Tag Archives: Slavery in South Georgia

Tomb of Governor Troup, Lothair

This sandstone enclosure is the de facto memorial to one of early Georgia’s best known politicians, Governor George Michael* Troup (8 September 1780-26 April 1856). The obelisk was placed in 1848 upon the death of Troup’s brother, Robert Lachlan Troup (1784-1848). The enclosure was built by slaves from sandstone quarried nearby at Berry Hill Bluff of the Oconee River.

*- Some sources assert that Troup’s middle name was actually McIntosh. This is due to the fact that Troup’s mother was a McIntosh and he was born at McIntosh’s Bluff on Alabama’s Tombigbee River, which was part of Georgia at the time of the governor’s birth.

Detail of engraving of George Troup from The Life of George M. Troup by Edward Jenkins Harden, 1859. Public domain.

Governor Troup spent most of his time after his 1833 retirement at Val d’ Osta, his home in Dublin. He died while visiting Rosemont Plantation, one of numerous properties he owned in Laurens and Montgomery counties. A man of his time, Troup was a fierce supporter of slavery, owning around 400 human beings during his lifetime. It is also suggested that, like many slave owners, he fathered children with some of his female slaves.

Troup served as a state representative, member of the House of Representatives, United States senator, and two-term governor of Georgia (1823-1827).  Georgia’s best-known politician of the era, William Harris Crawford, encouraged Troup to run for governor. His first run was unsuccessful, due largely to the deep divide between the aristocratic planter class (by now known as Troupites) and the common farmers and frontier settlers (known as Clarkites, for John Clark) that had dominated state politics since the late 18th century. The state largely favored the Clarkites, but when Clark chose not to run in 1823, Troup was elected as an alternative. As a Democratic-Republican governor he ensured the removal of the Creek peoples from Georgia, a dubious achievement from a modern perspective. His endorsement of the Treaty of Indian Springs was met with an amended version from President John Quincy Adams, who favored allowing the Creeks slightly more land, but Troup ordered the militia to enforce his version. President Adams capitulated, not wanting to go to “war” with Troup over the Indian issue. He eventually became a strong Jacksonian Democrat and was nationally recognized for being a champion of states’ rights.

The ornamental iron gate was designed by Savannah blacksmiths D. & W. Rose.

Governor Troup was the namesake of Troup County, and Troupville, the first permanent county seat of Lowndes County. The present county seat of Lowndes County, Valdosta, is named for his plantation, Val d’ Osta.

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Filed under --TREUTLEN COUNTY GA--, Lothair GA

Ephraim Ponder House, 1856, Thomasville

Built for Ephraim G. Ponder, a slave trader, this house originally featured a square cupola at the center of the roof. Ponder enslaved the Flipper family and one of their children, Henry Ossian Flipper (1856-1940), was the first black cadet to be admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, in 1877.

Detail of albumen cabinet card of Lieutenant Henry Flipper by Kennedy of Wilberforce, Ohio, circa 1877.  Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives. Committee on Military Affairs. Public domain.

Flipper earned a commission as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army. He was also the first black officer to lead the buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry. He went on to serve in the Apache Wars and Victorio’s War but was troubled by rumors that led to his eventual court martial and discharge. He continued to work for the United States, as an assistant to the Secretary of the Interior in Mexico and Central America. Flipper’s family sought and received a complete pardon in 1999. It’s a nice irony that the slave trader is largely forgotten today while Mr. Flipper is honored with an annual award in his name at West Point.

Dawson Street Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Thomasville GA

Hayes House, Circa 1851, Thomasville

This home was built by Thomas Jones of Greenwood Plantation as a wedding gift for his daughter Harriet and her husband, Dr. David S. Brandon, a prominent surgeon. [It’s referred to as the Dr. David Brandon House in the National Register of Historic Places]. Dr. Brandon sold the house to Mrs. John R. Hayes in 1862. In the last days of the Civil War, Professor Joseph LeConte of Liberty County was granted refuge here by the Hayes family.

Originally a one-story brick house, the second floor and mansard roof were added in the 1870s. The brick was stuccoed at that time. The roof is covered with octagonal slate tiles, featuring a decorative flower design.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Thomasville GA

Hardy Bryan House, 1833, Thomasville

Built for one of Thomasville’s early settlers, the Hardy Bryan House is among the most important surviving antebellum structures in the region. When it was built, Thomasville was still quite rural and the house served as the center of a working plantation. Bryan died in 1859 and the house had several subsequent owners, including the Cater family. Today, it serves as the headquarters of Thomasville Landmarks, an organization at the forefront of local preservation since the early 1960s.

