Designated a Better Hometown by the State of Georgia; Sylvania has received eight awards of excellence from the state, as well as being accredited by the National Trust for Historic preservation.
Guarding the northern end of Sylvania are a pair of Civil-War era 12-pound Napoleon cannons. The obsolete field artillery, which take their name from France’s Emperor Napoleon III, were donated to the city for memorial display in 1913, and today reside in the Old Courthouse Park.
Old Clerk’s Office
The Old Clerk’s Office was the sole brick structure to survive when downtown Sylvania burned on January 9, 1897. The vaulted brick building, built to house county records, is now home to the Screven County Chamber of Commerce and the Screven County Industrial Development Authority.
The town of Jacksonboro was the county seat of Screven County from 1799 until 1847. The Seaborn Goodall House, also known as the Dell-Goodall House, is now the only remaining building within the long-abandoned town. But, at the time of the home’s construction in 1815, it was said there were more saloons than houses in Jacksonboro. In 1821, the eccentric itinerate preacher, Lorenzo Dow, found refuge in the Goodall home after being attacked by town toughs, whom he had denounced for immorality. Before leaving town, Dow stopped on the town bridge and asked God to curse the entire town of Jacksonboro, excepting the Goodall home. By 1847, Jacksonboro was largely abandoned and the county seat was moved to its current location of Sylvania. By the time approximately 14,500 Union troops camped in Jacksonboro on December 5, 1864 during General Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea, the Goodall House was the only remaining structure.
City of Oliver
On November 28, 1864, two divisions of General Sherman’s army crossed the Ogeechee River at Oliver. They camped in the area with cavalry and the remaining infantry divisions, leaving on December 1. Oliver is today still home to a number of lovely historic homes.
Little Ogeechee Baptist Church
During his March to the Sea, Union General Sherman collected a number of white horses from the troops and civilians he encountered. His intent was to present them, along with the conquered city of Savannah, to President Lincoln as a Christmas present in 1864. After crossing the Ogeechee River at Oliver in late 1864, General Sherman housed his collection of white horses in the Little Ogeechee Baptist Church and its attached cemetery while his divisions camped throughout the surrounding area.
Established in 1769, Millhaven is the largest farm operating as a single unit east of the Mississippi River. Under the ownership of the late Huldah Mingledorff for over 52 years, the plantation grew to 24,000 acres. Millhaven merged with nearby Wade Plantation, owned by the Morris Newspaper Corporation, in 1996. Millhaven is still home to farming operations of all types, as well as outstanding hunting and fishing.
Wade Plantation was established in on the Savannah River in 1823 by Reverend Thomas Lisby Wade. The original 2,523 acres has since grown to over 22,000 acres. Today, Wade Plantation has one of the South’s largest irrigated pecan orchards, and their delicious pecans are sold to both wholesale and retail through their mail-order business and plantation store.
The Brick Church, established in 1827, is the oldest Methodist church in Screven County, and is still holding services today. It was built on land donated by Reverend Peyton Lisby Wade and is located on Oglethorpe Trail on Wade Plantation. The church cemetery is also home to a number of interesting Civil War era graves.
The Georgia Visitors Center, located at 8463 Burton’s Ferry Highway (US Highway 301), was the first visitors center to be built in the state and opened its doors in 1962. This fine example of Modern architecture serves over 65,000 visitors annually.
Robbins Grist Mill, located on East Highway 21, is the only water-powered grist mill currently operating in Georgia. It is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month, between November and April.
Briar Creek Battlefield
On March 3, 1779, approximately 1,100 Colonial and 900 British troops met in a bloody battle at the site of a burned-out bridge over Briar Creek in what is now eastern Screven County. The British won the battle, which proved pivotal in re-establishing Georgia under British control for the duration of the Revolutionary War. Local historians and the State of Georgia are involved in an extensive study of the battlefield site, located primarily on the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area.
Cannon Lake’s story began between February 28 and March 3, 1779. British forces, travelling hurriedly toward Augusta were confronted with the swampy terrain surrounding Briar Creek and the Savannah River. While crossing a small oxbow lake of Briar Creek on Freeman’s Bridge, one of the British cannons was lost. Thus, the small oxbow became known as Cannon Lake. Although many have tried, and continue to search, no one has yet discovered the missing British cannon. Luckily, the area also offers excellent fishing and hunting opportunities.
Carolina Bays are elliptical depressions in the sand of the coastal plain that have been the subject of scientific curiosity and controversy since they were first discovered in the eighteen century. They were originally named bays because they are usually surrounded by a variety of bay trees. Most no longer hold water but those that do support a variety of plants and animals, some of which are unique to the bays. The largest and most easily identified of Screven County’s Carolina Bays are Mobley Pond, near the Burke County line not far from the Savannah River, and Jerrell Pond, just off Highway 17 between Cooperville and Oliver.
Georgia Southern University, only twenty-three miles from Sylvania, is the second largest school in Georgia’s University System, with approximately 18,000 students. GSU offers over 120 degree programs, in state of the art facilities on a beautiful campus. GSU was designated a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University, has been featured in US News & World Report’s Best Colleges guide, and was recently named on the of the Top 100 Best Values by Kiplinger. The Georgia Southern University Center for Wildlife Education, the Lamar Q. Ball, Jr. Raptor Center and the University Museum are frequented by visitors from around the world. While GSU also boasts six NCAA football championships, as well as world-class.