Tag Archives: The Civil War in Coastal Georgia

Savannah-Ogeechee Canal, 1830

The sign pictured above, in the parking area, illustrates the method of towing a barge in the canal.

The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal is a national landmark of early engineering located on the edge of Savannah. The 16.5-mile canal, conceived by turnpike owner Ebenezer Jenckes, was constructed by slave laborers and Irish immigrants between 1826-1830 to expedite transportation of cotton, lumber, and other valuable market products from the Ogeechee River to port at Savannah. It also served as a means of moving consumer items from Savannah to the state’s interior. DeWitt Clinton, Jr., son of the New York governor associated with the Erie Canal, was the first chief engineer. In 1827, he abruptly left the project, likely due to investors’ refusal to incorporate a feeder canal. His assistant, Edward Hall Gill, briefly assumed engineering duties, but was replaced in 1828 by Loring Olmstead Reynolds.

The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal (originally known as the Savannah-Ogeechee-Altamaha Canal) was the first and most ambitious of three built in Georgia during the Canal Era and is the only one retaining significant structural components today. Plans to connect it to the Altamaha and eventually the Flint and Chattahoochee were never realized.It was beset with problems from the beginning and at least three local newspapers dubbed it “the Folly”. In 1826, Peter McIntyre, a local subcontractor, paid the passage for one hundred Irish laborers to work on the project. They worked for about a month but by December began to riot. McIntyre and another subcontractor, Eze Baldwin, absconded with their payroll, leaving the workers “in deep distress” and a “state approaching starvation.” They were aided by members of the local Hibernian Society before returning to Ireland or dispersing elsewhere. Such unexpected labor disputes lead to cost overruns and heavy debt. Nonetheles, work on the canal was completed by December 1830.

By 1836, the canal was bankrupt, and sold at a sheriff’s sale. Investor interest in canals had been replaced by the promise of railroads. The new owners set out to improve it, replacing wooden locks with more substantial brick locks, and the canal began to turn a profit, albeit not the margin expected. Portions of all the locks survive, some nearly in their entirety. Five of the locks also featured a keeper’s house.

In the days leading up to the capture of Savannah in 1864, Union and Confederate troops were encamped near the canal and were involved in several skirmishes. Damage was done to the canal but by 1866, it was operational once again. In 1876, Captain Charles Sheftall lead weekly excursions along the canal that included music, dancing, dining, and other recreational activities. Heavy rains in June 1876 did serious damage to the canal. A yellow fever epidemic that followed claimed over a thousand lives and officials blamed the canal’s stagnant waters, overflowing banks, and inadequate drainage.

After years of losing business to the railroads, the canal was purchased by the Central of Georgia in 1888 and officially ceased operation.

The walking trail begins at Lock No. 5 (Young’s Lock).

Much of the 1.6-mile trail follows the historic towpath.

A heavy stone bearing associated hardware bears the date of 1830, the year the canal was officially opened.

Lock No. 6 is located at the point where the canal meets the Ogeechee River.

Details of the architecture are visible from the south side.

The bricks were made on site.

This important resource is an amazing survivor and its accessibility as a public recreation area is the result of the work of the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Society, who oversee the property and offer interpretive background.

The boardwalk follows the shoreline of the Ogeechee and offers great views of this historic river.


National Register of Historic Places





Laurel Grove Cemetery, 1853, Savannah

Set aside from the old Springfield Plantation lands of the Stiles family in 1850 to meet Savannah’s burgeoning need for new burial grounds, Laurel Grove* was officially dedicated by Henry Rootes Jackson at a ceremony  in 1852 and opened for burials in 1853. The cemetery was so popular that it was deemed “full” by the early years of the 20th century and closed to new burials. As a result, it contains one of the largest concentrations of Victorian-era funerary sculpture and ornamentation in the state. It fell into a terrible state of disrepair for decades but preservation efforts, sometimes contentious, have vastly improved its appearance in recent years.

*To distinguish the white and black sections, divided by the I-16 connector, the terms North and South are used today. The white section is referred to as Laurel Grove North Cemetery.

