Tag Archives: Georgia Pioneers

Vilulah Cemetery, Randolph County

The Vilulah Cemetery has a nice selection of Victorian monuments. I’m sharing a few random examples.

James N. Bigbie (17 October 1826-25 June 1905)

James Bigbie was one of the founders of Vilulah, and served on the committee which chose the community’s unusual name. He lost an arm during service in the Mexican-American War.

J. E. Bigbie (4 February 1852-31 January 1891)

J. E. was the son of James N. and Louisa Jane Grant Bigbie. This stone was broken at one point and repaired with different material. The open hymnal is a variation on the more commonly seen open or closed Bible.

Ara Adna J. McClendon Bigbie (5 August 1860-27 November 1889)

The weeping willow is a well-loved Victorian cemetery icon, usually signifying sorrow and sadness.

Lilla Bigbie (9 December 1886-9 December 1886)

A lamb symbolizes the purity and innocence of youth and is pervasive in Victorian cemeteries, as infant and childhood deaths were quite common.

Elsie Lee Dawson (2 April 1891-15 April 1891)

The dove is among the most enduring Victorian cemetery symbols, and is said to be carrying the soul of the departed to Heaven when flying. In this case, it marks the passing of the infant daughter of J. J. and M. L. Dawson.

Frances S. Fuller (6 May 1807-19 March 1901)

I’ve not been able to identify this symbol. Dan Fogelson suggests…it might be peacock feathers…used to symbolize the resurrection and eternal life (male peacock grows new and more beautiful feathers year after year).

Mrs. E. R. S. Gilmer (7 August 1816-21 July 1916)

Mrs. Gilmer died just a few weeks before her 100th birthday. I’ve been unable to locate a first name for her but she was undoubtedly a beloved member of the Vilulah community.

Robert Edward Lee Ingram (birth and death dates unknown)

I believe this grave marking to be a memorial for the infant son of Robert Edward Lee Ingram (19 October 1865-22 September 1891), whose more formal headstone is located adjacent to this plot. The field stones were likely gathered nearby. The elder Ingram himself died at the age of 25, so I would guess this child was born and died sometime between 1885-1890.


Stephen M. & Narcissus Spooner Memorials, Miller County

Narcissus Elizabeth Dixon Spooner (4 March 1828-6 August 1911), Primitive Union Cemetery

These austere Victorian memorials stand in stark contrast to the whimsical memorial for Kenn Blankenship, located a few lots away in Primitive Union Cemetery. They’re among the finest of their type in South Georgia. They sit atop pedestals and are life size; with the pedestals, they’re at least 8 feet in height. Mrs. Spooner holds her Bible, and Mr. Spooner wears a Masonic symbol near his waist.

Stephen Morrow Spooner (1 May 1823-14 October 1901), Primitive Union Cemetery

The Spooners were pioneers of the area and, obviously, very prominent citizens. The memorial for their son, Joseph James Spooner, at Olive Grove Cemetery in nearby Seminole County, is also among the finest in the region. [I’ll update with a view of Mr. and Mrs. Spooner in perspective as soon as possible].

Olive Grove Primitive Baptist Church, Seminole County

Olive Grove is one of the oldest congregations in Seminole County, dating to 1842. It was originally known as Rock Pond. Its large cemetery is filled with a number of fine Victorian monuments, perhaps the finest in Seminole County.

Spooner Memorial, Seminole County

Olive Grove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery

The white marble angel in Olive Grove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery marking the grave of Joseph James Spooner (19 July 1848-31 March 1929) and his first wife, Mary Jane Lane Spooner (2 March 1850-2 December 1914), is one of the finest examples of Victorian funerary art in rural Georgia. Mr. Spooner’s parents’ memorials in Union Primitive Baptist (aka Primitive Union Cemetery) in Miller County are also landmarks of statuary. [I’ll be sharing photos of them soon].

Olive Grove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery

My presumption is that the angel was placed in 1914, after Mary Spooner’s death, to signify Mr. Spooner’s profound sadness over her loss. The monument is life-sized and makes quite the statement.

Olive Grove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery

Sibbiah Earl Blair – Revolutionary Soldier?, Brantley County

Sibbiah Earl Blair (c.1745-1815)

Cemeteries often hold mysteries, and there’s a good one in the Whitaker Hill-Harrison Cemetery, the final resting place of a woman who is said to have been a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Sibbiah Earl Blair. Sibbiah [also referenced as Sabbiah in some sources] Earl was the daughter of John Earl, who came to Screven County, Georgia, from North Carolina in 1760. She married William Blair (c.1740-c.1780) of Queensborough [now Louisville] at Jerusalem Church at Ebenezer, Effingham County, on 26 October 1771. Blair migrated to the Georgia colony with his father, James Blair, from Northern Ireland, circa 1770, and served with the Liberty Boys of St. George’s Parish [now Burke, Jefferson, and part of Screven County] as a Revolutionary soldier. William and Sibbiah had five children, Jane, William, Henry, Mary, and Martha. William died before the end of the war, whether in service or of other causes is not evident. He is believed to be buried at Whitaker Hill-Harrison Cemetery, but there is no marker, and considering that he died at Queensborough, he may have been moved from that location at some point.

The Whitaker Hill-Harrison Cemetery is located on the historic Post Road at the Brantley-Glynn county line, in an area identified on maps today as Popwellville. This was located in Wayne County until 1920, when Brantley County was created. There are no Whitakers to be found in this cemetery, so I’m presuming Whitaker Hill was an early plantation or place name.

