Article Courtesy of City of Pooler
In December 1864, as William Sherman moved in on Savannah, he found that even though a scant ten miles away, he still has “miles and miles to go before he sleeps, for he had promises to keep.” You see, General Sherman promised to “give Savannah to President Lincoln for a Christmas present,” and Christmas was fast approaching. Thus it was that group of harassed Yankees that pitched a camp astride the Central of Georgia Railway at Pooler Station that cold December 9, 1864. Sherman stepped out of his headquarters tent, 300 yards west of the station and peered down the long, straight stretch of rails into the very heart of this seaside city of Savannah, which he was besieging. There were perhaps less than 200 war-wearied souls in this lonely, impoverished community of Pooler and neither they nor the General could envision the Pooler that is in existence today.
Pooler was named after Robert William Pooler in 1838. Mr. Pooler was a very civic-minded resident of Savannah and worked for the Central of Georgia Railroad. Mr. William W. Gordon, President of the Central of Georgia, named the first station west of Savannah after this hard working young man of whom he was very proud. Mr. Pooler had worked long and hard to establish a “feasibility study” of the venture in the towns and counties through which a proposed railroad would extend. Mr. Gordon and Mr. Pooler were both graduate law and engineering students, both born the same year, 1796, and each took a prominent part in the civic and military affairs of Savannah. Mr. Pooler never lived in the community named after him, and died on Christmas Day, 1853, at his residence on Bull and Liberty Streets in Savannah, and was buried in Colonial Cemetery, but later his body was interred in Laurel Grove Cemetery.
For several decades, this young community, and in fact all of Georgia, was dazed and stunned by the shock of the Civil War. Gradually, the South caught its breath in a new birth. About 1883, Mr. Ben Rothwell, bought several hundred acres in the community pioneered in a new method of community development by giving free lots to builders of permanent homes. Dan Newton built the first Baptist Church in Pooler in what is now known as Gleason Park. He also built a Presbyterian Church, which survived only a few years, and gave lumber for Pooler’s First Methodist Church. A sawmill was built to supply lumber to homebuilders and the embryonic community began to take shape. The brickyard supplied other needed materials and dairies soon found a ready market. Remains of the brickyard can be found near the railroad tracks just south of what is now I-95.
Near the turn of the century, Dr. William Blakely served the community as a real “country doctor.” He might have been seen during the winter knocking on doors, advising mothers to hang a bag of asafetida around the children’s necks to ward of the croup, whooping cough, etc.. He was a beloved character and a line of children followed his mule-drawn wagon as it carried his body to the cemetery. Dr. Snow and Dr. Weaver served Pooler a half-century ago. Mr. Joe Heidt operated a soda fountain and a drug store in the early years of the century in a building on the main street. The Pooler Rifle Club was one of the first organizations of the town, being a step for protection, as there was no police patrol here. It later became a Sportsman Club.
In 1907, Pooler was incorporated. Mr. H.G. Beaufort was the first mayor. A town hall was erected in 1923 in order to have a permanent place to transact municipal business. One of the first women to vote in the State of Georgia was Mrs. Gary Goggins, who was also the only woman alderman for the Town of Pooler in the early 1900’s.
The town grew by leaps and bounds with the establishment of banks, automobile service stations and repair shops, restaurants, and with the opening of Interstate 95, many more shops and industries near and in the fair City of Pooler. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum opened in 1996, bringing the veterans of the Eighth Air Force back “home.”