Oconee I AOG-34 - History

Oconee I AOG-34 - History

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Oconee I
(AOG-34: dp. 2,270; 1. 220'6"; b. 37'; dr. 13'1", s. 10 k., cpl. 62; a. 1 3", 2 40mm, 3 20mm; cl Mettawee; T. T1-M-A2)

Oconce (AOG-34), formerly MC Hull 1531, was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract 18 October 1944 by East Coast Shipyard, Inc., Bayonne, New Jersey, Iaunched 19 November 1944; sponsored by Miss Ethel Borst, acquired by the Navy 23 December 1944gand commissioned 12 January 1945, Lt. Joseph T. Collins, lJSCG, in command.

Following shakedown in the Chesapeake Bay, Oconce manned by a Coast Guard crew, sailed to Bermuda and Aruba before transiting the Panama Canal 15 March 1945. Stopping briefly at San Diego, the gasoline tanker proceeded to Pearl Harbor, arriving there 4 May. After a short upkeep period she sailed unescorted to Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, thence on to Ulithi. From mid-June to the end of July she serviced all sizes of ships and craft in the huge anchorage then steamed to Okinawa with her vital cargo. She remained there through the end of the war, serving ships of the mighty U.S. fleet and riding out two treacherous typhoons.

On 12 November Oconce sailed fot San Francisco, stopping at Pearl Harbor before arriving on 28 December. She decommissioned there on 28 March 1946, was struck from the Navy List on 1 May and returned to the Maritime Commission on 1 July. see now flies the Brazilian flag as SS Piratini.


Oconee History Museum is located in Walhalla, SC.

Explore the history of Native Americans, immigration, railroads, New Deal programs, textile mills, agriculture and much more as it relates to Oconee County. The exhibit hall offers a self-guided tour of Oconee’s history. Popular exhibits include the dugout canoes that have been rescued and preserved by the museum, a walk-in Stumphouse Tunnel exhibit, and a Depression-era tenant farmer’s House. The Louise Russell Alexander Children’s Corner is a special part of the museum where children can explore Oconee’s history in a fun environment.


Tuesday through Saturday 11:00am – 5:00pm
Call or contact us for special appointment


FREE! $3 per person donation is suggested.


Ample free parking (including handicap) is available in front of the museum on Brown’s Square.

Spacious parking for buses.


Clean public restrooms are available to guests.

Handicap Accessibility:

Oconee History Museum facilities are handicap accessible.

Directions to 123 Brown’s Square Drive, Walhalla SC:

From Greenville (SC) via I-85 South: Take exit 19-B for US-76 W/ SC-28 W toward Clemson. Continue to Clemson (11 miles). Turn left on SC-28 W/ US-123 S/ US-76 W/ Tiger Boulevard toward Seneca (9 miles). Turn right on SC-28 W toward Walhalla (7.2 miles). SC-28 W becomes Main Street. Turn left onto S. Tugaloo Street, then left onto Brown’s Square Drive.

From Atlanta (GA) via I-85 North: Take exit 1 for SC-11 toward Walhalla. Travel 19.7 miles to intersection of SC-11 and SC-28. Use ramp to merge onto SC-28 W. SC-28 W becomes Main Street. Turn left onto S. Tugaloo Street, then left onto Brown’s Square Drive.

From Asheville (NC) via I-26 East: Take exit 54 for US-25 toward US-176/ NC-225/ Greenville. Continue on US-25 S for 15.7 miles. Exit left onto SC-11. Continue on SC-11 S to SC-183. Take SC-183 to SC-28 (Main Street). Turn right onto Main Street. Turn left onto S. Tugaloo Street, then left onto Brown’s Square Drive.

General Store Museum

The General Store Museum is a branch of Oconee History Museum located in Westminster, SC.

This museum displays a vast collection of original artifacts from the historic England’s General Merchandise store of Westminster and features exhibits on the history of the greater Westminster, SC, area.


Thursday & Friday 11:00am – 4:00pm

Saturday 11:00am – 2:30pm

Call or contact us for special appointment


FREE! $3 per person donation is suggested.


