Tag Archives: The American Revolution in Georgia

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


Filed under --CHATHAM COUNTY GA--, Savannah GA

Christ Church, Frederica, 1884, St. Simons Island

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Founded in 1808, Christ Church did not build a permanent house of worship until 1820, due largely to economic troubles stemming from the War of 1812.  The first structure stood until the Civil War, when Union troops damaged it so badly that members were forced to meet in their homes until the present structure was built in 1884.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Altar Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The interior of Christ Church is breathtaking. Shipbuilders built the new cruciform church to resemble an inverted ship’s hull, symbolic of the ship of faith  There are various stained glass windows throughout.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Detail of Stained Glass Old Chapel Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

One of two windows in the vestibule of Christ Church dedicated to the rector of the present structure, this one features the original antebellum church, as well as the present structure. The other window is dedicated to Anson Greene Phelps Dodge, who established  the Dodge Home for Boys (1895-1956) and endowed the All Saints Cathedral in Allahabad, India, 1884. Other windows, including one made by Tiffany Studios, feature typical but beautifully rendered Christian iconography.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Stained Glass Window Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Christ Church Cemetery, Frederica

Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island Churchyard Cemetery Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The church and graveyard are among the most visited and beloved places on St. Simons. It’s the final resting place of many Georgia pioneers and veterans of nearly every war dating from the American Revolution onward. The following photos represent just a small sampling of the cemetery.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Cemetery Llewellin & Ann Harris Pioneer Settlers Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Lewellin Harris (1742? – 15 December 1808)

Ann Harris (1759? – 17 April 1815)

This stone is erected by Henry Allen & John Benjamin Harris, to the memory of their Father, Lewellin Harris, an Old & respectable Inhabitant of St. Simons Island, who departed this transitory life on said Island Dec. 15, 1808, Aged 66.  Also Their Mother Ann Harris, wife of Lewellin Harris, who departed this life on the same Island, April 17, 1815, Aged 56.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Cemetery Tabby Maousoleum Hazzard Family Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The Hazzard family owned West Point and Pike’s Bluff plantations on St. Simons. This tabby mausoleum is one of the most interesting gravesites in Christ Church cemetery. The date A. D. 1813 is inscribed on a bronze marker at the foot of the mausoleum and is a bit mysterious. This history of the Hazzards was written by Carey C. Giudici: The Hazzard family was one of the Island’s most colorful families. Originally from South Carolina, Revolutionary War veteran Colonel William Hazzard moved to the area and purchased West Point in 1818. This plantation, just north of Frederica, became the home of Hazzard’s oldest son Colonel William Wigg Hazzard. Nine years later the younger son, Dr. Thomas Fuller Hazzard bought the Pike’s Bluff property that adjoined West Point to the north. The family now owned much of the north end of St. Simons Island. Very active in church activities, they also served as representatives to Georgia’s House of Representatives, enjoyed competing in their racing boats Shark and Comet, and frequently went hunting with their pack of deer hounds. Both were also noted writers; William Wigg Hazzard’s 1825 history of Glynn County is still in print. In 1838 a boundary dispute resulted in Dr. Thomas Hazzard shooting a young neighbor, John Armstrong Wylly. Tradition has it that although Dr. Hazzard was acquitted of any crime, the family was so ostracized by the other planter families that they built their own family chapel on West Point–which became known as “The Pink Chapel” because of the lichen-based discoloration on its tabby walls. Colonel Hazzard’s son, Captain William Miles Hazzard, commanded the local Confederate Army detachment during the Civil War. With nine troops and a slave named Henry, he burned the U.S. Navy headquarters on the occupied St. Simons.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Cyrus Dart Revolutionary Veteran Drowning Victim Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Private Cyrus Dart (11 June 1764 – 29 June 1817)

Connecticut Continental Line, Revolutionary War. Drowned Off St. Simons Island.

Cyrus Dart was born in Haddon, Connecticut. In 1782, he enlisted as  Private in the 1st Connecticut Regiment Continental Line and served for one year. After the Revolutionary War, he completed medical studies in Connecticut and in 1792 moved to Glynn County where he operated a medical practice in the town of Frederica. In 1796, Cyrus married Ann Harris and was appointed Surgeon in the U. S. Army, stationed at Coleraine in Camden County. In 1802 he resigned from the Army and was appointed Quarantine Officer for the Port of Brunswick and served in that position until his death. The untimely accident that took his life at age 53 was caused when his rowboat capsized as he and his son, Urbanus, were enroute to inspect an inccoming vessel. (Source: Marshes of Glynn Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution)

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Cemetery Sarah Frewin Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Sarah Frewin (1811? – 25 October 1824)

Daughter of James & Elizabeth Frewin, aged 13 years.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island 2

Oak & Acorn Garland, Headstone of John Couper, one of many Coupers who worshiped here. Couper’s Point, sight of St. Simons Light, was deeded to the U. S. by John Couper in 1804 for the construction of a lighthouse.

Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Cemetery Major William Page Revolutionary War Officer Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Major William Page (2 January 1764 – 12 January 1827)

William Page was born at Page’s Point, Prince William Parish, South Carolina. His father, Thomas Page, sided with the Loyalists in the American rebellion. When he died in 1780, his son joined Francis Marion to fight in the irregular combat in the South Carolina countryside. As a result, the Tories burned his house at Page’s Point. In 1781, he married Hannah Timmons. After the war, William Page moved to Georgia and in 1804 purchased land on St. Simons Sound, which he named “Retreat”. In total, the Retreat Plantation exceeded 2000 acres; and on it he grew prized long-staple cotton. In 1808, he became a major in the 7th Battalion of the Glynn County Militia, a position he held for the rest of his life. (Source: Marshes of Glynn Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution)

Captain Alexander Campbell Wylly Christ Church Frederica Cemetery Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Captain Alexander Campbell Wylly (1759? – 31 May 1833)

A Georgia Historical Commission Marker regarding Captain Wylly Road on nearby Jekyll Island explains the two Captain Wyllys:

There were two Captain Wyllys in the history of Jekyll. It is believed the road was named for Charles Spalding Wylly (1836- 1923), Captain in the Confederate Army, 1st Georgia Regulars, a descendant of Clement Martin, who was granted, on April 5, 1768, Jekyll Island by the Crown. His grandfather, Captain William Campbell Wylly (born at Belfast, Ireland), remaining loyal to the British General Provost crossed the St. Marys and marched on Savannah. After the Revolution he moved to Nassau and was made Governor of New Providence. In 1807 he returned to Georgia, lived first on Jekyll, then St. Simons. Captain Alexander Campbell Wylly was born in Belfast in 1759, moving to Savannah from there.

Captain Charles Spalding Wylly 1st Georgia Regulars Christ Church Frederica Cemetery Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Captain Charles Spalding Wylly


Historic Christ Church Frederica St Simons Island GA Cemetery Henrietta Stevens Currie Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Henrietta Stevens  (Mrs. John C.) Currie (28 February 1855 – 15 April 1937)

Christ Church Frederica Cemetery Author Eugenia Price Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Eugenia Price (22 June 1916 – 28 May 1996)

World-famous for her historical novels set on the Georgia coast in the early days of white settlement, Eugenia Price was largely responsible for the national attention Christ Church has received in the ensuing years. My mother has always been a big fan of her writing. From the Lighthouse trilogy and the Georgia trilogy to the Florida trilogy and the Savannah quartet, most of her books are still in print or readily available on the coast, especially on St. Simons.













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

Straw Lachlan, McIntosh County

Straw Lachlan McIntosh County GA White Swamp Ancestral Lands Abandoned Barn Dirt Road Palm Tree Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

The barn featured in these two images is located on the property of Brenda McIntosh White Rogers and represents an atypical scene in Coastal Georgia. The land was held by early McIntosh settlers and is described as Straw Lachlan in the last will and testament of one Lachlan B. McIntosh. Straw Lachlan was originally a 750-acre tract “…near Darien Road, a distance from South Newport Bridge…” The barn was part of Brenda’s father’s farm. She notes that in more recent years the property was known as White Swamp, for the large number of White Oaks (Quercus alba) thereon. The land today is bordered to the east by U. S. Highway 17 and to the west by Interstate 95, which follows the line of pine trees in the background of the above photograph.

Straw Lachlan McIntosh County GA White Swamp Ancestral Lands of Georgia Pioneers Abandoned Barn Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012



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Filed under --MCINTOSH COUNTY GA--

McIntosh Family Cemetery, U.S. 17

McIntosh Family Cemetery Sign Wrought Iron Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

The cemetery is located on U.S. Highway 17 in northern McIntosh County, south of Riceboro.

McIntosh Family Cemetery McIntosh County GA Headstone Old Fencepost Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

It serves descendants of the McIntosh family who settled Darien and McIntosh County in 1736. You won’t find Lachlan McIntosh here, but for Georgia history buffs and genealogist it provides a tangible link with one of our state’s founding families.

