Tag Archives: Colonial & 18th-Century South Georgia

Gravesite of John Abbot, Bulloch County

John Abbot was one of the most important naturalists and artists working in early America, but because he generally eschewed publication and most of his work was only available to wealthy patrons and collectors, he has not been as appreciated as other notables of his era, including Alexander Wilson and John James Audubon. Credit is due the Georgia Historical Society for commissioning a delightful memorial marking Abbot’s burial place*, installed at the old McElveen Family Cemetery in Bulloch County. Publication of a collection of his ornithological paintings, John Abbot’s Birds of Georgia, by the Beehive Press in 1997, has done much to advance his reputation.

*-[detail, above]. Mary Stuart. Bronze Relief, after the circa 1804 self-portrait “John Abbot of Savannah, Georgia, America”. 1956. It is the only known image of the naturalist.

Born in London in 1751 to James and Ann Abbot, John was influenced from an early age by the impressive art collection of his lawyer father. Though the elder Abbot expected his son to read law, he also encouraged his interest in art and natural history, hiring the noted engraver Jacob Bonneau to instruct him. In his late teens, John Abbot clerked for his father’s law office but was far too distracted by his passion for natural history and art to give it serious consideration as a career.

He set out for Virginia aboard the Royal Exchange in 1773 and upon arrival resided briefly with Parke & Mary Goodall. By 1775 rising unrest in the colony prompted Abbot to leave, settling with Parke Goodall’s cousin William and his family in St. George Parish, Georgia (present-day Burke County). Sometime during the Revolutionary period he married a young woman named Sarah (maiden name unknown) and their son John, Jr., was born around 1779. During this time Abbot was actively collecting and illustrating Georgia’s insects and a large number were acquired by Sir James Edward Smith, founder of London’s Linnaean Society. Smith commissioned hand-colored engravings of the original Georgia watercolors and published them in 1797 as the  Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia Collected from Observations by John Abbot. It is considered the first major publication devoted to American entomology.

Spicebush Swallowtail on Sassafras, John Abbot, from the Natural History…, 1797. Public Domain Image.

The Abbots remained in Burke County, where John likely taught at Waynesboro’s Burke County Academy, until moving to Savannah in 1806. He was often in transit throughout the central Savannah River area in pursuit of specimens and new material. Sarah’s death in 1817 sent Abbot into a deep state of grief and poor health consumed him for at least two years, during which he was inactive. He finally settled in Bulloch County in 1818 and resumed collecting and drawing for patrons. He lived out his last years on the property of his friend William E. McElveen. His exact date of death is unknown, but thought to be 1839 or 1840.

In what has to be some of the most inspring language on any memorial in the state, the Georgia Historical Society note of John Abbots: Talented artist and searching naturalist of birds and insects. – As a tribute to him and his work may you who stand here find pleasure in protecting the natural beauty of Georgia. – John Abbot lies buried in this woodland cemetery because of his love of nature and his long friendship with the McElveen family.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--

Irwin Family Cemetery, Washington County

Irwin Family Cemetery Washington County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

This historic rural cemetery is the final resting place of one of Georgia’s most important early governors, Jared Irwin.

Governor Jared Irwin Grave Irwin Family Cemetery Washington County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

These three gravestones memorialize Irwin family pioneers: Governor Jared Irwin, General John Lawson Irwin, and Alexander Irwin. The slabs for Jared and John Lawson appear to be later replacements but the headstone for Alexander is original.

Governor Jared Irwin Headstone Washington County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

To the Memory of Governor Jared Irwin – 1750-1818 – Colonel in the American Revolution. – Brig. General in Indian Wars. – Three Times Governor of Georgia. – Signed the famous act Recinding [sic] the Yazoo Fraud. Died at Union Hill, his County seat – March 1st 1818.

General John Lawson Irwin Headstone Washington County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Sacred to the memory of General John Lawson Irwin – 1755-1822 – Captain in the America Revolution – Brig. General Georgia Militia. – Brig. General in war 1812. – Died 1st day of January 1822. – Buried with Military Honors.

Irwin Family Cemetery Alexander Irwin Washington County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

In Memory of Alexander Irwin – Born Aug. 29, 1792 – Died May 10, 1842. – Served in Indian War in Florida 1815.