Ample free parking (including handicap) is available along Main Street and in the public parking lot next to the historic train depot across the street.

Parking for buses available in the public parking lot across Main Street.


A clean public restroom is available to guests.

Handicap Accessibility:

General Store Museum facilities are handicap accessible.

Directions to 126 E. Main Street, Westminster SC:

From Greenville (SC) via I-85 South: Take exit 11 for SC-24 toward Westminster. Turn left onto E. Main Street in Westminster. Continue and make slight right at Rite-Aid to stay on E. Main Street. Destination will be on left.

From Atlanta (GA) via I-85 North: Take exit 1 for SC-11 toward Walhalla (10 miles). Exit left onto SC-24 W. Turn right to stay on SC-24 W. Turn left onto E. Main Street in Westminster. Continue and make slight right at Rite-Aid to stay on E. Main Street. Destination will be on left.

From Asheville (NC) via I-26 East: Take exit 54 for US-25 S toward Greenville. Exit left for SC-11 S. Turn right to continue on SC-11/ US-276 N. Continue to intersection of SC-11 and US-123. Exit right onto US-123 toward Westminster. Continue and make slight right at Rite-Aid to stay on E. Main Street. Destination will be on left.

The Oconee Hill Cemetery

Oconee Hill Cemetery is a historic cemetery that was needed when space was no longer available at the existing cemetery. A board of trustees quickly took over the upkeep of the new cemetery and quickly began selling off the new lots. They appointed a Sexton to dig graves and look after the grounds but the position’s only income came from digging graves, but a salary was later set into place after a period with very few new arrivals for the cemetery. The cemetery has seen a lot of construction since its opening including a railroad that was placed right next to it and a bridge that connected the existing land with the new expansion for the cemetery that was purchased. Oconee Hill Cemetery is a historic cemetery that has seen its own share of history since it has opened.

​ Jackson Street Cemetery became overcrowded so in 1854 town wardens began looking for a new cemetery grounds. On March 1, 1855 the committee found a 17 acre lot near Oconee River, and bought it from Pamela A. Hopping for $1,000. A portion of the land was set aside for African Americans in the original charter printed on January 8, 1857 in the Southern Watchmen’s “article Oconee Hill Cemetery. Head and foot stones were allowed for them but the designated space didn’t have an enclosure. As for the Paupers section, the charter claims that the city council will make the necessary payments for their plots. The charter also stated the fees of the Sexton. Digging a new grave cost $5 but removing someone from one grave and moving them to a new one cost $10.

​ The cemetery opened to the public in 1856. The original land consisted of the current West and East Hill portions of the cemetery. Plots at this time were sold at public auction. The land itself was designed from a plan by Dr. James Camak . The plan’s design was based on the Victorian cemetery movement.

Interestingly, there are many graves in the cemetery that were buried before the opening of the cemetery. These graves were moved from the Old Athens Cemetery upon its reduction in size. Old Athens Cemetery was originally around 6 acres in land but is now much less, so many of the graves were moved from their original location to Oconee Hills Cemetery. However, the interesting thing is that some graves actually remain in Old Athens Cemetery, but their headstones or markers were moved to Oconee Hill.

​ In addition, Oconee Hill has always been a cemetery that is extremely inclusive to all races and ethnicities that would want to be buried there, but this isn’t exactly evident from all outward appearances from the Cemetery itself. While African-Americans were allowed to be buried at the Cemetery, unfortunately it was these members of Athens society that were the poorest, and thus they couldn’t afford a lavish headstone or grave marker for their loved ones. Today, much of the African-American section of the cemetery is unmarked and overgrown, and it isn’t exactly evident that bodies are buried there.

