Tag Archives: Colonial Georgia

The Pirate’s House, Savannah

The history of the so-called Pirate’s House is as colorful as the history of Savannah itself, and like many landmarks in the city, its origins and history are often the subject of debate. I’ll open the proverbial can of worms here and note that though it often appears on superlative lists as the “oldest building in Georgia”, this claim is spurious at best. The Herb House, built in 1734 in General Oglethorpe’s Trustee’s Garden, has been absorbed into the structure you see today. Because its historic integrity has been almost completely lost by centuries of remodeling and expansion, though, the ‘oldest in Georgia’ qualifier is dubious to many, particularly architectural historians. I concur completely. This is not an attack on the present institution housed here but rather an attempt to consolidate disparate histories. Scores of websites, especially ‘ghost’-related sites, are driven by myth and therefore confusing to say the least.

The Pirate’s House Restaurant has been a leading tourist attraction in Savannah for decades, and though their website claims that it was built in 1753, the city’s own tourism website dates it to circa 1794. It’s clear that it had its origins as a tavern, frequented by sailors for its liberal atmosphere and proximity to the Savannah River. Tunnels were actually dug beneath the property in its early days with the purpose of smuggling rum and kidnapped sailors to the riverfront. The site gained literary immortality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, as the scene of Captain Flint’s death. The character of Long John Silver noted that he was with Captain Flint when he died in Savannah. Of course this is a fiction, based loosely on stories a young Stevenson heard as a guest here in the early 19th century. The stories are harmless as long as they’re not posited as fact. And they are, often.

The house was purchased by the Savannah Gas Company in 1948 and subsequently restored and expanded to accommodate its present-day purpose.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Major Charles Oddingsells House, 1797, Savannah

Revolutionary War veteran Major Charles Oddingsells (1754-1810) came to Savannah as a young man, and he soon became a prominent planter and state legislator. He owned land all around Savannah but spent most of his time on Skidaway Island, where he died at the age of 56. He and wife Sarah Livingston Oddingsells had two children, neither of whom lived to adulthood.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah

colonial park cemetery savannah ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

One of the most beautiful and serene public spaces in Savannah, Colonial Park is a veritable museum of the history of early Georgia. While just over 600 graves are marked, the cemetery is reputed to have been the site of as many as 10,000 burials. It’s the second oldest cemetery in Savannah, established circa 1750 as the burying ground for Christ Church parish. It was enlarged in 1789 to allow burials of people from all faiths and it was closed to burials in 1853.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga dar monumental arch photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

This monumental arch was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution to memorialize the Revolutionary War veterans buried in Colonial Park Cemetery.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga avenue of palmettoes photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

This scene is near the modern entrance to the cemetery. Early 20th century postcards identify this lane of trees as the Avenue of Palmettos. They were apparently planted in the late 19th century, as they appear quite small in those images.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga great yellow fever epidemic marker photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Though its pathology was unknown at the time, the Great Yellow Fever Epidemic which plagued Savannah throughout 1820 claimed over 700 lives, including two physicians who attempted to treat the afflicted. Several similar epidemics would follow.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga general samuel elbert photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Samuel Elbert (1740–1 November 1788) , who migrated to Georgia from South Carolina, served on the Council of Safety and the first Provincial Congress of Georgia in 1775.  He was Lieutenant Colonel of the first Continental regiment raised in Georgia, commanded the Georgia Line at the fall of Savannah in 1778, was captured by the British at Briar Creek in 1779, and later took part in the Battle of Yorktown. After his promotion to Brigadier General in the Continental Army in 1783, he served as Governor of Georgia, Sheriff of Chatham County, and Grand Master of Georgia Masons.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga shellman crypt photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

John Shellman (January 1757–12 May 1838) and John Shellman, Jr. (1799–9 November 1821)

colonial park cemetery savannah ga habersham crypt photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

James Habersham (1712?–28 August 1775) was one of the most prominent merchants and public servants of the Colonial Era in Georgia. Soon after his arrival in the colony in 1738, he helped establish, with Reverend George Whitefield, the Bethesda Orphanage. By the 1740s he had established the most successful commercial enterprise in Savannah; his many posts included Provincial Secretary, President of His Majesty’s Council for Georgia, and Acting Provincial Governor from 1771 until 1773. Though he was opposed to the oppressive acts of Parliament, he remained a fierce Loyalist. His loyalties, though, did not tarnish the universal respect held for him by his fellow Georgians. He died visiting New Jersey.

