Tag Archives: South Georgia Politicians

Sugar Creek Plantation, 1937, Telfair County

Upon its completion in 1937, this Colonial Revival house became both home and refuge for Eugene Talmadge and his wife, Mattie Thurmond Peterson Talmadge, known to all as Miss Mit. Talmadge had just lost the governor’s race after serving two terms and this country estate provided  him a place to revitalize and plan his political comeback. At the time, Telfair County was still seen as the seat of the Talmadge family and the rural anchorage was important, as Talmadge fancied himself a champion of the common man. The same voters who had rejected him for his lack of cooperation with FDR’s New Deal programs in 1937 returned him to the governor’s office in 1941. By now, Talmadge was relying on his unapologetic brand of racism to reach voters, and it succeeded; his well-attended rallies stoked racist fears among poor whites throughout Georgia.

Eugene Talmadge addressing supporters at Fitzgerald, Georgia, 1940. Photograph by Frances Trammell McCormick. Collection of Brian Brown. Copyright Vanishing South Georgia.

After another absence from office, Talmadge ran again in 1946, and became only the second man in Georgia history to be elected to a fourth term (Joseph E. Brown, the Civil War governor, was the other). He died on 21 December 1946, before he could serve his fourth term. The so-called Three Governors Controversy followed, and soon Talmadge’s son Herman became governor. He later served four terms in the United States Senate.

The family seemed to have little interest in maintaining the house, as they lived their lives far away from Telfair County for the most part, and it fell into a state of neglect. For many years, the fate of Sugar Creek Plantation was uncertain. It had long been in disrepair when former Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor Jim Wooten, a Telfair County native himself, purchased and restored the house and grounds in 2011.

Please note: It is now a private residence and security-monitored.

 

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Filed under --TELFAIR 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

Stovall-George-Woodward-Gregory House, 1908, Vienna

This landmark of the Neoclassical style was built by Dr. C. T. Stovall after “Whitehall”, his previous home at this location, burned. Stovall was Vienna’s primary physician for many years, in addition to serving as the city’s first treasurer and eventually alderman and mayor.

In 1914, he sold the home to Walter F. George, who was then serving as the Superior Court judge for the Cordele Circuit. George was elected to the United States Senate in 1922 where he would serve as one of its most influential members until shortly before his death in 1957. He sold the house in 1924.

Subsequent owners were the L. L. Woodward family, Georgia Supreme Court Associate Justice Hardy Gregory, Jr., and his nephew, Bert Gregory. Mr. Gregory graciously allowed me to photograph the house, which he is preparing for sale.

It’s been a wonderful showcase for Mr. Gregory’s numerous collections and served as his law office. The desk in this photograph came from the old Cordele depot.

A balcony affords nice views of Union Street.

A sun room over the porte cochere is an interesting feature.

It was added in the 1920s.

 

 

National Register of Historic Places

 

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Filed under --DOOLY COUNTY GA--, Vienna GA

Revolutionary War Cemetery, Louisville

This secluded cemetery, historically known as Old Capitol Cemetery, is located on the western edge of Louisville on US Highway 221. Notable as the final resting place of two of the best-known politicians of early Georgia (one considered such a scoundrel that newspapers of the period cheered his passing with sarcastic obituaries), it also contains cenotaphs for men who fought in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, as well as early Louisville settlers.

Senator James Gunn (13 March 1753-30 July 1801) – Though the headstone notes his rank in the Georgia Militia, Gunn was, more importantly, one of Georgia’s first two United States Senators.

James Gunn came from Virginia to Savannah where he began practicing law. He was a captain of a volunteer brigade of dragoons in the Revolutionary War and was among General Anthony Wayne’s forces who helped drive the British from Savannah. He was made a brigadier general in the state militia after the Revolution. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1787 but did not serve. Along with William Few, he was one of Georgia’s first two U. S. Senators, elected as a Federalist in 1789. He attended Washington’s inauguration in New York City. Unfortunately, in 1794 Gunn was one of the primary figures in the Yazoo Land Fraud, having been an organizer of the Georgia Company which perpetrated the fraud. He delayed formal submission of the Georgia Company’s proposal to sell off western lands until after his reelection to the Senate. As soon as it became public, Gunn was the subject of outrage throughout the state but no formal charges were ever brought against him. Upon his death, just four months after his term in the Senate had ended, Gunn was ridiculed in obituaries around the state.  Gunn’s wife, Mary Jane Wright (6 December 1763-13 May 1796) of Savannah, committed suicide by drinking poison. She was buried at the family cemetery at Litchfield Plantation.

Though Gunn’s reputation is questionable, the damage to his gravestone is very unfortunate. It was carved by James Traquair, a Scottish immigrant who became a prominent stonecutter in Philadelphia. Traquair worked with America’s first professional architect, Benjamin Latrobe.

Roger Lawson Gamble (1787-20 December 1847) – Gamble grew up near Louisville and was admitted to the bar in 1815, having served as an officer in the War of 1812 and a member of the state house (1814-1815). He served as Georgia’s Attorney General from 1816-1822. He was elected as a Jacksonian to the 23rd Congress in 1832, serving one term. He was again elected, as a Whig, to the 27th Congress in 1841. He served as a judge of the Superior Court from 1845-1847. The crypt was carved by W. Glendinning, a stone mason active in Augusta in the mid-19th century. [Source 1859 Augusta City Directory].

