Ockolocoochee, Little River 1889-01-29

Update 2023-12-28: Revised version..

Who knows the Ockolocoochee River? No, not the Ochlockonee River; that’s a bit to the west. You do know the Ockolocoochee River as the Little River, of the Withlacoochee, of the Suwannee. Here is news from 1889 that also includes the boat that didn’t survive from Troupville to Ellaville, which was apparently not a paddlewheel steamer.

Irwin County, 1885a, GeorgiaInfo, Rand McNally Map of Georgia, 1885

Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Pg 12., quoted in Ray City History Blog, 18 October 2010, More About Troupville, GA and the Withlacoochee River,


VALDOSTA, Ga., January 19. -[Special.]- Away up near the northern limit of the great wiregrass section there is a big cypress swamp. They call them bays there. From this bay emerges a little stream of claret colored water. This is near Peckville, and close to the corner of Worth, Irwin, and Dooly counties. This is the head of the Ockolocoochee, Little river.

Irwin County, 1885b, GeorgiaInfo, Source: George Cram Railroad and County Map of Georgia, 1885 , on which Peckville is labeled “Peck” and the river is “Little River”. Eastwards the “Allapaha River” and “Willocoochee Cr.” are labeled.

Farther eastward, some ten or fifteen miles, there is another bay from which emerges a restless current that goes rushing away toward the south, fretting among the pine boles, resting among the silent solitudes of the mysterious swamps, the Alapaha.

Wilcox County, 1885, GeorgiaInfo, Source: George Cram Railroad and County Map of Georgia, 1885; maybe the article is referring to Hat Creek or Sandy Creek: the Alapaha itself starts quite a bit north of the origin of the Little River.

About midway between these streams, some twenty miles below their heads, the Withlacoochee steals stealthily out of the depths of a brambly brake and glides noiselessly away, like some black serpent of the swamps winding in and out among the barrens.

WLRWT Rivers: Little, New, Withlacoochee, Maps
Updated: 2018-04-24: with better icons, miles, etc.
Map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT), on which you can see the New River arising south north of Tifton, joining the Withlacoochee, joined by the Little River, and ending up in the Suwannee.

The Ockolocoochee curves and twines among the pine-clad ridges, receiving the tribute of some lesser stream at every turn. Ty Ty, Warrior, Big Indian on the West,

Worth County, 1885a, GeorgiaInfo, George Cram Railroad and County Map of Georgia, 1885, showing Ty Ty Creek and Indian Creek.

No-Man’s-Friend, Frank’s creek from the east, till it reaches Troupville. It is, properly, the river, despite the fact that its name is lost after its confluence with the Withlacoochee. It is like the wedding of a great big strapping wiregrass girl with a short, stout, presumptive little man.

Irwin County, 1823, GeorgiaInfo, Source: Map of Georgia and Alabama by H.S. Tanner, 1823. This map before the creation of Lowndes County shows what might be Franks Creek flowing into the Little River, which is labeled “Suwanee R.”, with part farther upstream labeled “Alacoochee R.” Okapilco Creek is labeled “Withlacuchee R.” with a western offshoot labeled “Ocapilca Cr.” Eastwards Grand Bay Creek is labeled “Irwin’s River” before it joins with Mud Creek (correctly labeled “Mud Cr.”) and the river they then join is labeled way upstream “Alapapaha R.”

The Ockolochoochee is the stream for fishing. Along the snowy margin of its glistening sand-bars the red-belly, the perfection of perch; and in its placid eddies, beneath the shadow of the tupeloes, the red-horse sucker, chief of all the carp tribe; abound in strength and numbers sufficient to gratify the most inveterate of anglers.

Lowndes County, 1830, GeorgiaInfo. This earliest map of Lowndes County shows Franklinville, and Okapilco Creek marked as “Withlockoochee R.”, shortly after the creation of Lowndes County from Irwin County. Old Coffee Road is shown coming up from Tallahassee through Thomasville and onwards northeast through Lowndes into Irwin County.

