image description The Seaborn Goodall Home, also known as the Dell-Goodall House is at old Jacksonborough,
five miles from Sylvania, in Screven County, Georgia. Owned by the Brier Creek Chapter, NSDAR,
it has been restored as a bicentennial project. Photo courtesy Brier Creek Chapter.

The Seaborn Goodall Home



John 10:11-15

By C. D. Hollingsworth, Sr.

Trouble began soon after Reverend Lorenza Dow, worn and foot sore, wearily trudged into the small, but busy, pioneer town of Jacksonboro, Screven County, Georgia, one Spring afternoon in 1821. Certain chemical elements, kept separate, are harmless, but when put into the same bowl become dangerously explosive. So it was when Lorenza Dow and the devil got into the same town. The devil had run Jacksonboro a long time, when Dow, an itinerant Methodist preacher arrived there. He spent less than twenty four hours in the town yet his contact was so explosive that all the county felt it, and his name and deeds have been a household discussion for one hundred and thirty five years. He became the hero of a people whose religious zeal he awakened. Many Screven County children were named for him.

Dow was born in Coventry, Connecticut, October 16, 1777. He became a worldwide itinerant preacher. He was one of the most remarkable men of his day. His irresistible zeal, fire, energy, and his devotion to the cause of religion led him to sublime heights, and quite as often to fist fights and jail. He gave and asked no quarter of the devil. His eccentric dress and character attracted great attention to him wherever he went. His travels were mostly on foot. He literally translated into action Jesus’ injunction, “Go ye into all of the world, etc.” He preached in England and Ireland, as well as covering the United States several times. More people heard the gospel from his lips during his ministry than from any other person. He was called to preach while still a youth, and although he died at 57, he spent forty years in his travels. Most of these years were spent up and down the Atlantic seaboard, with at least one sojourn of three years into the Indian country of Alabama and Mississippi. He kept a diary of his travels and ministry and in 1816 he published a large volume of them. In the book he reviews the eventful occurrences of his ministry, including the vicissitudes which were many. If prenatal emotional upsets influenced the character of the unborn child, as many believe, then surly the turbulent times of the Revolutionary War marked him with a flaming soul and courage undaunted for the task God gave him. Dow made three tours of Georgia before his book was published and at least one other, in 1821, the time of this story.

Jacksonboro too was a child of the Revolution. After 1775 a few settlers located, and formed a small community called Bascom, in the Georgia pine lands in the fork of Brier and Beaver Dam Creek, about midway between Savannah and Augusta. They were industrious and good people. When in 1793, Screven County was created, it was logical that the county seat be placed near the center of population. In 1796 Bulloch County was cut off from Screven, and in 1797 a site was selected on the north bank of Beaver Dam Creek near the Bascom community. Fifty acres of land was purchased from Solomon Gross upon which to build the town. It was named Jacksonboro for the then Governor of Georgia, General James Jackson. Jacksonboro was then the most western frontier town of the United States. A land office was opened and to it flocked both adventurers bold and fugitives from justice. With little or no civil authority it became one of the wildest frontier towns of American history. No western town of fact, fiction, or screen was rougher than Jacksonboro. It is said that there were as many saloons as all other businesses combined. There was one church and one school. The jail was near the creek and the court house was upon the hill near the church.

It can be said to the credit of Jacksonboro that many of America’s finest citizens of today can trace their ancestry back to this once wicked town. When Dow came to preach the bad element dominated the place. Some of these lived in the town but many were from the nearby rural area. When Dow reached Jacksonboro it appeared peaceful and beautiful. Spring was in full bloom. He went through the town passing out hand bills, as was his custom, announcing his meeting for the night at the local Methodist Church. No sooner than the handbills announcing the meeting were distributed the devil went to work. In the saloons they were read by the bar keepers and night revelers. By sun down plans had already been made to break up Dow’s meeting. The lone representative of the law for the entire area was Sheriff Solomon Kemp. He had the moral support of the good people but they were not crusaders.

One of the religious leaders was Kemp’s son-in-law, Seaborn Goodall, Clerk of the Superior Court. Goodall was one of the outstanding Georgians of his day. He carried the torch for law, order, and church in the large pineland area of Southeast Georgia that was almost without civil government. By the time for Dow’s scheduled meeting a crowd had gathered in the saloons and there was heavy drinking. The Church, only a few hundred yards from the saloons, was a frame, rough clapboard, unceiled and unpainted building with board shutters over open windows. A brick chimney with fire place afforded spare heat for the building in winter. Inside furnishings consisted of pine plank seats. A raised dais in the rear supported the small lectern, a table, two chairs and a substantially built chancel. An ornate candle fixture was the church’s only claim to pretentiousness. Reverend Dow was a guest in the house of Seaborn Goodall, which was the county’s most imposing home.

Leaving Dow with Mrs. Goodall and the children Goodall went ahead of time to open the door and shutters of the church, light the candles and ring the bell. With the door and windows open the building was soon filled with the jasmine scented spring air. Dow soon arrived along with a congregation that filled the little church. Dow’s fame as an evangelist was well known all over Georgia at that time. Besides summoning the people the ringing of the church bell was the cue for the crowds in the saloons to get busy. After “raising” several hymns Goodall presented Rev. Dow, and then hell broke loose. Besides throwing pieces of brick and stone into the open windows the crowd, outside shot off pistols in the air and gave many deep throated yells. The lights were extinguished but the roar from the outside continued. Dow was forced to close the meeting. The congregation, under the leadership of Mr. Goodall, quietly withdrew from the building onto the outer darkness and returned to their respective homes.

Having broke up the meeting the hoodlums seemed satisfied with what they had done. The eccentric and raging soul of Dow would not permit him to withdraw from the battle without further fight. He would fight the devil from the pulpit when he could, but he would just as eagerly engage him in hand to hand combat if he must. He left the church in a rage and shadowed his disturbers until they returned to one of the saloons. Dow then charged into the saloon. Alone. He seized an iron tool, broke in the head of a barrel of whiskey, and overturned its contents on the floor before the amazed customer of the bar could stop him. He was pinned to the floor by his enemies and would have very probably suffered bodily injury except for the timely arrival of Mr. Goodall who rushed in and dragged him away. Goodall took him to his home, bathed his bruises and put him to bed. He advised Dow not to try to preach in the town.

The next day, about mid morning, Dow started on his way South from Jacksonboro. He was again seized as he passed a saloon, but one tried to hurt him. Dow, who was a partial hunchback, was told that they wanted to straighten his back for him. He was placed between two wide boards, sandwich-like, and the men sat upon the top board. After this indignity they let the raging soul go.

Vengeance was yet to be Dow’s. He retreated to the bridge over the Beaver Dam Creek, turned, and faced his tormentors. Affecting a return of his dignity and ecclesiastical manner he dramatically stamped the dust from his feet, and pronounced an anathema upon the town, asking God to destroy it, excepting only the home of Mr. Goodall.

Within a few years every building except one was gone. For more than one hundred years the home of Seaborn Goodall has stood, testamentary, to the truth of Dow’s handbill as he admonished the town, “If a man abides not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers.”

“And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it.”

Brier Creek Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution Sylvania, Georgia

This house was entered on the National Register of Historical Places on October 17, 1977.