Tag Archives: Churches of Glynn County
The recent restoration of this historic African-American schoolhouse is one of the greatest preservation successes on the Georgia coast and should serve as a model for similar projects. After the Civil War and the collapse of the plantation economy, the descendants of enslaved persons remained on St. Simons and lived in the communities of South End, Jewtown, and Harrington. They were the dominant population on St. Simons until development in the early and mid-20th century changed the racial makeup of the island. Only remnants of their presence remain, and among them, the Harrington Graded School (thought to be a Rosenwald school), and Hazel’s Cafe, are the most significant.
The school served all three African-American communities until desegregation in the 1960s and was briefly used as a day care center until being abandoned in the early 1970s. It was eventually purchased by Glynn County and the St. Simons Land Trust but due to deterioration, it was slated for demolition in 2010. The Land Trust and the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition formed the Friends of Harrington School and saved the school house. Serious work began in 2015 and by December 2016, the school was restored to its former glory.
This interesting church in the Harrington community was built just as the historic African-American neighborhoods of St. Simons were reaching their ebb. It’s a utilitarian example of the two-tower style, common among African-American congregations on the coast in an earlier time. The cinderblock structure, built sometime between 1950-1954, has unpainted sides, with the front being the only “finished” section. A more traditional structure, the circa 1920 Pentecostal Zion Church, stands behind this one.
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and the adjacent Good Shepherd Parochial School are essentially all that remain of the historic Pennick community, a settlement of the descendants of freed slaves. Like Needwood Church and School, also located in Glynn County, they represent a rare church/school complex in relatively original condition. I’m hopeful they’ll both be placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the near future.
The school was founded by Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander (1865-1947), who took very seriously the education of her community and became the first black deaconess in the Episcopal Church in 1907. In 1999, she was named a Saint of Georgia, with a feast day of 24 September.
Deaconess Alexander’s life was forever interwoven with her faith. She lived in this apartment (above right) and is buried in front of the school house. Follow this link to see a video tribute to the deaconess by people who knew her personally. It’s quite interesting.
I recently acquired this postcard, mailed by Deaconess Alexander from the Fort Valley High & Industrial School (forerunner to Fort Valley State College) to Dean Richard of the Bishop Tuttle House in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1931.
This historic congregation was founded by Reverend Jupiter Gilliard on 23 October 1891. The first deacons of the church were London Gilliard, Charles Harris, Baker Stafford, Sr., and Hector Blue. The original church building was replaced with this one in 1954, during the pastorate of Reverend Robert J. Leggett. The cornerstone displays the cipher of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall, Grand Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons, Jurisdiction of Georgia.
Reverend Gilliard’s great-great-great grandchildren operate Gilliard Farms, a Georgia Centennial Farm on the adjacent property. It’s been in the family since 1874 and is one of the most important African-American farms in Georgia, due to its history and longevity.
Founded in 1808, Christ Church did not build a permanent house of worship until 1820, due largely to economic troubles stemming from the War of 1812. The first structure stood until the Civil War, when Union troops damaged it so badly that members were forced to meet in their homes until the present structure was built in 1884.
The interior of Christ Church is breathtaking. Shipbuilders built the new cruciform church to resemble an inverted ship’s hull, symbolic of the ship of faith There are various stained glass windows throughout.
One of two windows in the vestibule of Christ Church dedicated to the rector of the present structure, this one features the original antebellum church, as well as the present structure. The other window is dedicated to Anson Greene Phelps Dodge, who established the Dodge Home for Boys (1895-1956) and endowed the All Saints Cathedral in Allahabad, India, 1884. Other windows, including one made by Tiffany Studios, feature typical but beautifully rendered Christian iconography.
Christ Church Cemetery, Frederica
The church and graveyard are among the most visited and beloved places on St. Simons. It’s the final resting place of many Georgia pioneers and veterans of nearly every war dating from the American Revolution onward. The following photos represent just a small sampling of the cemetery.
Lewellin Harris (1742? – 15 December 1808)
Ann Harris (1759? – 17 April 1815)
This stone is erected by Henry Allen & John Benjamin Harris, to the memory of their Father, Lewellin Harris, an Old & respectable Inhabitant of St. Simons Island, who departed this transitory life on said Island Dec. 15, 1808, Aged 66. Also Their Mother Ann Harris, wife of Lewellin Harris, who departed this life on the same Island, April 17, 1815, Aged 56.
