Tag Archives: African-American Culture of Coastal Georgia

Gould Cemetery, Harris Neck

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 partly 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.

Unknown Burial (likely an infant child of Martha Thorpe)

Catharine Golds (Gould?)- Wos bon Oct. 17 1889. Died August 25 1927.

W. M. Thorpe- Sacred to the memory of W. M. Thorpe. Born Feb 6 1861. Died Jan 27 1936.

Reverend C. C. Dawley- Was born Feb 11 1855. Died Oct 1 1923.

Nethelea Hages (Hodges?)- Born Aug 8 1905. Died July 13 1923.

Nancy McAntosh (McIntosh)- Died Dec 7 1922. Ag (Age) 66

Mary Jane King- Was born Sept 1889. Died Augest (August) 2 1933. Sleep On.

Margret Procter (Proctor)- Born Feb 12 1862. Died Sept 26 1930. In memory of our loveing (loving) mother. Gone but not forgotten.

Rosa L. Simmons- Born Nov 31 1896. Died Dec 23 1923. Age 27.

Judge E. W. Lowe- Was born 1855. Died Nov 6 1927.

James King- Was bond October 15 1888 Died May 25 1922. Age 33. At Rest.

Eunice Stevens- Was born March 14 1906 Died Nov 6 1921. Asleep in Jesus Peaceful Sleep

Annie Bell Salins (Sallins)- Was born Oct 15 1818. Died March 13 1918.

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.

Elliott Miflin (Mifflin)- Was born March 22 1886. Died May 28 1928.

Rosa Mifflin- Was Born May 23 1884 an Died Jan 6 1930

Elkeno Mifflin- Wos Born Aug 15 1880. Died June 20 1923

Daniel Mifflen (Mifflin)- Born March 16 1856. Died Nov 1 1942. This is one of the newest of the star headstones and the only one to feature a Masonic cypher.

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.

Marian Dawley- Born 1823. Died April 27 (?) 1886.

Calvin Stevens- Born May 28th 1903?. Died Feb 25th 1921. At Rest.

Eleza Stevens- Born Oct 24 1875. Died Aug 11 1928. Ocean Breeze Chamber 4541-Townsend, Ga.

Henry Stevens- Farther (Father). Born Mar 10 1840?. Died Dec 1 1919. Asleep.

Morris Jenkins- Born Nov 28 1807. Died May 26 1900. At Rest.

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.

Private Edward Stevens- June 5 1896-September 4 1947. 567th Service Battalion Quartermaster’s Corps, World War I

Private Jasper Hillery- d. 29 May 1940. Florida. Private Hillery served in the 151st Depot Brigade.

Jesus Statue near Dawley gravesite.

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.

 

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Harris Neck GA

Pyramidal Roof House, Tarboro

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Filed under -CAMDEN COUNTY, Tarboro GA

Vernacular House, Tarboro

In the historically African-American communities that dominate the coastal region, utilitarian vernacular forms, such as this gable front example, are the rule.

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Filed under -CAMDEN COUNTY, Tarboro GA

Brown’s Chapel A. M. E. Church, Tarboro

Like the other Tarboro churches, this one has a White Oak address due to the post office location. This congregation was established on 7 July 1900 by Reverend T. N. M. Smith, Reverend S. W. Wood, and L. Fatio; the present structure was dedicated in 1979 and has been remodeled since.

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Filed under -CAMDEN COUNTY, Tarboro GA

Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Tarboro

From dates on the cornerstones, I understand that this congregation was originally organized as the First Baptist Church in 1899, with Reverend J. Delk serving as first pastor. Dates also indicate that the congregation changed its name to Oak Grove Missionary Baptist around 1947. The present remodel likely dates to 1991, when a new cornerstone was placed. (Though the church has a White Oak address, it’s located in Tarboro. There’s no post office in Tarboro).

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Filed under -CAMDEN COUNTY, Tarboro GA

Dorchester Academy Boys’ Dormitory, 1934, Midway

Dorchester Academy was founded as a primary school for African-American children by the American Missionary Association after the Civil War. The dormitory, designed by architect George Awsumb in 1934 to replace an 1890s structure lost to fire in 1932, is all that remains of a once-larger campus. After the school closed in 1940, demolition of the campus took place. The boys’ dormitory became the community center and still serves that purpose.

During the Civil Rights Movement it was the primary site of the Citizenship Education Program (CEP) (1961-70), an important initiative of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  This was seen as the basis for the highly successful Voter Education Project (VEP). One of the prime boosters of the CEP was Septima Poinsette Clark, a Charleston school teacher referred to as the “Queen Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”. The work of this and other so-called “citizenship schools” trained over 700 teachers and registered 50,000 voters by 1963.

Workshops were often held at the site with numerous civil rights icons in attendance, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, Wyatt Walker, and Dorothy Cotton.

National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Midway GA

Sam Ripley Farm, 1926, Liberty County

Sam Ripley, who was born to Harry Ripley around 1900, built this house on a section of his father’s land in 1926. He used salvaged wood and lumber discarded from area sawmills. For many years he worked at the Whitland Saw Mill (no longer extant) so some of the lumber likely came from there. As was typical of African-Americans in Liberty County at the time, Ripley maintained a subsistence farm. In 1934, Liberty County counted 560 African-American farmers cultivating 23,000 acres of their own land.

Ripley retired from the sawmill in 1940 but continued to do odd jobs around Midway and Dorchester, all while maintaining his farm. He died in 1988. The property was sold in 1994 and was used as a bed and breakfast for a time. It doesn’t appear to be in use at this time, but the property is well-maintained and is still being used as a small farm. Please note that it is private property and can only be viewed or photographed from the road.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY