Upcoming Documentaries Tell the Story of Oscarville - Before Lake Lanier

Dated: August 17 2022

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The history of Oscarville lies beneath Lake Lanier, a town once destroyed by an angry racist mob. The history of the town is now the subject of upcoming documentaries. 

Before Lake Lanier became a part of Georgia's landscape, there was another town called Oscarville. It was established during the 1800s and was a thriving community for African-American craftsmen. According to Lisa Crosby, a history teacher in Georgia, Oscarville was a bustling community that employed skilled craftsmen such as bricklayers and carpenters.

Until 1912, it was believed that Oscarville was a safe and growing farm community. The farmers in Oscarville were skilled in raising poultry, which helped pave the way for Gainsville to become the world's poultry capital. However, in 1912, a White woman named Mae Crow was found dead in the woods near the town.

According to Crosby, the night following Mae's death, the terror in Oscarville grew. She said that a group of people called night riders organized and drove the African-American community away. Many people died during the attack.

George Rucker, a direct descendant of the Oliver family of Oscarville, told the story of how his great-grandfather, Byrd Oliver, was forced out of his family's land. He recalled that his family was nearing the Chattahoochee River while being chased by the angry mob, and they were faced with two options - "they either had to swim or drown."

His relatives who survived eventually settled in Gainesville. One of their houses, which still stands today, is the Beulah Rucker House-School.

During the 1950s, the Buford Dam was constructed, and Lake Lanier covered up the town of Oscarville.

Several filmmakers are currently working on a project about Oscarville. Led by executive producers William Eric Bush-Anderson, Cindy Kunz-Anderson, and Ali Ashtigo, the story of Oscarville is being prepared for larger audiences with a planned release in 2023.

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