The outpost of Tuckasee King, near present-day Clyo, was the first seat of Effingham County (1784-1787). It was named for a Euchee chief who lived in the area. Today, it’s best known as a landing on the Savannah River.
Ebenezer can trace its roots to the 1770s, when a group of Whigs split with the Tories at nearby Buckhead Bethel Church (known today as Bethel, in Vidette). The Whigs first met on the property of Richard Fleeting. The church was first known as Fleeting’s Meeting House, then Big Creek, before settling on Ebenezer. Reverend Thomas Beattie was the first pastor, sometimes dividing his duties between Buckhead Bethel and Louisville. He died suddenly and was replaced by a Tory, the Reverend William Donaldson, but due to the Revolutionary fervor of most members he left the congregation in 1776. The next minister, Reverend David Bothwell, cam from Ireland in 1790. Bothwell was a friend and counselor to Governor Jared Irwin. Irwin, and Governors James Jackson and David Emanuel were elders at Bethel. Erskine Caldwell’s father, Ira Sylvester Caldwell, preached here much later, as well.
The church, located between Louisville and Wrens, is still active and has done a wonderful job maintaining the church and its historic graveyard.
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 notes of John Abbot: 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.
This historic rural cemetery is the final resting place of one of Georgia’s most important early governors, Jared Irwin.
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.
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.
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.
In Memory of Alexander Irwin – Born Aug. 29, 1792 – Died May 10, 1842. – Served in Indian War in Florida 1815.
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.
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 demolition in 1901. It is Georgia’s oldest house museum and one of the top attractions in Augusta.
National Historic Landmark
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.
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.
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.
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