The cross pattée on the pediment has become an iconic architectural symbol of Thomasville.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --THOMAS COUNTY GA--, Thomasville GA

Knight-Dubberly House, 1845, Glennville

1906 albumen photograph of the Knight-Dubberly House by Dolan of Waycross. Courtesy of the Perkins Collection, Glennville-Tattnall Museum

One of Tattnall County’s most important landmarks, the Knight-Dubberly House is an excellent example of the Plantation Plain style. Built by the Reverend Seth Knight (1795-1853) in what was then the village of Philadelphia, it is the oldest house in Glennville and among the oldest in Tattnall County. Reverend Knight served as Treasurer of Tattnall County and a justice of the inferior court. His plantation, anchored by this house, covered over 700 acres and Sea Island cotton and rice were its two chief crops.

Albumen photograph of Squire & Mary Ellen Dubberly (Likely 1880s). Courtesy of B. Daniel Dubberly Jr.

It is unclear when William Dubberly (1827-1895) purchased the house but it was around the time of the Civil War. The war actually came to the doorstep of the Knight-Dubberly House. According to Dylan Edward Mulligan: On 14 December 1864, a band of Sherman’s army under Colonel Smith D. Atkins forced their way across the Canoochee River at Taylor’s Creek and invaded Liberty and Tattnall Counties. The Yankee invaders forded Beards Creek and marched into defenseless Philadelphia, where they camped in the front yard of the Knight – Dubberly House. On or about December 15, the troops awoke and awaited orders from Colonel Atkins. As they had already done much damage in other parts of the county, Philadelphia seemed fit for the torch. Before ordering the destruction of the plantation and the surrounding village, Colonel Atkins entered the deserted house, where he discovered a Masonic emblem displayed on the mantel. He had received orders from General Sherman not to lay a hand on any property belonging to Masons, as Sherman himself allegedly belonged to the brotherhood. Atkins begrudgingly ordered his troops to leave the village, claiming that there wasn’t much worth burning there anyway. Despite his orders, some renegade troops had already ransacked part of the property, doing no significant damage. And thus, the Knight – Dubberly House was the savior of the village.

William and his second wife Mary Ellen Smiley Curry Dubberly (1832-1902) were the leading citizens of the village of Philadelphia, which eventually became the city of Glennville. William had deep roots in Philadelphia. He was the son of two of the village’s original settlers, Joseph and Holland Anderson Dubberly, and the grandson of Tattnall County pioneer and Revolutionary War veteran John Dubberly. Dubberly served as Justice of the Peace in the years following the Civil War, earning him the honorific “Squire” or “Squire Bill”. The area around Philadelphia grew rapidly in the years following the war and Squire Dubberly lived to see it become the city of Glennville in 1894.

Undated modern photograph of the Knight-Dubberly House (late 20th century). Photo Courtesy of the Perkins Collection, Glennville-Tattnall Museum

I am most grateful to Dylan Edward Mulligan, one of Glennville’s finest historians and the great-great-great grandson of William Dubberly, for sharing all the history and all of the vintage images. This post would not have been possible without his assistance. Dylan has a passion for the history of his home county that’s rarely seen these days. You may know him as The Georgia Sandman; he builds magnificent sandcastles along the Georgia and Florida coasts in the image of historical structures. If you haven’t seen his work, you really should pay him a visit on Facebook.

Please note the house is located on private property and is not accessible to the public.

 

 

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Filed under --TATTNALL COUNTY GA--, Glennville GA

Bethel Brick United Methodist Church, 1827, Screven County

Brick Church was established on land given by the Reverend Payton Wade and built by enslaved persons from Sam Manor’s nearby Lebanon Forest plantation. Manor’s daughter Sarah was the wife of Reverend Wade, having married him upon the death of her first husband, the Reverend John Crawford. Upon Sarah’s death, Reverend Wade married her younger niece Elizabeth Robert. It’s the oldest extant church building in Screven County. So many early wooden churches have been lost to time, but Brick Church has weathered nearly two centuries. Reverend Wade owned over 500 slaves, and Brick Church counted far more African-American members than whites in the antebellum era. A slave gallery was located around the upper part of the interior but was later removed; the small windows (now boarded shut) along the top of the building are evidence of the gallery. James McBride is thought to have been the brick mason and a Mr. Potter the carpenter. The date the name was changed to Bethel is not confirmed, but thought to be in the 1860s.

A nice old cemetery stands adjacent to the church, the final resting place of numerous Wade descendants and relatives, among them numerous doctors and Confederate veterans.

Behind the church is a beautiful remnant pine forest and Tom Hudson Lake, a reservoir on Rocky Creek named for a former Wade Plantation manager.