James Habersham, Jr. (1745-2 July 1799) was a founding Trustee of the University of Georgia.

Joseph Habersham (28 July 1751-17 November 1815) was an ardent Son of Liberty and member of the Council of Safety. In 1775 he took part in the raid on the King’s powder magazine and in 1776 personally affected the arrest of Sir James Wright, the Royal Governor. He later served as Mayor of Savannah, and Postmaster General of the United States, from 1793 until 1801.

John Habersham (23 December 1754-17 December 1799) was twice taken prisoner during the Revolutionary War. A member of the Continental Congress in 1785, he later served as a Commissioner of the convention that established the Georgia-South Carolina Border, and first Collector of Customs at Savannah.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga lachlan james mcintosh photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

General Lachlan McIntosh (17 March 1725–20 February 1826)  , whose father John Mor Mackintosh founded the seaport town of Darien, was Georgia’s most illustrious officer in the American Revolution. Commissioned Colonel of the first Continental regiment raised in Georgia, General McIntosh was transferred to General Washington’s headquarters after his duel with Button Gwinnett. Washington later gave him command of the Western Department at Fort Pitt. Returning to Georgia in 1779, General McIntosh took part in the Siege of Savannah. His war service culminated in his capture during the fall of Charlestown (Charleston) in 1780.

Colonel James S. McIntosh (1784–1847) was a great-nephew of General Lachlan McIntosh. He was a hero of the War of 1812 and later in life provided gallant service during the Mexican War. He died from wounds suffered at the storming of El Molina del Rey on 8 September 1847.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga hugh mccall photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Hugh McCall (17 February 1767–10 June 1824) McCall published the first installment in his History of Georgia at Savannah in 1811. It was the first comprehensive history of Georgia published in America.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga james johnston photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

James Johnston (1738-1808)  Johnston, a native of Scotland, came to Savannah in 1761, and was appointed Public Printer of the Province the following year. The first issue of Georgia’s first newspaper, The Georgia Gazette, was brought out by Johnston on 7 April 1763. Johnston was a Loyalist, and after briefly Savannah, he returned when British rule was restored in 1779, resuming publication of the newspaper under the title Royal Georgia Gazette. Interestingly, the Patriots allowed his return to Savannah after the war, and the paper was published from 1783 until 1802 as Gazette of the State of Georgia.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga graham vault general nathanael greene photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

The Graham Vault For 114 years, the remains of the Revolutionary War hero Major General Nathanael Greene (7 August 1742 – 19 June 1786) and his eldest son, George Washington Greene, were interred here. They were exhumed and re-interred at Johnson Square in 1901. Also entombed here was the British Loyalist Lieutenant Colonel John Maitland of the 71st Regiment of Scotch Foot. After helping defend Savannah from the French and American forces in 1779, Maitland suddenly died. The Royalist Lieutenant Governor of Georgia at this time, John Graham, who owned the plot, allowed Maitland’s entombment here. His remains have also apparently been removed. This is likely the only tomb to have ever held the remains of a hero of the American Revolution, alongside a British Loyalist.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga edward greene malbone photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Edward Greene Malbone (August 1777 7 May 1807) Malbone is considered by most art historians to be the greatest of all American miniaturists, and among the best of all time.  He died in Savannah while visiting his cousin, Robert Mackay.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga millen crypt photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Rosannah Millen(1751?–24 February 1810) and  John Millen(1757?–28 October 1811)

colonial park cemetery savannah ga major john berrien photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Major John Berrien (1759-6 November 1815) Berrien came to Georgia from New Jersey in 1775, and soon thereafter, at the age of 17, was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Georgia’s first Continental Brigade. Within a year, he was promoted to Captain. Berrien was a strong supporter of Lachlan McIntosh and followed him to Valley Forge in 1777, where he served as brigade major of the North Carolina troops stationed there. After the war, he returned to Georgia and was active in the early bureaucracy. His father’s home in Rock Hill, New Jersey, was the scene of General Washington’s farewell address to the army. His son, John McPherson Berrien (1781 – 1856) served Georgia in the United States Senate and was Andrew Jackson’s Attorney General.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga john kreeger slate headstone photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

John Kreeger (July 1754–26 April 1800) This is one of the few slate headstones in Colonial Park Cemetery.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga father lemoine crypt photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Reverend Jean Baptiste Le Moine (d. 1794) A refugee of the French Revolution, Reverend Le Moine was formerly the Cure of Morley Le Roi. He was the first Catholic priest in Savannah.