The Trustees started employing a Sexton to take care of the grounds in 1857. The Sexton was in charge of all interments. In 1896, there were some complaints about Sexton England. Citizens were upset that he was not having the graves dug in time for interment. The Trustees called a meeting to decide how to prevent other Sextons from not performing the job properly. The Trustees came to conclude, that an election for Sexton would take place every December. Sexton England was to keep his job until December, and come up in the votes with other potential candidates. In the following December, J.C. Mygatt was elected as the new Sexton of Oconee Hill Cemetery. Within a month of the job Mygatt resigned and the board appointed J.H. Bisson. Towards the end of his first year as Sexton, a citizen wrote a letter to the editor of the Athens Banner applauding Bisson for a wonderful job taking care of the cemetery. The citizen also said that the city should start paying the Sexton a salary. At that time, the Sexton was only paid a small amount for digging graves and taking care of a few grave plots. That next year Bisson requested a salary from the city, for he had only made seven dollars in a six months. The Athens Banner stated, “The City Council should grant it without hesitation.”

​ In 1897, the city gave police powers to the sexton, to be able to properly protect the cemetery against vandals. In that same meeting between the city and the Trustees, an ordinance against bathing in the river at the cemetery. Along with being the Sexton Bisson ran a granite plant, which was located at the entrance of the cemetery. To make the appearance of the entrance more attractive, they moved the granite plant in 1906. The fight for the sexton to get a proper salary continued for years. From 1915 to 1917, the Trustees incorporated the cemetery. The legal document stating this would procure the Sexton with a salary.

In 1888, plans were made for the Macon and Covington Railroad to be built through Athens, connecting it with Elberton, Macon, Atlanta and the Georgia, Carolina and Northern Road. It was initially supposed to be finished in July, however controversy occurred when the railroad wanted the right of way through Athens, which would be a costly endeavor. It would also cause the railroad to cut through part of the Oconee Hill cemetery. This threat came at a time when initial building for the road was already underway. A bridge was built across the Oconee river by the factory and the lower edge of the Oconee Hill cemetery was already “disfigured by a steep embankment while the street leading to our city of the dead is rendered impassable by a very deep cut”. Eventually the required money was drummed up, and the Trustees presented the right of way agreement to the Mayor and City Council. The issue was finally settled and the road was built, blocking the entrance and destroying parts of the African American burial grounds. The next railroad related controversy was over how the building of the road blocked the entrance to the cemetery, and the city compelled the Covington and Macon Railroad Company to build a wooden bridge on Cemetery street, which was completed in 1891 . The land around the tracks was bought in 1930 and 1939 by the cemetery in attempts to beauty the cemetery. The wooden bridge remained until the 1960s, when a new road was built from East Campus Drive, connecting to the entrance of the cemetery. Before becoming non-operational, the railroad was owned by the Central of Georgia, one of the largest rail companies in the state.

​ The Oconee Hill Cemetery was originally run by the city but it was later run by a board of trustees who were responsible for its care and upkeep independent from the city. These trustees were Frederick W. Lucas, Henry Hull, Thomas R. R. Cobb, Albin P. Dearing, and Peyton F. Moore. They also appointed a Sexton to dig graves and to maintain upkeep on the grounds. Originally his only payment came from digging new graves and moving people from one grave to another. After a six month period where only fifteen people were buried in the cemetery, a petition was made by the Sexton to give him a small salary. He claimed “there is no living in Athens in burying the dead” in the article “A Worthy Petition” published in Athens Daily Banner in the June 9, 1898 edition.

​ The cemetery started to fill up in the 1890s to the point where expansion became necessary. In 1897, a recommendation was made by the trustees of Oconee Hill Cemetery to the city to purchase additional land for the cemetery. According to the Weekly Banner’s article “Will Discuss It” one of the trustees, Mr. Lucas, made their case by claiming that there was no ideal looking plot left to sell and more land was necessary. Judge Cobb, another trustee, claimed that the city should purchase the land because even though the land is supposed to cared for by the trustees, it still belonged to the city. The 25 acres of land in question, across the river by the cemetery, belonged to a Mr. Thomas Balley and they estimated the value of the land to be around a thousand dollars. There would also be the cost of the bridge that would have to be built to gain access to the land, and that was estimated to cost around $1,600, which was not even close to the actual cost of building the bridge. They also made two additional requests at the meeting, the first of which was that it be illegal to bath in the river. The second was to give the sexton police power over the cemetery. Both the sexton’s power and the river ordnance were granted by the council, as well as the purchase of land, but the bridge had to be at least partly paid by the trustees of the cemetery.

