Tag Archives: Coastal Georgia in the Antebellum Era

Lorillard Fountain & Pool, Harris Neck

Fountain at Lorillard Estate

The following history of the site is taken from the interpretive panel at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge: Various plantations occupied this site from the 1740s through the 1870s. One of the earliest Harris Neck landowners was a man named Dickinson, and his property was known as Dickinson’s Neck. John Rutledge owned fifty acres on neighboring Bethany Plantation. He sold the tract to Ann Harris, who married Daniel Demetre in 1752. Her son, William Thomas Harris (Demetre’s stepson), acquired 350 acres on Dickinson’s Neck in 1758, and in 1759 he inherited an additional 750 acres on the “Neck” from his stepfather. Demetre’s will identified Williams’s residence as Bethany. This reference is the first documentation of a white landowner’s dwelling on the “Neck”.

Ruins of wading pool at Lorillard Estate

Early in the 1830s, another family gained prominence on Harris Neck. Jonathan Thomas acquired most of the Demetre-Harris holdings. Thomas’s 3000-acre Peru Plantation covered the eastern half of the present Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge. The plantation produced sizeable cotton crops.

Ruins of wading pool at Lorillard Estate

The Civil War ended the plantation era on Harris Neck. The Thomas family subdivided Peru Plantation. Many small tracts were sold to former slaves or their descendants. From the 1870s through the 1930s, a community of primarily African-American developed on and near the current refuge land. By the 1940s, 171 tracts existed in the area now managed by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Details of a painting of the Lorillard Lodge: Courtesy Leftwich D. Kimbrough

 

During the 1880s, several large tracts bordering the South Newport River (the site of one Peru Plantation home) were acquired by Pierre Lorillard, the tobacco magnate, Eleanor Van Brunt Clapp, and Lily Livingston. Lorillard’s estate featured a lavish lodge, an indoor swimming pool filled from an artesian well, and formal gardens with reflecting pools and fountains.

Fountain at Lorillard Estate

The lodge was used during World War II as the officers’ club for Harris Neck Army Airfield. The deteriorated building was sold at auction, when Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1962.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Harris Neck GA

Ethington-Harp House, Circa 1849, The Ridge

The Ridge Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Ridgeville GA, The Ridge GA

Mud River, Sapelo Island

This view of the Mud River, near the edge of Sapelo Sound, was made from inside the historic tabby barn at Chocolate.

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Sapelo Island GA

Hampton Point Slave Dwelling Ruins, St. Simons Island

Major Pierce Butler (1744-1822) purchased Hampton Point near the northern end of St. Simons Island in 1774. Butler served South Carolina in the American Revolution, was a member of the Continental Congress, a Signer of the Constitution, and the first United States senator elected from South Carolina. Since he divided most of hist time between Charleston and Philadelphia, he hired Roswell King to manage his plantations in Georgia. After the death of Butler’s wife in 1790, his South Carolina plantations were sold and his primary focus shifted to Hampton Point and other Georgia Sea Island plantations. Hampton Point was his largest cotton operation with the largest slave population.

n 1805, Major Butler retired from politics and spent most of his time in Philadelphia. Upon his death his namesake grandson inherited Butler’s vast holdings in Coastal Georgia. The younger Butler did not prove as good a businessman as his grandfather and to remain financially solvent sold off his slaves in 1859. Approximately 436 human beings were auctioned near Savannah in what has come to be known as The Weeping Time, for its separation of numerous families. It is believed to be the largest single sale of human beings in history. The plantation burned in 1871, leaving only traces of the tabby structures built by those enslaved on the property.

Ruins of Slave Dwellings at Hampton Point Plantation

The ruins of four slave dwellings are visible today. While only two retain significant architectural features, all are important to the story of the enslaved people of St. Simons Island. I have no way to date them as I only had brief access and have not located documentation regarding dates of construction. If I were to venture a guess I’d estimate 1800-1830. They appear to have nearly identical floor plans to the slave dwellings at Hamilton Plantation.

The ruins are located on private property and I visited with a resident. Though I photographed all four visible dwelling sites, I’m only sharing the two which retain the most significant architectural features. For identification purposes, I’m calling one North Dwelling and the other South Dwelling.

North Dwelling

The North Dwelling retains a small section of its northeastern wall and the scattered remnants of its hearth.

South Dwelling

The South Dwelling is the most intact of the four sites, retaining sections of all four walls, a defined window, doorway, and hearth.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, St. Simons Island GA

St. Andrew’s Cemetery, 1810s, Darien

In the tradition of other historic cemeteries of Coastal Georgia, St. Andrew’s in Darien is worthy of note as an important public green space. An impressive collection of Victorian monuments share space with exceedingly rare tabby tombs.

Thomas Spalding (1774-1851), owner of Sapelo Island and one of the most influential men of early Georgia, established his family cemetery here in the early 1800s, adjacent to his mainland home, Ashantilly. A man of his time, Spalding’s wealth was entirely dependent on slave labor. His last official act was leading the Milledgeville Convention which officially declared that Georgia would use force to resist any efforts of abolition by the federal government. He fell ill on his way home and died at the home of his son Charles, in Darien.

The tombs of Spalding and wife Sarah Leake (1778-1843) are at the center of the original cemetery.

Hester Margery Spalding Cooke (1801-30 November 1824), daughter of Thomas & Sarah Spalding; wife of William Cooke (d. 1861).