2 Comments

Filed under --WASHINGTON COUNTY GA--

Meadow Garden, 1791, Augusta

George Walton Signer of the Declaration of Independence Meadow Garden House Augusta GA 18th Century Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Meadow Garden was the last home of George Walton, one of the youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence. Walton served as a delegate to the Continental Congress, a Colonel in the First Georgia Militia,  Governor of Georgia (1779-80 & 1789-90), U. S. Congressman, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, and United States Senator.

George Walton Georgia Signer of the Declaration of Independence Meadow Garden House Augusta GA 18th Century Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Thanks to the efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who still maintain the site today this important vestige of our early history was saved from the demolition in 1901. It is Georgia’s oldest house museum and one of the top attractions in Augusta.

George Walton Image Public DomainGeorge Walton's Signature Public Domain

National Historic Landmark

Leave a comment

Filed under --RICHMOND COUNTY GA--, Augusta GA

Jefferson County Courthouse, 1904, Louisville

Jefferson County GA Courthouse Louisville on Site of Old State Capitol Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Designed by Louisville native son Willis Franklin Denny, a famed architect of his time with many surviving structures in Atlanta and Augusta to his credit on the National Register of Historic Places, the current Jefferson County Courthouse was built on the site of the old state capitol.

Jefferson County GA Courthouse Louisville on Site of Old State Capitol Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

The historic marker for the old state capitol reads: Georgia’s Capitol was on this site (1794-1807). Colonists on the coast had urged a location on higher ground “with good drinking water”. The famous constitutional convention of 1798 was held here and the document then adopted lasted for 70 years. Georgia’s Great Seal, still in use, was adopted here in 1799. Governors who served here were Jared Irwin, James Jackson, David Emanuel, Josiah Tattnall and John Milledge.

Another marker regarding the Yazoo Fraud reads: The notorious “Yazoo Fraud” act was passed and later repealed in the old state capitol that stood here 1794-1807. The 1794 Georgia legislature sold 35,000,000 acres of land along the Yazoo River in what is now Alabama and Mississippi at 1 1/2 cents per acre. James Jackson resigned as U. S. Senator to run for the Georgia legislature and urge repeal of the Yazoo act. He succeeded in 1796. The act itself and all records of it were burned on the grounds here “with fire from heaven” aided by a sunglass. The U. S. Supreme Court upheld the land sales. Congress paid Georgia $1,250,000 for the Yazoo territory (1802), then paid the land buyers $4,000,000 (1810). The land went into the new states of Alabama and Mississippi.

 

1 Comment

Filed under --JEFFERSON COUNTY GA--, Louisville GA

Market House, 1790s, Louisville

Louisville GA Old Market Formerly Thought to be Slave Market Downtown Landmark Symbol Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Long known as the “Old Slave Market” this structure is the oldest and best known in Louisville. For years it was said to have been built in 1758 at the intersection of Native American trading roads but recent research suggests it was built during the 1790s as a general market for the newly-founded city. Restored in the 1990s, it still includes many of its original timbers.

While I’m generally suspicious of revisionist history when it leans toward political correctness,  I believe it’s justified here. Perhaps, at the height of Reconstruction and the ensuing Jim Crow era, calling it a “slave market” it was just a way to symbolize segregation in a physical space. I will assert, however, that since slaves were sold here it may have carried that designation after a fashion; it obviously served a more general purpose.

Louisville GA Old Market Formerly Thought to be Slave Market Downtown Landmark Symbol Historic Marker Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

This historic marker, placed by the City of Louisville, reads: This Market House was built between 1795-1798 as a publicly owned multi-purpose trading house. Louisville newspapers record sales of large tracts, household goods, town lots and slaves by sheriffs, tax collectors, marshals and people of the community at the Market House. The square became the hub of transportation routes that centered on Louisville when the State Capital was located here (1794-1807). Although portions of the structure have been replaced, the Market House has never lost its distinctive style. Inside the Market House hangs a bell that was cast in France for a New Orleans Convent in 1772. The ship carrying the bell was sacked by pirates and the bell was sold in Savannah. It was given to the State Capitol but was used in the Market House as a community warning signal.