​ The bridge was built in the year 1899 along with the expansion that was added on to the cemetery. According to the Weekly Banner’s article “The New Bridge Over the Oconee” the founders made a deal with the Desmoines , Iowa Company to have the bridge constructed by the 18 th of July 1899. The actual cost of this bridge was about $2,600, the trustees paid $1,000 of it and the city paid the remaining $1,600. Construction in the cemetery didn’t stop with the completion of the bridge though. After it was finished, the new 25 acres that were added to the cemetery had to have walks made and space cleared for future plots, but the lots were being sold as soon as the bridge was completed.

​ ​ Oconee Hill Cemetery has been around for about sixty years. It grown in size significantly since its original opening in 1856, holding thousands of people, not all of whom have grave markers, and still sells plots even today. It has seen several moments of construction ranging from a bridge during its expansion to a railroad that ran right next to it. Oconee Hill Cemetery holds historic people, historic monuments, and has been present for its fair share history since its existence.


1956 Colham Ferry Elementary was built in 1956 on the site of it&rsquos predecessor the Rosenwald School. The school was named for E. D. Stroud who was an educator for over fifty years and was opened to serve African American students in grades 1-12. The school&rsquos first principal was Marvin Billups who served for two years.

1958 Theodore Dyson served as principal for seven years.

1965 Principal Lawrence M. Scotland served eighteen years and participated in some of the most significant educational changes in Oconee County, including integration of public schools.

1967 Oconee County integrated it&rsquos public schools.

1968 The school was renamed Oconee County Intermediate School. The school served students in grades 5-7.

1980 Due to county growth, 8th grade was added to Oconee County Intermediate.

1983 Principal Dr. Austine Wallis served for six years.

1988 Fifth grade was moved to Oconee County Elementary School leaving the school with grades 6-8.

1989 Principal Annette Short served for three years.

1992 Principal Bill Brooks served four years. The school served all 4-5th grade students in Oconee County.

1996-2007 Due to county growth, the school was renovated and reopened as Colham Ferry Elementary School serving students in grades K-5. Beginning in 1996 Martha Brodrick served eleven years as principal.

2008-2010 Jackie Carson served three years as principal.

2010-2016 Keith Carter served six years as principal.

2016-Present Tony McCullers serves as the current principal of Colham Ferry Elementary School.

  • Programs and Guided Tours: Park programs are offered throughout the year, including living history weekends that are held at various times. Please check our programs and events listings for more information.

Oconee Station is also a DiscoverCarolina Site, which provides curriculum-based social studies programs for South Carolina school children.

The park contains two structures: Oconee Station, a stone blockhouse used as an outpost by the SC State Militia from about 1792 to 1799, and the William Richards House, named for the Irish immigrant who built it in 1805.

The stone building circa 1792 was built by state militia to protect against Indian raids. It is the only remaining portion of the fort we called Oconee Station. Later it was converted to a kitchen to serve the William Richards house.

The William Richards House was a residence built in 1805 until his death in 1809. The structure remained a home into the 1960s, and a summer home into the 1970s.


Use #SCStateParks and your content could be featured here! You can also upload your photos for us to use across South Carolina State Parks' Marketing by using the Public Uploader and agreeing to the Terms & Conditions.


Oconee Street UMC has had an interesting and vital ministry in the Athens community since its beginning in 1871 with 16 members to the present membership of just over 150.

In its early years, a Sunday School class was held in the afternoon and the building was then located on Oconee St. near Broad St. on the other side of the Oconee River.

In 1882 John Wesley Brown organized a Sunday school on the east side of the Oconee River, and this class soon became associated with the Oconee Street church, as was another Sunday school class, located in the Baldwin Street community. In a special meeting of its quarterly conference, December 8, 1902, the three Sunday school classes were consolidated.

In 1903, during the ministry of the Rev. M. H. Cakes, the old church building was moved to its present location at the corner of Oconee and Poplar Streets, and a parsonage home across from the church was purchased to house the pastor and family.

Beginning in 1920, and continuing until the present, many improvements have been made to the buildings and grounds. During the summer of 1910, when the Rev. A. F. Nunn was the pastor, the Stone-Nicholson Sunday school rooms were built into the balcony section of the church sanctuary.

In March, 1968, during the pastorate of Rev. C. L. Harris, and under the leadership of Harry Kirk, building chairperson, a much needed new educational building was added, consisting of nine classrooms, nursery, church office and pastor’s study, music room, fellowship hall and restrooms.

In 1975 the church approved a plan for upgrading and remodeling the church and in 1979 completed the renovation of the sanctuary.

In 1980, Oconee Street welcomed the Rev. Carolyn Morris as pastor, making it the first church in the Athens-Elberton District to receive a woman as pastor.

In 1989, Oconee Street affirmed its commitment to mission by joining with Athens Urban Ministry to open the city’s first noon kitchen, Our Daily Bread, under the direction of Rev. Ted Staton, who served as both pastor of Oconee Street UMC and director of Our Daily Bread.

The Rev. Lisa Caine became pastor in 2001. The church’s commitment to mission is demonstrated in many other ways both to the community and the world at large. In 2004 the church completed the requirements to become a Church of Excellence in Outreach in the North Georgia Annual Conference.

On April 15, 2013, a fire destroyed the 110-year old sanctuary and
severely damaged the education building. After a brief stint at Young Harris United Methodist Church, the congregation held services in the chapel of Tuckston United Methodist Church.

One year after the fire, the congregation returned to its location, holding services in the newly-renovated education building.

A new worship building and sanctuary was completed in summer 2015, and the newly-constructed church was dedicated on Aug. 30, 2015. After 15 years of service, Caine retired in June 2016.

Over the past few years, the Oconee Street UMC has been influential on issues of racial justice, immigration and LGBTQ+ equality. The Rev. Laura Patterson was named pastor in July 2020.

How do I Visit an Inmate in Oconee County Jail?

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for supervising the Oconee County jail. Friends and family can visit an inmate housed in the Oconee County Detention Center. All visits are on-site at the Oconee Detention Center situated in:

1110 Experiment Station Road
Box 563
Watkinsville, GA 30677

The duration for each visit is between 15 to 30 minutes. The facility permits for visitors for an inmate at a time. Visitors will need to contact (706) 769-3930 for information about the jail rules and how to schedule a visit.

Oconee Town

Oconee, also spelled "Aconnee," was one of the Cherokee "Lower Towns" in what is now S.C. at the base of Oconee Mountain and on the main trading path between the British and Cherokees, it was abandoned in 1752. Oconee Station was built in 1792 as an outpost where the path crossed the Cherokee boundary. This county, created from Pickens District in 1868, was named for Oconee Town.

Erected 2006 by The Oconee Arts and Historical Commission and the South Carolina Heritage Corridor. (Marker Number 37-12.)

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era &bull Native Americans &bull Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1752.

Location. 34° 50.428′ N, 83° 3.976′ W. Marker is in Walhalla, South Carolina, in Oconee County. Marker is on Oconee Station Road. Marker is on the grounds of the Oconee Station State Historic Site, near the ranger's station. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 Oconee Station Road, Walhalla SC 29691, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Oconee Station / Oconee County (approx. 0.4 miles away) The Oconee Waterwheel (approx. 2.7 miles away) Cherokee Boundary (1777) (approx. 2.8 miles away) Oconee State Park (approx. 2.8

miles away) Civilian Conservation Corps Monument (approx. 2.8 miles away) The Civilian Conservation Corps (approx. 2.8 miles away) Tamassee Town (approx. 3.1 miles away) Issaqueena Falls (approx. 3.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Walhalla.

Also see . . . Oconee Station and Richards House. Oconee Station was erected before 1760 to afford the few settlers nearby a measure of protection against numerous Cherokee Indians in the area. (Submitted on November 9, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)

Additional commentary.
1. South Carolina's Oconee Station State Historic Site
This 210-acre park, on Oconee Creek in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, contains two historic structures: a stone blockhouse (fort) known as Oconee Station and a two-story brick residence known as the William Richards House.

