Tag Archives: South Georgia Pioneers

McArthur House, Circa 1830s, Wheeler 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.

 

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--

David Reddish Log House, 1850s, Wayne County

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.

 

 

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Filed under --WAYNE COUNTY GA--

James Bell Smith House, Circa 1856, Bellville

In Houses of Heart Pine: A Survey of the Antebellum Architecture of Evans CountyGeorgia (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

 

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Filed under --EVANS COUNTY GA--, Bellville GA

Phillipi Primitive Baptist Church, Schley County

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.

 

 

 

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Filed under --SCHLEY COUNTY GA--

Seixas House, Circa 1835, Thomasville

The Seixas [pronounced say-shus] family were among the early settlers of Thomasville and this house, now an office, is the oldest one-story house in Thomasville. It was moved to this location by Thomasville Landmarks to prevent demolition.

Dawson Street Residential Historic District, 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

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--

Seminole Chickee Grave Shelter, Ware County

Chickee is the Seminole word for house, and these iconic shelters are still scattered throughout Florida. To my knowledge, this chickee in the Carter Cemetery is the only such grave shelter in Georgia.

In addition to the construction, the shells marking the graves of George Washington Carter (25 October 1862-4 July 1934) and Millie Louvine Thrift Carter (18 January 1860-30 December 1947) honor a Native American ancestry. Mr. Carter, who was born on Cow House Island, was one of the pioneer settlers of the Okefenokee Swamp. The Thrifts were also early residents of the swamp.

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Filed under --WARE COUNTY GA--

Early Settlers Cemetery, 1881, Swainsboro

Over 80 of Swainsboro and Emanuel County’s earliest settlers are buried in this secluded downtown cemetery. It’s a great space for quiet reflection and if you’re a taphophile, you’ll enjoy it.

The triumphant arch marks the graves of John Calhoun Coleman (28 October 1844-1 January 1923) and wife Martha Sarah “Mattie” Moring Coleman (21 April 1858-15 September 1926). The angel memorializes their daughter, Juanita Coleman Smith (16 March 1874-18 May 1910). Mr. Coleman was one of the most prominent men in Emanuel County during his lifetime and was a Confederate veteran. He served in Company H, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, taking part in the Seven Days Battle, first and second battles of Cold Harbor, Harper’s Ferry, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, first and second battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysbur, and finally at Manassas Gap, where he was captured and held as a prisoner until the end of the war.

John Coleman Mitchell (25 April 1897-21 January 1901). Grandson of John Calhoun Coleman.

 

 

 

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Filed under --EMANUEL COUNTY GA--, Swainsboro GA

Wyley J. Byrd House, Jeff Davis County

Though its appearance has been altered by the addition of shed rooms and vinyl siding, this is among the oldest houses in Jeff Davis County. The date of construction is unclear but is thought to be just prior to or just after the Civil War.

Wyley J. Byrd (1825-1908) was a pioneer settler in the section of Coffee County that is now the Snipesville community of Jeff Davis County. He was the patriarch of a huge family (he had 20 children with two wives) who were very involved in the community, donating land for construction of the nearby Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in 1878.

Thanks to Michael Ellis for sharing the location and the vintage photograph of Mr. Byrd and some of his children. The photo probably dates to the 1890s and shows Victorian porch posts, a common “improvement” to Plantation Plain houses in that era. Mr. Ellis writes: ...this was “The Home Place” in my early childhood. My maternal grandparents lived there from sometime in the late 1930s until 1956-1957. I had a ball around there as a young child, until we relocated to Opa Locka, Florida.

 

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Filed under --JEFF DAVIS COUNTY GA--