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Putney history tells of early pecan industry

Putney resident, Frank Gossett, has compiled a history of his community, entitled “History of Putney, Georgia — The First One Hundred and Twenty Years.” Filled with maps, plots, deeds, local personalities and establishments, the paperback book moves from Putney’s pecan growing early past and continues to 1970.

Putney resident, Frank Gossett, has compiled a history of his community, entitled “History of Putney, Georgia — The First One Hundred and Twenty Years.” Filled with maps, plots, deeds, local personalities and establishments, the paperback book moves from Putney’s pecan growing early past and continues to 1970.

PUTNEY, Ga. — It’s the unincorporated little town in Dougherty County you may not even think about, but even if Judge F.F. Putney’s early dream for a diverse farming hub went slightly off center, the community helped put South Georgia pecans in homes across the nation.

In his recently published book, “History of Putney, Georgia — The First One Hundred and Twenty Years,” longtime Putney resident Frank A. Gossett lays bare the beginnings of the “crossroads” community, originally known as Humboldt then later and alternately, Hardaway, after the coming of the railroad and the station by the same name in 1870.

With only a quick look-through, it’s easy to appreciate Gossett’s meticulous research and the clarity in which he sets it forth. This handsome, 102-page document is filled with maps, plots, deeds and photos of historical figures. There are early quotes and articles from various regional newspapers, including The Camilla Chronicle, The Americus Daily Times-Enterprise, The Thomasville Times-Enterprise, The Albany News and The Albany Herald.

Putney’s high point, for the period Gossett covers, is Judge Putney’s vision for an agricultural colony which would bear his name. Shortly after the Civil War, Putney became the largest landowner in southeast Dougherty County, Gossett said. The plan was to divide his land around the community into 5-acre plots and to advertise throughout the Midwest and West for upstanding and industrious farmers to settle in the community. There would be a hotel, a new artesian well and manufacturing enterprise. The most important element would be people.

The judge’s vision went somewhat askew, according to Gossett, when his crop farms became a forest of 5-acre pecan orchards. The expected large numbers of immigrants never materialized, only a moderate number of people required to manage the emerging pecan industry. While money from northern investors did materialize, investors themselves remained where they were.

The remainder of Gossett’s book, through 1970, addresses the decline of the pecan industry during the 1930s and goes forward through Putney’s growth after World War II. There are descriptions and accounts of local personalities and establishments and what came to be the community’s bedroom relationship with neighboring Albany.

This excellent and extensive history was preceded by Gossett’s “Turner Air Force Base, Albany, Georgia — Turner Field’s Second Life 1947-1967,” written a few years ago.

“I did them for the ‘like’ of it,” Gossett joked.

Gossett worked at the Turner base as an electronics specialist, first as a serviceman from 1948-1952, then as a civilian from 1954 till it closed in 1967.

“I was in the same shop, doing the same thing I was doing in the military,” Gossett said.

“History of Putney, Georgia,” including a foreword by retired Albany Real Estate Attorney Robert M. Drake, is available from the author at $12.75 per copy. Mailing is additional. Contact Gossett at (229) 435-8453 or visit fagossett@hotmail.com.