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City of Riceboro

Address4614 S. Coastal Highway
Riceboro, Georgia 31323
Phone(912) 884-2986
Fax(912) 884-2988

From the Riceboro website:

The History of Riceboro

By: Julie Browning Martin

Riceboro is the oldest existing town in Liberty County. It was originally known as Gravesend, named after brothers John and William Graves who received a grant of 2,100 acres in 1756 and 1757 along the banks of the North Newport River. The creeks and lowlands made perfect conditions for rice planting, and the river was also important for transportation.

A bridge was built across the river, and the Graves brothers surveyed and sold town lots. This settlement flourished; it was located at what is now the intersection of Highway 17 and Chemtall Road. At some point the town’s name was changed from Gravesend to North Newport, and in 1796 and election was held to determine whether the courthouse should be removed from Sunbury to a more central location in the county. There were 101 votes for the removal and 48 votes against. In 1796 Matthew McAllister gave an area measuring 230’ by 250’ for designated as the site for the courthouse and other public buildings. Because planters shipped large quantities of rice from this port that made the name Riceborough appropriate. Appointed to serve as commissioners of the new town were Thomas Stevens, Daniel Stewart, Joel Walker and Henry Wood.

Riceborough remained the center of political and commercial activity in the county for 40 years. The Riceborough Inn was built to accommodate people who traveled on stagecoaches on the Savannah-Darien Road . In 1828, an English photographer, Capt. Basil Hall, and his wife Margaret were visitors to the Riceborough Inn. Using one of the earliest cameras, he made a sketch of the Inn; when he returned to England, this sketch was copied as a design on fine china. His wife described their stay in her book, The Aristocratic Journey.

There were several well-known plantations in the Riceboro area. Montevideo, a rice plantation owned by the Reverend Charles Colcock Jones, was immortalized in the bookThe Children of Pride. Cedar Hill was the home of General Daniel Stewart, of Revolutionary War fame; Fort Stewart and Stewart County, Georgia were both named in his honor. Woodmanston Plantation, which was located nearby, was settled in l760 by John Eatton LeConte. It became well-known for its gardens, which are now being restored and are open to the public as a historical site.

The county seat was moved from Riceboro to Hinesville in 1837, but the town remained an integral part of the county’s activities. The first place of muster and parade ground of the Liberty Independent Troop was the race track of the Liberty County Jockey Club near Riceboro.

Riceboro had a post office by 1882, and the railroad started operating about 1894. There was a telephone in the railroad depot in 1903, and the town moved from its original site by the river to a location next to the railroad. Charles B. Jones became a merchant in Riceboro in 1905. He served on the Liberty County Board of Commissioners for more than 30 years and owned a general mercantile store, which was 100’ long and 2 stories high. His letterhead claimed “Everything From An Egg To An Automobile”.

Highway 17 was completed in 1927, and the center of business for the town moved yet again, from the railroad tracks to the highway, where it remains today.