Louisville Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

1 Comment

Filed under --JEFFERSON COUNTY GA--, Louisville GA

Birdsville Plantation, Circa 1789, Jenkins County

Birdsville Plantation Jenkins County GA Antebellum Landmark Royal Land Grant Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

Birdsville Plantation has been owned by the Jones family since the mid-1700s and is one of just a few well-documented 18th-century residential structures still standing in the interior of Georgia. Modifications giving the house its present appearance  were made circa 1847. Somehow, it was miraculously spared by Sherman on his March to the Sea. Mary F. Andrew clarifies the history: For the record*, this was not the home of Francis Jones. F Jones settled south of Rocky Ford. His son, Philip, most likely built the older part. He acquired the land in 1785 for his services in the Revolutionary War. He died in 1789. His son, Henry Philip Jones, is responsible for the front addition seen in the picture. See Bell-Parker above. I have researched it as thoroughly as I can and know this to be accurate. HPJones’ youngest son, Wm B Jones, lived there during the Civil War. The twins were his. Gen. Sherman stayed briefly at the magnificent home of his brother, Jos. Bertram Jones, near Herndon. Unfortunately, JBJones’ home, which was visited by many important people of the day (latter half of the 19th century) and the site of much social activity, burned in the early 1900’s.

*I was initially of the impression that this was first the home of Francis Jones. I’m grateful for Mary F. Andrew’s research and for her sharing it here.

Birdsville Plantation GA Commissary Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

This is the old Birdsville commissary, which served the plantation for many years. I would guess that it served as a schoolhouse or chapel at one time.

The entire plantation and all structures located thereon are on private property. I’m grateful to have been given permission to photograph and greatly enjoyed my brief visit there.

Bill Hozey recently wrote: I lived in the newer house just down the lane from the main house as a child. I have spent many a day in the Franklin house and with the family. I remember vividly the human skull in the basement and was told by the Franklins about Sherman sparing the house due to the death of the twins. Mrs. Grizzard lived in the old Post Office during this time. She was the piano teacher at the private school, Buckhead Academy.
Wonderful memories of Birdsville.

National Register of Historic Places

26 Comments

Filed under --JENKINS COUNTY GA--, Birdsville GA

Big Buckhead Baptist Church, 1845, Jenkins County

Big Buckhead Church Jenkins County GA Antebellum Greek Revival Landmark Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

Named for nearby Buckhead Creek, this congregation dates to before the Revolutionary War. Matthew Moore, the Baptist minister who organized the church, was a Loyalist who returned to England near the onset of the war.

Big Buckhead Baptist Church Jenkins County GA Antebellum Landmark Civil War Site Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

The church was reconstituted on 11 September 1787. James Matthews was the pastor and Sanders Walker & Josiah Taylor were the presbytery. The present church building is the fourth on this site. Significantly in the history of the Georgia Baptists, the Hephzibah Association was organized here and the first plans for Mercer University were proposed.

Big Buckhead Church Jenkins County GA Antebellum Landmark 3rd Oldest Baptist Church in State Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

A historic marker headlined Cavalry Action at Buckhead Church reads: On November 28, 1864, the 3rd Cavalry Division [USA], Brigadier General J. L. Kilpatrick, USA, was driven south from Waynesboro by the Cavalry Corps, Army of Tennessee [CSA], Major General Joseph Wheeler, CSA. Retreating under constant harassment by Wheeler’s men, Kilpatrick’s command commenced crossing Buckhead Creek east of the church. The rear guard ( Second and Third Kentucky cavalry regiments) was attacked before crossing but, supported by the Fifth Kentucky, the Ninth Pennsylvania and the Tenth Wisconsin Battery, it beat off the attack and crossed, burning the bridge behind it. With the bridge gone and the crossing defended by the Fifth Ohio Cavalry, Wheeler moved upstream, effected his crossing, and again attack Kilpatrick’s command which, in the meantime, had entrenched about three miles west of the church near Reynolds’ plantation.

Reaching the enemy position, Wheeler sent Dibrell’s brigade to attack the right, Ashby’s brigade to turn the left, and launched a frontal charge with the Third Arkansas and Eighth and Eleventh Texas cavalry regiments; but Kilpatrick managed to extricate his command as darkness set in and retreated six miles toward Louisville where Sherman’s Left Wing was encamped. Wheeler then resumed his mission of attacking Union foraging parties which were attempting to strip the countryside of animals and provisions.

Big Buckhead Baptist Church Jenkins County GA Antebellum Landmark Slat Back Pews Interior Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

The church and cemetery are located west of Perkins off U. S. Highway 25.

8 Comments

Filed under --JENKINS COUNTY GA--