When you travel north from Dublin toward Milledgeville, don't take the main road. You miss wonderful things along the main roads. When you come to the fork of the Toomsboro Road, take it. Travel northward up and down the rolling red clay hills, through thick pine forests and by wooden 19th century homes and places of worship. Soon, you will find Toomsboro, a town nearly frozen in time.
The signs there will tell you that many of the old businesses and homes are for sale. They even say that the whole town is for sale. Poppycock(!) so say the town's residents. They haven't given up on the once bustling railroad town on the Central of Georgia Railroad in southeastern Wilkinson County. And, neither should you. Get out of your car and walk around the town. It will make you think back and remember the small towns of your past. If you are as sentimental as I am, it just might make you cry and yearn for the good ol' days.
To describe what you will see would take too many articles. That is a story for another day and another time. I will leave that to you and your imagination. To tell you the whole story of this tiny village would fill volumes. So for now, I will throw you some tiny Toomsboro tidbits - stories of the forgotten, insignificant, yet memorable times in her past, when life was good and troubles seemed to be few.
Toomsboro was always a railroad town. So folks there were used to travelers passing through, some spending the day or spending the night. But, it was on a frosty March morning in 1922 when some 200 passengers of the Central Georgia felt their train come to a complete stop in the middle of the night. It seems that the Marsh bridge over Commissioners Creek had washed out some three miles west of town. With no particular place to go, some two hundred stranded, sleepy, angry and hungry passengers descended on the town square in a way which hadn't been rivaled since General Sherman and his evil invading horde rambled through in the autumn of 1864.
Town people were both astonished and pleased to see the swarm of well-dressed strangers in their friendly little town. The thought occurred to T.H. Bridwell, a leading merchant in the town, that these folks might be ready for a hearty breakfast. A frantic call for volunteers went out. Ladies, still dressed in their night clothes, turned on their ovens, scoured their kitchens and cleaned out the hen houses to prepared a breakfast fitting for company. In the town's two hotels, there was scarcely a spot to sit, stand or snooze.
Bridwell, with his thinking cap already on his head, thought that the first order of business was to get a group of women together to show the town's visitors what real southern hospitality was all about. As soon as all the breakfast dishes were cleared, a squad of Toomsboro's most gentile ladies leaped into action. It was too bad that Mr. G.W. Webster's legendary 300 pound pumpkins weren't ripe yet. The whole town would have had plenty of pie that day. At noon, in Bridwell's Ford dealership store room, was served "the most delicious and appetizing luncheons ever set out in Toomsboro," a town known far and wide for its great cooks.
Eventually, the bridge was repaired and the passengers returned to the train and made their way to their destination. They left Toomsboro with their stomachs full, smiles on their faces and ready for a long winter's nap.
Such wasn't the case some thirteen months earlier when an uninvited guest sent most of the townsfolk scrambling for safety. A strong, aggravated bull was standing in line to be weighed. Wanting no solitary part of what was about to happen to his hide, the bad bovine bolted from his captors and ran amuck headlong for the plate glass window of Mr. E.M. Boone's general store.
At the last minute, the crazed cow avoided a greater calamity, but not before nipping the body of farmer S.A. Lord, who breathed a sigh of relief after the no-horned bovine knocked him to the ground.
In the summer of 1916, W. I. Dixon brought into town a piece of a remarkable animal. Dixon was showing off the talon of a large owl which his son had killed in the swamp of Commissioner's Creek. With a wing span of six feet and a head nearly as large as that of a man, each set of the bird's claws measured just shy of half a foot wide.
Dixon was somewhat of an outstanding fox hunter. Dixon and a few of his friends were out in the woods south of town looking for foxes. Dixon's dogs got on the scent of a young fox which ran the dogs until the fox was hemmed up between a fence line and Gray Sanders. With every avenue of escape blocked, the wily fox took his only chance of escaping and ran straight toward Dixon.
Dixon threw his hat directly at the fleeing fox and by a most miraculous chance, the fox ran right into the inside of the big wool hat and began to roll over and over again. Dixon dismounted his horse and captured his prey with his bare hands. Dixon took the fox home to help train his trusty pack of fox hounds.
They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Well, we all know that old maximum is not always true.
The people of Toomsboro never expected how the old rule would be broken in their town. In the early autumn of 1922, the newly constructed, modern day, brick high school opened in Toomsboro In the year after the end of World War II, the school was struck by lightning, burned to the ground and rebuilt. In the summer of 1946, lightning struck twice. The winds of a strong summer storm knocked down walls and cracked the plastered ceiling in several rooms.
A familiar stranger returned to Toomsboro after a 24-year absence. W.C. Horn enlisted in the Carswell Guards and served in the Confederate Army until the Battle of Gettysburg. During the retreat, Horn got into an argument with a superior officer and deserted his command to join the Federal army. At the end of the war, Horn wrote a letter to his wife, but the letter never arrived. Thinking her husband was dead, Mrs. Horn remarried to J.S. Brady. As he stood at the doorstep, Horn asked for a Mrs. Horn. With a thick beard and bent over with age, Horn was unrecognizable until a further look made the confused widow faint and collapse to the floor.
At the end of a rainbow is a pot of gold, or so they say. In the summer of 1889, Ellen Powell, who was picking cotton on the farm of N.B. Baum ( later of Laurens County,) lost her life's savings; six dollars in silver coins. Many months later, Powell returned to the same field to knock down some cotton stalks. After a spring freshet, Powell saw a rainbow at the far end of the field. For an instant, she thought of her lost fortune. N. Hughes, the overseer, told Ellen to walk toward the rainbow where she would find her money. Ellen kept walking, keeping her faith in Hughes' words. And, sure enough at the point where the rainbow originally appeared to end, Ellen looked down and found her little bag containing her lost coins.
You don't have to wait until you see a rainbow near Toomsboro to find a pot of gold. You probably won't find any gold there at all. What you will find instead is a treasure which my words cannot sufficiently describe.