Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

OH, WELL!





Wesley Perry didn't know what a hornet's nest of excitement he stirred up last Thursday.

"I thought it was a septic tank cover when I lifted it up," said Perry as he was excavating the new site of the Dublin Chevrolet dealership.

Perry, an owner of Perry Construction Company, has cleared countless square miles of land in his life, so he wasn't surprised to find a well on the site of an old country home. What Perry didn't recognize was the square hole instead of a round one.

"Usually wells in this area are round," Perry commented. One curious onlooker commented that a Northerner must have dug the well. They do it that way up North.

Square dug wells are relatively rare. They are used in some cases where a lining of wood or brick is installed. Any hand well digger, if there is still one alive, would quickly tell you it is much easier to take a spade and dig a deep round hole rather than a square one.

Just to see how deep his discovery was, Perry dropped his tape measure down to the bottom of the abyss. It read 22 feet, give or take an inch or two.

"That's about twice the normal depths of wells around here," Perry observed.

Something else struck Perry's attention. As he held the tang and reeled up the housing, Perry noticed that it was dry, bone dry. Perhaps that's because of the more than two-foot deficit of local rainfall in the last sixteen months.

"Look around us and see all the asphalt. There is no water because most of it drains out without ever soaking into the ground," Perry remarked.

The accidental discovery brought out curiosity seekers during the day. The six-foot by six-foot square well was roped off to prevent any unintended dips into the dark bottom. A closer observation revealed evenly spaced steps carved at sixteen-inch intervals into the rock-hard, reddish- yellow clay, western wall of the well.




"The steps were there so that when a worker was sent down to the bottom of the well to clean it out, he could get back up," Perry commented.

Perry found a single insignificant piece of metal, which fell back to its eternal resting place during his extraction attempt.

Dealer Lock Wilford escorted onlookers to the suddenly celebrated shaft. Wilford had never seen anything like the well and its hand hollowed out steps.

"To see it perfectly square like it was, it was phenomenal to see so much history right here in Dublin. remarked Wilford of "the tremendous experience."

Historian Allen Thomas was called in to observe, only to rush back to his home to pick up his camera.

"It is an excellent example of a dug well," said Thomas, who grew up in a day when hand dug wells, although common, were already giving way to mechanically drilled ones.

"In a way, I hate to see it covered up," Thomas commented. He remembered the days when almost every one in the country had a shallow well and there would be all kinds of neat things at the bottom of wells, including cats, and wigglers in the buckets of water.

Wilford and Perry consulted with contractor Dublin Construction Company and the architects to see what course of action to take since it appeared that the 22-foot shaft would be directly below the new automobile facility.

"They will probably fill it with a mixture of rock, dirt, concrete and other things, to keep it from settling," Perry remarked.

After a few days of being in the light of day for the final time, the well, which supplied vital water to the farm home of the Hilburn family for many decades was quickly filled in in the name of safety and progress. Oh, well.







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