George Singleton received a land grant from the Creek Indians in 1832 and built this home on the property soon thereafter. It remained in the Singleton family until 1962. It was built in the style of the ‘Sand Hills Cottages’ then common in the Augusta area.
Tag Archives: Antebellum South Georgia
Also known as the Swift-Tolleson House, this antebellum Greek Revival townhouse was built for Judge William Tyre Swift, most likely with the labor of enslaved men. The street on which it is located is named for Judge Swift. In 1879, legend relates that the world-famous SSS Tonic was invented in the backyard by Judge Swift’s descendant, Charles Thomas Swift. The tonic was one of the best-selling American patent medicines of its time and is still in production today, albeit a different formula. J. Meade Tolleson purchased the home in 1929 and it remained in the Tolleson family another forty years.
Friendship was founded by members of Liberty Baptist Church who split with that congregation over doctrine in 1839. The congregation expanded significantly throughout the 1840s and was the spiritual home of many prominent area farmers. It is the oldest surviving church building in Sumter County.
Wiley Carter, the great-great grandfather of President Jimmy Carter, joined with his wife and an enslaved female in 1852. He bought and presumably moved the original church upon the construction of the present structure in 1857. In the five years following the Civil War, many emancipated slaves joined the congregation, but by 1870 had formed their own church, New Bethel.
The only reference I can locate regarding this structure is from the old Friendship Baptist Church minute book. It was noted on 23 January 1864 that the schoolhouse and adjacent five acres were purchased by the congregation for $500. Considering the church was built in 1857, it is possible that the schoolhouse predates it. The portico is obviously a later addition.
The lost community that came to be known as Church Hill was opened to white settlers by the Land Lottery of 1827. To accommodate new arrivals, Native American trading routes were improved or superseded by the creation of new roads. In 1832, Timothy Barnard’s Path, which ran from Columbus to St. Marys, became known as the St. Marys Road or the Old Salt Trail. At a point between Kinchafoonee Creek and Lanahassee Creek, where three roads crossed St. Marys Road, five churches were built in a relatively short time, including: Mt. Pisgah (Kinchafoonee) Free Will Baptist (date unknown); Shiloh Baptist (1835); Christian Union (1840); Smyrna Associate Reformed Presbyterian (1838); and Evan Chapel Methodist (1838). Records indicate a school known as Centerville Academy was formed by the Smyrna trustees in 1838, suggesting the original name for the community was Centerville. It is unclear when the moniker of Church Hill came into use, but it first appeared on maps in 1870. The Church Hill post office was operational from 1893-1903, so it is likely that the area suffered a significant population decline at the beginning of the 20th century.
Shiloh-Marion is the last remaining church of the five that gave Church Hill its name and is a great example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture, common in antebellum churches in Georgia. A sign at the church notes the founding date as 1812, the year of the first mission; further documentation gives the founding date as 1835, when eleven members joined the Bethel Baptist Association. The church structure is believed to be contemporary to the latter date.
Shiloh-Marion Baptist Church Cemetery, 1830s
The cemetery is a fascinating landmark in its own right, containing typical Victorian monuments and an unusual collection of stone markers. The stones are either stacked in elongated triangular forms or used as fencing. There has been some speculation that they are Native American in origin and to my knowledge there are no familial claims by church members. This still doesn’t get anywhere near evidence of Native American ties, but t’s worthy of investigation either way.
A sign and wooden cross mark the slave cemetery.
Unmarked concrete stones have been placed at approximate burial locations.
Due to the growth of the Salzburger settlement at Ebenezer by the 1740s, a need arose for new churches to serve a dispersed population. Goshen Church was built about 1751, established about a mile from the present location as Goshen Lutheran Church. Oral tradition states that when a malaria outbreak threatened the health and lives of Goshen’s congregants, they sawed the church in half and moved it to this site, where they rebuilt it. Goshen remained part of the Ebenezer Parish until after the American Revolution. Goshen had always been served by Lutheran pastors who preached in German, and because of the language barrier, Pastor Bergman invited Bishop Asbury to send Methodist preachers to reach the congregation. Moravian missionaries used the church as a meetinghouse after the Lutherans moved on.
In 1820, Reverend James O. Andrew established the Methodist congregation at Goshen and the Lutherans transferred the property a few years later. The Reverend Lewis Myers began his pastorate circa 1823 and served the church for many years.
Goshen was a town long before Rincon existed and was the site of the first post office in Effingham County. Local lore maintains the George Washington once visited the church trading post.
The earliest identified burials in Goshen Cemetery date to around the time the Methodists assumed ownership of the church and it is the final resting place of many Effingham County pioneers. The following monuments and headstones are presented randomly and I photographed them as much for their aesthetic appeal as their historical importance.
A brick enclosure, perhaps built by enslaved men, surrounds the gravesites of many members of the Gugel family, who were prominent members of the church and community.
