The 2021-22 Guide to Richmond Hill, Georgia 2021-22 - Page 97

“ I remember as a little girl trying to sell Girl Scout cookies to
Henry Ford ,” laughs Margaret
Aliffi , granddaughter of J . F . Gregory . “ Back then there were only two kinds of cookies and they were 25 cents a box , but
Mr . Ford never carried any money on him , so my granddaddy loaned him the money so he could buy a box .”

That is just one of the many humorous and heartwarming stories shared about a man known more for the park that bears his name than for his critical role in building the town of Richmond Hill as it exists today .

Jack Fleming Gregory , a son of Charles H . Gregory and Nancy Pete Fleming , was born in Nutbush Township , Warren County , North Carolina , on July 6 , 1888 . After serving in the Marines , Jack married Dora DeCew Wyckoff and soon moved to the southern part of Georgia with their three young children to work for RJ Reynolds tobacco company . His family had long been involved in tobacco farming and Jack was hired to oversee an experimentation project with the Reynolds Company . “ I can see him now ,” recalls Margaret , looking off in the distance as if he is standing before her . “ He was a smoker , but he always had his signature filter . He knew what tobacco could do to your lungs even then .”
In 1919 , after his work in tobacco ended , Jack and his wife Dora moved to Richmond Hill when he took
a job at the Hilton-Dodge Sawmill in Kilkenny . While at the mill , Jack worked for the Gignilliat Surveyors and came to know the Gignilliant ’ s themselves . They just so happened to be good friends of a fellow Richmond Hill newcomer by the name of Henry Ford . With the Gignilliant ’ s recommendation , Ford hired Jack to be the superintendent of his expanding work in the area .
“ In a lot of the photos taken of Mr . Ford you ’ ll see granddaddy standing there next to him ,” notes Skee , Margaret ' s sister , pointing to a black-and-white photo of the two standing with a chemist who also worked for Ford . “ He was responsible for all the workers in construction , the sawmill , all of it , because Mr . Ford wasn ’ t here very often , so granddaddy was the one left in charge .”
It is easy to overlook the influences of Ford , and his right-hand man , J . F . Gregory , beyond the obvious gated neighborhood and park that are known by their respective names . But as the granddaughters share their memories , the old Richmond Hill came to life as vividly as if it were yesterday .
A Guide To Richmond Hill Georgia | 2021 93