New river gives the Withlacoochee a good start, and it swerves away to receive the tribute of half a dozen streams on its tortuous course. From its fountain head it is dark and forbidding, and the secrets of its black waters are preserved most faithfully.

Lowndes County, 1834, GeorgiaInfo, with something marked as “Ocopilca Cr.” that joins the Little River, which is marked as “Withlacuchee R.”, and Franklinville on the Withlacoochee River marked as “Su-wa-nee R.” and “Beaufort F.” shown just south of the state line. Apparently Franklinville Road from Thomasville through Franklinville to “Waresboro” in Ware County was the oldest road through Lowndes County after Coffee Road. Also apparently Hutchinson’s Mill Creek and Cat Creek ran into Grand Bay Creek back then, on to the Alapahoochee and the Alapaha. The “Okifinoke Swamp” was considered to extend way west, almost to the Alapaha. “Micco T.” is shown in Hamilton County, Florida, with a “Projected Canal” come south of the swamp towards it.

Away back in the olden days when Lowndes county was as big as Poland, an act was passed by the Georgia legislature, appointing a commission to select an appropriate place for a county site. Franklinville had been its capital, but was not near enough to the center.

Hamilton County, 1832, I.T. Hinton & Simpkin & Marshall Map, Map Credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center. The upper Suwannee back then was known as the Little Suwanee River, and the only settlement shown in Hamilton County, Florida, was “Micco Tn.” on the (unlabeled) Alapaha River.

Madison County, 1832, I.T. Hinton & Simpkin & Marshall Map, Map Credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center. Madison County extended all the way to the Gulf back then, and the lower Suwannee was called “Suwanee R.”

Madison County, 1834, Hand colored map of Florida published in 1834 with inserts of Mobile Bay, Perdido and Pensacola Bays, and Espirito Santo Bay (including Tampa and Hillsboro Bays). Map Credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center. Well, whoever made this map was very confused, with “Sawaney R” way to the west (maybe labeling the Fenholloway River) and the Suwannee itself labeled “R. Amasura”.

As the legend goes, Big Billy Knight and Big Billy Folsom were appointed. These two worthies, one from the pimple hills of the Ockolocoochee, and the other from the saw palmetto flats of the Withlacoochee; decided that the most appropriate point was right in the fork of the two rivers.

Lowndes County, 1839, GeorgiaInfo, GeorgiaInfo, “Map of Georgia & Alabama exhibiting the post offices, post roads, canals, rail roads & c. By David H. Burr. (Late topographer to the Post Office.) Geographer to the House of Representatives of the U.S.” From his The American Atlas (London, J. Arrowsmith, 1839) . Franklinville appears on an unnamed river, the Little River is marked as “Sawannee R.” with a town called “Magnes” on it, Okapilco Creek is marked as “Withieckochee R.” (or something like that), and some tributary of it is marked “Ocopilco Cr.” I’m proud to see Tom’s Branch, which runs through my property, is clearly drawn, albeit unnamed, with its confluence just south of Franklinville Road. A road south from Franklinville goes to “Townsend” in Madison County, Florida, and on a road east of that there’s a “Rossiter’s Ferry” on the Withlacoochee in Hamilton County. Also, Grand Bay Creek is marked “Irwins R.”, flowing into the “Allapahaw R.”

Madison County, 1839, Map of Florida that was, “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1839 by H. S. Tanner in the clerks office of the eastern district of Pennsylvania.” Map Credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center. “Rossiter’s” is shown, along with Jasper in Hamilton County and “Mineral Spring” on the “Suwanee R.” in Columbia County, where today’s Suwannee County would be, and across the river from today’s White Springs. The “Fenaholoway R.” is labeled.

They had an idea that the river would be navigable that high up, even above the point where the Alapaha disappears and runs underground a mile before uniting with the Withlacoochee.

Lowndes County, 1846, GeorgiaInfo, with “Troupsville” on the Little River marked as “Suwanee R.”, with Okapilco Creek marked as “Withlacuchee R.” and some other creek marked as “Ocopilca Cr.” The “Okefinoke Swamp” has changed spelling slightly, but still extends almost west to the Alapaha River.

