Tag Archives: Georgia Pioneers

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.

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Jared Irwin House, Circa 1830, Lumpkin

Thought to be the oldest house in Lumpkin, this was originally a log dogtrot to which siding was later applied.  It was the home of Jared Irwin, namesake nephew of the early Georgia governor. Upon the death of the younger Irwin’s parents, Alexander and Penelope Irwin, he was adopted by his uncle. He was in the first graduating class of Franklin College (now the University of Georgia), was an original settler of Lumpkin and served as clerk of the inferior court of Stewart County. During the Creek War of 1836, he was killed in the Battle of Shepherd’s Plantation and was tied to his horse, which returned his body to Lumpkin.

The house has been modified over time but the interior remains in largely original condition. The shed room along the rear and the front porch are later additions. It is also known as the Irwin-Partain House.

National Register of Historic Places

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Nevils Creek Old Line Primitive Baptist Church, Bulloch County

Nevils Creek is the oldest church in Bulloch County and one of the oldest Primitive Baptist churches in Georgia. It was constituted in 1790. A single headstone is located beside the church: John Neville served in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment during the Revolutionary War. He may have been the founder of the congregation.

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Union United Methodist Church, 1884, Bulloch County

In 1790, a Methodist society that became Union church was organized in the home of Joshua Hodges, Sr. Hodges was a Revolutionary War veteran who had recently moved his family, including four sons, to the area. Members of the Methodist society set aside a tract of land west of the Hodges house, known on early land records as “Meeting House Reserve” and a log meeting house was constructed by 1792. The trustees were Joshua Hodges, Sr., Joseph Jackson, Jarvis Jackson, Catherine Hodges, Griffin Mizell, and Samuel Williams.

In 1834, the second church was built to replace the log structure. It was built of planks and sat on log pillars. It was replaced by the present structure in 1884, incorporating materials from its predecessor in the altar rails and some of the pews. The altar rail was crafted by Robert W. Stringer.

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Campground United Methodist Church, 1942, Bacon County

Historic Campground Methodist Church Bacon County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Situated in a grove of old Georgia pines, Campground is the oldest congregation in Bacon County and one of the earliest Methodist churches in the interior of South Georgia. Legend maintains that Bishop Asbury, “Prophet of the Long Road”, hitched his horse here around 1800. A granite marker placed in 1942 is the source of this information. That’s likely the date the present church was constructed. L. E. Pierce was the pastor at the time.

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Walker-Peters-Langdon House, 1828, Columbus

Historic Columbus GA Walkers Peters Langdon House Early Prefabricated Architecture Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Prefab housing of the 19th century? This house was built for Colonel Virgil H. Walker by Nathaniel Peters and is believed to have been fabricated offsite, then constructed at this location. Thought to be the oldest house in the original city limits of Columbus, it was likely a town house for Colonel Walker’s large family, who were prominent landowners in neighboring Harris County. Colonel Walker sold the house and lot in 1836 to Mrs. Dicey Peters. In 1849, Mrs. Peter’s daughter Frances, who had married Will Langdon, obtained the house. Members of the Langdon family occupied the house for over a hundred years. Today, the property is owned by the Historic Columbus Foundation. It’s open for tours, but only by appointment.

National Register of Historic Places

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Wynn House, 1839, Columbus

Columbus GA Robert Wynn House Oakview Antebellum Mansion Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

When Colonel William Wynn built this stately mansion, it was called Oakview. Colonel Wynn, for whom the Wynnton area of Columbus is named, was an early settler of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley. Henry Hurt bought the house in 1852 but never lived in it, selling it to Hines Holt in 1855. Holt was a prominent attorney, as well as a member of t he U. S. House of Representatives.  In 1905, Tom Cooper purchased the house and moved it closer to Wynnton Road so the property could be subdivided for other development. In 1932 the S. C. Butler family bought and completely restored the house. The Christian Fellowship Association moved into this landmark in 1958. Today it’s operated as a membership-oriented event and entertainment space.


National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --MUSCOGEE COUNTY GA--, Columbus GA