Many famous Savannahians rest here, including: Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts; James Lord Pierpont, author of Jingle Bells; and famed Jewish Confederate nurse Phoebe Pember. Also present are an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (James Moore Wayne), cabinet members, United States Senators and Representatives, at least two dozen Savannah mayors, eight Confederate generals, a Union General, namesakes of numerous Georgia counties and towns, and a Bishhop of the Episcopal Church (Stephen Elliott) who was also the only Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. Most of these are not included in the post at the present time but will be added soon.

Perhaps the most-visited memorial in Laurel Grove is not of any celebrity but rather this Cararra marble angel marking the final resting place of Louisa Porter. This work by Italian sculptor A. Caniparoli has drawn admirers since it was installed and continues to wow to this day.

Louisa Porter (8 May 1807-5 August 1888)

Louisa Porter’s father, Dr. Adam Alexander emigrated from Inverness, Scotland, to the United States in 1776. He served the Colonial Army as a surgeon during the Revolutionary War. Her mother, Louisa Frederika Schmidt, was German. Louisa was born in Liberty County in 1807, following an older brother, Adam. In 1824, she married Anthony Porter, president of the Bank of Georgia. Though she had no children, Louisa was quite dedicated to philanthropic efforts, especially those involving children. Over the years she served on the board of the Savannah Free School and as director of the Savannah Female Society. Her greatest contribution, perhaps, was her role in the creation of the Industrial Relief Society and Home for the Friendless. Upon her death, much of her wealth went to the society and its name was changed to the Louisa Porter Home for Girls.

George W. Martus (31 May 1861-24 June 1940) and Florence M Martus (7 August 1868-8 February 1943)

Florence and brother George Martus were the lighthouse keepers on Elba Island in the Savannah River for 35 years. Florence will forever remembered by Savannahians as “The Waving Girl” and has been memorialized by a popular statue on the downtown riverfront. A Georgia Historical Commission marker (at another location) reads: For 44 years, Florence Martus lived on…Elba Island with her brother, the lighthouse keeper, and no ship arrived for Savannah or departed from 1887 to 1931 without her waving a handkerchief by day or a lantern by night. Throughout the years, the vessels in return watched for and saluted this quiet little woman. Few people ever met her yet she became the source of romantic legends when the story of her faithful greetings was told in ports all over the world. After her retirement, the Propeller Club of Savannah, in honor of her seventieth birthday, sponsored a celebration on Cockspur Island. A Liberty ship, built in Savannah in 1943, was named for her.


Othelia Strasser Forrest (15 November 1875-11 December 1905)

Henry C. Heuisler (10 November 1849-24 July 1901)

This monument depicting a weeping widow was placed by Emma Getz Heuisler (1857-1938) after the loss of her husband.

Elizabeth “Bessie” Brown Fetzer (1868-1896) and Laura Fetzer (1878-1904)

Robert Clifford Fetzer (?-20 February 1920) placed this memorial to honor both of his wives.

The Jewish section is quite large, reflecting a prosperous community with roots reaching back as far as the founding of Georgia. The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life notes: By the time of Oglethorpe’s landing, the Jews were already on the way. Apparently, the Jewish community of London seemed just as eager to dispose themselves of their own dependent citizenry, and in 1732 a committee of prominent Jewish Londoners organized a ship to transport their financially strapped brethren across the Atlantic, out of sight and off the community dole.

The William and Sarah, chock full of 42 Hebrews, left London the following January, a month before Oglethorpe had even set foot in the New World. After a perilous journey, the ship finally reached Savannah on July 11, 1733. Upon their disembarking, Savannah instantly became the site of the largest Jewish settlement in the New World. Although the colony’s trustees were unhappy with the appearance of Jews in Savannah, James Oglethorpe welcomed them with equanimity and optimism. He defended his decision by pointing out that the Georgia charter only excluded Catholics and slaves, and made no reference to Jewish settlers.

The passengers aboard the William and Sarah were largely of Sephardic descent, with a smaller population of German Jews. The eight German Jews consisted of Benjamin and Perla Sheftall, a man named Jacob Yowel, and the brothers Abraham and Simon Minis and their families. The Sephardic immigrants included Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribiero, a prominent physician who arrived with his family. Dr. Ribiero was not fleeing poverty, but persecution. When the Portuguese Inquisition returned with a vengeance in 1720, Dr. Ribiero and others who secretly preserved their Jewish identity fled the country in large numbers. Dr. Ribiero and his family left for London, and from there secured passage to Savannah.


