Grimshaw, Bulloch County, Georgia
Extinct Railroad Community Named for Harry B. Grimshaw
“Grimshaw” is a now-extinct community in Bulloch County located southeast of Statesboro,
Georgia. It is named for Harry B. Grimshaw, a one-time executive with the railroad for which the Grimshaw location was a station. Harry Grimshaw was descended from James and Mary (Berthoud) Grimshaw, who met and married in New York and then migrated to New Orleans. James immigrated to New York in 1826 from Manchester at the age of 26; he and Mary are the subject of a companion webpage.
This Grimshaw location is one of about a half-dozen
geographic sites in the U.S. bearing the name. Others are in Jackson County,
North Carolina (Grimshawe) and a playa lake in Inyo County, California; there is also a former
community with the Grimshaw name in Young
County, Texas. And there is a middle school in New York and a building in
Providence, Rhode Island bearing the Grimshaw name.
Historical Records of Grimshaw, Georgia
Who was Harry B. Grimshaw?
Thanks go to Howard Ratcliffe for taking photos at the Grimshaw location and sending them to the website author for posting on this webpage (see Figure 4 below.)
Grimshaw was apparently started as a railroad station in the early 1900s. It appears to have been named for Harry B. Grimshaw, an executive of the railroad company that built the track between Savannah and Statesboro. It was common practice in those days for railroad companies (in this case the Savannah & Statesboro Railroad, or S&S) to name their stations for company officials, and the stations often grew into towns. Grimshaw’s coordinates are 32°2356″ north latitude and 81°4156″ west longitude. It is clearly shown on the 1919 U.S. Geological Survey 15-minute quadrangle, Brooklet sheet1 (see Figure 1.) Note that at this time the community consisted of only about a six buildings, one of which was no doubt the railroad station. Figure 1. Portion of Brooklet U.S. Geological Survey Quadrangle (1919), showing Grimshaw location. Note that Grimshaw is on the Savannah and Statesboro Railroad, between Brooklet and Pretoria. The town of Statesboro is a few miles northwest of Pretoria, just off the map in the adjoining quadrangle.
Brannen2, in one of the most significant references on Bulloch County history, provides the following background, as well as information on the role of H.B. Grimshaw:
p. 262: In May of 1899 the road was completed to Statesboro. The stations along the route were Statesboro, Pretoria, Nellwood, Shearwood, Iric, Stilson, Woodburn, Ivanhoe, Olney, Eldora, Blitchton, and Cuyler*. At first the S&S went only as far as Cuyler, where the passengers changed to the Seaboard to go to Savannah, but in 1902 a through service was started and the S&S went all the way to Savannah, ending the trip at the new Union Station on West Broad Street. “No more tedious waits at Cuyler for belated S.A.L. trains, but a clean run through to Savannah.” The Statesboro News described the station as the finest Union Station in the South. (And it was a fine marble building.) There was probably more Savannah money than Statesboro money in the S&S. Cecil Gabbett of Savannah was president of the line, and when he retired in 1905, he was succeeded by another Savannah man, J. Randolph Anderson. J.A. Brannen of Statesboro was made secretary, and H.B. Grimshaw of Savannah was appointed superintendent. The board of directors consisted of J. Randolph Anderson, Adolph M. Leffler, J.C. Slater, W.J. Kelly, and Murry M. Stewart of Savannah, and J.W. Olliff, J.G. Blitch, and J.A. McDougald of Statesboro. p. 334: In 1905 Mr. Bacot followed H.B. Grimshaw as superintendent of the S&S in Statesboro. Early conductors were W.L. Hall, and W.H. (Bill H.) DeLoach, and Bruce Donaldson. Jim Gould and Bud Wilson were engineers. (p. 334) [*Editors note: It is not known why Grimshaw was not included on this list. But then, neither was Brooklet, the next station down the line from Grimshaw; Pretoria was just up the line as listed here.]
