Location: Josella Rd. in Ashburn, GA
Date: August 14, 2021
Although most of the roads in Turner County are named after one person of significance whether local or otherwise, Josella Road is an interesting example of a road named after two people. Even more interesting is that they combined both names rather than a double name. The road is named for the sisters, Elmira Josephine Bohannon Betts (May 2, 1858 – September 27, 1907) and Ella Bohannon Evans (December 27, 1852 – February 22, 1910), both married to prominent businessmen and founders of Ashburn.
“Jos”ephine + Ella = Josella Rd.
Elmira Josephine Bohannon Betts (May 2, 1858 – September 27, 1907) was the daughter of James Bohannon of Dodge County, an extensive planter. She married entrepreneur John Samuel Betts (July 29, 1848 – April 25, 1918) on November 16, 1878, in Dodge County, Georgia. They eventually moved to the Turner County area, built the Betts-Shealy House, and really gave life and capital to Ashburn so it could become the booming little town it was at the turn of the century. They had 6 children and by 1912, only their second son George survived.
In her obituary in The Wiregrass Farmer, “None ever entered her home without a warm welcome, nor left without feeling the warmth of a genuine hospitality. Disease did not destroy the charm of a kind, indulgent disposition, nor old age diminish her unselfish solicitude for her friends and loved ones. She joined the church in early life, and loved to attend the services when health permitted. While she continued to enjoy the society of her friends, she had for many years, realized that her active life was over, and with resignation awaited the Divine call from death until life….” (10/4/1907)
Ella Bohannon Evans (December 27, 1852 – February 22, 1910), another daughter of extensive planters James Bohannon of Dodge County, married John West Evans (September 27, 1844 – January 16, 1904) and moved to Turner County in 1888 before it was even known as Ashburn or Turner County. John soon established himself as one of Turner County’s most entrepreneurial citizens and a leader in establishing the town as we know it. John was a prominent partner in the J.S. Betts Company with his brother-in-law and brought a lot of interest to the area with their sawmill. Ella, although she lost her husband in 1904, did have 5 of her 6 children survive her, one of them being Victoria Evans who went on to become Turner County’s first librarian (and eventually had the local public library named for her).
He built a grand Victorian house located on S Main St. known as the Evans House in 1897. He became Ashburn’s first postmaster in 1889 and served until his death in 1904.
Unfortunately, there is not much known about Ella Evans which is typical of the time. According to her obituary in The Turner County Banner on February 25, 1910, she was “a splendid character, of a bright and cheerful disposition and loved by all who knew her.” She passed away after suffering from Brights Disease, more commonly known today as kidney disease.
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