Category Archives: -LIBERTY COUNTY
African-Americans were baptized in this swamp beginning in the 1840s. It’s just downstream from a well-known fishing and swimming spot known as Round Hole and was likely chosen for its proximity to that natural landmark.
Baptisms were first performed on enslaved persons by white members of the nearby North Newport Church. When the white congregation moved to Walthourville in 1854, the slaves renamed the church First African Baptist Church and continued ritual baptisms here until the 1940s. Some of their descendants are the Geechee people who still live nearby.
Today, the Historic Baptismal Trail has been memorialized as a public park with a boardwalk, including signage identifying plants and trees that were historically important to the community.
I assumed this was a schoolhouse, as it’s located on Old Seabrook School Road, but apparently, it was the old Dorchester Depot.
Historic Seabrook Village writes: This…is the Dorchester Train Depot that once stood at the railroad tracks in Midway. It was first moved to Martin Road in Midway where it was a laundromat and daycare center. It was later acquired by the Seabrook Village Foundation and moved to Old Seabrook School Road in Seabrook. It was stabilized but not restored. After being awarded grant money through the ISTEA program, the foundation was arbitrarily cut out of the grant by the Liberty County Development Authority in September 2001.
The Yellow Bluff Fishing Camp’s iconic company store survives despite being surrounded by modern development. Such structures were once common at fishing camps throughout Coastal Georgia but nearly all of them have disappeared today, due largely to changing land use. The Yellow Bluff Company established the fishing camp here in 1923 and the store was operating within the first year.
Laid out in St. John’s Parish in 1758 on land originally owned by Mark Carr, Sunbury soon drew comparisons to Savannah as one of Georgia’s great seaports. Nearly 500 lots (not all occupied) were situated around three squares: King’s, Church, and Meeting.
St. John’s Parish fervently supported opposition to British rule and urged the rest of Georgia to revolt. Savannah was hesitant, so the parish sent Dr. Lyman Hall, a citizen of Sunbury, to the 2nd Continental Congress as a non-voting delegate. When Georgia at last joined the revolution, Dr. Hall, Button Gwinnett, and George Walton were chosen as the official delegates and signed the Declaration of Independence. Fort Morris was constructed for the defense of Sunbury but fell to the British during the Revolutionary War. Many of the pioneer families left during the occupation.
In 1777 St. John’s Parish and the neighboring St. Andrew’s and St. James were combined to form Liberty County. On 18 November 1783 the first session of the Superior Court of Liberty County was held in Sunbury and it remained the county seat until removal to Riceboro in 1797.
Sunbury Academy, established in 1788, was one of the most prominent schools in early Georgia. A Baptist church was organized in 1810 and held services into the 1830s. But the community was already in decline. The Hurricane of 1804 and the Hurricane of 1824 did major damage to the area, dispersing the remaining population. It was a ghost town by the 1840s and nothing remains today except the cemetery. Many stones have been lost or destroyed over time, some due to storms and others to residential development.
Tomb of Reverend William McWhir, D. D. [9 September 1759-31 January 1851] & Mary McWhir [27 September 1757-16 December 1819]
Dr. McWhir, a devout Presbyterian who migrated to Georgia from Belfast, Ireland, was one of the founders and the Principal of Sunbury Academy for 30 years. He died at the home of Roswell King.
Tomb of Josiah Powell [?-21 July 1788]
The exquisite ironwork surrounding the Dunham family plot is a work of art in itself. Family genealogy suggests headstones are replacements for earlier markers, dating to around 1900. The fence was likely installed at that time, as well.
The Dunhams were prominent citizens of the area and many remained even after Sunbury’s decline. Reverend Jacob Dunham, who died in 1832, spent ten years as a missionary for the Sunbury Baptist Association, ministering mostly to slaves.
Thomas H. Dunham [1840-12 October 1870] Though Dunham was a later burial, his willow and headstone tympanum was likely a nod to the earlier settlers, whose stones were commonly marked in this fashion.
Eliza Ann Richardson [1820-23 October 1831] Eliza Ann was the daughter of Edmond & Elizabeth Richardson. Her slate headstone features a willow and urn tympanum.
This plot is the final resting place of the Law & Fleming families and their relatives.
Reverend Josiah S. Law [1808-4 October 1853]
Reverend Samuel Spry Law [1774-4 February 1837] Spry’s mother, whose maiden name was also Spry, successfully defended her home from the British during the Revolutionary War. Law received his most formal education while living with the family of a French Marquis on Sapelo Island. He was married three times, first to Mary Anderson, then to Rebecca G. Hughes, and finally to Temperance Wood.
In 1811, Reverend Law was a captain of the local militia. He became a Baptist in 1815. In his final years, he preached to poor whites and slaves in rural sections of Liberty County.
Mrs. Temperance Wood Law [1780-16 October 1857] Last consort of Reverend S. S. Law. (Per genealogy, her name is apparently misspelled on her headstone).
Lieutenant Charles H. Law [?-1887]
Midway Congregational Church, founded in 1754 and a seat of power in the Colonial period, was associated with three satellite congregations known as retreats, because their locations, slightly more inland than Midway, offered a respite from the malarial swamps of the coast. The last of the retreat churches to be established was located at Dorchester. Its origins can be traced to nearby Sunbury, a short-lived boom town founded in 1758 whose trustees were members of Midway Church. Sunbury thrived nearly from its inception, rivaling Savannah in commercial importance, but its proximity to Fort Morris lead to its capture and subsequent burning by British troops during the American Revolution. While many such casualties of the war recuperated, Sunbury never seemed to regain its prominence after the devastating four-year occupation that followed. The hurricane of 1824 and a yellow fever epidemic sent many of its residents scattering into the nearby countryside. Huge plantations with names like Laurel Grove, Arcadia, Melon Bluff, Cedar Point, and Palmyra were emerging in the countryside around old Sunbury. In 1843 upon the suggestion of Reverend Thomas Sumner Winn, a tutor for prominent Presbyterian minister Charles Colcock Jones, a site was chosen for a retreat between Sunbury and Midway. It was originally known simply as “the Village,” but was soon christened Dorchester, in tribute to the heritage of its citizens. Some families built summer homes at Dorchester, though many tore down their dwellings near Sunbury and rebuilt them on the higher and drier ground the retreat afforded. As this new location was only six miles from Midway, the idea of building a church was not initially entertained, though an academy was built in which Sunday school was regularly taught. By 1854, with the continuing decline in membership at Midway, the families of the village built a permanent church, which still stands today. The old town bell from Sunbury, dated 1799, was placed in the steeple. The land was donated by Bartholomew Busby, who owned the nearby Melon Bluff Plantation. At first it was used only in summer, but by the onset of the Civil War was in regular use. The church was officially recognized by the Savannah Presbytery in 1871 and named Dorchester Presbyterian Church. The church holds services on the first Sunday of each month at 5 PM.
National Register of Historic Places
Darrell Sheppard writes: The old building in Allenhurst was Sheppard’s Grocery. It was built by Troy Allen Sheppard, Sr., after leaving Willie, Georgia, in the 1940s. It had the living quarters in the rear. After his death in 1967 Troy Sheppard, Jr., opened an auto electric repair and operated it until his death in 1991. It now belongs to Darrell Sheppard.