The blockhouse was constructed around 1792 as one of a chain of such buildings established during a period of tension between white settlers and the Indians. Oconee Station was the last blockhouse to be decommissioned in the state. Troops were removed

The brick house at Oconee Station, which sits near the blockhouse,was built in 1805 by William Richards, a native of Ireland. Richards established a successful trading post at Oconee Station. After the death of William Richards, along with the western movement of the frontier, Oconee Station's importance began to decline. The site is listed on the National Historic Register.

In addition to the structures, the park includes a large fishing pond and a two-mile hiking trail which ends at Station Cove Falls, a 60-foot waterfall in the Sumter National Forest. (Source Brochure available at the site.)


Along the shores of Lake Oconee is an opportunity to escape from the noise of Georgia's capital city. At The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, resort guests are invited into a world of their own where deadlines are replaced by tee times and spa appointments, meals feature ingredients from local farmers, family bonding could be a hotel scavenger hunt or fireworks show, and a romantic, rustic barn can be the backdrop to your wedding day.

To receive email updates in premium offers, news and events for The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, please register here.


The resort’s complete renovation infuses lake-inspired luxury into guestrooms, Cottages and the Lake House and includes a new event space.


Tee off along championship courses or reserve a private lesson with the pros at The Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee.


Escape to the lake to experience transformed guestrooms, luxurious Spa treatments and discover an array of culinary delights.

New book details nature and history along the Oconee River corridor

At the start of the 19th century, a commission comprised of state officials visited Athens mill owner Daniel Easley along the North Oconee River as they scouted for a place to establish the University of Georgia.

They met at a spot called Cedar Shoals, which today is behind the School of Social Work, and were impressed with the landscape and the river’s abundance of shad.

“The story goes that they dined on shad. The shad were spawning and coming up river,” said Joe Cook, a Rome resident who is quickly becoming a hands-on expert of Georgia’s river systems.

“The group thought this would be a great site for a university because the students would have an abundant supply of fish they could eat. Shad, at the time, was an important food,” Cook said.

This story is included in Cook’s newest book on Georgia’s rivers — “The Oconee River Users Guide.” Cook, who coordinates the Georgia River Network’s annual Paddle Georgia event, takes the reader on a trip along more than 200 miles of the Oconee River to where it joins the Ocmulgee River and forms the Altamaha River.

The book, released in April by the UGA Press, is Cook’s fifth river guide. He is working on one now about the Ocmulgee River.

Cook will have his first book signing in Athens at 7 p.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble on Atlanta Highway.

Cook noted in the guide that today the shad can no longer make their way up river to Athens. Dams built along the river have made that impossible.

One of the larger dams in the Athens area is the Barnett Shoals Dam, located in Oconee County. Before the dam was built that area was known as Big Shoals.

“It was the biggest shoals on the river. You couldn’t get through it with a boat,” Cook said. “If that dam was removed, you would have an incredible water fall or white water run that would rival what they have in Columbus after taking out dams there,” he said. “You could create there at Barnett Shoals something really special for a paddling destination.”

Removing a dam takes time, but UGA supervised the removal last year of the Whitehall Dam along the Middle Oconee.

During the early 1900s, silt had caused river flooding onto farmland, so in places the river was dredged and straightened, Cook said.

“There is a stretch of about 2 to 3 miles in the Middle Oconee (in Jackson County) that runs straight as an arrow. No bends at all,” he said.

The book provides information on numerous historical sites, many that have disappeared over time, and natural formations.

There is Yamacutah, a legendary Indian site and the 1897 murder site of M.C. Hunt, both in Jackson County. Effie’s Bridge, named after Athens most famous prostitute, once crossed the North Oconee in Athens. Further south is the Iron Horse sculpture and the former Watson Springs Hotel site, both in Greene County.

When the river flows beyond Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair, the terrain changes and trees go from oaks to cypress. And landmarks follow this route including another murder site at what is called Wring Jaw Bluff near Wrightsville.

“My hope is that its more than a recreational guide, but from beginning to end you will gain an understanding of our history, where we came from and how we got to where we are today,” said the chronicler of Georgia’s rivers.

Watch the video: The Battle of Oconee - The fight for Toxaway Valley (May 2022).