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Huguenot, Georgia – Elbert County

By John Trussell, 2nd Vice President

Huguenot, Georgia

One day while doing some research, Janet Walker, Past President of the Huguenot Society of Georgia, and current National President, discovered the old dead down of Huguenot, Georgia, located in Elbert County, Georgia. She shared this information with Marjorie Wilson, current Georgia President and wondered who established this historic town and why did the town disappear over time? We can be easily led to believe that people established the town to honor their early Huguenot ancestors. They established a town in the late 1800’s that had a very active Post Office. The town was active for a short period of time, then the Post office closed in 1915 and soon thereafter the people and town faded away.

Some documentation says town can be traced to Julia Dubose Smith that “now lives in the little village of Huguenot, the original home of Joshua Wilson Debose, her father. It is generally understood that Huguenot, Georgia, received its name from Joel Herbert Dubose, years ago when a post office was established which had long ago been abolished”. A book, “Beneath these Waters”, by Sharyn Kane and Richard Keeton, details the archaeological history of the area before it was flooded by Lake Russell. It says” Pioneers migrated to the reservoir area by different routes. Some traveled by ship to Charleston or Savannah, and then moved inland from there. Perhaps the biggest cluster of settlers arrived in 1764, when 200 French Protestants, called Huguenots, left Charleston and moved inland to a new town named Abbeville, in honor of a town in their homeland”.

It is thought that some of these Huguenots later moved into Georgia, across the Savannah River and into Elbert County. Georgia, when it was established in 1803. Although more research needs to be completed, it is thought that the settlers of Huguenot, Georgia are closely related to the early Huguenots that settled in the Bordeaux community, near Abbeville, South Carolina. We and the Chamber of Commerce of Elberton, Georgia are researching a location to place a monument to honor Huguenot, Georgia. We have considered placing the monument close to the actual location, but a roadside monument poses safety concerns to motorists, says the Georgia Department of Transportation. A rural location may also face damage from vandals. This is leading us to research a high traffic area in Elberton where the monument will get more attention in a safe environment. Our Huguenot Society of Georgia will soon consider a vote to fund the monument in the near future. Thanks to the Huguenot Society of South Carolina, who has been very helpful!

New Bordeaux, Elbert County

The New Bordeaux Cross Site commemorates the last large group of French Protestants to arrive and settle in South Carolina. Led by the Rev. Jean Louis Gibert and the Rev. Jacques Boutiton, some 371 French, Swiss and German immigrants sailed into Charleston harbor 12 April 1764, a day short of the date the Edict of Nantes had been signed 166 years previously. Their plans for viniculture and sericulture did well until financial considerations, political intrigues in England and France and the coming of the American Revolution ended them. Since this group was in the Carolina “up country”, near the Savannah River, the settlers into Huguenot, Georgia may have come from this group.

Background Materials:

Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina (French Settlement at New Bordeaux)

The Settlement of New Bordeaux