Grimshaw and other towns along the railroad shrank or became extinct with the declining fortunes of the railroads in the 1920s and 1930s, as described by Good3 (p. 57):
The rural economy in Bulloch County was transformed by the completion of railroads in the late 1880s until the 1920s. Railroads provided the area with access to the market economy of the nation, and the railroad stations were the collection and distribution centers through which the connections were maintained. Farmers began to specialize using the railroad to ship their products to northern and other markets. The settlement pattern filled in as branch railroad lines were constructed linking the larger main lines towns. A system of rural roads linked farms to markets and markets to each other. The number of market centers or central places increased in direct response to the population expansion and increase. The period of the 1920s in Bulloch County saw the onset of new trends and demise of many small railroad station communities. The cotton gin declined in importance as cotton acreage decreased, the further growth of rural free delivery eliminated many small post offices and continuation of the stores associated with them unprofitable. The Savannah and Statesboro Railroad ceased operations in the early 1930s and Pretoria Station, a station on the railroad, declined. Paved roads made farmers more accessible to the larger community of Statesboro and enabled farmers in their cars to bypass the smaller centers to patronize larger ones. Use of trucks made possible centralization of railroad collecting and distributing operations in the larger stations like Statesboro, eliminating the centrality provided by the station in the small community. Pretoria Station was abandoned and the cotton gin, railroad depot and other functions disappeared over time as farmers went to the larger community of Statesboro for goods and services. The following paper on Pretoria Station by Maggie Collins, instructor at Marvin Pittman School on the Georgia Southern College Campus, illustrates the rapid changes that have taken place in Bulloch County over the past one hundred years. Other communities like Truckers, Grimshaw, Colfax Station, Blands Spur, Ivanhoe, Jimps, Adelaide, Dink, Donegal have followed the fate of Pretoria Station. These extinct communities also need to be studied while they are still alive in the minds of people in Bulloch County. The paper on Pretoria Station serves as a model for such studies.
As noted by Good, the fate of Grimshaw was no doubt similar to that of nearby Pretoria Station, which was described by Collins4 as follows:
p. 59: What happened to Pretoria Station, Georgia? At the turn of the 20th century it was a small but successful farming community located at latitude 32°4335″ North latitude and 81°4350″ West longitude. What are the factors which contributed to the development of this town? What caused it to decline and become virtually nonexistent? The purpose of this study is to answer these questions through historical and personal glimpses into this part of Bulloch County, Georgia (p. 59)
p. 61-62: By 1902 the Savannah and Statesboro Railroad originated from Savannahs Union Station on West Broad Street. Work had begun on the extension to Swainsboro and north to Athens…. As a result, Pretoria Station was growing and prospering. In 1903 the Savannah and Statesboro reported collecting $11,574.00 in passenger funds, and $34,923.00 in freight funds. This was a 30 percent increase over 1902. The northern extension was completed and the Savannah and Statesboro changed its name to Savannah, Statesboro and Northern Railroad Other evidence of Pretoria Stations increasing prominence was the establishment of two Pretoria Schools. Information from Duggans Educational Survey of 1915, does not contain any information about the Black school other than a photo. The white children could attend through seven grades under the direction of Miss Polly Wood and Miss Myrtle Anderson. On April 1, 1925, Marianne (Alderman) Tillman told the teachers the school house was on fire. They thought this was an April Fools joke and she was punished. Sadly, the schoolhouse burned to the ground that day and was never rebuilt. The loss of available public schooling was a serious blow to the community. The decline and eventual disappearance of Pretoria Station were caused by many factors, the most significant, the loss of the railroad. The boll weevil had destroyed the cotton crops and the Great Depression had caused marked prices on everything to drop severely. So much so that when watermelons were shipped to Northern markets they did not bring enough to pay freight fees. The Savannah, Statesboro and Northern began asking local growers to pay the balance of transporting cost which they could not do. The loss of freight put the railroad in a serious financial situation. In the early 1930s the books showed a profit only because the rails were hauling gravel for the paving of Highway 80. This major roadway was completed in 1931 through Bulloch County. The highway and the increased popularity of the automobile left Pretoria Station without a means of support. On February 14, 1933 the Savannah, Statesboro and Northern declared bankruptcy. By the end of that year the tracks were being sold for scrap iron There are no landmarks left, no historical markers, only the old road bed and some trash dumpsters remain. Pretoria still appears on maps as a reminder of this family and railroad.
Collins includes two maps that are significant to Grimshaw. Figure 2 shows the location of Grimshaw between Pretoria and Brooklet on a 1909 map. Figure 3 also shows the Grimshaw location, but at a smaller scale, on a 1915 map.
