Tag Archives: Georgia Pioneers

Lyon Farm, 1820s, DeKalb County

Side view of Lyon House, showing attached kitchen and restored smokehouse

The house pictured above originated as a log cabin, built by Joseph Emmanuel Lyon in the 1820s. It was expanded in 1853 and again in 1893, when it took on its present appearance. It is one of the oldest houses in DeKalb County and Lyon family descendants remained on the property until 2007. Slaves from the early days of the farm remained in the area and later established the Flat Rock community nearby.

Front Elevation

The house is reminiscent of the Plantation Plain style, but with two bays on one side and one bay on the other, is a bit unusual in its layout.

Gate posts

The gateposts are local granite, as are the boundary stones and flower bed areas.

Raised flower bed

Grape arbors were common features of many farms; this one was likely added in the 20th century.

Grape arbor

The historic smokehouse, thought to be the oldest overall structure on the farm, was recently restored.

Lyon smokehouse

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Aaron & Margaret Parker, Jr., House, Circa 1830, Rockdale County

Aaron Parker, Sr. (1758-1831), and his family migrated from Caswell County, North Carolina, to Georgia in the 1820s. His son, Aaron Parker, Jr. (12 November 1788-5 January 1881), and his wife Margaret Browning Parker* (30 June 1789-6 August 1871), bought three land lots on the east side of Panola Mountain in what was then known as the Brushy Knob District. It was part of Henry County until 1870.

*-I have learned that I am a cousin of Margaret Browning Parker.

Aaron, Jr., and Margaret were successful in Franklin County (now Clarke County) and were eager to invest their capital in the Georgia frontier. The Plantation Plain house they built circa 1830 became the center of a 2700 acre cotton farm, worked by as many as 24 slaves, and represents the first wave of white settlement into newly opened Native American lands.

The house was restored in 2016 and is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. It is among the oldest standing structures in Rockdale County.

National Register of Historic Places

Swanscombe, 1828, Covington

Swanscombe was built by the first white settler of Covington, Cary Wood, and is the oldest house in the city. It was originally a more simple form; the columns were a later addition, but they were present before the Civil War. The descendants remained in the house for several generations until selling the property to Thomas C. Swann in 1884. The name Swanscombe was given to the house during his ownership.

Floyd Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Weaver-Dallas House, 1820s, Thomaston

According to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation: The earliest version of the Weaver-Dallas House dates to the 1820s, as a one-room house and separate doctor shop, making it the oldest house in Thomaston. Additions in the 1830s and 1840s created a 1 ½ story cottage with Federal and Classical Revival elements. Stepping on site today reveals that not much has changed since then. Located on .98 of an acre, the property includes two smoke houses, a garden shed and a 1930s car shed, and is as close to a time capsule of Georgia history as one may find today. The house has been in the same family since it was purchased by Travis Weaver in 1840.

Thanks to the efforts of the Georgia Trust, the home has a new owner.

Plantation Plain House, Circa 1824, Zebulon

This landmark is presently being restored. Becky Clark Watts shares, via Lynn Ballard Cunningham: The home of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. McKinley on Jackson Street was one of the houses built in ‘Old Newnan,’ Pike’s first ‘capital.’ It was moved to Zebulon with the county seat, and would thus date circa 1824. Originally it had two rooms and a hall downstairs and two rooms up. A shed room was added later. At one time there was a second story porch.

During remodeling several years ago, a reddish wood, probably heart pine, “…too hard to saw,” was uncovered in the walls. The house has four fireplaces, and the downstairs mantel pieces and the front door have handsome hand carving. The ceilings, walls and floors, once wide boards, have now been covered, and shingles had been placed over the old clapboards. The stone chimney still stands, though brick was added to make them higher and reduce the danger of fire.

Enon Primitive Baptist Church, Pierce County

All of the Crawfordite meeting houses have a similar style, most notable in their primitive board-and-batten architecture, but each has distinct elements. Enon is a very “long” church, when taking its layout into consideration. It overlooks a beautiful piece of farmland and has expansive views of the surrounding area. It is still an active congregation. Thanks to member Brittany Mixon Ragan for sharing.

New Home Primitive Baptist Church, Pierce County

Though this congregation no longer holds regular services, their meeting house and cemetery are well-maintained.

I still hope that these important resources will one day be collectively added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The interiors of these wonderful structures are just as “plain” as their exteriors.

Though I’ve photographed nearly a dozen of these meeting houses, it always impresses me to see that the emphasis isn’t on decoration but on creating a place where the service is the primary focus.

Nelson Tift Monument, 2013, Albany

As part of an initiative to place more public art in downtown Albany, this sculpture of Nelson Tift was commissioned by the city and placed in 2013. Gayla Catrett is the artist responsible for the work.

The accompanying marble column notes: Nelson Tift settled the area as a commercial venture in 1836 in the hopes of establishing a cotton trade using the [Flint] river to transport the crop to market. He named it Albany, in honor of Albany, New York, which was also the head of the navigation on the river.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Tift was a man of his time, committed wholly to slave society, Tift worked tirelessly to protect both the party and the “peculiar institution.” Starting in 1841 he translated his economic leadership into political office, serving three terms in the Georgia legislature. He supported the reopening of the international slave trade as a means to extend ownership of enslaved laborers to all white Georgians and chastised white artisans for opposing the use of enslaved craftsmen. Although not an advocate of immediate secession he accepted the final decision and lent his services to the new nation. During the Civil War (1861-65), Tift built gunboats for the Confederate navy and supplied the Rebel army with beef and hardtack produced by his factories at Albany and at nearby Palmyra in Lee County.

Bethel Baptist Church, 1828, Hancock County

By some accounts, Bethel Baptist is the oldest surviving congregation in Hancock County. Land for the first church was purchased from Benjamin Thompson in 1801 and it was constituted in October 1802 by Elders Thomas Mercer and Benjamin Thompson, with twelve members. It was located on Old Bethel Hill about three miles east of Sparta on Shoals Road.

I’m dating the structure to 1828 based on the Baptist Association Minutes of 1880, which state: This church was first located on what is now known as Old Bethel Hill about three miles east of Sparta. We are unable to tie the history of this church from its constitution, till the year 1828. In February, 1828 it was removed to its present site, six miles east of Sparta, near the banks of the Little Ogheechee [sic] river. The land for the new site was deeded by John S. Latimer, and the deed names the following trustees of the church: Jesse Lockhart, David Hitchcock, William Barksdale and Byrd W. Brazill. It’s possible that this notation only indicated that the congregation itself changed locations and the church structure came later but the minutes make no mention of this.

They also note that before the Civil War, a third of the membership was African-American, indicating that members brought enslaved people to services. After Emancipation, they formed their own church, known as Hickory Grove.

Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, Brooks County

Situated on a large plantation among thousands of acres of managed Longleaf Pine near Pavo, Bethel Primitive Baptist Church is among the oldest congregations in this section of Georgia, constituted on 2 September 1826. Elders Benjamin Manning, Matthew Albritton, Henry Melton, and Deacon William A. Knight were the original Presbytery. Charter members were Melus and Sarah Thigpen, Archibald and Luander Strickland, and Henry C. and Sarah Tucker. Thigpen served as the supply pastor until 1828, when the Reverend Matthew Albritton was called to the charge of Bethel.

Mitchell Brice, Jr. [8 September 1896-10 October 1899]

I am unsure as to the date of construction, but the church is of a vernacular style widespread in Georgia in the late 19th century. The church was unpainted at least as late as 1968. The grounds are beautifully maintained and an historic cemetery is adjacent to the church, serving as the final resting place of many area pioneers.