While doing a bit of research recently, I ran across an article about the “cursed” town of Jacksonboro (or Jacksonborough), Georgia. Interest piqued, I delved deeper into the story. I found a fascinating tale of a traveling preacher, whiskey, and mysterious events that may continue to this day! Given that I like mysterious things, I had to write a post about it. Follow along to find out what I discovered.
First I have to give a little background and history on both the preacher and the town. Let’s start with the town.
Jacksonboro was originally the county seat of Screven County and lies on Hwy 301 roughly halfway between Augusta and Savannah in southeast Georgia. Wikipedia tells us Jacksonboro was the Screven County seat from 1795 – 1847 and home to Seaborn Goodall. Mr. Goodall was the Mason, Clerk of the Superior Court, pioneer in establishing the Methodist faith, and a prominent citizen. His house, built in 1815, is the only remaining building in Jacksonboro. The county seat moved from Jacksonboro to Sylvania in 1847. I mention Mr. Goodall because he plays an important role in the story, so bear with me.
Lorenzo Dow is the preacher. If you aren’t familiar with Dow, he was quite the character. The Wikipedia description, quoted below, doesn’t paint a flattering picture:
Lorenzo Dow was personally unkempt. He did not practice personal hygiene and his long hair and beard were described as “never having met a comb.” He usually owned one set of clothes: those that were on his back.
Dow was also a fierce abolitionist, which made him unpopular in the Southern States. More on that later. He allegedly traveled over 200,000 miles preaching his fire and brimstone sermons. It’s said that crowds of 10,000 spectators attended his open-air sermons. His preaching style was different than most in those days. He screamed, shouted, insulted, begged, and challenged people’s beliefs. It’s believed he preached to more people than any other preacher of that time.
Another interesting fact about Mr. Dow is that his autobiography was second only to the Bible as the bestselling book in the country.
So, what is the intersection between, Lorenzo Dow, Seaborn Goodall, and Jacksonboro and how does whiskey play a role? How did this lead to a curse? As the legend goes, Lorenzo Dow arrived in Jacksonboro around 1820 and scheduled one of his signature fire and brimstone sermons at the Methodist Church. Jacksonboro, known for its rowdy nature, numerous saloons, and general lawlessness, didn’t take kindly to Dow comments.
During his sermon, they threw bricks and stones through the church windows. Incensed, the preacher went to a local saloon, grabbed and iron tool, and broke open a barrel of whisky, spilling its content on the floor. This, in turn, incensed the citizens, who then attacked Dow. Luckily for Dow, Seaborn Goodall pulled him out of the saloon and sheltered him in his house. The next morning, Dow departed Jacksonboro to a barrage of tomatoes and eggs, all the while calling for the citizens to repent.
The story says Dow reached the bridge leading away from Jacksonboro and cursed the town – except for Seaborn Goodall. The townspeople laughed it off and returned to their ways.
Soon, though, winds came and blew roofs off houses. Mysterious fires claimed other dwellings, and the local creek, not known for flooding, became prone to flash flooding, and swept houses away. Over time, the town, with the exception of Seaborn Goodall’s house, disappeared.
Seaborn Goodall’s house (also known as the Dell Goodall House), still stands today. Despite being abandoned for years, it remained where the other buildings didn’t. A DAR chapter restored the house and tours are available on Saturdays.
In case you wondered, over the years, businesses have tried to establish themselves, but none have flourished – despite being on a well-traveled road. Cursed or not, it is odd!
What do you think? Was Jacksonboro cursed by Lorenzo Dow? Was the destruction of Jacksonboro’s buildings natural or supernatural? Leave me a comment and let me know!