Figure 2. Map from 1909 showing location of Grimshaw on the railroad between Pretoria and Brooklet. From Collins4, p. 66; original source not known.
Figure 3. Smaller-scale map from 1915 showing the location of Grimshaw in relation to Statesboro.The town’s name can barely be seen just below the “LL” in “BULLOCH.” Pretoria and Brooklet can also be seen. Other towns listed by Brannen2 above are also shown — Nellwood, Iric, Stilson, Ivanhoe, and Olney. From Collins4, p. 68; original source not known.
Harry Babcock Grimshaw was the grandson of James and Mary (Berthoud) Grimshaw, who are described on a companion webpage. James immigrated to the U.S. in 1826. Harry Grimshaw married Ann G. Richards in about 1929. Harry apparently spent just two years out of his long railroad career working for the Savannah & Statesboro Railroad — but long enough to gain a measure of immortality by having a railroad station (and subsequent community) named after him! The following biography of Harry is given in a Hardens history of Savannah5 (v. II, p. 678-679):
Harry B. Grimshaw, superintendent of the Seaboard Air Line Railway, Savannah, Georgia, is prominent and popular alike in both business and social circles of this city. A brief review of his life gives the following facts: Harry B. Grimshaw was born in Choctaw county, Alabama, in 1872. When he was a child, his parents removed to southern California, where he spent twelve years of his boyhood. Returning to Alabama, he began railroad service in 1890, at the age of eighteen, as a fireman, running out of Troy, on the old Alabama Midland Railway. He worked on that road till 1892, when he became an employe of the operating department of the old Savannah, Americus & Montgomery Railroad (now the Seaboard Air Line), and has remained with this system, under its different changes, ever since that time, with the exception of two years when he was superintendent of the Savannah & Statesboro Railroad. Mr. Grimshaw has lived in Savannah since 1898. On September 1, 1905, Mr. Grimshaw became superintendent of the Savannah division of the Seaboard Air Line, his jurisdiction then extending over the Savannah terminals and the lines west of Savannah extending to Montgomery, Alabama. On November 1, 1910, his jurisdiction as superintendent was expanded to include, in addition to the territory just mentioned, the main north and south line of the Seaboard extending from Columbia, South Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. This consolidated territory embraces 740 miles of railway, and is perhaps one of the largest divisions under one division superintendent. Mr. Grimshaw has rendered notably efficient and skillful services in railroad operation and is of high standing in railroad official circles. While not a politician in any sense of the word, Mr. Grimshaw can be depended upon to support the best men and measures, and is recognized as an all-around representative citizen. In 1910 he was honored by being elected a member of the Savannah board of aldermen. Fraternally, he is an Elk and a Mason. He belongs to Ancient Landmark Lodge, No. 231, F. & A.M., and Richard Nunn Consistory, No. 1, in which he received the thirty-second degree, Scottish Rite; and he has membership in Savannah Lodge of Elks, No. 183.
Howard Ratcliffe visited the site on behalf of the author in the Summer, 2002 and took several photos. According to Howard, Grimshaw Road extends northeastward through the former Grimshaw location and is two to three miles long. Grimshaw Lane branches off Grimshaw Road on the former railroad bed at the location of the community. Figure 4 shows that the location appears to be in a pleasant rural setting.
Figure 4. Views At and Near the Grimshaw Location
a. Road signs for Grimshaw Road and Grimshaw Lane. Grimshaw Lane branches off Grimshaw Road on the old railroad bed at the former Grimshaw location.
b. Grimshaw Road runs through a rural area that is wooded in part and is planted in crops in part. The area appears to be in a typical Southern pastoral setting.
c. Home at the corner of Grimshaw Road and Grimshaw Lane at the former location of the Grimshaw community, near the old railroad bed of the Savannah and Statesboro Railroad. The Culp family cemetery is located nearby.
The 1880 U.S. Census recorded 7-year-old Harry B. Grimshaw living with his grandparents, Amos and Eliza Travis, in the town of Orange in Los Angeles County, California. His brothers Seaborn Grimshaw, age 8, and James R. Grimshaw, age 6, were also living with the family, as shown in the census record (Figure 5.) The two older boys are shown as having been born in Alabama; the youngest was born in California.
Figure 5. Census record from companion webpage showing Harry B. Grimshaw and his older and younger brother living with their grandparents in Orange County, CA.
