Tag Archives: South Georgia Victorian Architecture
This is among the best known and most notable farmhouses in Wilcox County and is the centerpiece of what was once a large working farm. Most of the historic barns and dependencies survive. I have passed it in my travels since childhood and have always admired the dedication of the family to its upkeep. I’ll update with more history soon.
Pioneer settler David Belton Jay built this home on the edge of the newly settled town of Fitzgerald circa 1900. It would have been a country house at the time but is now well within the city limits.
My friend Lydia Jay Mason shares some historical background on her great-grandfather in the heartfelt memoir Growing Up Southern: In 1896, David Belton Jay, affectionately known as D. B., moved his family to Fitzgerald… from Morgan, Georgia…Later, that same year, his parents, James Lemuel and Priscilla Jay, followed them to Fitzgerald and were two of the thirty-four charter members of the First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald.
Jay was instrumental in 1905 in leading the drive for Fitzgerald to leave Irwin County and form its own county, Ben Hill…There is a story of how several men from Irwin County wanted to meet D. B. Jay in a duel because of his desire for Fitzgerald to become a new county. The men knew that would lead to the taking of revenues from their county.
A 1943 newspaper account by Jesse Mercer notes: Soon after the colony had been established and before I moved to Fitzgerald an effort had been made to move the county seat to the city from remote Irwinville, a very difficult thing to do in Georgia…Jay was a prime over in the undertaking, as in everything for the community advancement. Returning from a remote district in the then large county, he met in the road a party of active and violent opponents to removal. Then and there, during the inevitable controversy that ensued, an attempt was made to assassinate him, and it was his single-handed, manly and courageous stand that saved his life.]
The Frank Eppes family has owned and lovingly maintained it for many years.
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.
Perhaps the finest Queen Anne house in Eastman, this beautifully restored landmark is now an event space and bed and breakfast known as Peacock Place. It has connections to Eastman’s founder, William Pitt Eastman, who sold lots from his “Eastman Home Field” property which became the most fashionable neighborhood in town in the 1880s. Eastman sold this particular lot to Edward Breitung of Negaunee, Michigan, on 3 August 1886. Breitung was a railroad millionaire who chose to build a winter retreat in Eastman after making an acquaintance with Judge James Bishop while a guest of the Millionaire’s Club on Jekyll Island. Sadly, Breitung never lived in the house, as he died the night before he had planned to move in. His widow and son returned to Michigan and never lived in the house.
The house sat empty until 1902, when it was purchased by Mrs. Estelle B. Bullock, who owned it for eight years. W. H. Coleman and Mrs. Carolyn B. Bush were short-term owners before it was purchased by the C. H. Peacock family in 1917. Julia Peacock Fitzgerald inherited the house in 1929 and owned it until her death in 1980. Her daughter, Idolene, was the next owner and it remained in the family until 1992.
Built by William Earl Dodge (1805-1883) for use by executives of the Georgia Land & Lumber Company circa 1870, this is the oldest known house in Dodge County*. One of the “Merchant Princes of Wall Street” and a former New York congressman, Dodge’s association with the area came at the invitation of William Pitt Eastman (1813-1888), a New Hampshire industrialist with large landholdings in Georgia and the namesake of the town of Eastman. Eastman brokered a deal with Dodge to have the county named for him in exchange for Dodge’s funding of a courthouse. The only time Dodge ever visited the area was when the courthouse was dedicated. His sons administered his timber interests in Georgia and this community (present-day Suomi) was named Normandale for Norman Dodge. It was the site of the company’s massive lumber mill and once boasted a population of nearly 600.
Throughout the 1870s Dodge’s Georgia Land & Lumber Company purchased, through questionable deeds, 300,000 acres of prime virgin timberland in the area. Hundreds of rightful owners were evicted from family lands and for 44 years a series of armed conflicts, assassinations, and protracted court battles embroiled the local folk in what came to be known as the Dodge Land Troubles. At least 50 people lost their lives during this turbulent period and by the time the debated deeds were finally settled in 1923, putting an end to the Dodge Land Troubles, the land was completely barren. Though owners slowly replanted or converted their lands to agricultural use, animosities remained.
*-A nearly identical house located next door (now demolished) was the home of company agent Captain John C. Forsyth, who was assassinated there at the height of the Dodge Land Troubles in 1890. A group of about eight local men hired a notorious North Carolina outlaw named Rich Lowery to carry out the deed. The conspirators were found guilty in a trial which garnered attention in all the national media, but Rich Lowery was never found, believed by some to have been murdered by some of his co-conspirators and disposed of in a cypress swamp.