Kilkenny, Circa 1845, Bryan County

Overlooking Kilkenny Creek (sometimes referred to as the Kilkenny River), Kilkenny was the 662-arcre property of Thomas Young (1733-1808) beginning around 1765. Young was the son-in-law of the property’s original owner, James Maxwell, Jr. As Thomas Young was a Loyalist, Kilkenny was confiscated from him through the 1778 Acts of Attainder and sold to George Cubbedge. Intervention by Young’s friends returned the property to him, though he was prohibited from voting or holding office for 17 years.

Young’s executors sold Kilkenny to Charles W. Rogers in 1836; Rogers then conveyed the property to his son, the Reverend Charles W. Rogers, Jr., and secured a nearby plantation, Cottenham, for his other son, William M. Rogers. It was used primarily for the production of Sea Island cotton. Little is known of the Rogers family today, though it is thought that Reverend Rogers spent very little time here. In 1850, Rogers’s 125 slaves were enumerated in the census, though he himself did not appear as a citizen of Bryan County. His plantation primarily produced food crops for the slaves. By 1860, Kilkenny was producing more cotton than any other property in the county and the value had increased five-fold, to $30,000. 153 slaves were enumerated in the 1860 census, but Rogers was still not listed as a citizen of Bryan County. By 1874, it had grown to 3,500 acres and was sold to James M. Butler. From this date onward, the property changed hands five times. When acquired by James H. Furber in 1890 the Kilkenny Club was established. (Locally, and on some maps, the area is still known as Kilkenny Club or Kilkenny Fishing Camp). A prominent later owner was Tennessee governor John I. Cox, who sold it to Henry Ford in 1931. Ford restored the property around this time, and it was apparently one of his favorites.

The house is unusual in this area because it’s neither Plantation Plain nor Sandhill Cottage style. Built with a four- over-four central hall plan, it’s weatherboarded on three sides and features vertical boards on the front. The main gable features a small widow’s walk. The most unusual feature is the placement of ten small horizotal (eyebrow) windows between the roof eaves and the porch roof.

The kitchen (above photo) is among the most important remaining antebellum outbuildings on the Georgia coast. Though the exterior has been weatherboarded to match the house, the interior remains virtually untouched. Pegged beams are visible and a sleeping loft reachable by a crude stair-ladder is present.

An oak driveway, or alley,  is one of the most impressive features of Kilkenny.


15 thoughts on “Kilkenny, Circa 1845, Bryan County

  1. Christopher Bacot

    Actually, Kilkenny is pronounced “Kill-Kenny”. 🙂

    I spent summers in Kilkenny. My grandparents, Barbara and Jack Bacot, owned the home you detailed. My great grandmother, who we called Boo Boo, died after falling on the steps leading to the side door. It was nice to get some history on the place. I was told it belonged to Henry Ford but I did not know anything more.

    I have so many memories of me, my brother and my cousins playing all around the marina and campground area with the “big house” always standing over. We were fascinated and terrified of it, as there is something creepy about the place, particularly at night. The inside has little doors that cover cannon ball holes from the civil war.

    Thanks for jogging those memories!

    1. Brian Brown Post author

      Thanks for sharing your memories. I assumed the Irish pronunciation because I’ve heard locals refer to it that way. In fact, I was corrected when I said Kill-kenny. You should know, though!

  2. Andy Hughes

    Seems like I heard a story about a cannon ball hitting the house during the War of Northern Aggression (Civil War ). Is that true, and, if so, tell the story please..

  3. Chrissy Chapman

    Very interesting. Thank you so much for the great background of this wonderful piece of history!!

  4. vanne hanisch-godoy

    I like these old plantation houses. I am also interested very much into the history of black people in that area too. Can you send some photos of that as well???

  5. Jackie

    We are new to Georgia and enjoy your blog. Thank you for helping us find interesting places. I have started a blog in an effort to organize my photos. So much about the area that I never knew!

  6. Kenneth Dixon

    Love this house! The Rogers family lived in the 1858 John Norris designed townhouse at 425 Bull Street in Savannah.

  7. Peter Martin

    Thank you for the photos. There is an old house about a mile or two north of Statesboro on Lakeview that has the slit windows, as did the old farmhouse I grew up in on St Simons, though the Windows on the house at windy oaks on St Simons were actually more like a single window on its side with sashes that swung inward. Peter

    Sent from my iPhone


      1. Kenneth Dixon

        There’s a house at 7411 Belfast Keller Road in southern Bryan County that Henry Ford built which was modeled after Kilkenny, although it is much smaller.

  8. bribling

    This is a wonderfully designed and preserved home. Along with it’s history, it becomes an interesting and important contributor to the antebellum history of Georgia and the South. Thank you for photographing it and sharing the images.


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