This view of the Mud River, near the edge of Sapelo Sound, was made from inside the historic tabby barn at Chocolate.
Tag Archives: Georgia Tabby
There is a small section of an original tabby wall on the right of the drive into the modern gated community at Hampton Point Plantation. Owners at some point incorporated tabby fencing (the lower section to the right).
On the left of the entrance to the gated community is a much larger section of tabby wall. (Detail below)
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.
The North Dwelling retains a small section of its northeastern wall and the scattered remnants of its hearth.
The South Dwelling is the most intact of the four sites, retaining sections of all four walls, a defined window, doorway, and hearth.
It’s been shrouded in mystery and rumor for much of its history and the Pink Chapel (modern name) was actually built as the result of a feud between two families. But it wasn’t pink from the bloodstains of slaves (the coloration was due to lichens that few on the tabby walls) and wasn’t a temple for satanic followers, as some urban legends have indicated.
The original chapel was erected in 1838 on the grounds of Colonel William Wigg Hazzard’s West Point Plantation as a place of private worship. Col. Hazzard’s brother, Dr. Thomas Fuller Hazzard, who owned Pike’s Bluff, had a feud with John Wylly, owner of nearby Village Plantation, over land lines. A duel was called for but never commenced. However, when the two met by chance at the Oglethorpe Hotel in Brunswick, on 3 December 1838, Dr. Hazzard fired at Wylly and Wylly died instantly. Since both the Hazzard and Wylly families worshiped at Christ Church, the Hazzard family did not feel safe attending services there.
The present chapel is a reconstruction of the original, incorporating some of the original material. I have yet to track down the date of the reconstruction. [I’m including it only as an historical reference point, and to clarify to those wondering that it is a replica].
The Pink Chapel is not open to the public and can only be seen from a road and the edge of a driveway.
Arguably Darien’s most beautiful church, St. Cyrpian’s can trace its origins to the years of devastation following the Civil War. Reverend Dr. James Wentworth Leigh arrived in the area from Great Britain in 1873 and initiated a project to provide a church for the freedmen of Darien. Donations came from Europe, Philadelphia, and elsewhere to assist the fledgling congregation in their quest to build a suitable home. They named their church St. Cyprian’s for the martyred African Bishop. Using the construction techniques they knew best, the men of St. Cyprian’s built the church using tabby and brick. It is one of the most significant tabby structures still in use.
Darien Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
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.
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.
Reverend Henry Kollock Rees & Family
Noble Jones was one of the original settlers of Georgia, coming to the colony with General James Oglethorpe in 1733. He applied for a land grant on the southern end of the Isle of Hope but the grant wasn’t formally approved by George II until 1756. Construction on the fortified tabby-and-wood house began around 1739 and was completed around 1745. The fortifications were seen as a necessary foil for a potential Spanish invasion.
Jones named the plantation Wormslow. It was originally thought that this was a reference to the silkworms that optimistic early colonists hoped would make Georgia a leading producer of silk, but in fact it was a prominent place name in the English-Welsh borderlands from which the Joneses came to the New World.
Noble’s son, Noble Wimberly Jones (c. 1723-1805) was the next owner and spent little time at the estate, preferring life in the city of Savannah. His sister, Mary Jones Bulloch also had a life estate in the property. The ruins of the first house remain today as material evidence of Georgia’s earliest days.
In contrast to his loyalist father, Noble W. Jones was a Whig, and after service in the provincial and state legislature pursued a career in medicine. He was elected to the Continental Congress but was unable to serve. Still, his dedication to the cause of revolution earned him the moniker “Morning Star of Liberty”.
George Jones, son of Noble Wimberly, was the next owner, and his son, George Frederick Tilghman Jones changed the spelling from Wormslow to Wormsloe. He also changed his own name to George Wymberly Jones and then added the surname De Renne. He was an active builder of improved structures on the property and was a large slave owner. De Renne was also an important collector of early Georgia documents and manuscripts, reprinting many rare items. The family is still involved in these pursuits to this day. A later descendant, Wymberly Wormsloe De Renne fell on financial hard times just before the Great Depression and opened the estate, with the fine gardens he had developed, to the public. Wormsloe Gardens became a prominent tourist attraction. Wormsloe House remains in the family but the surrounding grounds became a state historic site in 1979. One of the best events in Savannah, the annual Colonial Fare & Muster is staged here each year.
National Register of Historic Places
Modified for residential use in the 20th century and restored in the late 2000s, the three extant tabbies on Ossabaw Island represent the most significant surviving cluster of slave dwellings on the Georgia coast. They were part of the Morel family’s North End Plantation, which was among the most successful such operations in early Georgia. Though exact construction dates for the tabby row can’t be determined, extensive archaeological research has determined they were built between circa 1820-1840s. Various Ossabaw employees lived in these structures into the early 1990s and they were modified to accommodate modern needs. Nearly all traces of those modifications have been removed and restoration work has been done.
Tabby Slave Cabin No. 1 -Like the other two cabins, this was originally a saddlebag though the central chimney has been removed.
Tabby Slave Cabin No. 2 – This cabin retains its central chimney.
Tabby Slave Cabin No. 3- This cabin has been stabilized and will eventually be restored. Past modifications are still visible.
National Register of Historic Places