Tag Archives: South Georgia Plantations

Mulberry Grove, Circa 1832, Houston County

James Averette Bryan (1801-1847) and his wife Catherine Holloway Rix Bryan (1803-1861) were pioneer settlers of the long forgotten Wilna community. James A. Bryan migrated to Georgia from North Carolina, settling first in Twiggs County, and later in Houston. He was instrumental in the establishment of Houston County and in the layout of Perry [originally Wattsville]. Bryan originally built a log dogtrot house [pictured above] from timbers cut and milled on a site a few miles from Mulberry Grove. The original homestead was later occupied by Bryan’s oldest son, Dr. Robert Campbell Bryan, and his wife Eliza. [It survives but is not accessible to the public]. As his fortunes improved, Bryan constructed a more formal dwelling, known as Mulberry Grove, circa 1832* [pictured below, and in all subsequent photographs]. *-Some sources date the house to 1850, but discussions with two architectural historians and preservationists support the earlier date.

Mulberry Grove later became the home of Bryan’s third son, Abner Council Bryan and his wife, Harriet Taylor Bryan. Their son, John Averette Bryan and his wife, Linda Lee Bryan, eventually inherited it. Many members of the Bryan family are buried in an adjacent private cemetery, alongside the slaves who built and worked the plantation.

The most notable feature of the house is the rain porch (also referred to as a Carolina rain porch). Originally, there were only four stucco-covered posts but at some point two more were added for stability.

Rain porches are a very rare architectural element in Georgia.

The original kitchen is attached to the house by an enclosed breezeway. The addition of modern steps are one of the few overall modifications visible at the rear of the house.

Rear elevation (southeastern perspective)

Southern elevation, with double chimneys

 

PLEASE NOTE: Mulberry Grove is private property and is monitored closely by physical and digital means. I am grateful to have been invited by the new owner to photograph the property. He is very interested in making accurate historical renovations to the house and I believe he will be a good steward.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under --HOUSTON COUNTY GA--, Wilna GA

Old Town Plantation Tenant Houses, Circa 1900-1910, Jefferson County

Archaeologists believe this plantation was built on the site of a 17th century Yuchi Indian trading village known as Ogeechee Old Town. European ownership of the property dates to 1767 (platted in 1769), when an Irish trader named George Galphin was granted the land by the Colony of Georgia. Galphin took advantage of the property’s frontage on the Ogeechee River, building an extremely successful mill and trading post. The original Crown grant of 1400 acres is one of the few remaining in Georgia that has never been subdivided.

After a succession of various owners, the Fitzsimmons family held the property from 1809-1860. In 1862, it was purchased by William Wingfield Simpson and Linton Stephens, brother of Confederate vice-president Alexander H. Stephens. Though General Sherman did not visit Old Town, Stephens’s descendants believe many of the structures were looted or destroyed by marauding Union soldiers. Restarting the plantation after the war proved too challenging to Simpson and Stephens and it was sold to William D. Grant in 1878.

Grant, who lived in Atlanta, leased convicts from the state in an effort to revitalize the property. It essentially became a convict labor camp, known as Penetentiary Number 3. Captain Thomas Jefferson James, who oversaw the convict labor at Old Town, purchased it from Grant in 1888. He sold it in 1891 to James L. Dickey, also an Atlanta businessman. Dickey replaced the convict labor with tenants, but lacking the success of his predecessors, sold the plantation to Central of Georgia Railroad president Hugh Moss Comer of Savannah in 1896.

Hugh Comer, Jr., was soon given title to the property but with little interest in farming or country life, sold it to his brother John Drewry Comer and cousin Fletcher Comer in 1908. It was during their ownership that the present tenant structures were constructed. Fletcher bought out John D.’s part in 1910 but was unable to meet the debt. His father, Alabama governor Braxton Bragg Comer, took over the property. Fletcher remained on the property but all decisions were made by Governor Comer. Fred and his wife eventually moved away from the plantation, and upon Governor Comer’s death in 1927, the property was sold to Lewis Dye.