So it came about that where the wine-red waters or the Ockolocoochee and the black current of the Withlacoochee meet at the end of a long sandbar and go tumbling and writhing, eddying and curving down the long reach of moss-grown trees, like two huge serpents struggling for the mastery, the plat of a town was drawn, and it was called after Georgia’s great chevelier governor, “Troupville,” with a strong accent on the “ville.” They had not learned to say “Troupvul” then, and it was such a high sounding title that they lingered lovingly on the pronunciation.

Lowndes County, 1855, GeorgiaInfo, with Troupville on (the wrong bank of) the “Withloocoochee R.”, which towards the state line is marked with an extra “ch” as “Withlochoochee”. Okapilco Creek is marked “Ocopilco R.”, and the Little River is not named. The towns of Hahira, Morven, Ocopilco (apparently where Quitman would be), Clyattville, Ocean Pond, Cherry Lake, and Belleville have appeared, along with now-forgotten ones such as Ava, Tallokas, Grooverville, and Piscola. Also, the Alapahoochee River is marked “Irwins Cr.”, and the town of Allapaha has appeared upstream, or is that Ray City?

The town grew apace. It enjoyed what the modern’s call a boom. Land lots sold rapidly, and settlers came rushing in, mainly the Smiths. Lowndes county has ever been prolific in the smith line. Owen Smith, Old Billy Smith, Young Billy Smith, all sorts of Smiths, even down to our Hamp, who so ably represents that historic name in the present pushing metropolis Valdosta.

Map of Troupville, GA adapted from C.S. Morgan, in Ray City History Blog, 9 February 2014, Map of Old Troupville, GA with Notes on the Residents.

One of the Smith’s built a tavern, and another Smith set up in business, and young Dr. Briggs, who came from the north, broken in business, but full of energy and ability, and laid the foundation of that prosperity that has long distinguished the Briggs and the Converse families.

Sketch of Old Troupville, GA by C.S. Morgan, in Ray City History Blog, 9 February 2014, Map of Old Troupville, GA with Notes on the Residents.

Troupville only suffered one inconvenience. To get to town three-fourths of the population had either to cross the river of the east or the river of the west and half the time, during the winter and spring, these rivers were raging with freshets, the bridges were afloat and were frequently swept away.

Lowndes County parcel 0057 003, Between the Rivers LLC
Site of Troupville at the confluence of the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers, Lowndes County parcel 0057 003, Between the Rivers LLC

One thing more hindered her prosperity. At the only season when the main river was navigable, the Old Nick, himself, couldn’t navigate it. So it transpired that the only freighted barge that ever tempted its tempestuous tide was a flat boat that went down the river to the Suwanee, thence down that river to Cedar Keys.

Which way?, 10:44:42,, River Bend Shoals
Which way?, 10:44:42,, River Bend Shoals 30.6672100, -83.3870100 in Cleanup and outing, Nankin, Mcintyre and Arnold Springs, Mozell Spells, Withlacoochee River 2017-10-14. I kind of doubt they got any farther than the Withlacoochee Confluence with the Suwannee River at Ellaville (although Ellaville itself doesn’t seem to show up until 1857). Cedar Key is a very far stretch of the imagination.

It never returned.

Madison County, 1856, Surveyor Map from 1856. Map Credit: Courtesy of the private collection of Roy Winkelman. A town labeled “Columbus” is at the future site of Ellaville, and Madison has appeared. The Withlacoochee is labeled “Swithlacoochee R.” Or maybe they only made it to Belleville.

The boatmen sold the vessel and cargo and walked home.

White water, 13:58:34,, Back to Georgia Shoal
White water, 13:58:34,, Back to Georgia Shoal 30.6345700, -83.3417800 in Cleanup and outing, Nankin, Mcintyre and Arnold Springs, Mozell Spells, Withlacoochee River 2017-10-14.

Life was too short to navigate that crooked stream, with its sunken logs and treacherous sands, and the hope of water transportation was abandoned.