Orange, Los Angeles, California
FHL Film 1254067 National Archives Film T9-0067 Page 273A
Wiley C. TRAVIS
Harry B. GRIMSHAW
James R. GRIMSHAW
What happened to the parents of these three Grimshaw boys? Was there a
connection with Thomas S. Grimshaw, who was
living in Anaheim (which is very close to Orange) at the same time, with his
young wife, Emma Mary (Kraemer) Grimshaw? Note that the father is shown as being
from New York, whereas their mother was born in Alabama.
Harry Grimshaw’s 11-year-older uncle, Jesse Coleman Travis (shown in the 1880 census record above), married into a prominent southern California family. A biography of J. Coleman Travis (see Figure 6) is presented in a history of Orange County6 (p. 320-325) that provides considerable detail on the immigration of the Travis family to California from Alabama. The biography is shown below. The part most relevant to the Amos and Eliza Ann (Coleman) Travis family is shown in bold type – they arrived in California from Alabama in 1869 and lived in Los Angeles until 1871, when they moved to Santa Ana and opened an orange orchard. Harry Grimshaw’s parents apparently came to California and joined his mother’s parents, the Travises, between about 1872 (when Harry was born in Alabama) and 1873 (when James R. was born in California).
Figure 6 Photo of J. Coleman Travis, uncle of Harry B. Grimshaw. From Armor, 19216.
MRS. ZORAIDA B. TRAVIS. An estimable and exceedingly worthy representative of one of Orange County’s most distinguished families, herself a descendant of aristocratic Catalonian Spanish ancestors, is Mrs. Zoraida B. Travis, a daughter of Prudencio Yorba and a granddaughter of Bernardo Yorba. His father was Antonio Yorba, a soldier under Commander Fages who landed at Monterey, lived for a while at the Monterey Mission, visited Yerba Buena, and finally came south to the Santiago Creek, and in time obtained title to the rich grant, “El Cafion de San Antonia de Santa Ana de los Yorbas.”
Bernardo Yorba received a grant from the King of Spain embracing about 180,000 acres, extending from nearly the present site of Riverside west to the ocean. As early as 1835 he located his home on the north side of the Santa Ana River in Santa Ana Canyon, and there built his commodious residence, famous in those days for its liberal hospitality. It was a very large adobe building, containing ninety rooms, and many were the activities carried on beneath its widespread roof. The various members of the Yorba family were highly intelligent and highly esteemed; the most celebrated for her many charities and kindness was the great-grandmother, Josefa Yorba, a much-loved woman, who in McGroarty’s Mission Play was selected as one of the leading characters. In 1887, the period when so much attention was directed to California and its realty, the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed title to the Yorba lands, Bernardo Yorba having passed away in 1858, while his devoted wife had passed to the Great Beyond seven years before.
Prudencio Yorba was a son of Bernardo Yorba by his marriage to Felipa Dominguez. He was born at the old adobe homestead, June 11,1832, where he grew up, and from a boy learned how to farm and raise stock successfully. His schooling was obtained at the school at San Pedro. He was married August 4, 1851, to Dolores Ontiveros, who was born on the Coyote ranch in the La Habra Valley, August 4, 1833, Her father, Juan P. Ontiveros, was a native son, born in what is now Orange County, and he married Martina Ozuna, born in San Diego, who also came of a very old and prominent family. They farmed hire for many years until they removed to Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County, where Mr. Ontiveros purchased the Tepesquet ranch and there engaged in ranching until his death. An extensive and successful sheep raiser, Prudencio Yorba became the owner of a large ranch in the vicinity of Yorba, Where he resided until his death on July 3, 1885, his widow surviving him until November 24, 1894, having devoted her life to her family.
Of the twelve children born to this worthy couple, eight are still living, among whom Mrs. Zoraida Travis is one of the youngest. She was born on her father’s farm near Yorba and as a girl received an excellent education, attending St. Catherine’s Convent at Sail Bernardino, where she completed her studies. On October 20, 1898, she was married to J. Coleman Travis, the ceremony occurring at her old home. Mr. Travis was a native of Alabama, where he was born on August 8, 1853, at, Gainesville, near Mobile. Impelled to leave the South on account of the disastrous effects of the Civil War the Travis family came to California via the Isthmus of Panama, arriving in Los Angeles on Washington’s Birthday, 1869. His parents, Amos and Eliza Ann (Coleman) Travis, were natives of Georgia and Alabama, respectively, and came of prominent Southern families. For a time they resided in Los Angeles and engaged in orange culture on Eighth Street, between San Pedro and Alameda streets. In 1871, however, family moved to Santa Ana, and a short distance north of the present site of Orange, Amos Travis laid out the famous tract of about 800 acres.