The Depression saw the farm shift to subsistence farming, with plots being rented to tenants. The George Crouch family purchased Old Town in 1953 and subsequently made extensive updates to the property. Their stewardship has been integral to the preservation of this amazing place.

[Source: Gillispie, Elizabeth A., “An Examination of an Ice House at Old Town Plantation” (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 624. Georgia Southern University]

There are three surviving saddlebag tenant houses on the highway near Old Town Plantation. One is attached to a more modern house, so I didn’t get a photograph. All are typical examples of a style of tenant house once commonly found throughout South Georgia. There’s also a hip roof house which may have been home to an overseer. It was too obscured by vegetation to photograph.

This example features a shed room.

Remnants of magazine pages and detergent boxes can still be seen on the walls, an indication of the harsh reality of life in these spaces. They were used for insulation.

It amazes me that such utilitarian structures have survived for over a century.

 

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Filed under --JEFFERSON COUNTY GA--

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

Woodland Dependencies, Wheeler County

This impressive stock barn at Woodland (it may have been used as a dairy) is one of the largest of its type in this section of South Georgia. Several other smaller barns are scattered on the property but many have been lost over the years. The other two structures depicted are the most important surviving dependencies; my identifications are educated guesses and if I’m incorrect, I’ll update.

This was likely a commissary or warehouse.

This may have been the plantation schoolhouse. Its architecture suggests that it is somewhat contemporary to the main house.

 

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--

Woodland Tenant Houses, Wheeler County

These two houses were dependencies of Woodland. The front-gable example (above) is the newer of the two. Both are imminently endangered.

The Folk Victorian/Queen Anne example may have been an overseers house.  (Interior view)

It’s a nice vernacular interpretation and features board-and-batten walls.

 

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--

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--

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

Wade Plantation Commissary, Screven County

My identification of this structure is an educated guess, considering it is surrounded by the historic Wade Plantation. It looks to date from circa 1910-1930. It’s possible it was a general store independent of the plantation but this seems unlikely. (There is a location known locally as Hill’s Store just down the road but I don’t think this is associated with it). False front structures are quite rare in rural Georgia and I can’t recall having seen a commissary of this style. The pressed tin is in amazingly good condition, though the structure has likely been neglected for many years.

 

 

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Filed under --SCREVEN COUNTY GA--

Woodland, 1877, Wheeler County

Passing through rural Wheeler County from Lumber City (Telfair) to Alamo, one cannot miss this Eclectic Victorian with Carpenter Gothic details. An exquisite two-story arcade (not visible in this photograph) connects the main section of the house to a rear addition. More than one friend has commented over the years that the sight of the house stopped them in their tracks. It is a standout in South Georgia, out of place in a landscape most characterized by simple vernacular dwellings.

The McArthur family owned portions of the land around the house beginning in 1827. From the shambles of the cotton economy Walter T. McArthur (1837-1894) developed his father’s farmland into a thriving timber plantation and completed Woodland in 1877, the year of his father’s death. A Captain Renwick and Johnus Thormaholon are listed as the architects/builders. Walter was a Confederate veteran and served in the Georgia legislature from 1868-1871. His son Douglas later maintained and managed the property. It was sold in 1917 to Emory Winship (1872-1932). Winship was a career naval officer from a prominent Macon family and primarily used the house as a hunting lodge during his ownership.

The property is currently on the market.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --WHEELER COUNTY GA--

Mitchell J. Green Plantation, 1878, Evans County

Intact historic farms survive only through the care of generations of families; the Mitchell J. Green plantation in Evans County is an excellent example. In 1868, after service in the Confederacy, Mr. Green built a log cabin  on the property and commenced farming. The thriving operation became the center of a small community known as Green and had its own post office from 1882-1904. Mr. Green served as postmaster. A Plantation Plain farmhouse with Victorian accents, built in 1878, anchors the property. Numerous dependencies remain.

Commissaries are iconic components of Georgia’s plantations and many remained in use on larger farms until World War II. The Green Commissary appears to be in excellent condition; the shed protrusion is likely a later addition.

The stock/hay barn is the largest outbuilding on the property.

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --EVANS COUNTY GA--