Lena Ehrlich (15 May 1820-13 August 1884)

Henry Rothschild

Ornamental ironwork abounds in Laurel Grove. Oaks and acorns are among the most common themes.

This section of Laurel Grove contains the remains of over one hundred men who died in battle at Gettysburg in 1863. Their bodies were brought to Savannah after a ladies’ memorial society raised money for proper burials.

The dead are watched over by “Silence”, a statue originally placed in a gazebo beside the Confederate monument in Forsyth Park, but removed to Laurel Grove to placate ladies who felt she looked as if she were in a cage.

The old Confederate Veterans Association of Savannah likely placed this memorial around the turn of the last century. A carronade cannon said to have seen service during the 1864 Siege of Savannah rested here for many years. The cannon was removed to Fort Jackson by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1990.

Dr. Samuel A. T. Lawrence (?-11 October 1860) and family.

Gilmer-Minis Family Pavilion

Louisa Frederica Alexander Gilmer  (9 June 1824-19 November 1895)

Louisa Gilmer was the wife of Confederate Major General Jeremy Francis Gilmer (1818-1883), Chief of the Confederate Corps of Engineers, and was the sister of Confederate Brigadier General Edward Porter Alexander.

Margaret Marshall (1841 or 1842-26 May 1866)

Elizabeth Wyman Westberry (13 November 1916-11 January 1918)

Reverend Willard Preston (29 May 1785-26 April 1856)

Enduring examples of all manner of Victorian funerary art are found throughout Laurel Grove.

Selected Mausolea of Laurel Grove

William Clark (1791 or 1792-30 October 1872)

Captain Joseph Samuel Claghorn (22 January 1817-8 April 1879) and family.

Captain Claghorn was born in Norwich, Connecticut, and came with his family to Savannah in 1827. In 1846 he married Sarah Campbell Hunter. Claghorn was elected Captain of the Chatham Artillery in 1856, a post he held until 1862.

Francis Sorrel (4 May 1793-5 May 1870) and family, including Confederate Brigadier General Gilbert Moxley Sorrel (23 February 1838-10 August 1901).

William Wright (10 March 1817-4 December 1860)

Thanks to Bill Harrison, 3rd great nephew of William Wright for the information. He notes that originally the crypt had a glass door through which my mother viewed his body many time, especially the large gold watch & chain across his midsection; however, grave robbers broke the glass door and looted the graves. The wooden door was the replacement.

William Seabrook Lawton (1824-1893) and family.

Lawton was the brother of Confederate Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton, and Captain Edward Payson Lawton, who died from wounds received at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

The tall Gothic spires on the Lawton mausoleum are being restored.

Richard Farr Williams (1785-1838) and family.

John Henry Haupt (23 August 1780-?) and family

Isaac William Morrell (1794-23 January 1865) and family.

George Anderson (1767-1847) and family.

Dr. William Richard Waring (23 February 1827-26 November 1889) and family.














Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Laurel Grove South Cemetery, 1853, Savannah

Laurel Grove South Cemetery is the final resting place of numerous African-American pioneers associated with the history of Savannah. It was created on the site of the former Springfield Plantation to address the fact that by the early 1850s, nearly all of the city’s burying grounds were nearing capacity. Originally just four acres, the cemetery now sprawls over ninety and is still in use.

Reverend Andrew Bryan (c. 1737-6 October 1812) and Deacon Sampson Bryan (c. 1746-23 January 1799)

Among the most prominent memorials are those to the early leaders of African-American churches in Savannah.

Andrew Bryan, his wife Hannah, Kate Hogg, and Hagar Simpson, were among the first converts of George Liele, a slave who had converted to Christianity in the church of his master, Henry Sharp. Liele organized the First Colored Baptist Church of Savannah (later First African Baptist) in December 1777, was the first African-American to be ordained and the first Baptist missionary of any race to go to a foreign country. In 1782 he fled with his Loyalist master to Jamaica; Andrew Bryan assumed leadership of his growing First Colored Baptist congregation. Bryan and his brother Sampson were beaten and imprisoned for their preaching, but the intervention of their owner allowed them a degree of religious freedom. Bryan was ordained a Baptist minister in 1788. Soon thereafter, he purchased his and his family members’ freedom. Ironically, he grew relatively wealthy from a hauling business made successful by his ownership of slaves during the 1790s. He preached until his death in 1812 and is consider the father of the First Bryan Baptist Church by that congregation. The early overlapping histories of these congregations is somewhat conflicting.