The Blairs’ daughter Jane is the connection to this cemetery and to this section of Georgia, as she married Robert Stafford (1765-1829), also a Revolutionary soldier. Stafford most likely came to this area through land granted him for Revolutionary service. Birth and death dates for Jane Blair Stafford have not been confirmed, but she died after 1838. Other than the marker related to Sibbiah Blair and the Stafford markers, all other known burials date to the 20th and 21st centuries. [Note: The marker for Robert Stafford seems to be missing from the cemetery; there’s a photograph of it on Findagrave, but I couldn’t locate it].

Another mystery remains for me. The grave markers for Sibbiah Earl Blair and Jane Blair Stafford were placed by the Brunswick Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in the early 20th century. For such a memorial, the DAR would have vetted the service records and genealogy. My presumption is that they concluded that Sibbiah Earl Blair assisted in the war effort in Screven County, after William’s death in 1780. Sibbiah must have moved to Wayne County to live with or near her daughter Jane.

Thanks to Cynthia Jennings for sharing some of the background information.

Union Baptist Church, Wayne County

Located between the Altamaha River and Mount Pleasant, Union Baptist Church is among the oldest congregations in Wayne County. The churchyard and cemetery are beautifully maintained.

Lowery Cemetery, Laurens County

I’m always looking for places associated with my Browning ancestors, and while I’m not the best genealogist, much of my family history has already been traced by others. I came across this historic cemetery by accident, but was amazed to find many of the Browning family represented here. While the majority of headstones are formal, these sandstone/limestone versions are rare and wonderful examples of vernacular funerary art. Their biggest enemy is time and weather, as the names are beginning to vanish.

Silas Browning (19 January 1819-19 December 1888)

Silas was the son of George Browning and was married to Sara Wolfe. They had six daughters and one son.

Teresa Jane Lowery Gay (25 October 1820-15 April 1885)

The headstone is unique in shape in comparison with the other examples in the cemetery.

Sallie Reddin (July 1880-?)

There are spelling errors on some of the headstones, as is common with vernacular examples, and Sallie Reddin could have been Sallie Redding. That’s just a guess. Her death date is not present, but since these stones all date to the 1880s, it’s safe to presume Sallie died as a young child.

Unknown Browning

I can read the word “Browning” on this stone, but all the other details have nearly vanished.

Caroline Vaughn Browning (13 April 1823-9 April 1887)

This stone features a primitive illustration, unique in the cemetery.

Unknown Browning, possibly Sissy (2? September 18??-?? September 188?)

This stone may be readable to some. I believe I can see the word “Sissy”, but the birth and death dates are very difficult to ascertain.

Mathew Cadwell (14 December 1858-3 August 1886)

I’ve included this stone for its curiosity. It isn’t related to the vernacular stones but tells a sad story. It states that young Mr. Cadwell was “Killed By Lighting with His Horse Under Him”.

Christian Camphor Cottage, 1760s: The Oldest Building in Savannah

This saltbox cottage, built some time between 1760-1767 and raised in 1871, is believed to be the oldest surviving structure in the city of Savannah [Wild Heron Plantation, outside the city, is the oldest structure in Chatham County, dating to circa 1756]. The balcony was remodeled in 1907. I have not been able to locate any information about Christian Camphor, however.

Savannah National Historic Landmark District

Harmony Baptist Church, 1927, Putnam County

This church has a long and varied history, best detailed on the marker placed by the church and the Eatonton-Putnam Historical Society in 2001: August 29, 1807, marks the constitution date of the church, originally named Salem Baptist Church, and located on the west bank of the Oconee River on land now in Morgan Co., across the river from the Salem Community in Greene Co. Shortly before July 14, 1821, the church officers were ordered to sell the original building site and the church constitution moved to Kingston District in Morgan Co. and renamed Concord at Kingston. On Oct. 25, 1828, the church moved again, renamed Harmony, to a site offered by T. J. Davis located across the road from the present Jefferson Baptist Church. After Davis’ death clear title could not be obtained and the fourth and present site was bought April 30, 1844 from William S. Scott for $25.00. The fourth building, dedicated in April 1855, after construction costs were turned in by William Rowell Paschal in Nov. 1854, served the congregation until destroyed by fire in March 1926. The fifth building was completed in 1927. No minutes exist before Saturday, June 5, 1819, but are complete fro that date on. They tell a poignant story of dedicated and faithful members who have kept the church alive while surviving pioneer hardships, schisms over missions, the loss of members to newer lands opening to the west, the Civil War and segregation and reconstruction, economic uncertainties, national depression and migration to the cities. Many outstanding ministers including the first, John Dingler (1807), Richard Pace (1824-1837), and Asa Monroe Marshall (1860-1912) who served Harmony, Eatonton, and Ramoth for over 50 years, have stood in the pulpit here. Pioneer families associated with this church include Alford, Alliston, Batchelor, Boatright, Bryant, Cogburn, Davis, Denham, Ingram, Kilpatrick, Kimbrough, Little, Marshall, Mason, Nelson, Newman, Pace, Paschal, Reese, Scott, Tuggle, Wallace, Walton, Weaver, Wynn, Zachary and many others who lie buried in its historic cemetery.

Mt. Ararat Methodist Church, 1870s, Dennis Station

The congregation of Mt. Ararat Methodist Church was organized in 1824. The sign on the church notes that the church was built in 1824, but a marker at the entrance to the cemetery notes that the church was destroyed by Sherman’s army in the winter of 1864. It’s possible that elements of the old structure were incorporated into the present structure.

The vernacular Greek Revival form was very common in 19th century Georgia.