Brenda McIntosh White Rogers Keeper of McIntosh Family Cemetery Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2012

The McIntosh clan is lucky to have a genealogist among them. Brenda McIntosh White Rogers, pictured above, is not only well-versed in the family’s storied history but is also the custodian of the cemetery. She keeps an eye on the place from her nearby home, itself on ancestral lands of some of Georgia’s earliest settlers. I’m very grateful to her for sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm.

McIntosh Family of McIntosh County Historic Marker Cemetery Picture Image Photo © Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2012

The text of this historic marker reads: The service of this family to America, since the first of the Clan, with their leader, Captain John McIntosh Mohr, came from the Highlands of Scotland to Georgia, in 1736, forms a brilliant record. The roll of distinguished members of this family includes: Gen. Lachlan McIntosh, Col. William McIntosh, Col. John McIntosh, Maj. Lachlan McIntosh-officers in the Revolution; Col. James L. McIntosh, killed in the Mexican War; Maria J. McIntosh, authoress; Capt. John McIntosh, Capt. Wm. McIntosh of Mallow, Capt. Roderick (Rory) McIntosh-British Army Officers Serving in the War with Spain and in the Indian Country; George M. Troup, Governor of Georgia; John McIntosh Kell, Second Officer of the Alabama; Thomas Spalding of Sapelo; Creek Indian Chiefs-General Wm. McIntosh,  Roley McIntosh, Judge Alexander McIntosh, Acee Blue Eagle…and many others.

Georgia Historical Commission, 1957

There’s also a marker for the William Bartram Trail, placed by the McIntosh Family Cemetery Association and the Oleander District of the Garden Club of Georgia, noting that Donald McIntosh gave shelter from a “tremendous thunderstorm” to the famed explorer in 1773.


Filed under --MCINTOSH COUNTY GA--

Midway & The Retreat Churches

View from Slave Gallery, Midway© Brian Brown

A Brief History of Midway & The Retreat Churches

In any survey of the early history of Georgia, the name of one church comes up far more often than any other as a seat of power in the colony. Midway Congregational Church, about thirty miles south of Savannah, was founded by families quite unlike other Georgia colonists, who were usually recent immigrants from the British Isles. The settlers who came to St. John’s Parish in 1752 descended from English Puritans from the counties of Dorset, Devon, and Somersetshire, who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, naming their settlement Dorchester, after a beloved town in England. They were the first commercial fishermen in New England and had as much a commercial motive for being in the New World as they did a religious one. It should be noted that the town charter of Dorchester in 1633 was the first in Massachusetts and, indeed, in all of the English colonies. By 1636, though, weary of Governor John Winthrop’s dominance and an increasingly authoritarian clergy, many of the families resettled to the Farmington River in Connecticut, establishing the town of Windsor.

In part because of their success and the need for more land, and because they felt a calling to “settle the gospel” elsewhere in the colonies, they left New England for good in 1695 and spent the next half-century in South Carolina. Their colony along the Ashley River, which also bore the name Dorchester, soon thrived to the point that land holdings were becoming inadequate to perpetuate their industry. Though a necessity for the cultivation of rice and other labor-intensive crops, their embrace of slavery seemed out of synch with Calvinist ideology, and many of their New England brethren openly expressed disdain with this unusual alliance. However, the Puritan principles of  thrift, the dignity of hard work, social and racial superiority, and profit made this alliance inevitable. When large land grants in Georgia were made available in December 1752, Benjamin Baker and Samuel Bacon brought their families to a sparsely populated district between Georgia’s two most important ports, Savannah and Darien. This foray into the southernmost colony was soon met with interest by their South Carolina compatriots.

By 1754 the Reverend John Osgood and sixteen families in his charge came to Georgia and officially transferred the Dorchester church and its mission to this new location. In late August of that year, they drew up articles of incorporation of the “Society Settled Upon Medway and Newport in Georgia.” [Medway refers to the nearby Medway River, which ran through historic Sunbury. Some have surmised this to be the origin of the name Midway, though most historians agree that the name is solely geographical.] One of the objectives of the society was to establish peace and harmony among themselves and inoffensiveness to their neighbors, and to this goal they succeeded. The first school of any importance in Georgia was established by Midway members at nearby Sunbury, and one of the first notable libraries in the state was maintained by the Newport and Midway Library Society, which evolved from the plantation-based Beech Hill Alphabet Society.