There is some debate as to whether their remains were actually moved from the Old Negro Burial Ground near Whitefield Square and reinterred here, but their graves serve as a memorial to their integral part in the rich history of Savannah’s African-American community.

Reverend Henry Cunningham (1759-29 March 1842), Betsey Cunningham (1740-14 July 1838) and Reverend Andrew Cox Marshall (1755-7 December 1856)

Henry Cunningham was a free man of color, slaveowner and a prominent entrepreneur in early Savannah. He was a founder and the first pastor of the Second African Baptist Church.

Samuel Carey (November 1814-25 December 1842);  Samuel L. Carey, Jr. (February 1841-2 March 1861); John Henry Carey (January 1842-2 July 1843); Clemon Sabatty, Sr. (1784-6 October 1856); Infant son of Samuel (Jr.) & Lucy Carey (20 July-25 July 1861). [H. E. Carey is noted as the wife of Samuel Carey, but is not interred here; Lucy Carey is noted as the wife of Samuel, Jr., but is also not interred here].

Robert Verdier (4 January 1812-25 March 1864); Ceasar Verdier (1820-3 March 1864)- Ceasar was a deacon of the First African Baptist Church.; Elizabeth Verdier (12 May 1810-15 June 1866); William Verdier (30 October 1831-14 June 1855)

[Various spellings can of the surname, including Verdire, and Verdere, are present on the memorials, but Verdier seems to be the correct spelling, via genealogical records].

Andrew Martelle Monroe (Barely discernible dates on the slab inside the tomb appear to be 1906 and 1907, indicating this was possibly built to memorialize a very young child; another headstone is visible inside the tomb but I was unable to read it).

Reverend William J. Campbell (1 January 1814, though records state 1812-11 October 1880). Maxwell was born a slave in Savannah, baptised by Reverend Andrew C. Marshall in 1830, and was freed by his mistress, Mrs. Mary Maxwell, in 1849. He was licensced to preach in 1855 and served as an assitant to Reverend Marshall until the former’s death in 1857. Subsequently, Campbell became the fourth pastor of the First African Baptist Church. Reverend Marshall was quite progressive, replacing the wooden church building with the brick one which stand to this day. He was also on of 20 black clergymen invited to meet with General William T. Sherman on 12 January 1865.The meeting was an effort on Sherman’s part to address the needs and concerns of African-Americans after the end of the war. As a result of the meeting, Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, which came to be known as “40 Acres and a Mule”.

Samuel Gordon Morse (25 July 1832-24 November 1875); Patience Mary Morse (1830-30 November 1903); Samuel Benjamin Morse (6 December 1852-30 May 1909). The Morses came to Savannah from McIntosh County during the Civil War after liberation by Union soldiers. Samuel Gordon Morse served as First Sergeant in the 1st South Carolina Infantry, United States Colored Troops.

Captain E. Seabrook (6 November 1868-14 January 1920), obelisk; and Reverend J. F. Quarterman (7 November 1852-5 November 1916)

Thomas James Davis, MD. (1866-1903). Davis was a native of Jamaica and a Mason.

The All-Seeing Eye of God, also known as the Eye of Providence, present on the side of his headstone indicates a Masonic connection.

John H. Davis (8 March 1875-12 June 1916); Clara L. Davis (27 September 1867-27 August 1914) 

The Davis memorial is one of the most accomplished in Laurel Grove South and includes the statue and winged death heads, enclosed in formal coping.