Tomb of Hannah Gugel Nowlan (January 1791-10 September 1833) The slab reads: To the memory of Mrs. Hannah Nowlen Who departed this life Sept 10th 1833 Aged 42 years and 9 months
Can marble tell the worth of Spirit felt Where dust here mingles with its kindred dead: Say there – the faithful friend in silence rests. The Mother whose fond heart was tenderness. The Child whose filial joy of filial love
Now draw the parents hears to realms above, The sister loving constant, true, sincere The Christian meek to Zion precious one
Here rests in Hope
Mrs. Nowlan was the wife of George Galphin Nowlan, 1787-1816, Colonel in the War of 1812. Colonel Nowlan is buried in Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville.
The tomb is signed by Savannah stonemasons Maxwell & Gow.
Margaret Waldhaur Gugel (8 April 1762-28 September 1844) and David Gugel (21 January 1764-24 April 1842) were the parents of Hannah Nowlan. David Gugel was a private and fifer in the Georgia Militia, enlisted in 1782. He served under General Anthony Wayne, helped build bridges and guard the Ebenezer magazine and the stores at Zubly’s Ferry.
Mary Ann Gugel Olcott (1797-24 January 1822) Mrs. Olcott was also a daughter of Margaret and David Gugel. She was married to Reverend James S. Olcott. The headstone indicates that two of her babies are buried here, as well.
Detail of headstone of Elizabeth Gugel Charlton (13 February 1793-11 July 1869) Mrs. Charlton was also a daughter of Margaret and David Gugel.
William Bandy (24 October 1799-24 May 1825) and Mary Bandy (16 October 1795-16 October 1825)
Tree of Life tympanum of Sarah Ann Black Zittrouer (14 December 1830-20 December 1899)
Tree of Life tympanum of William Josiah Zittrouer (10 September 1820-4 March 1895). Mr. Zittrouer was a Confederate veteran.
Cast iron boundary marker, Exley lot.
Bessie Margaret Exley (1892-1896)
Union Methodist Church Cemetery/Hays Campground Cemetery is located across the road from the Union United Methodist Church, though its history predates the congregation there. The cemetery contains the remains of the original settler of this section of what was then Talbot County, Jeremiah C. McCants (1808-1866), a native of South Carolina who founded the nearby crossroads community (now known as Jarrell) and also gave land, with Robert P. Hays (Hayes) in 1840 for the construction of a church and use as a cemetery. Union Church was originally used by both Baptists and Methodists. The Hays Campground, complete with tabernacle and tents, was also active here in the late 1800s but all remnants of the structures are gone. While extremely historic on the merits of its connection to the early history of Talbot County [this area became a part of Taylor County in 1852], it is most noted today for its antebellum wooden grave houses, covering the burial places of numerous area pioneers. It is believed that they are contemporary with the burials. All are constructed of pine and feature shake shingle roofs.
One shelter covers the grave of William George D. McCants, who died at just over a month old (3 April 1847-11 May 1847). The adjacent shelter is that of George R. McCants (8 July 1808-24 May1850), a brother to Jeremiah C. McCants].
This curious shelter, located in front of the more formal structures, marks a McCants burial, but I’m not sure which one.
Andrew Wood notes: This is my family! The stone at the left is my 5x great grandmother Sarah Black Hamilton McCants and the shelters cover the graves of two of her sons. She was born in Ireland to Dutch parents in 1765, settled on the Georgia frontier as a widow with 15 children before 1830 and lived to be 93!
National Register of Historic Places
James Averette Bryan (1801-1847) and his wife Catherine Holloway Rix Bryan (1803-1861) were pioneer settlers of the long forgotten Wilna community. James A. Bryan migrated to Georgia from North Carolina, settling first in Twiggs County, and later in Houston. He was instrumental in the establishment of Houston County and in the layout of Perry [originally Wattsville]. Bryan originally built a log dogtrot house [pictured above] from timbers cut and milled on a site a few miles from Mulberry Grove. The original homestead was later occupied by Bryan’s oldest son, Dr. Robert Campbell Bryan, and his wife Eliza. [It survives but is not accessible to the public]. As his fortunes improved, Bryan constructed a more formal dwelling, known as Mulberry Grove, circa 1832* [pictured below, and in all subsequent photographs]. *-Some sources date the house to 1850, but discussions with two architectural historians and preservationists support the earlier date.
Mulberry Grove later became the home of Bryan’s third son, Abner Council Bryan and his wife, Harriet Taylor Bryan. Their son, John Averette Bryan and his wife, Linda Lee Bryan, eventually inherited it. Many members of the Bryan family are buried in an adjacent private cemetery, alongside the slaves who built and worked the plantation.
The most notable feature of the house is the rain porch (also referred to as a Carolina rain porch). Originally, there were only four stucco-covered posts but at some point two more were added for stability.
Rain porches are a very rare architectural element in Georgia.
The original kitchen is attached to the house by an enclosed breezeway. The addition of modern steps are one of the few overall modifications visible at the rear of the house.
Rear elevation (southeastern perspective)
Southern elevation, with double chimneys
PLEASE NOTE: Mulberry Grove is private property and is monitored closely by physical and digital means. I am grateful to have been invited by the new owner to photograph the property. He is very interested in making accurate historical renovations to the house and I believe he will be a good steward.