Sturgeon Creek is among the oldest congregations in Ben Hill County, established in 1855. It was constituted here in 1888 on land donated by area pioneer Jacob Dorminey (25 October 1837-20 November 1910) and his wife Susan Hunter Dorminey. I’m presuming establishment and constitution are just formalities in this case.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Pioneers
Travelers Rest was an early community near the banks of the Flint River, settled circa 1830 as pioneers pushed westward in the Georgia interior. On land given by pioneer David Jones in 1836, the Methodists established a church and cemetery here, which they shared with Travelers Rest Baptist until that congregation built a new home, just steps away, in 1867. For many years they were referred to as twin churches.
Travelers Rest was incorporated as Bristol in 1838 but by the 1860s was supplanted in importance by the growing communities of Oglethorpe and Montezuma, a few miles distant. Since most members of Travelers Rest Methodist moved their letters to new congregations in those communities, the church was deeded to the Travelers Rest C. M. E. Church in 1884. The present structure was built circa 1890 by the African-Americans and hosted its last service in 1994. Graves of black and white members are scattered around the building, mostly obscured by vegetation today and in desperate need of attention.
This Willacoochee landmark is a familiar sight to anyone who has traveled through the town on US Highway 82. It was built by Coffee County pioneer Elijah “Lige” Paulk (1867-1896) for his bride, Laura Corbitt, in 1895. [Willacoochee was still in Coffee County at the time]. Sadly, Mr. Paulk died the next year. The 31 January 1896 edition of the Douglas Breeze notes in his obituary: Mr. Paulk was about twenty eight years old, and had been married only about three months to Miss Laura Corbett of this county. Although he was young in years he, by correct business methods and close application, had accumulated a nice property, and his home in Willacoochee was one of the best in the county…
Veryl & Lucille Boatright bought the house in 1948 and it remains in their family.
Thanks to Kim Jones for sharing this with Loretta Goff McCranie and Betty Boatwright who filled in the blanks on the history. Some of the information is included in a publication by the Southeast Georgia Area Planning and Development Commission entitled An Inventory of Historical Sites in the Southeast Georgia Area. Its authors note that the house originally had a double veranda, and it retained its wainscoted ceilings and walls, a stained glass transom over the front door, and that that pressed tin roof was original.
The South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church gives some background on the history of this community: The need for a church was discussed during a gathering of neighbors in Mrs. Tilly Crumpler’s home prior to 1833. These people searched for a site near a good water supply which was difficult in an area not near a river or creek. This group found some boiling springs of white sand that reminded them of snow, so the place was called Snow Springs*. The first structure was a brush arbor used primarily as a summer camp meeting place. Next, a log structure was built and a deed for eight acres of land was given by Brother Taylor. The first Bible was presented by Mrs. Vickers. A wooden structure replaced the log building prior to the Civil War. The present building was constructed in 1902-1903. The stained glass windows are original but were reframed during the 1950s. Sunday school rooms were added in the 1940s…The church bells were considered “old fashioned” so they were taken out in the 1920s and the steeple was renovated in the name of modernization.
*- because another community in North Georgia is already known as Snow Springs, this community is “officially” known as Snow Spring. It’s also been known simply as Snow.
One of the most historic congregations in the county, and one of the oldest Primitive Baptist congregations in existence, Lake Primitive Baptist Church traces its origins to 1823, when settlement in this section of Georgia was beginning to take hold. Several sources note that the present structure was built in 1839, but I’m unable to confirm at this time. In design, it is quite similar to Upper Lotts Creek Primitive Baptist, nearby. The adjacent Lake Cemetery is the largest in Candler County.
Situated behind the iconic Woodland plantation house is this amazing survivor, an enclosed dogtrot thought to have been built by the first McArthur family member to settle here; their ownership of the land dates to 1827. It is possibly the oldest house in Wheeler County. After use as a storage shed for many years, it was restored in 1993.
This amazing survivor was built as a single-pen log residence in the 1850s by area pioneer David Reddish (1824-1902). Thanks to Mr. Reddish’s great-great granddaughter, Amanda Farmery, for bringing this highly endangered pioneer home to my attention. Mr. Reddish lived in the house until his death in 1902.
The hearth was located on the end pictured above and has collapsed and some of the brick was salvaged or removed.
This view of the interior illustrates the condition of the house, which is so compromised that I wouldn’t even step inside.
Typical of construction of this era in Georgia, the logs are held in place by dovetail joinery.
A rear view of the original section of the house illustrates just how utilitarian structures of this type tended to be in early rural Georgia.
At some point, a board-and-batten addition was made to the house. It’s possible that this was done after Mr. Reddish’s death. Amanda Farmery notes that a well on the property displays a date of 1912, suggesting it continued to be used a residence for some time.
This view from the board-and-batten addition looks toward the original single-pen log section.
Though there is likely no hope for saving the structure, it is wonderful that the family has allowed to stand all these years. I am very grateful to Amanda Farmery for not only recognizing its importance to her family history but her desire for documenting it and sharing it for posterity’s sake.
In Houses of Heart Pine: A Survey of the Antebellum Architecture of Evans County, Georgia (3rd printing, 2014), Pharris DeLoach Johnson notes that this house*, one of the oldest in the county, originated circa 1856 as a single pen log structure joined by full-dovetail notches. It was later expanded to the Plantation Plain style it now exhibits (probably within a decade of its original construction) and weatherboards were added. The house was lowered slightly during a later renovation which was necessitated by replacement of the original chimneys. The roof and windows were also replaced but the original log walls and interior architectural features remain strongly intact.
James Bell Smith (1823-1891), whose mother Fannie Bell was the namesake of Bellville, purchased this property from Benjamin Brewton in 1851. His family came to Georgia from North Carolina after the Revolutionary War, settling in the 1820s in the section of Tattnall County that later became Evans County. Upon his death in 1891, the house was inherited by his son, Pulaski Sikes Smith. When Sikes died in 1894, his widow Mary Eliza Tippins Smith continued to reside in the house. Later, Sikes’s daughter Helen Daniel acquired the undivided land holdings of her siblings, including the house. Helen sold the house and surrounding land to her son Walter Emmett Daniel in 1954, and they own the property to this day. It is presently used as a guest house.
*-also known as the Smith-Daniel House
Phillipi Primitive Baptist Church was established in 1835. The date of construction has been quoted as 1864, but I cannot confirm that at present.
It is built in the common style of Primitive Baptist churches of the latter half of the 19th century.
Though the pews have long been removed, the interior remains in fairly stable condition.
Unfortunately, exterior damage will soon begin taking its toll if stabilization isn’t implemented.
The church and its historic cemetery should be considered an important resource and will hopefully be protected better in the future, if possible.