assigned areas in accordance with gratitude shown to heroes and leaders of the American Revolution.
Bryan County was named after a guy named Jonathan Bryan, a cattle rancher from South Carolina and a hero of the American Revolution who was granted hundreds of acres of land to graze his cattle.
Before it was Richmond Hill, it was known as Ways Station. William Way was a local dairy farmer. Portions of his land was confiscated and used to build a railroad thru the area.
The whistle stop was named after William Way in return for the use of his land, as was the custom in those days.
Henry Ford was the reason Ways Station became Richmond Hill. You can get “The rest of the story” Factoid: Ogeechee River, River of the Uchees, referring to the Yuchi Indians who inhabited the area.
Factoid: In 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt called Henry Ford. The president was desperate for bombers. B 24 bombers were being assembled in California but not nearly fast enough. Henry took his entourage of engineers and managers to San Diego, Calif to view the operation.
After a day of demonstrations and entertainment Henry asked his COO Charles Sorenson what he thought of the process. Sorenson replied that he did not like anything he had seen or heard.
Henry asked him “What would you do”? Sorenson said he “Had no idea, but he would let him know in the morning”.
Sorenson went to his hotel room and drew both a manufacturing and assembly plant located under one roof on the back of doilies and other scrap paper.
The facility was a mile long and a half mile wide with two distinct assembly and manufacturing divisions.
Within record time the plant, built on former farm land at a place called Willow Run in Michigan, was producing a B-24 Iiberator every 61 minutes.
None of that has anything directly to do with our local history other than the fact that the man responsible for that miracle, Henry Ford, choose to make our community his home for 22 years.
Hubbard, a Savannah native, is a local environmentalist and retired Green Beret who lives in South Bryan and works for the Richmond Hill History Museum. More from Hubbard on local history to come.