I made these photos in 2009; no one was living here when I was in the neighborhood earlier this summer. As a self-service ice house, it served an important purpose in this community of fishermen. The owners were obviously on the honor system, but to make sure customers were honest, a decorative skeleton kept an eye on things. The “answers” part of the sign always got my attention. I imagined fortune-telling and voodoo, superstitions and practices once associated with African-Americans (if sometimes incorrectly so).
Category Archives: Harris Neck GA
Plantations growing Sea Island cotton on Harris Neck as early as 1787 (Julianton was the first) ensured the presence of a large population of enslaved Africans, who were also essential to rice, cattle, and timber production. By the early 19th century the Gould family was one of several who owned large tracts of land here. Contemporary maps show Gould’s Landing (today’s Barbour River Landing) and an adjacent Gould’s Cemetery. This was undoubtedly the one we see today, a slave burying ground, though no graves from that time were formally marked nor recorded, to my knowledge.
To me, this is one of the most magical places on the entire coast. It’s a place of quiet refuge and subtle beauty that speaks not only to the sad history of slavery but to the evolution of enslaved people in the years following emancipation. It’s somewhat protected by its location within the boundary of a National Wildlife Refuge but it definitely bears further research and listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Gould Cemetery is significant not only because so many formerly enslaved persons are buried here, but also for the the large number of headstones featuring a star motif. The star is a long-employed Christian icon, somewhat common among African-American burials in the years after slavery. It’s my belief that most of these were done by the same artisan, though the range of dates suggests that perhaps an apprentice to the original carver may have completed some of the later ones. I have no way to confirm it but feel certain the carver was a member of the community.
I’m presenting this as a photographic guide to these headstones (though not yet complete nor in any particular order) including names and dates with the hope that it will be helpful to genealogists and historians. Names are carved in simple block lettering. At first glance the phonetic spellings that characterize these markers can present a bit of a challenge, so I have shown the original spellings and placed what I believe to be the correct names in parentheses.
Thomas Butterfieald (Butterfield)- Born 1879 Diede (Died) Dece 9 1918. Oct 16. This headstone is a bit puzzling at first, but I believe the October 16 is likely an indicator of the the birth date, discovered after the process of carving the headstone had begun.
James Miflin (Mifflin)- Born July 17 1901. Died Aug 1 1928. Ocean Breeze Chamber 4541-Townsend Ga. The Ocean Breeze Chamber in Townsend was likely one of the numerous fraternal lodges for African-Americans common on and near the Georgia coast in the last decades of the 19th and first decades of the 20th centuries. Other than churches, these were about the only places blacks could gather in the Jim Crow era and were centers of fellowship and community. They were also practical, as most provided members the opportunity to purchase burial insurance. Townsend is about 20 miles inland in McIntosh County.
Corporal Jack Thompson was an African-American with ties to the Gould plantation. He served with Company E, 33rd U. S. Colored Infantry. This regiment was organized 31 January 1863 or 8 February 1864, as 1st South Carolina Volunteers Colored Infantry attached to U. S. Forces, Port Royal Island, South Carolina, 10th Corps, Department of the South, to April 1864. They were mustered out on 31 January 1866. I’ve been unable to find any other information on Corporal Thompson.
Reverend B. H. Renear- Died Lacey Ga. Mar 20 1904. Age 40 yrs. Lacey was the name of the post office at Gould’s Landing. It operated near the cemetery from 1896-1914, replacing the Bahama post office which operated from 1891-1895.
Palm trees and old-growth oaks characterize this space.
The Barbour River passes near the perimeter of the cemetery.
Woody Pond is perhaps the most popular spot for birding at Harris Neck, though there are many other places to ramble in this place that I consider one of the best-kept secrets of the Georgia Coast. Whether a birder, hiker, bicyclist or just plain nature aficionado, there is much to be seen.
Walk along the dam for a sure encounter with some natives!
Very soon, the rookeries of the pond will be abuzz with new life. Wood Storks (Mcyteria americana) are a big presence here though not as commonly seen in winter. On that last day I visited, American Coots and Common Gallinules were the most populous residents.
Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata), Woody Pond.
The gallinules can be easily distinguished from the coots by their bright orange and yellow bills.
American Coot (Fulica americana)
Of course, the other big attraction at Woody Pond is the alligator population. But remember, don’t harass them!
You’ll generally see smaller ones in winter, but they live here year round!
Take nothing but pictures, and lots of good memories. You’ll want to return in the spring.
American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) are abundant (though generally not aggressive) in the ponds and wetland areas of Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. There were over a dozen young alligators within the first 300 yards or so, posing for my camera then slipping off into the water.
Wood Storks (Mycteria americana) were once a symbol of the diminishing wetland habitat necessary for their survival in the swamps of the Southeast. For a time one of the most endangered species in America, recent years have seen gains in their population, enough so that the Fish & Wildlife Service is considering removing them from the endangered list. They would still have a threatened status. A friend of mine recently suggested I not place them on a “vanishing” site; in honor of her positive outlook, I offer them as an evocation of how far we’ve come in protecting Georgia’s wetlands but a reminder in how much we still need to fight to protect them. Anyone who has been around Coastal Georgia in the past few years knows that population and development race forward, nearly unfettered.
Visiting Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in late winter and early spring when the Wood Storks, along with myriad other waterfowl and waders are abundant, is a must-do when in McIntosh County.