Tag Archives: Slavery in South Georgia

Zion Episcopal Church, 1848, Talbotton

historic zion episcopal church talbotton ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Talbotton’s Episcopal community never numbered more than twelve families, but their Tudor Gothic church stands as a wonderful testament to them nearly 170 years after its construction. The church retains its original slave galleries and boxed pews. A Pilcher organ, installed in 1850, is the oldest of its variety still in continuous use in the United States. Quarterly services are held here and all are welcome to attend. Find out more about the schedule on the Zion Episcopal Church Facebook page.


Filed under --TALBOT COUNTY GA--, Talbotton GA

George H. Slappey House, 1850s, Marshallville

historic marshallville ga slappey camp house photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

One of Marshallville’s most imposing structures, this home, like so many others of its era, began on a much smaller scale. Originally a four-room frame house, it was built by E. S. Crocker, likely in the mid-1850s. George Hiley Slappey purchased it about 1860 and used slave labor to expand it to its present appearance. It was included in the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s, confirming its architectural significance. It was later owned by the Camp family. Debbie Dunning Liipfert notes that it’s been known as the Camp-Liipfert House since 1980… Wonderful home and happily raised our children and welcome family. It’s also been referred to as the Camp-Slappey House. The image below, in the public domain, dates to the mid-1930s. HABS GA-174. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Slappey House, Marshallville, Macon County, GA Photos from Survey HABS GA-147 public domain courtesy library of congress

West Main Street Residential District, National Register of Historic Places




Filed under --MACON COUNTY GA--, Marshallville GA

Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, Glynn County

Hofwyl Broadfield Plantation Main House Antebellum Vernacular Architecture Old Days Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Hofwyl House, Circa 1851

In 1806, Charleston merchant William Brailsford purchased the “Broadface” property on the Altamaha River between Darien and Brunswick and set about creating one of the most prosperous rice plantations in 19th-century Georgia. He renamed it Broadfield. Upon his death, it passed to his son-in-law Dr. James M. Troup, brother of Governor George Troup. When Dr. Troup died, in 1849, Broadfield included 7300 acres and a community of 357 slaves. Around 1851, Troup’s daughter, Ophelia, and her husband George Dent built the plantation house still standing today and christened it Hofwyl House, after a school Dent attended in Switzerland.

Hofwyl House Glynn County GA Antebellum Landmark Architecture Parlor Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Parlor, Hofwyl House

After the Civil War, mounting taxes led to the selling of most of the original lands and by the 1880s when George & Ophelia’s son James took over management of the plantation, Broadfield’s dominance was over. Rice was cultivated until 1913, but without slaves to make up a cheap labor force, it was hardly a profitable venture. When James died in 1913, his son Gratz established a dairy on the site, which was operated until 1942 by his sisters Miriam and Ophelia Dent. When Ophelia died in 1973, she left the house and grounds to the state of Georgia. Unlike most historic homes, Hofwyl House retains the original family antiques and possessions of the Brailsford, Troup and Dent families from five generations.

Hofwyl Broadfield Plantation Glynn County GA Commissary Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

The commissary is one of several well-preserved outbuildings from the postbellum era, as are the servants’ quarters.

Hofwyl Broadfield Plantation Glynn County GA Servant Quarters Bedroom Chenille Spread Chamber Pot Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

When you visit, you’ll see some of the most beautiful trees on the coast.

Live Oak Tree Growing Sideways Grove Canopy Spanish Moss Hofwyl Broadfield Plantation Glynn County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

For extensive photographs of the house and grounds, please visit:



Filed under --GLYNN COUNTY GA--

A Tribute to Silas Coleman, Ex-Slave

Silas Coleman Headstone Ex Slave Irwin County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

I’ve known of this “one-man cemetery” most of my life, and just photographed it last June. I initially thought it was perhaps an eccentric member of the Coleman family, who were large landowners in this part of Irwin County in the late 19th century. I had heard from a commenter that Mr. Coleman might have been a slave but I got busy and didn’t follow up.  When I was in the area last week, my friend Jackie Fussell Golden confirmed the site’s importance, sharing this information from a family history: Silas Coleman was born a slave in Tennessee on 2 January 1837, died 22 April 1921. He was the beloved slave and house servant of Elisha Coleman. One thing very evident about this black gentleman is that the  Coleman, Mann and McDaniel families had very warm feelings of love and affection for him.

The following history of Silas Coleman passed down to Mona McDaniel by her father, T. B. McDaniel, son of Fort Jasper McDaniel and Elmina Mann, and other family members, as well: After the Civil War it appears Coleman was in or had emigrated to Alabama. Since travel was so difficult for blacks during that time, Silas decided to stay and work with Elisha Coleman. When Elisha died, James Mann and Elisha’s daughter Mary lived with her mother. James died soon after 1880 and Silas helped his widow Mary Ann Coleman Mann with the rearing of her five young daughters: Sarah Elmina (McDaniel); Matilda Jane (Hogan); Idella (Luke); Lindsey Columbus (Mann); and Anna Bell (Mann). It is to be noted that their love and respect was such that Silas was allowed to chastise and even spank the girls if necessary.

