The Curse of Lorenzo Dow

Jacksonborough GA in the 19th century was a rough place known for hard drinking and brawling. The oft repeated saying from George White’s 1849 book Statistics of the State of Georgia was, “The place had formerly a very bad character. It was reported, that in the mornings after drunken frolics and fights, you could see children picking up eyeballs in tea saucers. “Dow’s fire and brimstone sermon at the Methodist Church that night was interrupted by a group that had gathered to harass the evangelist. The service was broken up by the group of “rowdies.” Undaunted, Dow followed the group that harassed him as they went into a whiskey store. He was covered with the stink of rotten eggs, but unbowed. Tradition has it that the fiery preacher snatched up an iron tool and broke open a barrel of whiskey, dumping its contents across the floor. The crowd would have seriously injured or killed Dow if fellow Methodist and Mason Seaborn Goodall had not rescued him, taking Dow home for the night.

The crowd was not appeased and a mob gathered at the Goodall home the following day with a supply of eggs and tomatoes. Dow walked out of town under a barrage of fruit and eggs, stopping at the Beaver Dam Creek Bridge. Dow quite literally shook the dust of Jacksonborough off his feet as the disciples of Jesus were instructed to do in the New Testament. As he did so he cursed all of Jacksonborough save the Goodall home.

Thirty years later, all that was left of the town was the Goodall’s home and the story of the curse. The Goodall home had fallen into disrepair by the mid-1960s when the DAR  raised $40,000 and renovated it. Today the old Goodall home still stands in good repair along an otherwise abandoned dirt road while all other signs of the once bustling town are long gone.

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17 thoughts on “The Curse of Lorenzo Dow

  1. Jerry says:

    Hey,

    Read with interest your blog on Jacksonborough, GA. Doing a bit of research- can you tell me how it disappeared? Know the story of Lorenzo Dow- but heard that after he left the bridge,it began to rain and the town flooded, except Goodall house.

    Any help with the truth?

    Jerry

  2. I am 80 years of age and have been researching the saga of Lorenzo Dow since my days in college majoring in Journalism in 1950. Am still researching. My father grew up nearby and instilled in me a “fire in my bones” to know more about this American genius. Am preparing a manuscript for publication. Have enough material for two books. Finding time is the hard part. Would be glad to answer any questions you may have. I stumbled on this site in searching through the ruins of Greensburg, Kansas for any footprint of the real Lorenzo Dow, my namesake. FYI, Jacksonboro (aka Jacksonsborough) was not the only city cursed. I have documented two and maybe three additional towns cursed by Dow. I have spent months searching through scant information about the most damaging earthquake in US History, New Madrid, MO. I can put him there after the fact. I know that he had contacts there. I know who they were. He cursed a town in Alabama as well as Ohio. I am a Baptist pastor (retired) who wants to know more and more about this Man of God who had a straight line to heaven. God has seen fit to endow me with many of these powers, enough to have a manuscript almost complete on spiritual power. What do you know? What do you want to know. Success at reaching me will be through my e-mail. I very rarely visit my Blog.Search for the truth. You WILL find it.

  3. katknit says:

    Dear Mr Mobley,
    Thanks for your comment and the information. The first LD was born in the town where I live.
    Linda

  4. Mr. Mobley, I would be interested to correspond with you about your book project. I was wondering if there is a book about Lorenzo Dow other than the one(s) that he wrote himself. If I read your entry correctly, I would say that I suppose Greensburg Kansas was not yet settled during the life of the original Lorenzo Dow, as he died in 1834… Was western Kansas being settled that early? Gee, maybe it was…? Also, I have some Tennessee History Quarterlies that may contain info on the New Madrid earthquakes. Would this interest you?
    Let me know — Dana Lowe

  5. Kelly Newton says:

    The story of Lorenzo Dow and the town of Jacksonborough has never been proven to my knowledge. I am native to Screven County Georgia. The legend of Reverend Dow is amazing to say the very least. The publisher of ‘Screven County History’ stated that Dow’s journals did not mention Jacksonborough, however he did travel from Savannah to Augusta by foot, which at the time, Jacksonborough was on the best path for that trip.

    Jacksonborough disappeared alright. Several years after Dow’s legendary visit, several pro rail road folks united against the anti rail road folks and managed to convince the powers to relocate the county seat. A location that was indeed more geographically center was found about six miles southwest of Jacksonborough. The town of Sylvania was founded in 1847. I am sure that over the next few years, the pro rail road folks moved from Jacksonborough to Sylvania, most likely leaving many ‘ruffians’ and the like behind. Due to the lack of unity, and civic minded folks, Jacksonborough slowly died.

