The 2021-22 Guide to Richmond Hill, Georgia 2021-22 - Page 67


Through History …

Generations have made their homes along the Great Ogeechee River and surrounding waterways in Richmond Hill . Our first residents , the Guale Indians , created villages along its sandy shoreline . General James Oglethorpe built defenses on it during the earliest days of the Georgia colony . The proximity of the Ogeechee was the salient factor in rice evolving as the primary cash crop here in the 19th century . African slaves worked in the rice fields and helped build Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee , known as the “ Guardian of Savannah ” during the Civil War . After the war and a series of hurricanes in the late 1800s , Richmond Hill fell into a state of economic decline . • In 1925 , our most famous resident , automobile industrialist Henry Ford and his wife Clara began purchasing upwards of 85,000 acres of land here . They built a winter home and began extensive agricultural research with rubber plants , soybeans , goldenrod and more . In the process , they provided much needed employment , housing , medical care and education for local residents . Over the next 25 years , they restored Fort McAllister , dozens of antebellum plantations , and were successful in turning Richmond Hill into a thriving community — their impact is still evident today .

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