City of Guyton
Guyton, Georgia is a small community of approximately 750 people. Located just 25 miles north of Savannah, it is an easy commute for its many citizens who work in Savannah.
While some of the early settlers came from the Savannah area, it seems that most came from North and South Carolina. In 1792 a tract of 250 acres of land in the form of a land warrant from Effingham County was issued to Squire Zachariah White. The community became known as Whitesville. The Squire was not married and left no heir when he died in 1838. White had granted a right-of-way to the new Central of Georgia Railway Co., prior to his death. He was buried on his own land, as was the custom then. His grave is in the rear of the present New Providence Church. Years later, a local controversy was started when some of this community tried to have Squire White's grave moved to the new local cemetery. It was never moved.
Shortly after Whites death, the Effingham County Commissioners took over White's land for unpaid taxes. They had a survey made, laid off lots and streets just as they still are today, and sold it all at public auction as payment of his taxes. Many lots were bought by affluent Savannah residents as a place for a summer home. At this time, the fever was very bad in Savannah.
When the Central of Georgia Railroad Company, having a charter to build and operate a railroad from Savannah to Macon and on to Marthasville (now ca1led Atlanta) laid their tract through Whitesville in 1837 or 1838, they referred to this place as Station Number 30. After a short time, local people ask the railroad company to give this place a name so they could request the federal government place a post office here. Since there was another town in the state named Whitesville, Mr. W. W. Gordon, President of the Central Railroad, named this location Guyton, after Archibald Guyton, a prominent, local citizen. The U. S. Post Office established a post office at Guyton, Georgia, December 3l, 1851.
Guyton was an affluent town by the time of the Civil War. During the Civil War, the Confederacy built a hospital in Guyton. There are buried 26 Confederate soldiers buried in the local cemetery. When General Sherman marched from Atlanta to Savannah on his burn and destroy mission, he came through Guyton with his main body of troops. It took five days for his army to pass through, with some of his troops looting, burning and stealing. The depot and tracts were destroyed, which could explain why some records of this period are not complete.
In 1887, Guyton was incorporated and issued a town charter by the State of Georgia. The local member of the Georgia Legislature who had the bill introduced and passed was Colonel Clarance Guyton, a grandson of Archibald Guyton.
The Guyton City Hall has had many requests for information about the family of Guytons. However, little is known about their background. They were rumored to have come from England to North Carolina. Then, Archibald Guyton came to this area from North Carolina in l825. Archibald was married twice. His first wife was the widow Tondee of Savannah. There is a Tondee farm or plantation listed in Effingham County near Guyton during this period, so she may have had connections there. The Georgia census of l850 shows Archibald came to Georgia in l825. He was in the timber business. His first wife, widow Tondee died (fever) and is buried in the old Providence Baptist Cemetery. His second wife was Harriet Patterson, of this area. Archibald had a son, Robert, by his first wife and a son, Charles, by his second wife. There were several girls also as are listed in his cemetery plot. Archibald's grandson, Clarance, was an attorney and maintained a law office in Savannah. Everyone called him Colonel Guyton. He was a member of the Georgia Legislature and was very prominent.
There are no families named Guyton living in the community today. The last Guyton family home, which was occupied by Clarance, his sister Belle Hendry and also his sister Tallullah and her husband Fred Seckinger is still in excellent condition. It is located on Highway. 17, just north of the Guyton city limits.
Every December, the spirit of Christmas is highlighted in Guyton with an annual tour of homes. This community-sponsored event will usually host around three to four thousand visitors every year. Visitors will usually tour about a dozen homes and nearly all of the churches are open for the tour. Many homes in the historic district will have lighted doors. The festivities usually begin with a country supper and tour of the historical city. As visitors drive down main street in Guyton, they can view the lighted trees that line the old railroad median for one mile. The Guyton Volunteer Fire Department usually illuminates the nearly 7,000 lights each year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Today, Guyton is still a small town, but one with much history. As visitors drive through its narrow lanes and streets, particularly in December of each year, they see a Georgia town pretty much the way it was nearly a century ago.