Tag Archives: South Georgia Pioneers

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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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--

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Jeff Davis County

Mount Pleasant was organized in 1820 and is among the oldest congregations in Jeff Davis County. This structure, built on land given by the Byrd family circa 1878, was used until a newer structure was built next door in 1989. It is sometimes referred to as Byrd Church.

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Filed under --JEFF DAVIS COUNTY GA--

Goodman-Rigdon House, Circa 1819, Bulloch County

This home was built by Reverend Jesse Goodman. Thanks to Kenneth Dixon for the identification; Reverend Goodman was his 6th great uncle.

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Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--

Clary-Whaley House, Circa 1869, Jesup

Willis Clary established what would become Jesup at Station Number 6 on the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad line in early 1869. He paid to have the town surveyed and built this house on City Lot #1, presumably around the time the survey was done. Clary would serve as Jesup’s first mayor. As he and wife Lucinda Hall Lee had no children of their own, his stepdaughter, Georgia Lee Whaley, eventually inherited the home.

It appears to have originated as a simple central hallway structure. Expanded over the years, it’s presently used as an office.

 

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Filed under --WAYNE COUNTY GA--, Jesup GA

Moniac Baptist Church & Canaday Cemetery, Charlton County

Adjacent to Moniac Baptist Church is the historic Canaday Cemetery, established in 1830. Notably, it’s the final resting place of Missouri Powell Canaday, the sister of the Seminole chieftain Osceola. Many of the pioneers of this section were assimilated Native Americans.

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Filed under --CHARLTON COUNTY GA--, Moniac GA

A. D. Eason House, 1857, Undine

Abraham Darlington Eason (1816-1887) was the youngest son of William Eason, who founded the first Methodist church (Mt. Carmel) in Tattnall County after migrating from Colleton County, South Carolina. Abraham married Susan Tillman (1827-1907) in 1843. The young coupled settled near the Tillman ferry operation on the Canoochee River, in what is now the community of Undine. They first built a log house. Abraham was very industrious and deeply involved in the community, serving in the state house, as justice of the Inferior Court and tax collector and receiver. In just a few years he had acquired over 5500 acres, which he doubled with the purchase of his father-in-law’s estate in 1851. (This historical background comes from the excellent work of Pharris DeLoach Johnson, Houses of Heart Pine: A Survey of the Antebellum Architecture of Evans County, Georgia).

In 1854, Eason began acquiring materials for the construction of a permanent home to replace the log cabin and in 1856 hired Amos Hearn, a local carpenter, to complete the project. As with nearly all large Southern houses of the era, slaves were likely integral to the construction process. The family still owns many of the detailed ledgers A. D. kept during construction of the house.

Meticulous attention is being afforded the restoration of the house. I spoke at great length with the present owner’s (Paul Eason) son, Joey McCullough, about the process and the family is very committed to maintaining the integrity of this important landmark.

A tobacco barn built in the 1930s remains on the property.

A log corn crib is present, as well, but the only thing holding it up are the trees that have grown up beside it.

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Filed under --EVANS COUNTY GA--, Undine GA