For a number of years, J. Coleman Travis was superintendent of the plant of the Santa Ana Valley Irrigation Company, and in this capacity he played an important part in the building up of the plant and in the construction of its canals and ditches. Mr. Travis also became the owner of a ranch of sixty acres on Tustin Street, near Orange, which they developed and set to oranges, going through the discouraging days when the fruit was ruined by pests, before the experts were able to control them. While living there their five children were born, four of whom are living, J. Coleman, Jr., Kate, Zoraida and Amos. Later Mr. Travis sold the greater part of this ranch and purchased the Esperanza ranch of 249 acres, a part of the old Prudencio Yorba place. Mrs. Travis’ father having named the ranch Esperanza for a daughter who had passed away just before he moved onto this ranch from his old home. Then they located at Santa Monica, where they resided until 1917, coming then to the Esperanza ranch. Mr. Travis began developing this property, but was not permitted to carry out his plans, for this estimable man died on June 19, 1919, his body being interred at Fairhaven Cemetery, Orange. He was a man of pleasing manner and very affable and was endeared to every one, and particularly to his family, to whom he was a devoted husband and a loving father. He was fond of outdoor sports and insisted on his family enjoying many outings, and also on his children learning to swim and to be proficient in other athletic sports. He was especially fond of hunting and fishing and was a member of the Orange County Fox Hunting Club, excelling as a rider and marksman. Mr. Travis was always very interested in the building up of Orange County. He was a deputy assessor of this district when it was still Los Angeles County, and he took a prominent part in the county division and the organization of Orange County in 1889. It is to men of J. Coleman Travis’ type that much of Orange County’s present greatness and development is due, because with other early settlers he gave generously of his time and means to all objects that had for their aim the improvement of the county and enhancing the comfort of the people; and thus those early pioneers paved the way for the opportunities and pleasures of the present-day citizen.
Mrs. Travis continues to reside on the Esperanza ranch, looking after her affairs and the training and education of her children. She has an abundance to do and her time is well taken up, for she still owns the 344-acre ranch that she originally inherited from her father’s estate, a part of the old Bernardo Yorba ranch. So it is indeed fortunate for herself and her family that she was endowed by nature with good judgment, enabling her to manage and develop her property and enjoy her inheritance. A cultured woman, with a taste and appreciation for the beautiful which finds expression in her home, Mrs. Travis, in her graceful, charming manner, dispenses an old-time California hospitality, and her ranch home continues to be a center for social gatherings and family reunions.
U.S. Geological Survey, 1919, Brooklet, Georgia Sheet: Washington, D.C., U.S.G.S. 15-minute quadrangle, scale 1:62,500, 1 sheet.
Brannen, Dorothy, 1992, Life in old Bulloch the story of a wiregrass county in Georgia, 1796-1940: Statesboro, GA, Statesboro Regional Library, 732 p.
Good, Daniel, 1988, Extinct towns in Bulloch County, Georgia, in From Aaron to Ivanhoe: Statesboro, GA, Bulloch County Historical Society, Readings in Bulloch County History, Book 7, p. 57
Collins, Maggie, 1988, Pretoria Station, Bulloch County, Georgia, in From Aaron to Ivanhoe: Statesboro, GA, Bulloch County Historical Society, Readings in Bulloch County History, Book 7, p. 59-70
Harden, William, 1913, A History of Savannah and South Georgia: Chicago and New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, v. I (529 p.) and v. II
6Armor, Samuel, 1921, History of Orange County, California, with biographical sketches fo the leading men and women of the County who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present: Los Angeles, CA, Historic Record Company, unk p.
Webpage posted June 2001, updated August 2002, September 2002. Updated April 2009 with information on Harry’s descendancy from James and Mary (Berthoud) Grimshaw. Banner replaced April 2011.