Tag Archives: Georgia Landmarks

Oak Grove Cemetery, 1838, Brunswick

Oak Grove Chapel, or Wake House. Oak Grove Cemetery Society President Robert M. Gindhart III writes: For the record, recent research has revealed the true story of Oak Grove Chapel which was completed in April 1902 by the Ladies Oak Grove Cemetery Society. The chapel [originally thought built in the 1880s] was built in one year with donations of materials, cash, and labor.  The chapel had a 1902 value of $400. Three purposes for the chapel were to provide a place: for funerals in the cemetery; to hold Oak Grove Cemetery Society meetings and to store their garden tools.  That Society was founded on March 2,1901 and is not to be confused with today’s Oak Grove Cemetery Society founded on March 18, 2014.  In fact, when today’s Society chose the name, we knew nothing of the earlier group founded 113 years earlier.  Their work is today our work.  The ladies found Oak Grove in exactly the same condition as did today’s Society. 
The chapel was restored in 2017.

Oak Grove was established by the city of Brunswick in 1838 as its first public cemetery and was originally designed to encompass ten acres. I received a nice message from Oak Grove Cemetery Society President Robert M. Gindhart III and he updated some of the history of the site: The cemetery was finally reduced to the size we see today in 1901 to make way for the new Brunswick and Birmingham Railroad roadbed. This greatly altered the western boundary of Oak Grove, moving the fence 50 feet eastward. Fifty graves were exhumed and most of those were brought within the new cemetery boundary. Were all exhumed? Recently, OGCS, using Ground Penetrating Radar, identified hundreds of unknown graves.  We have added those to our electronic map found at: www.oakgrovetour.com identified by beginning with letter U and a blue dot.

Oak Grove contains a nice variety of Victorian funerary monuments and is one of Brunswick’s most fascinating public spaces. It shouldn’t be overlooked.

The memorials that follow were randomly selected and appear in no particular order

Eula L. Brown Dunwoody [1862-1890].
Nightingale Family Plot
Frances Nicolau Nightingale [1871-1948]. Founded in 1920, with Maya Stevens Bamford, Miss Nightingale’s School for Girls (Nightingale-Bramford School) in Manhattan. Graduates include Millicent Fenwick and Gloria Vanderbilt.
James D. Kenny [1828-1885]. Irish-born sailor.
Cornelia M. W. Boone [1847-1876]. Yellow fever victim.
Captain Douglas G. RIsley [1838-1882]. Captain Risley served the Union in the Civil War and founded the first public school for African-Americans in Brunswick in 1870.
Major Urbanus Dart, Sr. [1800-1883]. Upon his death in 1883, Major Dart was the oldest known citizen of Brunswick. He was associated with the first railroad chartered in Georgia and served in the state legislature.
William Harvey Anderson, Sr. [1837-1896] & Alethia I. Williams Anderson [1839-1904]. William Anderson, Sr., was a prominent contractor and builder in Brunswick and was responsible for the construction of Brunswick’s City Hall.
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Anderson Mausoleum (Detail)
Hirsch & May Mausolea. Benjamin Moses Hirsch [1840-1927]. Bertha Elizabeth Hirshfield Hirsch [1842-1912]. Julius May [1863-1915]. Emma M. Hirsch May [1870-1946]. The Hirsch & May families were prominent Jewish merchants in Brunswick.
Samuel Bruce Moore [1835-1857].
Joseph Florence Lasserre [1844-1919] & Family. This monument was likely erected upon the death of Lasserre’s daughter, Ida, who died in 1898. Lasserre was a native of France and served as Captain in Harris’s Independent Co. Brunswick Riflemen, 26th Infantry Regiment of Georgia.
Satilla G. Brown [1857-1901]
Sir Rosendo Torras [1851-1929]. Rosendo Torras was a native of Spain who was knighted by King Gustaf of Sweden for service to the crown. He came to Brunswick in the 1890s as captain of a sailing ship. His son, Fernando J. Torras, was an engineer and the builder and namesake of the causeway to St. Simons Island.
Unidentified Brick Crypt
William Williams [1800-1885]. Demis Broad Williams [1814-1877].
O’Connor Family Plot
William Walter Watkins [1841-1885].
James Alexander Clubb, Jr. [1827-1889]. Clubb was the lighthouse keeper on Little Cumberland Island and was the pilot of the slave ship The Wanderer.
Townsend Plot Starburst Finial
Annie Louise Blain [1884-1891].
Annie Elizabeth Scranton Blain [1845-1880].

Oak Grove is open from dawn until dusk. Parking is free, on the street beside the cemetery.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--, Brunswick GA

Village Cemetery, St. Simons Island

The sacred ground on St. Simons known as Village Cemetery is one of the most important African-American burial grounds in Georgia. Closely watched over and maintained by the First African Baptist Church of St. Simons, it is the final resting place of countless souls who worked nearby plantations from the early 19th century to Emancipation, and their descendants. It should be noted that until World War II, and perhaps a bit later, African-Americans were much more numerous on St. Simons, living in various historical communities scattered around the island.