 

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Filed under --SCREVEN COUNTY GA--

Douglas Branch Baptist Church, Screven County

This is an architecturally unusual church for the area, but a new favorite of mine. The bricks are handmade. The congregation dates to June 1850 and enslaved persons often attended with their owners.  Many attended after the Civil War but likely dispersed during Reconstruction. (Source: A Brief History of Douglas Branch Baptist Church, Mrs. H. S. McCall, 1938).

I was rushed when I made the photographs and didn’t have time to explore the adjacent cemetery, but it’s quite large and is the final resting place for many early citizens Screven County.

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Filed under --SCREVEN COUNTY GA--

Ways Baptist Church, 1851, Jefferson County

Ways Baptist Church was organized in 1817 near the present-day community of Stellaville, about three miles east of Wrens. It was named for Bill Way, who donated the land on which it was sited. The members were originally part of Brushy Creek Baptist Church but were dismissed for some reason, perhaps because they had slaves. Enslaved persons were among the first members of the new congregation. A log cabin was built first, then a more formal structure, replaced by this church in 1851. It features what appears to be a slave gallery (common in churches with slave members) and was likely built by the slaves themselves. After emancipation, they founded their own congregation nearby, known as Ways Grove Baptist Church.

It is a beautiful church and churchyard, and there is an historic cemetery across the highway.

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Filed under --JEFFERSON COUNTY GA--, Zebina GA

Jesse Bibb Key House, Circa 1842, Cuthbert

Originally known as Bedford Hall, for the Virginia home county of Jesse Bibb Key, this well-maintained Greek Revival is also known for its gazebo-greenhouse, both built by Key’s slaves. Key came to Cuthbert between 1835-1838 and was a successful merchant for over three decades.

Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --RANDOLPH COUNTY GA--, Cuthbert GA

West Hill, Circa 1836, Stewart County

The land which today comprises West Hill was first acquired by William Cunningham of Pulaski County in the Land Lottery of 1827. Cunningham never occupied the property and sold it to David Harrell about 1836, when the Greek Revival main house* is thought to have been constructed. He sold the property to William West (1799-1873) in 1853. By 1860, West had 3500 acres in cultivation and 2000 acres in timberland, making him one of the largest plantation owners in Georgia. He was also a leading cotton producer, with a record of 430 bales produced around 1860. Slave labor was integral to the operation.

West deeded the property to his daughter, Annie Crooks West, in 1867. She later married James Nelson McMichael and they lived in the main house the rest of their lives. After Mrs. McMichael’s death in 1915, estate administrators operated the farm until it was purchased by her nephew, L. M. Moye, Sr., in 1929. His descendants continue to own the property. I’m most grateful to Mac Moye for a generous tour of the grounds. The property is inhabited and private.

*-Mac Moye notes the similarity of the main house to the Bedingfield Inn in Lumpkin, suggesting they were likely designed by the same builder. This must be considered more than coincidental, considering the rural nature of Stewart County in the 1830s.

West Hill Dependencies

The historical importance of West Hill is most evident in the surviving dependencies that were the hallmark of self-sustaining plantation life. That the West descendants have maintained these structures in such authentic condition for more than a century-and-a-half seems nothing short of miraculous. Other than the absence of the original wooden shingles, the outbuildings are true to their original condition.

Schoolhouse, Circa 1853

Perhaps the most significant of the remaining dependencies at West Hill is the plantation schoolhouse. One of the first schools ever built in Stewart County, its use by neighboring children was strongly encouraged by William West, who even brought a tutor from New York to teach his children here.

Schoolhouse- Foundation Stones

Schoolhouse- Dovetail Joinery

Commissary/Meat Storage House

Kitchen

Cook’s House

Blacksmith Shop

Privy

Privy- Interior, showing the unusual five-seat design.

West Hill Dependencies- Slave Dwellings of “The Grove”

Few properties in Georgia retain the dwelling places of enslaved persons, so the survival of these three at West Hill is extraordinary. Though they have been maintained by the family for their historical value, they are the most endangered, and arguably the most important structures on the property. About a quarter mile from the main house in an area referred to as “The Grove”, these single-pen houses were used as tenant homes long after emancipation. As a result of their later use, two were slightly modified. One has an extra room and shed room, while another has a shed room. Like the dependencies at the periphery of the main house, these structures were of log construction with siding and would also have originally featured wooden shingles.

Slave Dwelling No. 1

All of the slave dwellings are believed to be contemporary to the construction of the main house, dating them to circa 1836.

Slave Dwelling No. 1- Interior Detail

Slave Dwelling No. 2

Slave Dwelling No. 2- Interior Detail

Slave Dwelling No. 2- Hearth

Slave Dwelling No. 2- Rear Perspective

Slave Dwelling No. 3

Slave Dwelling No. 3- Rear view showing shed room

National Register of Historic Places

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under --STEWART COUNTY GA--