In October I visited Sweet Georgia Fuyu in Glennville. This may be Georgia’s largest commercial persimmon operation and if not, it certainly looked like it. All that bright orange is an amazing sight.
The weekend before I had been at the Forsyth Farmer’s Market in Savannah and bought some persimmon-ginger jam from owner Laura Potts-Wirht, who invited me to come and photograph the orchards.
I had met Laura a few years earlier at a locavore potluck at Janisse Ray and Raven Waters’s Red Earth Farm and she was very enthusiastic about the persimmons.
Presently, there are 20 acres of persimmons with ten more acres being developed. Fuyu Persimmons are a bit firmer and definitely sweeter than the old varities we’re used to in Georgia.
While I’m not personally a fan of the raw fruit, I always loved my grandmother’s persimmon cakes and breads made from the fruit of an old tree at the farm.
I enjoyed talking to the two men who were on-site, grading and preparing the persimmons for shipment. They noted that the harvest was nearly over but that they had been busy throughout the season.
If you’re ever near Glennville, check out the orchards in the early fall. I believe they ship, too.
The Coleman House/Hotel is typical of late-19th and early-20th century properties found in small towns along railroad lines. Owners often lived in the hotel and rented rooms. At the height of the railroad era, such enterprises could be quite profitable. The Coleman Hotel has come full circle and once again is a bed and breakfast known as the Serenity Inn.
This well-maintained Folk Victorian in Cobbtown was built circa 1900. Its fascinating story was shared with me by Hudak Hendrix, the son of owner Mary Joyce Durden Hendrix.
“The Durden House was purchased by Lester Eason and Louvenia Youmans Durden sometime in the early 1930’s. The family had moved to Cobbtown in the late 1920’s. According to family lore, the move from Norristown in Emanuel County was prompted by an incident that had occurred at a local baseball game where Mr. Durden’s father, John Fitzgerald Durden, Emanuel County Tax Collector, was attacked by a man with a knife. His son rose to his defense and beat the attacker with a baseball bat. Later, the man died from his injuries. Apparently, the families decided that the best course of action would be for my grandfather to take his family to Cobbtown to provide some distance and minimize the possibility of further aggressions.
While the Durden family had two children, Tom and Nannie Lou, upon their arrival to Cobbtown, another son, Lamar Eason, was born during their brief stay in the Coleman Hotel in December of 1929. Later, after the family purchased the Durden House, two more children, Kenneth Lawson Durden(1932) and Mary Joyce Durden (1934), were born. Mary Joyce (Durden) Hendrix currently lives in the house.
While in Cobbtown, Mr. Durden operated a “rolling store” throughout the local area of northern Tattnall County while Mrs. Durden was a cook at the Cobbtown School that was located across the street from the Durden House until a lightning strike in 1968 caused a fire which burned the school.
Originally, the house included several acres of land that stretched down Railroad Street to the corner of Collins Street but over the the years, several parcels were distributed to family members who built houses that remain under the ownership of direct descendants of the original family.”
The original part of this structure was recently revealed when asbestos siding was removed. I’ve driven past it numerous times over the years and always believed it to be “older” than it looked. Thanks to Raven Waters for making me aware of the work being done; I’m unsure if it will be saved.
It has obviously been modified over time, with the higher roof line and chimney being later additions, though the chimney is made of handmade brick, indicating that the changes were made many years ago. It’s possible that the windows and/or door were cut out of the earlier structure. Most surviving houses of this type in Georgia date to the late 19th-early 20th centuries.
Alex Collins reached out to let me know that he was in the process of restoring this structure, a well-known landmark to travelers between Reidsville and Glennville in the Hughland community. He wrote: My great grandfather Claude Sands purchased the house with 350 surrounding acres from Idy Newsome in 1941. The farm was a fully functioning homestead built circa 1882. The house has remained in my family since then. Until the early 1970’s it maintained a working smokehouse, hog lot, chicken coops, and a barn for livestock. Tenant farmers lived in the house until 1980, and after that, the house became a storage space for the family. I, along with my Aunt and Uncle (Regis and Steve Kimbrell), started a restoration in the spring of 2019. Currently, 5 generations of my family have lived on the property.
1906 albumen photograph of the Knight-Dubberly House by Dolan of Waycross. Courtesy of the Perkins Collection, Glennville-Tattnall Museum
One of Tattnall County’s most important landmarks, the Knight-Dubberly House is an excellent example of the Plantation Plain style. Built by the Reverend Seth Knight (1795-1853) in what was then the village of Philadelphia, it is the oldest house in Glennville and among the oldest in Tattnall County. Reverend Knight served as Treasurer of Tattnall County and a justice of the inferior court. His plantation, anchored by this house, covered over 700 acres and Sea Island cotton and rice were its two chief crops.
Albumen photograph of Squire & Mary Ellen Dubberly (Likely 1880s). Courtesy of B. Daniel Dubberly Jr.
It is unclear when William Dubberly (1827-1895) purchased the house but it was around the time of the Civil War. The war actually came to the doorstep of the Knight-Dubberly House. According to Dylan Edward Mulligan: On 14 December 1864, a band of Sherman’s army under Colonel Smith D. Atkins forced their way across the Canoochee River at Taylor’s Creek and invaded Liberty and Tattnall Counties. The Yankee invaders forded Beards Creek and marched into defenseless Philadelphia, where they camped in the front yard of the Knight – Dubberly House. On or about December 15, the troops awoke and awaited orders from Colonel Atkins. As they had already done much damage in other parts of the county, Philadelphia seemed fit for the torch. Before ordering the destruction of the plantation and the surrounding village, Colonel Atkins entered the deserted house, where he discovered a Masonic emblem displayed on the mantel. He had received orders from General Sherman not to lay a hand on any property belonging to Masons, as Sherman himself allegedly belonged to the brotherhood. Atkins begrudgingly ordered his troops to leave the village, claiming that there wasn’t much worth burning there anyway. Despite his orders, some renegade troops had already ransacked part of the property, doing no significant damage. And thus, the Knight – Dubberly House was the savior of the village.
William and his second wife Mary Ellen Smiley Curry Dubberly (1832-1902) were the leading citizens of the village of Philadelphia, which eventually became the city of Glennville. William had deep roots in Philadelphia. He was the son of two of the village’s original settlers, Joseph and Holland Anderson Dubberly, and the grandson of Tattnall County pioneer and Revolutionary War veteran John Dubberly. Dubberly served as Justice of the Peace in the years following the Civil War, earning him the honorific “Squire” or “Squire Bill”. The area around Philadelphia grew rapidly in the years following the war and Squire Dubberly lived to see it become the city of Glennville in 1894.
Undated modern photograph of the Knight-Dubberly House (late 20th century). Photo Courtesy of the Perkins Collection, Glennville-Tattnall Museum
I am most grateful to Dylan Edward Mulligan, one of Glennville’s finest historians and the great-great-great grandson of William Dubberly, for sharing all the history and all of the vintage images. This post would not have been possible without his assistance. Dylan has a passion for the history of his home county that’s rarely seen these days. You may know him as The Georgia Sandman; he builds magnificent sandcastles along the Georgia and Florida coasts in the image of historical structures. If you haven’t seen his work, you really should pay him a visit on Facebook.
Please note the house is located on private property and is not accessible to the public.