colonial park cemetery savannah ga screven crypt photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

John Screven ( 1767?–November 1820) and Sarah Ann Screven (1788?-June 1823)

colonial park cemetery savannah ga button gwinnett memorial photograph copyright brian brown vanishing coastal georgia usa 2016

Button Gwinnett (1732-35?-19 May 1777), one of Georgia’s Signers of the Declaration of Independence, was also elected to the Continental Congress and President of the Georgia Council of Safety. Though chosen to head the Continental Battalion for Georgia in the Revolutionary War, he was forced to decline the position due to a political rift with his rival, Lachlan McIntosh. Their animosities reached a fever pitch on 16 May 1777 when Gwinnett challenged McIntosh to duel outside Savannah. Though McIntosh survived, Gwinnett died three days later, on 19 May 1777.

In 1964, the Savannah-Chatham County Historic Site and Monument Commission chose this spot to memorialize Gwinnett. There is great debate among historians of Colonial Georgia as to whether Gwinnett is even buried in this cemetery, though the erection of this memorial was a grand gesture considering Gwinnett’s long controversial reputation.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Kilkenny, Circa 1845, Bryan County

Killkenny Plantation Antebellum Landmark Bryan County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Overlooking Kilkenny Creek (sometimes referred to as the Kilkenny River), Kilkenny (pronounced “Kill-Cainey”) was the 662-arcre property of Thomas Young (1733-1808) beginning around 1765. Young was the son-in-law of the property’s original owner, James Maxwell, Jr. As Thomas Young was a Loyalist, Kilkenny was confiscated from him through the 1778 Acts of Attainder and sold to George Cubbedge. Intervention by Young’s friends returned the property to him, though he was prohibited from voting or holding office for 17 years.

Kilkenny Plantation Clubhouse Bryan County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Young’s executors sold Kilkenny to Charles W. Rogers in 1836; Rogers then conveyed the property to his son, the Reverend Charles W. Rogers, Jr., and secured a nearby plantation, Cottenham, for his other son, William M. Rogers. It was used primarily for the production of Sea Island cotton. Little is known of the Rogers family today, though it is thought that Reverend Rogers spent very little time here. In 1850, Rogers’s 125 slaves were enumerated in the census, though he himself did not appear as a citizen of Bryan County. His plantation primarily produced food crops for the slaves. By 1860, Kilkenny was producing more cotton than any other property in the county and the value had increased five-fold, to $30,000. 153 slaves were enumerated in the 1860 census, but Rogers was still not listed as a citizen of Bryan County. By 1874, it had grown to 3,500 acres and was sold to James M. Butler. From this date onward, the property changed hands five times. When acquired by James H. Furber in 1890 the Kilkenny Club was established. (Locally, and on some maps, the area is still known as Kilkenny Club or Kilkenny Fishing Camp). A prominent later owner was Tennessee governor John I. Cox, who sold it to Henry Ford in 1931. Ford restored the property around this time, and it was apparently one of his favorites.

Kilkenny Plantation Henry Ford Restoration Bryan County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The house is unusual in this area because it’s neither Plantation Plain nor Sandhill Cottage style. Built with a four- over-four central hall plan, it’s weatherboarded on three sides and features vertical boards on the front. The main gable features a small widow’s walk. The most unusual feature is the placement of ten small vertical (eyebrow) windows between the roof eaves and the porch roof.

Kilkenny Plantation Kitchen Bryan County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The kitchen (above photo) is among the most important remaining antebellum outbuildings on the Georgia coast. Though the exterior has been weatherboarded to match the house, the interior remains virtually untouched. Pegged beams are visible and a sleeping loft reachable by a crude stair-ladder are present.

Kilkenny Plantation Bryan County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

An oak driveway, or alley,  is one of the most impressive features of Kilkenny.

Kilkenny GA Plantation Oak Drive Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This is the view of Kilkenny Creek looking south from Kilkenny Bluff, in front of the house.

Kilkenny River Looking South Bryan County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

 

 

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Replica of a Scottish Highlander’s Colonial Cottage, Fort King George

Scottish Highlander Cottage Fort King George Darien GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Located at Fort King George, this is a reconstruction/replica of a Scottish Highlander’s cottage. It’s the style of dwelling some of the earliest settlers of Georgia would have called home and it’s very primitive, with dirt floors, mud walls, and a wattle frame. It’s hard to imagine how difficult life must have been for those pioneers.

