The Curse of Lorenzo Dow

The curse of an angry minister lead to the demsise of an entire town- and became one of Georgia’s most famous stories.

Jacksonborough (later renamed Jacksonboro), Georiga replaced the town of Rocky Ford as the seat of Screven County in 1797 when Solomon and Mary Gross donated 50 acres of their property for the cause. Named for the Governor of Georgia, General James Jackson, Jacksonboro was a rough town with a terrible reputaton. Saloons outnumbered all other businesses combined. Fighting and drinking were the local pasttime. In 1849, George White wrote in Statistics of the State of Georgia that,  “in the mornings after drunken frolics and fights you could see the local children picking up eyeballs in tea saucers”. In other words, Jacksonboro needed redemption.

Enter Lorenzo Dow (Oct. 16, 1777-Feb. 2 ,1834), also known as “Crazy Dow”. Originally from Connecticut, the odd little man with long hair and hunched back was a traveling Methodist Minister of the fire and brimstone persuasion. As further evidence of his strangeness, it can be noted that Dow had buried his first wife, Peggy, not in a coffin, but standing straight up in the grave wrapped in layers of woolen cloth. He felt this would help her get to heaven faster. (Her epitaph reads, “Peggy Dow: Shared Vissitudes of Lorenzo”.) Lorenzo Dow was known for preaching against the evils of slavery and drunkenness. Jacksonboro had it’s share of both.

Upon his entrace to the wild town of Jacksonboro (in 1820 or 1821, depending on the source), Dow passed out handbills announcing his preaching that night at the local Methodist church. The handbills were passed around in the bars and saloons, whose barkeeps and patrons were not impressed. They began making plans…

While Dow made ready for his evening preaching at the home of fellow Methodist and Mason Seaborn Goodall, the town ruffians made ready for Dow. The ringing of the church bell called the good citizens  of Jacksonboro (few that there were) to the meeting. It also signalled to the hooligans that the time was right.

As Dow preached his sermon, a rowdy crowd gathered outside and began yelling, throwing rocks and bricks through the chuch windows, and shooting pistols into the air. After his sermon, an angry Dow followed the crowd into a local saloon where he grabbed an iron tool and split open a barrel of whisky. The crowd stared at the amber liquid quickly covering the floor, then immediately began to beat the daylights out of Dow. Luckily, Seaborn Goodall entered the saloon, seized Dow, and took him quickly to the safety of his home.

The next morning, Lorenzo Dow left the town of Jacksonboro crying.”Repent, Brethren, Repent!” at the top of his lungs. An incensed crowd threw tomatoes and rotten eggs at the preacher, who according to some sources, broke open another barrel of whisky. When he reached the bridge at Beaver Dam Creek, Dow removed his shoes and shook the dust of Jacksonboro off his feet. He then placed a curse upon the town, claiming that God would surely bring his vengeance upon the place the same as He had done for Sodom and Gommorah. The crowd laughed in his face.

A short time later, however, the good citizens of Jacksonboro realized that Lorenzo Dow’s curse was no joke. Windstorms came up suddenly, blowing roofs off many local buildings. Others were destroyed by mysterious fires. Beaver Dam Creek, always docile, suddenly became prone to flash floods that sept away entire houses. Slowly, the town of Jacksonboro began to disappear, with the exception of one home: that of Seaborn Goodall. Even when General Sherman passed thorough the town on his famous March to the Sea, Seaborn Goodall’s house was spared. It is said that Sherman camped in the home’s front yard.

On October 28, 1949, the last citizen of Jacksonboro, Georgia passed away. “Uncle Richard” Bryant , age 105, had been born into slavery in 1844. He remembers the last white citizens of Jacksonboro giving up and leaving for Sylvania (the new county seat) when he was around three years old. He spent his life in Jacksonboro, and his death brought an end to the curse of Lorenzo Dow. Jacksonboro was gone.

Seaborn Goodall’s home, now known as the Dell-Goodall house, still stands to this very day. It is located off Highway 301 at the intersection of SR24. Even when left in disrepair for years, the house stood intact. It was later restored by the Brier Creek DAR. The house is open for tours on the first Saturday of every month April- November.

Was there really a curse of Lorenzo Dow? He made no mention of the town in his writings. However, historians feel certain that he did visit the town. After 1821, quite a few children born in the area were named Lorenzo. Although some scoff at the story as merely folklore, others point out that many business have tried to establish themselves in the town since the curse, but none have survived. The lone standing structure remains the home of Seaborn Goodall.

Matthew 10 13:15 

13“If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.14“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15“Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

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