Glen Echo, Circa 1773, Bryan County

NOTICE: This property is monitored by law enforcement and video surveillance and the owners will prosecute trespassers. These photos were made with the knowledge and permission of their attorney.

Also known as the Bird-Everett-Morgan House, Glen Echo is the oldest house in Bryan County, and among the oldest in Georgia. The land on which it stands was part of a 400-acre king’s grant made to Abraham & Israel Bird and Hugh Bryan on 1 January 1771. Family lore suggests that construction on the house began in 1773. [While it’s unclear who built the house, an article by descendant and historian Kenneth Dillon Dixon in a 2014 issue of Richmond Hill Reflections notes: …it was likely built by Burgund Bird, as it descended to his son Sylvanus Bird’s family and it was built on land granted to his other son, Abraham Bird]. The Birds were millers and may have selected the land due to its proximity to two creeks. One of the creeks came to be known as Birds Mill Creek (now Mill Creek) and the other was Black Creek. By 1802, Andrew Bird, Sr., was in possession of the house. He had three sons, Andrew, Jackson, and Cyrus, and a daughter, Isabel. Isabel married a Salzburger descendant named Joshua Smith in 1824.

Captain Albert Glenn Smith – Bryan Independent Riflemen, Tintype, 1861-3. Courtesy Kenneth Dillon Dixon

It was their son, Albert Glenn Smith, who eventually received the house and property from his mother’s bachelor uncles in the 1850s. At the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Van Brackle in 1858, Smith moved into the house and the moniker “Glen Echo” came into use. Twin sons were born to the couple around this time. At the outset of the Civil War, Smith owned 17 slaves and his estate was valued at nearly $10,000. A. G. Smith was a captain of the Bryan Independent Riflemen, 1st Company, 25th Georgia Volunteer Infantry and trained soldiers at nearby Fort McAllister. When Sherman’s troops made their approach to Savannah, breastworks were constructed on the property and though the house was spared, all of the outbuildings were burned and livestock set free. To a student of the Civil War, the survival of the house might seem quite extraordinary, but actually, orders mandated that only unoccupied houses be burned. At any rate, Captain Bird’s military prominence should have made his property a prime target. A. G. & Elizabeth Bird had ten children, the last of whom was born in 1876. Their heirs still own the property and maintain the historic family cemetery adjacent to the house.

The Plantation Plain appearance of Glen Echo is generally advanced as evidence of the house being later than 1773, but 18th-century examples of this style do exist in the Carolinas. Numerous changes have been made to the house in its nearly 250-year history and most of the original structure has been obscured by additions and alterations. This is often the case with properties of such an age and it doesn’t deter from their historical significance and local importance. Interior details on the first floor are said to confirm the 18th-century construction date, especially the presence of iron HL hinges on some doors. “Shed rooms” were located at the rear of the house in its early incarnation, but an elongated attached kitchen replaced them at some point.

The boxed cornice and returns, seen above, likely date to the early 19th century, and the brick chimney, replacing a stick-and-mud example, is thought to have been added around the turn of the last century. Outlines of earlier shutters indicate that different windows were in use, and the front porch is definitely a later addition.

Today, this property is endangered but affter speaking with the legal representative for the property owner, I’m confident that restoration is in its future. Theft and vandalism have plagued the house in recent years, I’m told, and this is a real tragedy. To say that a house connected to one family in Georgia for nearly 250 years is of utmost importance is an understatement. The subjects of the following photos, also shared by Kenneth Dillon Dixon, are unidentified descendants of the Bird family, probably made between 1910-1930; he notes they’re definitely Mingledorfs, Morgans, or Smiths.

National Register of Historic Places


12 thoughts on “Glen Echo, Circa 1773, Bryan County

  1. Sherrill Napier

    Thanks for all the interesting information. Sylvanus Robeson Bird is also my 4th Great Grandfather.

  2. Debra P VanBrackle

    I would love to visit the estate. My name is Debra VanBrackle. I am married to Michael VanBrackle a decendant of Charles H VanBrackle (his grandfather) His grandfather had brothers in bryan county and would very much like to see if Elizabeth VanBrackle may have been one of the children of his brothers.

