Mark Lindquist History








The Blakely Burl Tree Project   (Beginning June 28, 2009)


History and location of the Blakely Burl Tree

Arthur G. Powell wrote a book in 1943, titled: " I Can Go Home Again"
The book is about his early life, upbringing and involvements with Early County, GA, and his life in Blakely.
In the book, Powell describes a lot of Blakely history and speaks of a "Big Ditch" that he remembered as a
landmark from his youth.  I began studying the location first from reading his book, given to me me by my wife Kathy,
who serendipitously found it in a used books for sale bin at the Tallahassee Florida, library.  I was amazed to read his descriptions.

EXCERPTS from Arthur G. Powell's " I Can Go Home Again"

page 15:

Though Blakely is near the crest of a watershed, the water on the west side flowing to the Chattahoochee River and that on the east side to the Flint, the ground on which it stands is nearly level. Its physical landmarks in my boyhood, were the Baptist Branch, the Tanyard Branch, and the Big Ditch.

page 17:

The Big Ditch was our chief drainage facility. It started in the western part of the town, south of Howard Landing Road, but turned and crossed that road just east of Line Street, angled across Line Street not far south of our home, crossed Fort Gaines Road, between our home and the Square, continued northeast till it crossed Cuthbert Road, and then lost itself in the swamp that lay in the eastern part of the town. It was fed by a small spring and there was nearly always water in it; and how we children used to love to play in it.

page 13:

Out of the middle of the north side of the square ran the Cuthbert Road (now Cuthbert Street); out of the northwest corner, Fort Gaines Road (now College Street); out of the middle on the west side, Howard Landing Road (now River Street); out of the middle of the south side, Bainbridge Road (also called Main Street, till it made the turn westward near the town limit); and there was an alley in the middle of the east side. The reason why there were no roads leading to the eastward was that a dense swamp or hammock came up almost to the square on that side. The Arlington Road, which also led to Morgan and Albany, turned off the Cuthbert Road near the northern limits of the city. The Bainbridge Road was also the road to Colquitt. The Columbia Road (now Columbia Avenue) leading toward Columbia and other points in Alabama, came into the Bainbridge Road about 200 yards south of the square. The Cedar Springs Road came into Line Street (now Church street) which ran along an original land-lot line from the Negro Methodist Church at the northern limits of the town to the white Baptist church on the south side; and the Sheffield Mill Road came into the Cedar Springs Road just below the Baptist Church. Our home was at the corner of Line Street and of Fort Gaines Road, about 200 yards from the square.

page 22:

The conditions I have spoken of were those that existed in the pioneer days of this town and this people in the early seventies, about seventy years ago. Nowadays, when I go back to Blakely, the Blakely of beautiful homes, brick buildings, neatly parked courthouse square, even a streamlined modern jail, and other marks of culture and progress, it is hard for me to believe that this is the same spot I once knew; but the Baptist Branch, the Tanyard Branch, and vestiges of the Big Ditch are still there to assure me that it is.

Kathy and I began next, researching the tree location with Google Maps, and found that the street names had changed,
and began cross-referencing the old names with the new names and comparing to the current Google map.

It turned out that the location of the ditch in the description closely matched the location in the current day Google Map. 
After several hours of cross-referencing and comparing, I noticed that there was a map on the inside cover of Powell's book.
The old Fort Gaines Road is now College Street.  The old  Line Street is now Church Street. 
The old Howard Landing is now River St.  The old Cuthbert Road is now Main Street.

So Powell's description of the landmark, "the big ditch" from the 1870's is the same one he wrote about in 1943,
and that we are involved with today.  We can only wonder if the Blakely Burl Tree was a young shoot or sapling
 growing in the side of that ditch during that time.

About Arthur G. Powell's " I Can Go Home Again"

Front Dust Jacket Cover

Back Dust Jacket Cover

(Insides) Dust Jacket


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Photos:  Mark Lindquist | Lindquist Studios 2009



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