Westley Wallace “W.W” Law (1 January 1923-29 July 2002)

W. W. Law was a giant of the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah, known locally as “Mr. Civil Rights”. The history that follows was written by Charles J. Elmore for the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Westley Wallace Law was the only son and the oldest of the three children born to Geneva Wallace and Westley Law. He came from a poor family and began working at the age of ten to help his mother after his father died. He never married. Later on he credited his success in life to his mother and to Lillie Belle Wallace, his grandmother, who instilled in him a love for reading and social justice. He was also inspired by his mentor, Ralph Mark Gilbert, pastor of the First African Baptist Church, who revived the local branch of the Savannah NAACP; and he admired John S. Delaware, his boyhood scoutmaster, who was a Savannah NAACP official. In high school, as a member of the NAACP Youth Council, Law protested segregation at Savannah’s Grayson Stadium and worked for the hiring of a black disc jockey at a white-owned local radio station. Later in college he served as president of the NAACP Youth Council. Law often stated that he would not have received a college degree if Georgia State College (now Savannah State University), where he enrolled in 1942, were not in Savannah.His mother did washing and ironing for white families for very low wages, and there was no money to send Law to college. He worked at the white YMCA in Savannah to finance his education. After completing his freshman year Law was drafted into the army to serve in World War II (1941-45). Upon his discharge the GI Bill paid for the rest of his education at Georgia State College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology.

For many years Law served as the scoutmaster of Troop 49, First Bryan Baptist Church, where he also taught Sunday school. He worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier for more than forty years before retiring in the 1990s. In 1950 Law became president of the Savannah NAACP. In 1962, with the Reverend L. Scott Stell, chair of the NAACP Education Committee, and others, he brought a lawsuit against the segregation of Savannah–Chatham County public schools before the U.S. District Court. U.S. district judge Frank Scarlett held the petition so long that the student plaintiffs graduated from high school. The NAACP then had to refile the case, citing a new group of black children. Law and the NAACP refiled, and in 1964 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered public schools in Savannah to be desegregated.

In the 1960s Law began to lead weekly mass meetings at two Savannah churches, Bolton Street Baptist and St. Philip A.M.E., where he advocated passive resistance to segregation. On March 16, 1960, Carolyn Quilloin, a NAACP Youth Council member, was arrested for asking to be served at the Azalea Room lunch counter at Levy’s department store in downtown Savannah. This protest led to others. Law led wade-ins at Tybee Beach and sit-ins at Kress and Woolworth’s lunch counters with NAACP youth workers. He also led an eighteen-month boycott of Broughton Street merchants that forced Savannah’s white leaders to compromise on civil rights.

Law believed that nonviolent means were the best way to open the city for blacks. He strongly opposed night marches favored by Hosea Williams and his Chatham County Crusade for Voters, believing the night marches allowed people with violent agendas to take to the city’s streets. The Crusade for Voters, headed by Williams, was a separate civil rights organization that was allied with the NAACP. This difference in strategic approach caused a rift between Law’s NAACP and Williams’s Chatham County Crusade for Voters. The rift between Law and Williams prompted Williams and others to leave the NAACP and join forces with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 1960 Malcolm Maclean became Savannah’s mayor. Maclean worked with Law and Eugene Gadsden, then the NAACP’s legal counsel, and credited them for keeping violence out of Savannah’s civil rights struggle. Under Maclean, public libraries and store lunch counters were integrated. Signs designating racially separate facilities at city– and county-owned buildings came down. These triumphs came at considerable personal cost for Law, who was fired from his job at the U.S. Post Office in 1961 because of his civil rights activities. National NAACP leaders and President John F. Kennedy came to his defense, however, and a three-member appeals board reinstated him.

Law retired as Savannah NAACP president in 1976, after serving for twenty-six years. He then turned his attention to the preservation of African American history and historic buildings. He established the Savannah-Yamacraw Branch of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH). Law founded the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum in honor of his boyhood mentor and pastor, Ralph Mark Gilbert, who revived the Savannah chapter of the NAACP and is considered to be the father of the civil rights movement in that city. As president of ASALH, he established the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, Negro Heritage Trail Tour, King-Tisdell Cottage Museum, and the Beach Institute of African American Culture.

Law received honorary doctorates from Savannah College of Art and Design (1997) and Savannah State University (2000), the Distinguished Georgian Award (1998) from the Center for the Study of Georgia History at Augusta State University, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Preservation Award (2001), and the Governor’s Award in the Humanities (1992).

Law died on 28 July 2002, at his Savannah home.