    When one states that Jacksonborough was a thriving community…..you have to put that into proper prospective. There were approximately 3925 people in the entire county in 1820. That includes children and slaves. There were approximately 1950 slaves. That leaves 1975. There was approximately 750 square miles in the county in 1820, so that means that average 2.63 people per square mile. Jacksonborough was roughly 1/2 mile square. That said, towns usually were more dense than rural areas, so let’s say that there were 50 times the people in Jacksonborough as were in the county. That brings us to 50×2.63= 131.5 people. Since it was only 1/2 mile square; divide by 2. That leaves 65.75 people in Jacksonborough. If the average family was 4 people(which I am sure was more than 4), then that leaves 16.44 households.

    There was a meeting house which probably served as the church in the community,(the Methodist Church was built after Dow’s visit) a tavern of sorts, and possibly a general store. My guess is that there was a jail with no more than 1 8×8 cell and a municiple building of some kind. Jacksonborough had 40 lots in all with 4 being reserved for public buildings. If the meeting house, store, and tavern occupied 3 lots, that left 33 lots for homes. Judging from old deeds, all of the lots were not sold before 1847. From here I will venture to say that there were 20 households in Jacksonborough at the time of Dow’s visit. I am sure that people came quite a ways to hear the famous preacher, however the county is large and the 20 miles from furthest point to Jacksonborough would have taken a full day. With that in mind, there were probably less than 125 people in town that day, including children. Money being as scarce as it was then,(in this area) 125 people spending 5 cents each, only amounted to about $6.25. That $6.25 was spread among the tavern and the store. In conclusion; to say that Jacksonborough was thriving……maybe so… by rural town standards. The only thing that the town had in it’s favor, were determined people, and the ‘upper road’ between Savannah and Augusta.

  6. Randy Sparks says:

    Dear Rev. Mobley,
    I am working on a biography of Lorenzo Dow and would be interested in hearing more about your work.

  7. Sir Nicolas J. Bertolero says:

    Hello Rev. Mobley,

    I would like to know more about Lorenzo Dow. My ancestor Lorenzo Dow Chamberlain was named after him.

    Thanks so much and God bless!

    • Jody says:

      I just started researching my family history. My great great grandfather on my mother’s side was Lorenzo Dow Chamberlin (spelled this way on his head stone)/Chamberlain, Jr whom moved to Lebanon, Oregon.. where he is buried. Born in 1851, died in 1919. Married to Ida Chamberlin 1856-1936 (shares head stone). His son, George Eugene Chamberlin (Nov. 14, 1879-Ap 20, 1952) is my great grandfather. George’s only daughter, Doris Adabelle Chamberlin Peaslee, is my grandmother. Doris’ only daughter, Suzanne Rae Peaslee McMillen is my mother. I also grew up in the Lebanon, Oregon area and have been to his grave site. Any information on this family would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  8. Mack R. Cain says:

    Rev. Mobley,
    I am also from Screven County and did my Senior Thesis on the Goodall/Dell house in 1975 for the school of envirnmental design at UGA. There is a paper copy at the Screven Jenkins library. It has documents collected from J H Reddick and CD hollingsworth.
    I learned a number of things in my research.
    One interesting fact is that there is a traveling minister buried in the front yard of the Goodall House. He died while staying with the Goodalls.
    If you are interested I will send you a copy of the research.

    Mack R. Cain RLA

  9. Hello Rev’d Mobley.
    My connection with Lorenzo is through my great, great, great grandfather, Samuel Barber. Sam’s father, Francis Barber, is one of the ‘100 Great Black Britons’ and was adopted by the great Dr Samuel Johnson in London in 1752. Sam had a good education for the son of a former slave from Jamaica. He settled in my home town of Stoke-on-Trent, England in the early 19th Century, lived a wild life together with William Clowes, but in 1805 both came under tremendous conviction of sin and were born again of the Spirit of God on January 20th 1805. Together with Hugh Bourne they laboured in the Methodist connexion, seeing souls saved but being ostracised because of their enthusiasm for the Camp Meetings which Hugh Bourne and Lorenzo Dow had begun to hold in mainly the Stoke-on-Trent area. This birthed the ‘Primitive Methodist Church’. ‘Black Sam Barber’ as he was known, became a stalwart in this revival movement and would have met Lorenzo (whom I admire greatly!) in this wonderful work. I have traced my family tree directly down from Sam and although I am seeing souls saved today it is not in the same number as in Sam and Lorenzo’s day. I have written a book called ‘Slaves, Sinners and Saints’ which outlines some of Lorenzo’s activity during that exciting time. I have read most of his writings, but am always eager to find out more about Lorenzo.
    Every blessing,
    Cedric Barber
    England

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