McDuffie County’s roots date back to the 1768 settlement of Wrightsborough, the southernmost point of Quaker migration in North America. Colonial Governor James Wright promised the group from Hillsboro, North Carolina 12,000 acres of land below the Little River. Wright saw the pacifist Quaker community of Wrightsboro as a useful buffer between the Creek Indians and the Scotch and Irish settlers. The Quakers built homes, gristmills, and a meetinghouse. Wrightsboro survived as a village until the 1920s.
Almost century later, a few miles south of Wrightsboro, a tiny settlement became a train stop on the Georgia Railroad. It was incorporated in 1854 and named for J. Edgar Thomson, the surveyor who laid out the train route. In 1870, Thomson was designated as the county seat of McDuffie County.
Among Thomson’s famous sons are the brilliant blues musician, Blind Willie McTell, born in 1898 and honored in a song by Bob Dylan, and U.S. Senator Thomas E. Watson, father of Rural Free Delivery. Watson’s home, Hickory Hill, has been restored to its 1920s appearance and includes Watson heirlooms. The 270-acre gardens and arboretum, originally designed by Watson, are open to the public.
Clarks Hill Lake is the largest lake east of the Mississippi. Filled with 70,000 acres of water, it’s a perfect destination for camping, picnicking, fishing, paddling, and other water sports. Speaking of paddling, you will want to spend a day exploring the newly developed Georgia’s Little River Water Trail, where you can enjoy a lazy float on the Little River or a more challenging paddle on the lake.
Thomson hosts an abundance of unique shops, like MAC on Main Art Gallery, which offer locally-made products to residents and visitors alike. Paintings, pottery, and other works by local artisans fill a gallery with affordable art that make great souvenirs. If you’re feeling creative, attend an art class with the kids or plan a visit during a Sip and Dip or quarterly Open House event.
If you enjoy Southern cooking or soul food, Thomson serves up many choices: fried chicken, black eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens and barbeque. Chinaberry Foods, located in an old family farmhouse on the outskirts of town, has become famous for its spicy cheddar cheese straws.
Events you don’t want to miss:
BLIND WILLIE MCTELL BLUES FESTIVAL
May 6 (first Saturday in May)
The Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival honors the spirit and music of this influential blues musician and attracts topnotch performers such as Little Feat, Mavis Staples, and Delbert McClinton.
To purchase tickets, please visit: www.blindwillie.com
BELLE MEADE HUNT OPENING MEET
November 4 (first Saturday in November)
Experience an adventure seemingly transplanted from the English countryside. Follow the red-coated hunters and their hounds in spirited pursuit of fox or coyote on a “tallyho” wagon.
To purchase tickets, please visit: www.bellemeadehounds.com.