National Register of Historic Places







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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Horton-duBignon House, Circa 1736, Jekyll Island

Dates on these ruins range from circa 1736 to 1742. Built by Major William Horton, General James Oglethorpe’s second-in-command, the structure employed the preferred building material of Coastal Georgia, tabby. While Oglethorpe was at Fort Frederica, Horton kept a small military outpost on Jekyll. The vast fields around the house were planted with rye, barley and hops for use in Horton’s brewery, and the area around the house was originally known as Rye Patch. Beer was the only alcoholic beverage allowed in the colony at the time and Horton’s brewery supplied the soldiers at Fort Frederica. In 1742, after the Battle of Bloody Marsh on nearby St. Simons, Spanish troops burned the house. Upon Oglethorpe’s return to England in 1743, Horton became commander of military forces in the colony. He died in Savannah in 1748.

Fleeing the French Revolution in 1791, Le Sieur Christophe Poulain de la Houssaye duBignon and family purchased Jekyll Island and restored this house, adding wooden wings. The duBignons raised Sea Island cotton and indigo, but the Civil War brought their economic model to an end. Union soldiers destroyed most of the house, as well.

Upon their purchase of the island in 1888, the Jekyll Island Club reinforced the ruins of the Horton-duBignon House and placed a wall around the old duBignon Cemetery. Taylor Davis notes that a 2004 stabilization has resulted in the “splotchy” appearance of the structure. Like many of Georgia’s tabby ruins, the Horton-duBignon House has had multiple identities over time. As late as the 1940s, tourist postcards were identifying it as the site of an “old Spanish mission”.  This was apparently a widely held belief about most such ruins on the coast until modern scholarship confirmed historic identities in the last half of the 20th century.

National Register of Historic Places



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Filed under -GLYNN COUNTY, Jekyll Island GA

Henry Willink Cottage, 1845, Savannah

The home of Henry Frederick Willink is one of many early Savannah landmarks that have been moved to the vicinity of East St. Julian Street. Willink was the son of a successful German immigrant, Frederick Henry Willink. He was born in Savannah in either 1825 or 1827; the date and location of his death are unknown. After time spent at the Chatham Academy, the younger Willink apprenticed at his father’s shipyard before moving to New York to improve his skills. Willink returned to Savannah in 1851 to start his own shipyard. [His home, originally located near Oglethorpe Aveune at the intersection of Price and Perry Streets, is said to have been built in 1845, but since he didn’t return to Savannah until 1851, there is some debate about the date].

By the outset of the Civil War, his business, Willink & Miller, was in full swing garnering commissions to build the gunboat Macon, as well as the ironclads Savannah and Milledgeville. After the war, he did quite well with other shipbuilding projects, as well as a wrecking  business and a marine railway on Hutchinson Island. From at least 1864 to 1877-79, Willink served as a Savannah alderman, but it is unclear if he served consecutive terms. Little beyond this time is known.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Savannah GA

Orange Hall, Circa 1830, St. Marys


Though the specific date for construction has been lost, Orange Hall is believed to have had its origins as a much smaller structure (possibly incorporated into the present one) in the late 1820s. [I’m only using the 1830 date because that’s the present “accepted date” settled on by St. Marys. As a matter of full disclosure, I don’t believe it can be accurately assigned]. It was named for the sour orange trees which were once planted around the lawn. Oral tradition suggests it was built for Jane Wood Pratt (first wife of the Reverend Horace Pratt), by her father, John Wood. Mr. Wood was a Loyalist who fled Savannah during the Revolution and likely began building the house upon his return to America, circa 1826. John Wood and his daughter both died in 1829, which is why the date for the house is fixed around the time, according to research completed in 1973 for the nomination of the property to the National Register of Historic Places. The key to the history of the house as it is known today, however, can be traced to its purchase by James Smith from the Pratt estate in 1846. By 1856 when Smith sold it to Francis Adams, its tax value had risen sharply, indicating improvements which likely gave Orange Hall its present appearance.

One other note of historical significance: the house is said to have been the headquarters of the 9th Maine Regiment during raids in the area in early 1863. A regimental history of Company H of the 9th Maine by Lieutenant Aaron H. Chase mentions St. Marys but not Orange Hall. As many of the raids in this area were clandestine in nature, it is unclear what role the house actually played in these exercises. Like the date of the house, this bears further research.


Orange Hall is now a house museum and event space.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -CAMDEN COUNTY, St. Marys 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, St. Simons Island GA