Tag Archives: Seabrook GA

Sunbury Baptist Cemetery, Liberty County

Detail of Rachel Bowens-Pap monument.

The vernacular headstones of Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in the old Trade Hill-Seabrook area were memorialized by photographer Orrin Sage Wightman in Margaret Davis Cate’s beloved book, Early Days of Coastal Georgia (Fort Frederica Association, St. Simons Island, 1956). The images, made mostly in the 1930s and 1940s, depict monuments in much newer condition than we see today, and many which have vanished altogether.

Rachel Bowens-Pap (1886?-March 1937)

The most significant of these monuments were predominately wooden markers and whimsies thought to have been made by Cyrus Bowens. None of these survive at the site today but a small collection of concrete markers remain, also attributed to Cyrus Bowens. [Findagrave lists a Cyrus Bowens, who died in 1866, among those buried at Sunbury Missionary Baptist, but these graves were made much later than that This Cyrus Bowens appears to have been active in the 1930s].

Chaney Bowens (1855?-18 February 1931)
Detail of Chaney Bowens monument, featuring a hand-incised dove.
George Bowens (?-7 August 1931) A right-pointing hand and a cross adorn this stone.
Frank Jackson (Dates unknown). The empty concave rectangle likely featured a photograph of the decedent at one time.
Lucy Bowens (Dates unknown). The empty concave oval likely held a photograph of the decedent at one time.
Boston (Last name unknown, dates unknown)
Brick Footstone (Name and dates unknown)
Symbolic headstone; broken vessels. In her essay “Negro Graves”, in Early Days of Coastal Georgia, Margaret Davis Cate writes: In old Negro burying grounds the grave is outlined with various and sundry items…The articles on the graves include every kind of container or utensil–sea shells…piggy banks…clocks…cups, saucers…Everything on a Negro grave is broken. To them, this is symbolic. Life is broken; the vessel is broken...Years ago Negroes put these broken articles on all their graves; but today, one finds them only in isolated communities far removed of the white man’s culture. To seek them out, one must leave the paved roads and search in remote areas…
Horace Fuller (26 July 1872-18 September 1933)

The Fuller monument and the seven images that follow feature delicate hand-incised natural forms and symbols.

Detail of Horace Fuller monument, featuring whimsical hand-incised flowers.
Ceasar Hamilton (7 September 1867-January 1938)
Detail of Ceasar Hamilton monument, featuring whimsical hand-incised flower.
Joe & Martha Baker (Birth dates unknown, Joe, d. January 1931; Martha, d. Feb ?) This monument features a flower and an applied hand pointing right.
Unknown decedent, with hand-incised symbol.
L. G. Delegal (1872?-December 1935)
Mary Mattox (1861?-29 June 1938)
Painted brick lot boundary marker
Edward Fuller (21 Jun 1896-29 March 1925) & Samuel Fuller (?-8 March 1924)
Julia Fuller (188?-1907) & Lila Fuller (Died 1900, Age 3 weeks)
William Fuller (?-20 June 192?)
Mamie L. Hague (?-1940)
Ira L. Williams, Sr. (12 October 1889-4 November 1969)
Ira Edwin Williams
Deacon Eddie Bowen – Son of Isaac and Mary – Born Colonels Island off the coast of Georgia in the 1890s. One of the oldest commercial fishermen who worked the coastal waters of Liberty County.
Though the present building was constructed in 1974, Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church was founded by Revs. Frank Harris and Andrew Neal, with 40 freedmen who had been members of Sunbury Baptist Church, which was burned by Union troops in November 1864. Sometime after the Civil War, the black congregation built a chapel near the Medway River. It was moved to this location, given by the Delegal family of the Trade Hill-Seabrook community, and reconstructed in 1918 and remained in use until the present structure was completed.

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Eddie Bowens House, 1903, Seabrook

Seabrook GA Liberty County Eddie Bowens House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastsal Georgia USA 2015

The highlight of the historic Eddie Bowens Farm is this house, which was originally built as a simple two-room hall-parlor structure and expanded over the years. The low-lying land of coastal Liberty County was suitable for little agriculture beyond rice cultivation, and remnants of this activity can be found on the property. Scuppernongs and other fruits are present; notable are two strawberry trees, a relative of mulberry that botanists speculate were brought to Georgia during the Colonial era for use in the short-lived silkworm experiments.

Eddie Bowens House 1903 Historic Seabrook Village GA Liberty County Photograph Copyright Brian Bown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

The Eddie Bowens Farm is significant as an excellent example of an early 20th-century African-American farm. Mr Bowens was a farmer, construction worker, carpenter, oysterman, and root medicine practitioner, as well as a deacon and elder at Sunbury Baptist Church.

National Register of Historic Places

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Seabrook Village Oak

Seabrook Village Liberty County GA Old Oak with Spanish Moss Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing Coastal Georgia USA 2015

Many consider moss-draped oaks romantic symbols of Coastal Georgia. This particularly nice one is located on the grounds of the Seabrook Village living history museum in Liberty County.

 

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Seabrook School, Circa 1905

This is among the most historically important African-American vernacular schoolhouses still standing in Georgia, similar in style to the Needwood School in Glynn County.

Seabrook Village is a recreated African-American community, and one of the most unique living history museums in Georgia. While it may seem abandoned and in a state of disrepair, it’s actually an authentic look into the challenges most black Georgians faced on a daily basis from the first generation after slavery until the 1930s. The Seabrook community was established through land grants dictated in General William T. Shermans Field Order 15 in 1865. This was the policy which became known as “Forty Acres and a Mule” and it afforded many former slaves the opportunity to settle land they had once worked as laborers.

 

 

 

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Delegal-Williams House, Circa 1880, Seabrook

This house in Seabrook Village has recently been restored and some work is still being done.

 

 

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Privy, Seabrook

The reclaimed materials used in the construction of this privy, or outhouse, are typical of African-American vernacular architecture along the Georgia coast.

 

 

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