Tag Archives: Georgia Pioneers

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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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

John David Mongin House, 1797, Savannah

One of just a handful of 18th-century houses remaining in Savannah, the Mongin House (known for a time as the Capital Dwelling House and now known as the Mongin-Carswell House) was relocated here from another lot on Warren Square and remodeled to its present condition in 1964. Mongin (1763-1833) set about building it as soon as he arrived in Savannah from Daufuskie Island SC. He was a successful merchant but records of his industry in Savannah are quite sparse.

The house also served as a hospital during the 1876 yellow fever outbreak and a rectory for Christ Church.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Eppinger-Lane House, 1821-23, Savannah

Built by James Eppinger (1790-1871) between 1821-23, this Federal style home was moved to its present location on Warren Square from West Perry Street. Eppinger later left Savannah for Pike County, in west central Georgia, and served as an attorney, Georgia legislator, and judge. He was the son of John Eppinger, Sr. (1765-1823), a brickmaker and bricklayer who built what may have been the first brick house in Savannah (a public house at 110 Oglethorpe Avenue built before 1764).

Peter Meldrim, who later became a judge, lived in this house as a youth during the Civil War. Judge Meldrim was later the owner of the iconic Green-Meldrim House, which served as General Sherman’s Savannah headquarters.

Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, no date, Historic American Buildings Survey, Courtesy Library of Congress

This view was likely made in the late 1930s, when the house was still located at West Perry Street. The front stairs and shortened chimneys are the only notable differences in its appearance.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark


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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Burnt Fort Chapel & Cemetery, Camden County

At least two different explanations of the origin of Burnt Fort can be found in a general search of available sources. One account suggests that South Carolina built a fort circa 1715-25 along the banks of the Satilla River near this location [Georgia didn’t yet exist]. The most interesting evidence, though, centers on Edmond Gray, who came to Georgia from Virginia bent upon opening the “neutral lands” between the Altamaha and Satilla Rivers. He and a small group of followers settled upon a site near here in 1755 and named it New Hanover. As the land was in dispute between Great Britain and Spain, the English sought to destroy the colony to avoid a confrontation with Spain and further rousing the native Creek Indians. In late January 1759, Major Henry Hymes of South Carolina and James Edward Powell of Georgia were dispatched by Colonial Governor Henry Ellis of Georgia to destroy the town. Gray complied and was given 28 days. He ordered the settlers to vacate but some remained and operated a small trading post/fort for a time. It was burned soon thereafter; whether by the Creeks or other force remains unclear. The name Burnt Fort was firmly established at least by 1793, when Captain James Randolph built Burnt Fort Station for his squadron of dragoons charged with protecting Camden County from the Creeks. Whatever the real story, it’s a fascinating chapter of Georgia history and bears further inquiry. I will update as I learn more.

A multi-denominational congregation at Burnt Fort dates to at least 1872, though burials in the cemetery date to the early 19th century. The first church was in use until 1947, when declining membership led to its closure. The structure was abandoned and had collapsed by 1960. Area residents, including descendants of the founding families, came together in 1976 to rebuild the church, which was dedicated on 4 September 1977.

Of special note in the cemetery are are the six crypts of the Hedleston children, dating to the 1850s. Most notable are their winged death head reliefs, such as the one seen below.

A good variety of typical funerary iconography can be found here.

Considering there are a number of unmarked but documented burials here, it would be interesting to know if there was indeed a congregation in the early 1800s to serve the thriving community of loggers and timber workers in the community.

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Filed under -CAMDEN COUNTY, Burnt Fort GA

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


Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Ashantilly, Darien


Now known as The Ashantilly Center, a non-profit educational and cultural historic site, the focal point of this property is “Old Tabby”, which was the mainland home of early Georgia planter and legislator Thomas Spalding. Originally built around 1820, the home burned in 1937. The present structure was built by William G. (Bill) Haynes, Jr., incorporating what remained of the original structure. I made these photographs in 2011 at the invitation of Harriet Langford, Ashantilly’s most ardent advocate and chairman of its board of directors.


This is a section of the original tabby.


Bill Haynes worked hard to preserve the historical integrity of the property, though additions were necessary to make the house livable.


Period furniture collected by Haynes over the years can be seen in the parlor and in other areas of the house, like the dining room, seen below.


Bill Haynes was a man of many talents. He made the oil painting below in which Old Tabby can faintly be seen in the background, as it appeared before the fire of 1937.


His interest in Southern subjects is evident in this watercolor of a sweet potato harvest.


An avid bibliophile, Haynes’s collection fills library shelves throughout the house.


The attic served as a workshop for Haynes. It’s presently being cataloged and organized.


Because the house faces Black Island Creek, the rear elevation is what many people see first.


National Register of Historic Places





Filed under -MCINTOSH COUNTY, Darien GA

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




Filed under -BRYAN COUNTY