Midway Congregational Church, 1792 – © Brian Brown

Some of the best-known names in early Georgia were associated with Midway Church. Two of the state’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence were counted among the membership. Dr. Lyman Hall, whose plantation Hall’s Knoll was located just northwest of the church, was a regular congregant. Hall, who also served as governor, was instrumental in convincing the fledgling, loyalist-leaning colony to vote for independence. Button Gwinnett, infamous for his duel with Lachlan McIntosh, was also a member of the Midway congregation, as he maintained a home and small farm on nearby St. Catherine’s Island. Two important generals of the Revolutionary War, James Screven and Daniel Stewart, were also members. General Screven lost his life in a battle near Midway Church. So esteemed was the patriotism of Midway members that in 1777 the legislature combined the historic parishes of St. John, St. James, and St. Andrew and named them Liberty County.

Other prominent members of the congregation included Governors Nathan Brownson, Richard Howley, and John Martin; United States Senators John Elliot, Alfred Iverson, and Augustus O. Bacon; Continental Congressman Benjamin Andrew; U. S. Representatives John A. Cuthbert and William B. Fleming; and the first U. S. Minister to China, John E. Ward. Another member, Dr. Louis LeConte, who owned Woodmanston Plantation and its well-known botanical gardens, was the father of two of 19th century America’s most important scientists, John and Joseph LeConte. John was the second president of the University of California. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., telegraph inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, and President Theodore Roosevelt were all descended from Midway families. Five Georgia counties were named for citizens of this era: Hall, Gwinnett, Screven, Stewart, and Baker, created in 1825 in memory of Colonel John Baker.

In the interim between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, change gripped the Midway community. Much of the population of Liberty County was pushing westward to the interior, and in this time, the so-called “retreat” communities of Walthourville, Flemington, and Dorchester developed. These retreats were no more than a summer safeguard against the malarial mosquito invasions which plagued settlements near the coast, but their emergence hinted at great changes for the future of Midway Church. The shift in agriculture to a more stable inland base and the destruction wrought by the Civil War hastened the end of the congregation. By 1867 the last regular minister was dismissed. Soon thereafter, the trustees leased the building to a group of African-Americans for use as a church and school.

The first retreat of the Midway colonists was located about fifteen miles inland, on higher and sandier ground. Initially, it was known as Sand Hills. Midway member Andrew Walthour built the first dwelling in the area in 1795 and was soon joined by a multitude of others. By 1800 the settlement became more permanent, and the name was changed to Walthourville. In 1820 a Union building was erected, since the retreat population were still congregants of Midway. At first, they went back and forth to the main church for baptisms and communion, but eventually the congregation at Walthourville was established. A new church was built circa 1845, and in 1855 they officially became Presbyterians. At this time they were given independence from Midway, but still maintained a spiritual bond. They were vastly successful as a congregation, being the second largest in the Savannah presbytery and the largest in terms of benevolent gifts. The journal of Judge John LeConte Harden, who spent much of his boyhood in the 1840s in Walthourville, fondly recalled a place called Tea Grove Farms. It was one of the most prosperous in the county, and quite early for a commercial farm; everything from tea, which was in cultivation in several locations around Liberty County at the time, to peaches, pears, apples and scuppernongs was produced at Tea Grove. The descendants of the Midway congregation who now made Walthourville their home were quite industrious and also grew sugar cane and were pioneers in the Southern naval stores industry. Fire destroyed the 1845 church and the present Walthourville Presbyterian Church was built in 1877-78.

Walthourville Presbyterian Church, 1878 – © Brian Brown

In 1815, another Midway member, William Fleming, established Gravel Hill, a retreat in the pinelands of Liberty County. Like the settlers of Walthourville before them, the people who came to Gravel Hill established a more permanent presence as time passed. For many summers, worship services were held in homes and then in a log structure which also housed a magistrate court. The first permanent church was built in 1832 on land given by Simon Fraser and was used for twenty years. The church followed the organization of Midway and was seen as a branch, not a mission, of Midway. In 1850 the name of the retreat was changed to Flemington in honor of William Fleming. A new home for the old Gravel Hill church was constructed between 1851 and 1852, and one of the selectmen of the congregation, T. Q. Cassels, was the architect. Though an amateur, he was well read in classical civilization and its monuments. The impressive steeple, to this day the pride of the congregation, was built by member Irwin Rahn. By the end of the Civil War, those who had settled in Flemington found the ten-mile trip to Midway nearly impossible, sought and were granted independence. In the spring of 1866, they officially adopted Presbyterianism. Upholding Puritan values of good education, a school was established, known by the 1830s as the Tranquill Institute. Confederate, then Union soldiers, used the old school as a hospital in 1864, and three of the Union casualties are buried in the Flemington cemetery. By the Victorian era, the Flemington Musical Society’s influence on popular entertainment in the area illustrates the shift away from Puritan roots toward a more secular society.