I found the cemetery by accident and was so moved by its beauty that I felt an urgency to document its most important monuments. Though there are countless unmarked and unknown burials, the oldest surviving section of the cemetery contains numerous vernacular headstones. These nationally significant treasures represent the resourcefulness and perhaps shed light on some of the traditions of the first and second generations of freedmen who remained on the island after emancipation. In early 19th century Georgia, slave burials were decorated with the last object used by the deceased. It is likely that the decorated graves in Village Cemetery are a continuation of that tradition. The cemetery is active so modern headstones and markers are also present.

I hope that the church or others with more knowledge of the cemetery’s history will work to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A survey was published by the Golden Isles Archaeology Society in 2000 and the cemetery has been documented on Findagrave. I am unable to share the location of the cemetery but those interested may wish to contact the First African Baptist Church.

Vernacular Monuments of Village Cemetery

Hattie Lee (29 November 1871-6 June 1929)
The Hattie Lee monument features a mosaic of glass and shells in the form of a vase or tree of life. It is the most colorful of all the surviving monuments.
Thomas A. Lee (9 August 1881-10 January 1933)
Aaron Lomon (8 July 1891-19 August 1931)
The Aaron Lomon monument features a hand-sculpted bell, ringing.
Peter Ramsey (17 February 1873-2 April 193?)
The Peter Ramsey monument features a mosaic star and beautiful raised lettering.
John Davis (April 1871-21 September 1927)
The John Davis monument features an encircled star mosaic centered with milk glass.
Albert Hampton (1 April 1897-5 November 1937) The Albert Hampton monument features a garland of pebbles in a design I don’t recognize. In African burial customs, shells and stones represented the boundary to the afterlife. In African cultures, white often represented death, so the light color of the stones is an affirmation of that tradition.
Jim Hightower (30 October 1884-7 June 1934)
The Jim Hightower monument features an interesting placement of letters and a star. The name is spelled phonetically, which was common in an era when African-Americans were often denied a basic education. There is slight damage to the lower right side of the stone.
Louise Hunter Hightower (27 January 1887-24 March 1964)
Mary Floyd, Hunter Baffo. There is no discernible information about the deceased on this simple headstone.
Edward Floyd (March?-May?) Though it appears to be the resting place of Floyd Edward, the presence of other Floyds in the cemetery suggest it is likely Edward Floyd. Unfortunately, this is often encountered and illustrates the difficulties of African-American genealogy.
Phillist White (23 January 1893-4 December 1927) I’m sharing this monument to represent the others of this manufacture bearing the symbol of the Mosaic Templars of America. This was an African-American fraternal organization founded by former slaves in 1882 to provide life and burial insurance to the communities they served. The local chapter was known as the Wesley Oak Chamber 2128.

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Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--, St. Simons Island GA

Queen Anne House, Brunswick

Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Queen Anne House, 1889, Brunswick

Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Folk Victorian House, 1895, Brunswick

It’s obvious that the porch, in its present configuration, is a later addition to this house. I’m unsure as to its original style; the date of 1895 is from a resource survey and may only be a guess. I hope to learn more.

Brunswick Old Town Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--, Brunswick GA

Shotgun Houses, Brunswick

With the growing popularity of small houses, shotgun houses have become hot properties in the broader real estate market. Quite a few survive in varying states of repair throughout Brunswick’s historic African-American neighborhood and instead of being seen as blight should be an opportunity for affordable historic housing. They were likely built from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Colored Memorial School, 1923, Brunswick

In 1870, the Freedmen’s School was established as the first public school for African-Americans in Brunswick. Colored Memorial High School, designed by Cloister architect Francis L. Abreu, was built adjacent to the Freedmen’s School in 1923* and named to honor African-American veterans of World War I. The Freedmen’s School was replaced by Risley High School in 1936 and served the community until 1955 when a new Risley High School was built elsewhere. It was named Risley School, for Captain Douglas Gilbert Risley, who advocated for the school as the head of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

*- The 1922 date on the building is the date the cornerstone was laid by Dr. H. R. Butler.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--, Brunswick GA

Winged-Gable Cottage, Circa 1935, Crescent

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Filed under --MCINTOSH COUNTY GA--, Crescent GA

LaRoche House Demolished in Crescent

During the first week of April 2020, the LaRoche House, one of the most iconic 19th-century houses in McIntosh County, was razed.

I’ve been photographing the house for nearly a decade. These images were made in the months leading up to its demise.

It has been difficult to track down the early history of the house, but whatever it may be this is a significant architectural and historical loss for McIntosh County.

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Filed under --MCINTOSH COUNTY GA--, Crescent GA

Wayfair Primitive Baptist Church, Cox

Wayfair Primitive Baptist Church is the only representative congregation of the Alabaha Association Crawfordites in McIntosh County. It was established in 1873 but little else is known about it. It is no longer active but the cemetery is still used for burials.

Like all of the Crawfordite meeting houses, Wayfair is free of ornament and any modern creature comforts.

Members of this faith believed that such enhancements distracted from worship.

The carpentry skills of the members are on full display in each of these meeting houses, and Wayfair is no exception.

These photographs were made in 2012; they were originally posted on Vanishing South Georgia.

 

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Filed under --MCINTOSH COUNTY GA--, Cox GA