Among those who settled in Troupville and left behind many momentous memories, was Morgan Goodgame Swain, a burly blacksmith from Emanuel, who was ever ready for a fight, frolic or a footrace. He stood six feet three and weighed over two hundred without pound of surplus flesh. As handsome as a Greek god he was gifted with herculean strength and a heart that was generous and true. He erected his forge on the bank of the Ockolockochee, and his wife took possession of the tavern. Becky, she was lord above, and Morz was lord below.

Lowndes County, 1863, GeorgiaInfo, with Troupville still marked, but Valdosta, Quitman, and Naylor have have appeared along with the railroad. The “Withlochochee” River is marked, as is the “Ocapilco R.” On the “Allapaha R.”, Milltown, Statenville, and Troublesome have appeared.

The town of Valdosta was laid off when the old Atlantic and Gulf Railroad was built, about the opening of the war. Brooks and Echols had been cut off from Lowndes, and the county site was moved four miles southeast of Troupville to Valdosta. A great many of the buildings were moved bodily. And now there is not one brick upon another to tell the story of Troupville. A pile of white rocks marks the spot of Swain’s old forge, and some weather beaten mulberry trees still bud and blossom around the old square where stood the tavern. Aside from these there is nothing left to keep alive the cherished hopes that once animated the soul of Troupville.

Lowndes County, 1864, GeorgiaInfo, with most of the current river names: “Withlocoochee Riv.”, “Little River”, “Ocopilco Cr.” Troupville is still marked as substantial, but Valdosta is on the railroad. And “Irwin’s Cr.” sstill appears instead of Alapahoochee River, with an old spelling of where it goes: “Allapaha R.”

The Withlacoochee still glides along to meet the Ockolocoochee, and the land that lies between them, once town property, is now a barren waste, overgrown with somber pines, solitary tufts of bear grass whose white crests wave to and fro in ghostly suggestiveness in the twilight of summer evenings when the whip-poor-wills chant their weird melodies among the lonely thickets.

Lowndes County Area, 1864, GeorgiaInfo, U.S. Coast Survey Map, Northern Part of Florida, 1864, doesn’t show Valdosta or Statenville, but still shows Troupville, Belleville, and “Clyatville”, plus “Troublesome P.O.”. on the Alapaha.

Around the once populous portion of the town lies a waste of sedgy fields that are barren and unproductive. The half-wild goats browse among the fennels and briars. “Ichabod” is written in lichen crusted letters, and desolation reigns supreme.

Portion of Lowndes County Area, 1865, GeorgiaInfo, U.S. Coast Survey Map, Southern Georgia and Part of South Carolina, 1865 uses the current river names, but never heard of Valdosta or Statenville, and Troupville is still there, with the railroad bypassing it, yet “Waldo Sta.” on the railroad due south of Troupville. On the ALapaha, the railroad crosses on “Carter’s Bridge”.


Lowndes County, 1874, GeorgiaInfo, Source: Augustus Mitchell Map of Georgia and Alabama, 1874 has “Owsley”, Valdosta, Naylor, Stockton, and Statenville, and still has Troupville.

Lowndes County, 1883, GeorgiaInfo, George Cram Map of Georgia, 1883, finally drops Troupville, and has Hahira, a town named “Cat Creek”, Milltown (Lakeland), Naylor, Stockton, and Statenville, with Grand Bay flowing into the Alapahoochee River marked “Withlocoochee River”, yet the Withlacoochee is marked “Withcacochee River”.

The next maps preserved by GeorgiaInfo’s Historical Atlas of Georgia Counties for Lowndes County are the 1885 maps we started with, which have the (more or less) modern river names, and no Troupville.

Lowndes County, 1885a, Source: Rand McNally Map of Georgia, 1885, with the “Withcacoochee Riv.” No Troupville.

Lowndes County, 1885b, Source: George Cram Railroad and County Map of Georgia, 1885, with the “Withcacoochee” River and the Alapahoochee River labeled “Withlocoochee River”. Quitman, Ousley, Valdosta, Haines, Delmar, and Stockton all on the railroad, but no Troupville.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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