Flemington Presbyterian Church, 1852 – © Brian Brown

The last of the retreat churches to be established was located at Dorchester. Its origins can be traced to nearby Sunbury, a short-lived boom town founded in 1758 whose trustees were members of Midway Church. Sunbury thrived nearly from its inception, rivaling Savannah in commercial importance, but its proximity to Fort Morris lead to its capture and subsequent burning by British troops during the American Revolution. While many such casualties of the war recuperated, Sunbury never seemed to regain its prominence after the devastating four-year occupation that followed. The hurricane of 1824 and a yellow fever epidemic sent many of its residents scattering into the nearby countryside. Huge plantations with names like Laurel Grove, Arcadia, Melon Bluff, Cedar Point, and Palmyra were emerging in the countryside around old Sunbury. In 1843 upon the suggestion of Reverend Thomas Sumner Winn, a tutor for prominent Presbyterian minister Charles Colcock Jones, a site was chosen for a retreat between Sunbury and Midway. It was originally known simply as “the Village,” but was soon christened Dorchester, in tribute to the heritage of its citizens. Some families built summer homes at Dorchester, though many tore down their dwellings near Sunbury and rebuilt them on the higher and drier ground the retreat afforded. As this new location was only six miles from Midway, the idea of building a church was not initially entertained, though an academy was built in which Sunday school was regularly taught. By 1854, with the continuing decline in membership at Midway, the families of the village built a permanent church, which still stands today. The old town bell from Sunbury, dated 1799, was placed in the steeple. The land was donated by Bartholomew Busby, who owned the nearby Melon Bluff Plantation. At first it was used only in summer, but by the onset of the Civil War was in regular use. The church was officially recognized by the Savannah Presbytery in 1871 and named Dorchester Presbyterian Church. Descendants of the original members continue to gather once each year and on special occasions.

Dorchester Presbyterian Church, 1854 – © Brian Brown

In The Children of Pride, which details the lives of a Liberty County family during the Civil War, Robert Manson Myers said the record of the Midway district was both astonishing and unique for a small rural community that never had a population of more than a few hundred people and that was dispersed little more than a century after its founding. Besides the obvious contributions these relocated Puritans made to the early history of Georgia, especially through service in the Revolutionary War, there was the broader impact of plantation society on the fledgling economy. This fostered an agrarian pattern that persisted well into the 20th century. Moreover, many of the Puritan ideals which the Midway settlers brought from England were instrumental in framing our modern social and legal structure. That the three retreat churches remain influential forces in the social and spiritual life of Liberty County today is proof enough of their enduring legacy.

–All Content and Photographs © Brian Brown 2012

Facts to Keep in Mind if You Visit Midway Church

Midway Church is one of Georgia’s most iconic structures. Several buildings have served the congregation in its history. The first was a log structure built in 1754; the second was of frame construction, built on land deeded by John and Mary Stevens in 1756. It was torched by the British in 1778. A temporary church was raised in 1784 and served the congregation for eight years until the present facility was completed in 1792. When U. S. Highway 17, also known as the Atlantic Coast or Coastal Highway, was widened in the 1930s, the church was moved slightly to the east. The Midway Museum, built in 1957 and based on the plantation houses typical of the early coastal settlers, is the starting point for a tour of the church. The only way to get inside the church is to visit the museum and ask for a key, though be advised that the museum is closed on Sundays, Monday, and all holidays.

All the retreat or daughter churches, as they are sometimes called, are architecturally distinct, with one exception: each features a slave gallery, a balcony at the rear of the sanctuary. The Midway Puritans felt obligated to the religious indoctrination of their slaves. Even after the Civil War ended, many of the freed slaves attended services in these facilities until they could build their own. Midway is the only one of these churches accessible for tours today, as Flemington, Walthourville, and Dorchester are still in use. And keep in mind if you visit Midway Church, the tour is self-guided. The adjoining cemetery, across U. S. Highway 17, is one of the most fascinating in Georgia.


Filed under --LIBERTY COUNTY GA--, Dorchester GA, Flemington GA, Midway GA