John Gamble (1740- 1806) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – I’m unable to confirm that John Gamble is a relative of Roger Lawson Gamble but assume there to be a connection. In 1772, John emigrated to Brunswick, Georgia, on the Brittania.

Major Patrick Carr (? Ireland-1802) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – Carr was present at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Roger Lawson (17 May 1730 or 1731-6 August 1803) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Captain Chesley Bostwick (1744-2 January 1808) – 7th Continental Georgia Battalion, Revolutionary War

Nathan Bostwick (26 January 1746-9 May 1817) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – Bostiwick was born in Suffolk County, Virginia. He may have been the brother of Chesley, but this is not presently confirmed.

Phillip Scott (?-21 October 1817) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Private William Walker, Sr. (17 December 1762-2 February 1818) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War – Walker was born in Buckingham County, Virginia.

Aaron Tomlinson (1748-12 April 1828) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Captain Ambrose Wright (1745-1805) – Georgia Troops, Revolutionary War

Mary Hubbel Savage Wright (28 December1825-23 June 1854) – Mary was the first wife of Confederate Major General Ambrose Ransom “Rans” Wright, who was possibly the son of Captain Ambrose Wright.  She was the daughter of Dr. William & Mary Savage, of Augusta. She died in childbirth, and her twins are buried within this enclosure, as well. Though Findagrave notes that this may only be a memorial and that Mary may actually be buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta, this seems unlikely, as the text of the stone notes that her remains are here. Investigation into the matter is needed to confirm.

Thompson Markers – Various members of the Thompson family, representing three wars, are memorialized here. It is possible that these are cenotaphs and the exact whereabouts of the decedents within the cemetery is unknown.

John Thompson and William Thompson are both listed with birthdates of 1750 and death dates of 1826, and with notice of service in the Continental Line, Revolutionary War.

William Thompson (1790-1872) – Captain, Johnson’s Company, Georgia Militia, War of 1812

Judith Price Thompson (1798-1840) – Wife of Captain William Thompson

Seaborn Jones Thompson (1827-1866) – Company H, 63rd Georgia Infantry, CSA

Joseph Maybank Jones (7 May 1804-5 January 1831) – Jones, a native of Liberty County, died near Louisville on his way home from the legislature in Milledgeville and was buried here.

Family of Owen (9 March 1806-27 January 1877) & Bdelia (11 March 1811-15 September 1884) McDermott . Fourteen more family members are buried here.

Seth Pierce (1756-1841) Revoultionary War Veteran & Obediah Pierce (1805-1884) – Cenotaph. Obediah’s three children are memorialzed, as well. His sons, Obediah, Jr., and John W. were Confederate soldiers, who appear to have died in service. His daughter, Susan Pierce Stevens, was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Dawson, Georgia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Wilkins House, Circa 1900, Waynesboro

This home is as difficult to photograph as its architectural style is to define. It has Queen Anne influences but is much more Eclectic than Victorian. Built for William Archibald Wilkins, who was a Confederate major and  mayor of Waynesboro, it hosted President William Howard Taft during a visit to the city in 1910.

Waynesboro Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --BURKE COUNTY GA--, Waynesboro GA

Crackerhurst, 1887, Statesboro

Greene S. Johnston was a prominent attorney and mayor of Statesboro. A marker on the home notes a construction date of 1887, but the Neoclassical appearance it exhibits today dates to 1914. My assumption is that the original house was simply modified by the addition of  the porch and portico. The Johnston family lived here until 1960 and it was used as a funeral home for many years thereafter. It is now a law office.

 

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Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--, Statesboro 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--

Jared Irwin House, Circa 1830, Lumpkin

Thought to be the oldest house in Lumpkin, this was originally a log dogtrot to which siding was later applied.  It was the home of Jared Irwin, namesake nephew of the early Georgia governor. Upon the death of the younger Irwin’s parents, Alexander and Penelope Irwin, he was adopted by his uncle. He was in the first graduating class of Franklin College (now the University of Georgia), was an original settler of Lumpkin and served as clerk of the inferior court of Stewart County. During the Creek War of 1836, he was killed in the Battle of Shepherd’s Plantation and was tied to his horse, which returned his body to Lumpkin.

The house has been modified over time but the interior remains in largely original condition. The shed room along the rear and the front porch are later additions. It is also known as the Irwin-Partain House.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --STEWART COUNTY GA--, Lumpkin GA

Dr. J. A. Sims House, 1910, Richland

Dr. Sims was an oral surgeon and Richland mayor from 1906-1908.

Richland Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --STEWART COUNTY GA--, Richland GA

Cobb House, 1850s, Americus

The central portion of this house, thought to date to around 1850, was originally located in the nearby town of Oglethorpe. A terrible epidemic there in 1862 left as many as 100 dwellings uninhabited and the house was purchased by Colonel Charles J. Malone and moved to Americus. Captain John A. Cobb, a Georgia legislator, bought it in 1883 and it remained in his family for well over a century.

Americus Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --SUMTER COUNTY GA--, Americus GA