The Hazzard family owned West Point and Pike’s Bluff plantations on St. Simons. This tabby mausoleum is one of the most interesting gravesites in Christ Church cemetery. The date A. D. 1813 is inscribed on a bronze marker at the foot of the mausoleum and is a bit mysterious. This history of the Hazzards was written by Carey C. Giudici: The Hazzard family was one of the Island’s most colorful families. Originally from South Carolina, Revolutionary War veteran Colonel William Hazzard moved to the area and purchased West Point in 1818. This plantation, just north of Frederica, became the home of Hazzard’s oldest son Colonel William Wigg Hazzard. Nine years later the younger son, Dr. Thomas Fuller Hazzard bought the Pike’s Bluff property that adjoined West Point to the north. The family now owned much of the north end of St. Simons Island. Very active in church activities, they also served as representatives to Georgia’s House of Representatives, enjoyed competing in their racing boats Shark and Comet, and frequently went hunting with their pack of deer hounds. Both were also noted writers; William Wigg Hazzard’s 1825 history of Glynn County is still in print. In 1838 a boundary dispute resulted in Dr. Thomas Hazzard shooting a young neighbor, John Armstrong Wylly. Tradition has it that although Dr. Hazzard was acquitted of any crime, the family was so ostracized by the other planter families that they built their own family chapel on West Point–which became known as “The Pink Chapel” because of the lichen-based discoloration on its tabby walls. Colonel Hazzard’s son, Captain William Miles Hazzard, commanded the local Confederate Army detachment during the Civil War. With nine troops and a slave named Henry, he burned the U.S. Navy headquarters on the occupied St. Simons.
Private Cyrus Dart (11 June 1764 – 29 June 1817)
Connecticut Continental Line, Revolutionary War. Drowned Off St. Simons Island.
Cyrus Dart was born in Haddon, Connecticut. In 1782, he enlisted as Private in the 1st Connecticut Regiment Continental Line and served for one year. After the Revolutionary War, he completed medical studies in Connecticut and in 1792 moved to Glynn County where he operated a medical practice in the town of Frederica. In 1796, Cyrus married Ann Harris and was appointed Surgeon in the U. S. Army, stationed at Coleraine in Camden County. In 1802 he resigned from the Army and was appointed Quarantine Officer for the Port of Brunswick and served in that position until his death. The untimely accident that took his life at age 53 was caused when his rowboat capsized as he and his son, Urbanus, were enroute to inspect an inccoming vessel. (Source: Marshes of Glynn Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution)
Sarah Frewin (1811? – 25 October 1824)
Daughter of James & Elizabeth Frewin, aged 13 years.
Oak & Acorn Garland, Headstone of John Couper, one of many Coupers who worshiped here. Couper’s Point, sight of St. Simons Light, was deeded to the U. S. by John Couper in 1804 for the construction of a lighthouse.
Major William Page (2 January 1764 – 12 January 1827)
William Page was born at Page’s Point, Prince William Parish, South Carolina. His father, Thomas Page, sided with the Loyalists in the American rebellion. When he died in 1780, his son joined Francis Marion to fight in the irregular combat in the South Carolina countryside. As a result, the Tories burned his house at Page’s Point. In 1781, he married Hannah Timmons. After the war, William Page moved to Georgia and in 1804 purchased land on St. Simons Sound, which he named “Retreat”. In total, the Retreat Plantation exceeded 2000 acres; and on it he grew prized long-staple cotton. In 1808, he became a major in the 7th Battalion of the Glynn County Militia, a position he held for the rest of his life. (Source: Marshes of Glynn Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution)
Captain Alexander Campbell Wylly (1759? – 31 May 1833)
A Georgia Historical Commission Marker regarding Captain Wylly Road on nearby Jekyll Island explains the two Captain Wyllys:
There were two Captain Wyllys in the history of Jekyll. It is believed the road was named for Charles Spalding Wylly (1836- 1923), Captain in the Confederate Army, 1st Georgia Regulars, a descendant of Clement Martin, who was granted, on April 5, 1768, Jekyll Island by the Crown. His grandfather, Captain William Campbell Wylly (born at Belfast, Ireland), remaining loyal to the British General Provost crossed the St. Marys and marched on Savannah. After the Revolution he moved to Nassau and was made Governor of New Providence. In 1807 he returned to Georgia, lived first on Jekyll, then St. Simons. Captain Alexander Campbell Wylly was born in Belfast in 1759, moving to Savannah from there.
Captain Charles Spalding Wylly
Henrietta Stevens (Mrs. John C.) Currie (28 February 1855 – 15 April 1937)
Eugenia Price (22 June 1916 – 28 May 1996)
World-famous for her historical novels set on the Georgia coast in the early days of white settlement, Eugenia Price was largely responsible for the national attention Christ Church has received in the ensuing years. My mother has always been a big fan of her writing. From the Lighthouse trilogy and the Georgia trilogy to the Florida trilogy and the Savannah quartet, most of her books are still in print or readily available on the coast, especially on St. Simons.