Silas was said to be a very stern man and did not put up with foolishness. He could not read or write but controlled his money by having someone wrap it up in colored cloth by different denominations. Silas seems to have been a very caring and loving individual as he stayed with these families and helped them for over 60 years, from the time of the Civil War until he died in 1921.

Silas did live alone at one time but as he advanced in years, he moved into the house and lived with Morris and Maurine Mann. When he passed away he was “laid out” in their living room and the funeral was in the woods near the house, in the place that he had stated he wished to be. Lola McDaniel Harper, her mother Elmina, and sister Ruby attended his funeral. This love for him is evidenced by the beautiful monument erected and placed on his grave by Vianna Mann Fletcher.

Data provided by Mona McDaniel Temples and Joy Wilson McDaniel (Joy Wilson McDaniel is also the author of Irwinville Farms Project: The Making of a Community).


Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--

Evergreen Baptist Church, 1844, Bleckley County

Evergreen Baptist Church Bleckley County GA Antbellum Landmark Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

A historic marker placed in 1955 is located at the entrance to the church off U.S. Highway 23 north of Cochran. It reads:

Evergreen Baptist Church, built in 1844, was split off from old Mt. Horeb Baptist Church, constituted October 15, 1809, which stood at or near the site of the Centenary Methodist Church. On February 14, 1844, the congregation and pastor found themselves locked out of the church by a Brother Burkhalter. Most of the congregation, considered “Mission-minded,” formed a new church, called it Evergreen and constructed this building in 1844. In slavery days Negroes walked for miles to attend its services. In 1864 Negro members outnumbered White, 130 to 86.

The slave gallery is still intact, evidence of a large planter class in the area. Hopefully, the congregation will work to have the church listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the future.

Evergreen Baptist Church Bleckley County GA Antbellum Landmark Slave Gallery Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

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Filed under --BLECKLEY COUNTY GA--

Old 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.

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

Louisville Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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.

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

Carswell Grove Baptist Church, 1919, Jenkins County


UPDATE: This historic church burned to the ground on 16 November 2014, apparently a victim of arson.

When I found the National Register of Historic Places listing for Carswell Grove, I was drawn to its architecture. I was equally interested in its neighbor, Big Buckhead Baptist Church. I knew Carswell Grove was founded by the former slaves of Big Buckhead’s members. In researching further, I uncovered a much more complicated history. I discovered that a lynch mob had burned down its predecessor in April 1919 and began a cycle of racial violence that would come to be known as the Red Summer.

Folk Art Church Sign Carswell Grove Baptist Church Jenkins County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

Wall Street Journal staff reporter Cameron McWhirter published a powerful essay about the troubling events in the Summer/Autumn 2011 issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. “The Spiritual Ground of History” details the violence of a day that began as a celebration of Carswell Grove’s history and ended in its senseless destruction.

Carswell Grove Baptist Church Endangered African American Landmark Jenkins County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

McWhirter writes, in part: “One beautiful Sunday morning a few years back, I drove 180 miles southeast of my home in metro Atlanta to visit the remote site of a forgotten mass killing. The site was a church.

On April 13, 1919, the Carswell Grove Baptist Church in Jenkins County, then one of the largest black congregations in East Georgia, with about 1,000 members, held its annual gathering to celebrate its founding. When two white police officers showed up, an altercation erupted. To this day no one is exactly sure what caused the violence, but both police officers and a black man were killed. Another black man, Joe Ruffin, who tried to defuse the situation, was shot in the head and severely wounded.

A white mob quickly formed and went on a rampage. The mob burned the church down, then killed two of Ruffin’s sons—one of them a thirteen-year-old. Rioters threw the bodies in the flames, then spread out through the area, burning black lodges, churches, and cars. They killed several other people; no one knows how many. The wounded Joe Ruffin was saved from the lynch mob only because a white county commissioner drove him at high speed to the nearest big city, Augusta, and put him in the county jail there.

Ruffin was charged with the murder of the two white officers and for months was threatened with lynching. No one was ever charged with the killings of his sons, the destruction of the church, or other crimes against African Americans throughout the county.

Later he told a jury: “There is nobody as worried for what happened at Carswell Grove Church on that awful day as I am.”

“That awful day” was the start of the worst period of anti-black rioting and lynching in American history. Riots erupted across the South, in cities like Charleston and Knoxville. They spread to major northern cities as well, like Chicago and Omaha. A riot paralyzed Washington, D.C., with shooting erupting right outside the White House. The months of April to November 1919 were so bloody that NAACP leader and writer James Weldon Johnson labeled it the “Red Summer.” Despite the shocking violence, the Red Summer has been largely forgotten today.

To read the essay in full:


McWhirter’s fascinating book, Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America (Henry Holt, 2011) begins with a chapter on Carswell Grove and retraces the unprecedented violence of that summer.


Efforts are ongoing to preserve and stabilize the present church structure.


Filed under --JENKINS COUNTY GA--