Tag Archives: Antebellum South Georgia

Theophilus Nichols House, Bulloch County

This has been identified as the home of Theophilus (1808-1881) and Rebecca Crumpton Nichols (1818-1869). According to Findagrave, Theophilus Nichols was born out of wedlock on 16 January 1808 in either North Carolina (probable) or Virginia. His father’s surname is said to have been Mann, and his mother, probably surnamed Nichols, is believed to have died in childbirth or very shortly thereafter. Theophilus told his grandchildren that his grandfather, who lived in Rappahannock County, Virginia, during the American Revolution, had four sons who served in the Continental Army. I’m most grateful to Anna Hubner for inviting me to photograph it. Anna and her husband are slowly restoring the home and surrounding acreage.

The home likely dates to the 1840s or 1850s, but that hasn’t been confirmed. An amazing anecdote regarding Nichols and the house: Theophilus left home…at age 12 and ended up as a young man in Bulloch County, Georgia, where he married Rebecca Crumpton, had 10 children, built a large home, a farm of more than 1600 acres, and was known as a master carpenter and a most respectable citizen. His house was protected from being burned by Sherman’s troops in 1864 when local blacks surrounded the house and protested to the soldiers that Theophilus had never owned slaves and was adamantly opposed to that institution. [Nichols is absent from the 1850 and the 1860 Slave Schedules of the U. S. Census, and this is also true of his neighboring Crumpton in-laws. This would place Mr. Nichols in a rare position in the antebellum South and the story bears further research. ].

A friendly menagerie resides on the property, but the Asian Water Buffalo were my favorites.

Some of the herd are rescues from petting zoos, and they’re quite friendly.

As to the house, it was covered with vinyl siding, which caused serious damage to the exterior boards. Anna and her husband have already replaced some of them. Many believe that vinyl preserves houses as an interim measure, but as this case proves, it can actually do more damage than good. And aesthetically, it’s just not very appealing.


Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--

Wright-Hardy House, 1854, Perry

The Wright family were among the earliest owners of this cottage; it was purchased by the T. F. Hardy family in the 1930s.


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Filed under --HOUSTON COUNTY GA--, Perry GA

Killen-King House, 1852, Perry

Built for Judge Samuel D. Killen, this Greek Revival home was later owned by the Francis Marion King family and the Penn-Dixie Cement Company, who used it as a clubhouse. It was purchased by Gardner Watson in 1955 and has been used as a funeral home since then.


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Filed under --HOUSTON COUNTY GA--, Perry GA

George Singleton House, 1834, Perry

George Singleton received a land grant from the Creek people 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.

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Filed under --HOUSTON COUNTY GA--, Perry GA

Holtzclaw-Riley-Gayle House, Circa 1855, Perry

This Carpenter Italianate house is thought to have been built around 1855 for Judge Henry M. Holtzclaw, though there is some disagreement as to the date of construction. George Riley purchased the house in 1925 and sold it to the Gayle family in 1961. It is presently used as a food pantry.

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Filed under --HOUSTON COUNTY GA--, Perry GA

William Tyre Swift House, 1857, Perry

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.

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Filed under --HOUSTON COUNTY GA--, Perry GA

Friendship Baptist Church, 1857, Sumter County

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.

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Filed under --SUMTER COUNTY GA--

Friendship Schoolhouse, 1850s, Sumter County

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.

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Filed under --SUMTER COUNTY GA--

Shiloh-Marion Baptist Church, 1835, Marion County

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.



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Filed under --MARION COUNTY GA--, Church Hill GA

Plantation Plain Farmhouse, Circa 1850, Pulaski County

This I-House (also known as Plantation Plain) is being preserved, but I can’t locate any history other than the approximate date of construction. There two doors on the second floor indicate a porch once ran the length of the front facade and are a highly unusual feature for this form.


Filed under --PULASKI COUNTY GA--