    1. Sherrill Napier

      Elizabeth, the daughter of Wm. Henry VanBrackle and Elizabeth Mathis, was married to Albert Glen Smith. Please see Pioneers of Wiregrass Ga., vol. 12 for the article I submitted. Which son of Wm. Henry VanBrackle is the father of your Charles H. VanBrackle. My grandfather was Raymond VanBrackle, the youngest son of Wm. Henry.and his 3rd wife Sarah Shuman.

  3. John C. Wade

    Andrew Bird, Sr (circa 1802), had three (3) sons Andrew, Jackson and Cyrus. This is correct. That the three sons were bachelors is incorrect. Andrew Jr. had two (2 ) children, Irene India Bird, and Andrew Hamill Bird.
    Cyrus Bird became the guardian of Irene and Andrew Hamill when his brother Andrew Jr. died. Cyrus was then living on the estate. Andrew Hamill was killed in the civil war at age about 17. Irene was about 12. Cyrus died and left his estate to Irene, with Albert Glen Smith and 2 others as guardians for Irene. Albert Glen became sole guardian and managed the estate, sending “income” to Irene. Irene married Robert Wade and bore a son, Andrew Bird Wade, my grand father. When Albert Glen was dying, he told Irene that he had bought the Bird estate from her, and the “income” he had been sending her were the proceeds for the estate sale, i.e. he stole the estate from Irene. Irene declined to file suit, because the Smiths “were family”. The Smith family entertained the Wades up to about the 1930s and then became less inviting as the Wade descendants began to ask about the legitimacy of the Smith ownership. Pages from the county records have been torn out that covered the time of the Cyrus Bird/Albert Glen Smith guardianship. The Smith’s acquisition of the estate was not from Isabel as the “records” may show. It was from his “purchase” of the guardianship he was supposed to protect.
    John C. Wade, Great grandson of Irene Bird Wade

    1. Kenneth Dixon

      I’m sorry, but your story is absolutely false. There’s no possible way you could know that guardianship papers were torn out the record books, as the county records for that time period accidentally burned in the 1900s. Also, Jackson Bird, as the executor of Cyrus Bird’s estate sold the land to Albert Glenn & Alfred Bird Smith and Willam Henry VanBrackle in 1856. You can view the deeds starting on this page:

      If you would like more information, I can be contacted at:

      Kenneth Dixon, descendant of the Bird, Morgan, and Smith families

      1. John C. Wade

        The information I provided came verbally from family members now deceased. There has never been any mention of Jackson Bird in the family lore, regarding Cyrus’ estate. My alluding to “torn out Pages” was to the convenient burning of the records, you say occurred in the 1900s. I was informed by my uncle Homer that the records were missing. His description may or may not have been “torn out”. However, it was those records that established the line of ownership from Cyrus to Irene? Albert Glenn? that are missing. Homer’s continuing search for the truth regarding Irene’s legacy was met with threats of bodily harm if he continued to pursue that goal in Bryan county.

        It is interesting that you say the property was transferred to the Smiths and VanBrackles in 1856, and yet Irene continued to receive payments from Albert Glenn up to the time of his death.

      2. Kenneth Dixon

        The Bryan County probate records accidentally burned in the early 1900s when a clerk, William “Bill” Henry Wise (d. 1910) took them home. It happened long after Cyrus’ estate was filed. In the deeds I provided a link to, it clearly states that Jackson Bird sold a 1/4 interest in Cyrus’ lands at public auction and Albert Glenn & Alfred Bird Smith and William Henry VanBrackle bought them. A. G. & A. B. Smith also bought the other 3/4 moieties. He did not leave the property to Irene Bird Wade. Your story is incorrect.

    2. Cynthia Dewick

      Hopefully you will see this — I’m in possession of an 1842 Bible of Andrew Bird, given by Irene Bird Wade in 1892. I’d like to see it returned to the family or provided to an appropriate Historic Society. Can you please reply here?

      1. Rachel Wade

        Hi Cynthia, I am the daughter of John C. Wade and Great-Great Granddaughter of Irene Bird Wade. I have many of Irene’s belongings, including a writing journal, photographs, and other items. I would be honored to include Andrew’s Bible as part of our family collection. I am including my LinkedIn account below if you want to try to contact me.

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