Long leaf pine trees and cheap land prices attracted northern timber industries to central Georgia after the Civil War. William E. Dodge, of Dodge Land & Lumber Company, purchased 300,000 acres of timberland between the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers for less than ten cents an acre. Dodge purchased the land from his home in New York, leaving the land’s supervision to John C. Forsyth. Although Dodge legally purchased the land, prior to the Civil War land ownership was not always well documented, leaving widows of previous land owners displaced when ownership disputes arose. Additionally, locals were sold bogus land deeds and exploited the confusion by squatting on the land and demanding compensation before the timber company compelled them to move.
Eventually the settlers were evicted, and the timber company reaped the profits. Unable to reach Dodge in New York, the community turned to vandalism for restitution. Residents blocked railroads, burned company tools, and left Forsyth afraid they would burn the standing trees. Instead, the conspirators hired an assassin to murder Forsyth, who was killed at his home in Normandale on October 7, 1890. One of the conspirators confessed, leaving the others to be convicted. Many land claims were settled at the end of the land war, but by then the pine trees—and profits—were already cleared.
Explore the links below to learn more:
New Georgia Encyclopedia – Dodge County
The Georgia Historical Quarterly has published an article relating to the Dodge Land & Lumber Company which can be accessed on JSTOR. If your library does not have access to JSTOR, you can go to www.jstor.org and create a free MyJSTOR Account.