Fort King George Darien GA Moss Draped Cedar Tree Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

There’s a secluded pond on the walk to the cottage.

Scottish Highlander Cottage Reconstruction Fort King George Darien GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The interior is quite small and it’s impossible to imagine a family of any size living in such a space.

Scottish Highlander Cottage Interior Fort King George Darien GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

A depiction in the museum shows the formal dress of a Scottish Highlander around the time of Darien’s founding.

Scottish Highlander Tartan Fort King George Museum Darien GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Darien, Georgia

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Fort King George, 1721, Darien

Fort King George Darien GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The first British outpost in present-day Georgia, Fort King George was built and commanded by Colonel John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell in 1721, under the auspices of South Carolina Governor Francis Nicholson. Upon its construction it was the southernmost fort in Bristish North America, manned by His Majesty’s Independent Company of Foot. The British claimed the land along the Altamaha River as part of the South Carolina colony as a protection against Spanish forces, who sought to expand their reach northward from Florida. Colonel Barnwell died in 1724 and a mysterious fire claimed the fort in 1726. Rebuilt, it remained in use as a garrison until 1732 when it was officially abandoned. Upon its ruins General Oglethorpe founded Darien in 1736.

Fort King George Darien GA Colonial Stockade Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The blockhouse was built of cypress logs. Its construction proved no simple matter in the wilderness of Coastal Georgia. Though Nicholson and Barnwell had requested fit young soldiers, they were instead supplied with members of the Regiment of Invalids, veterans who in one way or another were not capable of heavy service. The British welfare system of the day allowed them light duty and by 1722 about 100 soldiers were sent from a hospital in Port Royal, South Carolina, to Fort King George.

Fort King George Darien GA Stockade Gun Embrasure Port Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

From embrasures (gun-ports) on the top level of the blockhouse, soldiers kept watch over the Altamaha River delta. Guardhouses, or sentry towers, were also essential to the site’s security.

Fort King George Darien GA Sentry Guardhouse Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

None of the original fortification survives; the structures seen today were built using original plans in 1988. Besides the blockhouse, an officers’ quarters and workshop were also reconstructed.

Fort King George Darien GA Outbuildings Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Fort King George Darien GA Interior of Residence Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Barracks were located at the rear of the property and provided quarters for His Majesty’s Independent Company of Foot.

Fort King George Darien GA Barracks Exterior Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Fort King George Darien GA Barracks Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Fort King George Darien GA Barracks Hearth Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Black Island Creek flows behind the barracks.

Black Island Creek from Fort King George Darien GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

National Register of Historic Places

http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/fort-king-george

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18th Century Tympanic Icons of Midway Cemetery

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Slate Headstone of James Wilson Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympana are the semi-circular arches atop early headstones, usually featuring an iconic relief sculpture. In early America, the most common of these icons is the “winged death” head, usually represented as a cherubic face or skull above a pair of wings. New England churchyards and burying grounds abound with these earliest forms of American sculpture, but they’re rarities in the Deep South. Charleston has the largest concentration, with other examples scattered around the low country of South Carolina; Savannah has a few examples but Midway has the best variety in Georgia.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Slate Winged Death Tympanum of James Wilson Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the James Wilson stone. Slate. Date of death not visible, as the headstone is half-buried (see first photo).

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Nimbus Tympanum of Elisabeth Way 1795 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Elisabeth Way stone, 1792. Sandstone. In regards to design, this is the most important headstone at Midway. In Early Gravestone Art of Georgia & South Carolina (UGA Press, Athens, 1986), Diana Williams Combs wrote: “As far as I know, the nimbus has not been employed elsewhere during this period of American gravestone art. In this context it emphasizes the salvation of the deceased.”

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Susanna Stacy 1780 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Susanna Stacy stone, 1780. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Margaret Stacy 1792 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Margaret Stacy stone, 1792. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Miss Sarah Winn 1767 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Sarah Winn stone, 1767. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Winged Death Tympanum of Sarah Stevens 1767 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the Sarah Stevens stone, 1767. Slate.

Midway Congregational Church Cemetery Liberty County GA Cherub Tympanum of James Osgood 1793 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Tympanum detail of the James Osgood stone, 1793. Marble.

Midway Congregational Church Liberty County GA Brick Cemetery Wall US Highway 17 Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

There’s always a nice view of Midway Congregational Church (1792) across US Highway 17 from the famous brick wall surrounding the cemetery.

National Register of Historic Places

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