WTXL Road Trip: A History of Hahira

Posted at 6:47 PM, Jul 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-07 05:36:38-04

HAHIRA, Ga. (WTXL) - With less than 4,000 residents, the small city of Hahira has been making big strides in Southern Georgia since 1891. 

Jeanette Clanton, one of the oldest residents of the area, is the widow of Hahira's first City Manager, explains how the town got it's start, "What brought Hahira to life is the tobacco market because the soil here was very good for tobacco and that’s how we became 1 of the largest, if not the largest tobacco markets in the state. We had the barns, the people in the fields and then we went to machines and now its just packed by hand."

Where the town was placed was actually because of the railroad though. Mrs. Clanton says, "When the railroad came through, the post office was on Union Road, but when the railroad came here we had a cotton gin and a huge sawmill." 
The horn of the freight train isn't the only sound common to Hahira. If you listen closely you can also hear the hum of the honey bees. When settlers first arrived in Hahira there weren't any bees to help pollinate the crops. So the black bee was brought from Germany and the yellow bee from Italy.
Clanton says that the Garnett Puett bee company is at the center of the industry in the area, "Garnett Puett moved here and started the bee business. I remember when I was 12 the big trucks would come from the north and fill up with bees. They put the hives out. The bees raise and make the honey. They sell the bees...without the bees there wouldn't bee any vegetables."
In its early years, Hahira was self-sufficient. It had its own movie theater, train depot, postal office and hospital. Now those buildings are just testaments to the city's once bustling center. Mrs. Clanton recalls those times, "There were 5 grocery stores on the East side of the railroad and 3 on the West side of the railroad. We had a department store, we had a 5&10, we had a big ice house, funeral homes, restaurants..."
The origin of the name Hahira still remains a mystery. Some say it's the name of an African village, others the name of an African goddess. But one thing every Hahira can agree on is that the name represents community. 
"I've been to Ireland, Scotland, England. I"ve been on the West Coast..Seattle and places like that... But nothing compares to Hahira," says Clanton.