Trader's Hill was a flourishing port for water trade in the frontier southeastern region. This small outpost community, compared to the surrounding settlements of the time, was an active metropolis. Begun as a trading post in 1755, the village, about five miles south of Folkston, Ga. survived until the early 1900's on the river that once separated the royal colony of Georgia from the Spanish holdings and the Seminole nations to the south.
At the end of Main Street stood a huge, old oak, "The Hangman's Oak" of Trader's Hill. It was said the old oak could tell story upon story of mysterious events around the riverbank village. In the autumn of 1840, this massive tree played a major role in a mysterious drama, as reported by Troy Jones in the Charlton County Herald.
An elderly Indian, named Suanee, accused of stealing some goods from the general store and of killing the owner, had been captured and placed in the town jail. If he escaped he could swim thirty yards to safety; therefore he was well guarded. Escape into Florida from Trader's Hill was frequently "made good" since the Saint Mary's River is only a short distance and very narrow at this point.
Suanee had prepared for this day. His grandfather, for whom the river Suwannee was named, it is said, had told him to starve himself until he could easily slip through the cell bars if he should ever become a prisoner of the white man. This he did. But his feebleness would not allow the old warrior freedom.
A speedy trial and he was carried to the huge oak for execution. When the noose was placed around his neck. The Indian prayed; he then lifted his head and spoke, "May the curse of my father's spirit and mine be placed among the people as long as there is a Trader's Hill." Not paying any heed to the defiant old warrior, the people, after hanging him, went on about their way. But all was not settled.
One night as the villagers were attending a county dance, a bright light cast its beam in the eyes of the merrymakers; astonished, they looked toward this phenomenon. The gleam came from the oak. Accompanying the glow, a low moan whined throughout the countryside. Immediately, so writes Jones, people began to leave their homes and Trader's Hill.
Some who visit the lonely ridge today assert that on certain nights the light can still be seen and the distant sound of moaning is still heard.
The above story was taken from the book "This Magic Wilderness" authored by Robert Latimer Hurst.