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Exploring the Back Roads of Southwest Georgia- How a Town Got Its Name [Video]

| Updated Jun 16, 2023

Every town has a story, and exploring the back roads is the best way to hear them.

We spent quite a bit of time exploring the back roads down South, especially in Southwestern Georgia.

Learning more about these little towns on the back roads help pass the time and open our eyes to the history around us.

How the Towns Got Their Names

Mike and Jen in florida
A day in the life.

As we drove the two-lane state roads in our RV, we couldn't help but notice the names of some of the towns and communities we passed through in Southwestern Georgia. 

So, we decided to spend a few minutes trying to learn a little bit about those places. Using the Internet as I drive, Jennifer would look up the communities online just to get a feel for each town. Often, we wondered how they got their names.

Usually, we'd find the small downtowns and at least drive through them, taking photos, reading any historic markers, just trying to get a feel for what life is like there. 

Towns with Hope in their Name

little hope
All that's left is a sign.

Some places, like the sign on Highway 91 in the middle of nowhere for a community called Little Hope, were a mystery. We never discovered why such a pessimistic name was chosen. Did something bad happen there? Or did “Little” mean “small,” as if the place was named in honor of a larger place called “Hope.” Whatever, there's nothing there but the sign now.

Not far away, we found a community called “Hopeful” and that place we learned was named for the “hopeful attitude” of its early settlers. Like many of the towns, tough times were evident in closed and abandoned businesses.

But hope springs eternal in Hopeful as there we found the Hopeful Baptist Church celebrating its 175th anniversary. And, just down the road, a friendly farmer named Antonio and his family planting row upon row of baby lemon trees.

A Town Called Donalsonville

In a town called Donalsonville, we learned how the devastation of Hurricane Michael last year (at this writing) was still very much evident, even though Donalsonville is almost 100 miles inland from where Michael came ashore along the Gulf shore.

Majestic pecan trees, over 100 years old, lay uprooted in a tangle of roots and limbs along the highway.

In town, the Lions Club hall, once a central gathering place for the town, is but a shell of itself after having the roof literally peeled away like a sardine tin. The town is just now getting back to normal.

A Town Called Colquit

In Colquit, we appreciated the way the downtown is laid out in a perfect square around a beautiful courthouse named after a judge who, in the mid 1800's, championed for married women to have property rights.

A Video of our Explorations

Anyway, we thought you might like seeing a bit of our explorations. Our hope is that you, too, will enjoy exploring the back roads and learn a bit about the story of the places you travel through. Here's a helpful article on exploring the back roads: How to Get There Without Using the Interstate.

Every town has a story. Discovering those stories is another reason why we love the RV Lifestyle.

What have you learned exploring the back roads? Please share in the comments!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-08-13

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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