Bringing a ghost town back to life

Today, there are only two businesses in the town of Bluffton, GA: a post office and a seasonal peanut elevator. The only thing you can buy in Bluffton is a stamp, and the only thing you can sell is a truckload of peanuts. However, this won’t be the case for long. We’re on a mission to revive our little ghost town, building by building.

The industrialization of agriculture has not been good for the economic well-being of rural America. All across the country, small farming communities like Bluffton have fallen into oblivion as agriculture has become commoditized and centralized. If we can pull this off, Bluffton will be a thriving little town that sunk into oblivion and was returned to being a thriving little town through regenerative agriculture.

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Panoramic view of present day Pine and Church Streets

We are in the midst of reconstructing Bluffton’s 175-year-old general store, last owned by Mr. Herman Bass in the 1970s. This store was a cornerstone of the community back when the town was thriving, but for the past 40 years it sat abandoned, acting as a time capsule for general stores past.

We found a lot of cool slice-of-life artifacts inside the old store: canned goods and soda bottles, tools, and stacks of historical records. In order to work on the foundation of the building, we took up part of the sidewalk that had been poured over 75 years ago. Underneath, we found a single-shot, breech loading 12-gauge shotgun which surely has a fascinating story behind it. Our favorite piece of history is the hand print and signatures of Will’s mother, Eloise, and aunt Allene, in the concrete across the street. They were left when this concrete was poured in the 1930s.

We’ve been busy planning and rebuilding, and we’ll open Bluffton’s general store the weekend of October 15th as we celebrate White Oak Pastures’ 150th year (click here for details!). We’re proud that now that we’ve put the artisanal labor back in agriculture, our little town can again support its own store. Sustainable farming, the same girl that brought Bluffton to the party, is now bringing it back. We’re excited to continue serving our community and to offer an expanded selection for our customers. Y’all come and see us!

Categories: Rural Community | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Bringing a ghost town back to life

  1. Malcolm Newton

    This is so cool. Love what you are doing in SWGA.

    • Angela Huffman

      Thank you so much for your support, Malcolm!

      • Can me and my family come help? We have some experience in agriculture, sustainability is what we strive for. I am Faye kropik on fb or email is my name, no spaces at G mail. We don’t have much else but we are looking for a place to call home and this is our goal. We are Florida currently. Please get to me. I want to see a town come back to life. I want to help.

  2. kirk rouse

    Congratulations! You are doing so much for South Georgia! Thank you!

  3. Tonya

    This is awsome history uncovered. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Heather

    Can we talk about those wide plank wood floors though!!!! LOVE!

    • Angela Huffman

      Thank you – we love them, too! We’re planning on just putting some mineral oil on them and leaving them alone!

  5. Teresa Murphey

    Love that you are doing this! And love the floors and the original shiplap walls! Ya’ll are amazing!

    • Angela Huffman

      Thank you, Teresa! We’re doing our best to preserve the original woodwork. We really appreciate all the history here!

  6. I wish you the very best in this new “adventure”. Wow. What a great idea!

    Hubby and I have often driven through towns that are all but shuttered and thought how neat it would be if someone would make it a destination place for great food. We see a lot of that in Nebraska when we travel through….and it seems to work. So—Good Luck.

    • Angela Huffman

      Thank you for the kind words, Susan! If you’re ever in SW Georgia, please come and see us!

  7. Exciting news! Look forward to visiting!

  8. Carol Bryan

    This is wonderful, Will! Can’t wait to see what you are doing with it. I love old country stores.

    • Angela Huffman

      We look forward to showing you, Carol! Come see us soon.

  9. HI I will try to comment with my fb too

  10. Robert Grier

    Outstanding! , remember buying many a coke for 10 cents and large candy bar for 5 cents, Mr Bass would say drinking too much sugar water was bad for you. Thanks for the good work ,keeping Bluffton alive.

    • Angela Huffman

      Thank you, Robert! Please come and have lunch with us soon, and check out the new store!

  11. Renae Holmes

    We had the pleasure of seeing the store before all the original merchandise was out of it. Then a few months ago as progress was beginning and I can’t wait to see it finished. I know you guys will finish it in a way that still captures the essence of it humble beginnings. WOP always complete projects with its history in mind. It’s places like Bluffton and White Oak Pastures that this world needs more of.

    • Angela Huffman

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Renae. We can’t wait to show you the finished store!

  12. C.F.

    I have always loved antiques and old buildings, when Walter and I married 53 years ago in 1963, we stayed in the first little room of Haisten’s Motel.

    • White Oak Pastures

      That’s really cool! We hope you’ll come and check out the new store this Fall!

  13. Pingback: Top 5 reasons to celebrate our 150th anniversary with us! | White Oak Pastures

  14. Pingback: Look inside our new 19th century general store | White Oak Pastures

  15. Taylor Walker

    My husbands family founded a town in Oregon, it was thriving during the westward expansion but when everyone started flocking towards big cities everyone left, today it’s completely abandon. My husband and I hope to start building it back up in the next 10-20 years, where do we start??

    • White Oak Pastures team

      Hi Taylor,

      Thanks for reading our blog! It is easier said than done, but here in Bluffton we started by creating jobs. Best of luck to you all. Come visit us anytime if you’d like to learn more about our efforts here in SW Georgia.

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