Some say the name Hahira (pronounced hay-Hi-ra) was created by Berry Folsom, Hahira's first postmaster, but overall the origin of the name remains a mystery. Folklore is that Mr. Folsom took the name from the Bible. In Exodus Chapter 14 Verse 2, it is recorded the children of Israel camped at Pi-Hahiroth between Migdol and the Red sea, opposite Baal Zephon. Verse 9 states the Egyptians overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi-Hahiroth before Baal Zephon. Others say there was an Indian named "Hira" who would stop near the railroad tracks near present day Hahira, to rest and watch the iron horse go by. When folks passed they would wave their hands and say, "Hey, Hira". We will let you choose the version you like best.
1891 - 1991
The town of Hahira received its Charter incorporating the community on October 2, 1891. The first Mayor, Henry Briggs Lawson, was elected in November 1891 and served until 1907. By 1891, there were a few stores which had been started when people began moving into the area in the mid 1880's. A bank was opened in 1904 and a newspaper in 1906. Until 1904, there had been only one doctor who practiced in the 1890's.
Being a rural area, most people grew their own vegetables, had hogs for meat and always had a milk cow. There was very little money among the people, except for a very few large farmers. The main crop was cotton and remained so until around 1920 when the Boll Weevil ruined their main cash crop. The farmers then turned to tobacco as their main source of income. Tobacco had long been grown only in Virginia and North Carolina. Another chief product was timber and its by-products. The woodlands were full of giant virgin yellow pine or heart pine.
The late 1920's and early 1930's brought boxing to this area with Hahira out in front by local fight promotions. At this time, it also brought the Bee Industry. When settlers first arrived in the South Georgia area, there were no honeybees to pollinate their crops. W. L. Morgan introduced beekeeping to the area at Troupville. The black bee was brought from Germany or Holland and the yellow bee from Italy. J. E. Williams developed an apiary in the part of Lowndes County that is now Cook County, near Sparks. Mr. Williams was the first commercial beekeeper recorded in Lowndes County. Now, in these days, when the bee industry is mentioned in this area, the name of Garnett Puett Sr. and The Puett Co. is remembered as one of the pioneers of the bee industry.
All in all, throughout the years, basically not too much has changed as the larger industries have moved to other areas around it. Hahira is still a farming community with tobacco as one of its main crops.
Condensed from notes by local Historian Mr. H.A. Miley on the history of Hahira prepared for Hahira's Centennial Celebration in 1991.
Hahira And Cigarette Manufacturing
In the late 1920's a group of Hahira tobacco businessmen decided they could save money if instead of shipping their product north, they manufactured their own brand of cigarettes in Hahira. A factory was built in 1926 and a contest was held to select a name for the cigarettes and "Oteen" the name of a North Carolina town won. The packs featured an Indian on the front and a wigwam on the back. By the Depression, the businessmen sold their interest in the company to Julep Cigarette Company, making Hahira the manufacturing site for the nationally distributed "Happy Days" cigarettes for several years. The cigarette factory was located along side the Norfolk Southern Railroad on Coleman Road and the building was in use until 1998. It was demolished in 2002 and thousands of the fine old bricks and much of the heart pine lumber foundation beams and flooring was salvage for re-use.
A Unique Town Where People Make The Difference
Though the unique characteristics of small town life has been preserved in Hahira, it is by no means behind the times. Today, Hahira is a city nearing 2,500 citizens located in South Georgia along I-75. The city is the northern entrance into Lowndes County, being 4 miles inside the county line along I-75 and US highway 41. It lies 11 miles south of Adel, Georiga, 11 miles north of Valdosta, Georgia, 15 miles west of Moody Air Force Base, 39 miles east of Thomasville, Georgia, and 29 miles north of the GA - FL state line. Hahira's citizens are its most valuable resource. Everyone in Hahira is a neighbor and is willing to lend a helping hand when needed. The people of Hahira have a positive attitude about the town. Volunteers for projects that take place, whether it be public or private, can be found. Hahiran's take great community pride in the history of the town and what it has achieved. The hard-working, congenial, and warm hearted citizens make it a joy to visit or live in the community. Hahira's employees, elected officials and community leaders are truly public servants. They are people directly from the community. Hahira's leadership works together to build consensus to move the city forward and in the right direction. Working together with local business owners with the goal to promote Hahira. Civic organizations are always offering assistance in any way needed. The word "team" can be used to sum up the leadership in Hahira.