Tombs of Spalding children, including, at center, Thomas Spalding (1813-1819). These tabby forms are among the rarest forms of grave markers in Georgia.

Even rarer is this tomb, featuring what appears to be the original lime sealing over the tabby.

The original section of the cemetery contains many tombs, including tabby, brick, and marble examples.

Some are in poor condition, with a few slabs unreadable and perhaps even on the wrong tombs.

All of the burials in this part of the cemetery are Spalding family members and in-laws.

Names include Wylly, Bell, and Leake, among others.

In 1867 Charles Spalding (1808-1887) donated the land surrounding the family plot to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church for use by the city of Darien as a cemetery. The ground was consecrated in 1876 by the Right Reverend Dr. Beckwith, Bishop of Georgia and is known today as St. Andrew’s Cemetery.

Dr. James Holmes (1804-1883) was a prominent 19th century physician who left his home to study medicine in Philadelphia and returned to practice in Darien. A fastidious note taker and diarist, Holmes wrote of his encounters as “Dr. Bullie”. Dr. Bullie’s Notes: Reminisces of Early Georgia and of Philadelphia and New Haven in the 1800s, edited by Dr. Delma Presley, was published by Cherokee Publishing Company in 1976 and remains an insightful resource for students of the era.

Hilton Family

Lachlison-Clark-Fox Families

Reverend Henry Kollock Rees & Family

Jamie Manson (1890-1895)

Schmidt Monument

Churchill-Wilcox Mausoleum

This is the most prominent memorial in the cemetery.

Wilcox Children Memorial

Thomas A. Bailey (1828-1917) Ornamental Gate

Lewis Myers Bealer (1857-1942)

Adam Strain (1840-1897)

Barclay Family

Sutton Children

Lawrence Bailey Daniels (1894-1900)

Donnelly Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Darien GA

One-Room Schoolhouse, 1852, Dorchester

From is construction in 1852 until the 1920s, this little one-room schoolhouse served students of Dorchester Village. It was located adjacent to the Dorchester Presbyterian Church and was all but lost when the Selectmen of the Midway Church and Society saved and relocated it to the “new” Dorchester School nearby. This photograph dates to 2011.

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Dorchester GA

First African Baptist Church, Riceboro

The First African Baptist Church of Riceboro is considered the “Mother Church of all Black Churches in Liberty County”; the present structure was built in the 1960s to replace the original church. The community, just west of Riceboro, is locally known as Crossroads.

A marker placed by the Liberty County Historical Society notes: The First African Baptist Church, the oldest black church in Liberty County, had its origins in the North Newport Baptist Church, founded in 1809. In 1818 the North Newport Church, composed of both white and black members, purchased this site and erected a church building here [circa 1849] which had a gallery for the slave members. In 1854 the North Newport Church moved to Walthourville, but the black members in this area continued to use the old building. In 1861 the black members formed their own church organization and the first black pastor was the Reverend Charles Thin. On July 20, 1878 the North Newport Church sold the building to A. M. McIver for $225 for use by the First African Baptist Church.

One of the early white pastors of this church was the Reverend Josiah Spry Law to whom a cenotaph was erected here in 1854 by both blacks and whites.

Three other neighboring churches have been formed from the membership of this church: First Zion Baptist Church in 1870, First African Baptist Church of Jones in 1896, and Baconton Baptist Church in 1897.

 

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Riceboro GA

Colonel Edward Payson Miller House, Circa 1845, Walthourville

I identified this as the Miller House, using a photograph in Virginia Fraser Evans’s Liberty County: A Pictorial History. Colonel Miller was a Confederate veteran associated with the Liberty Independent Troop and one of the most prominent members of the community, serving as a leader in the Walthourville Presbyterian Church. It is also known as the Miller-Dryden House.

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Filed under -LIBERTY COUNTY, Walthourville GA

Factors Row & Factors Walk, Savannah

In the years following the Civil War, much of Savannah’s riverfront was filled with four- and five-story cotton warehouses. The lower riverfront level was where the cotton was stored and the top floors (facing Bay Street) served as offices for the cotton factors (brokers), who set prices and traded their most valuable product around the world. The offices are known as Factors Row, while the iron bridges which connected them to the city are known collectively as Factors Walk. They date variously from the late antebellum to late Reconstruction era. Today, the buildings are home to shops and restaurants, but the city and business owners have worked hard to retain the historic integrity of the structures.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Isle of Hope United Methodist Church, Circa 1859

The marker placed by the Georgia Historical Society in 1962 notes, in part:  The Isle of Hope Methodist Church was organized in 1851. The first Trustees were George W. Wylly, Simeon F. Murphy, John B. Hogg, William Waite, Theodore Goodwin, Thomas J. Barnsley and the Rev. William S. Baker. The church building that stands here was erected in 1859 on land given by Dr. Stephen Dupon. Its architecture is similar to that of the early churches at Midway and Ebenezer. The gallery at the rear of the church was built primarily for accommodations of slaves…During the War Between the States a Confederate battery stood on the church lot, mounting two 8-inch columbiads and two 32-pounder cannon. The church was used as a hospital for Confederates stationed in the area, the pews (still in existence) serving as beds. Thirty-three Effingham County soldiers sleep in the adjoining churchyard.

Isle of Hope Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Isle of Hope GA, Savannah GA