Archive for November, 2013

In Search Of Transpine

November 23, 2013

Sugar’s ancestor was Colonel Alexander James Lawton.  He’s found several references to where the Colonel is referred to as “Alex”, like in the papers of Benjamin Spicer Stafford.  Every time we’ve talked about him, we’ve always called him Alexander James.  Like at the family reunions, the organizers divide the attendants up into groups depending what child of Joseph and Sarah Robert Lawton they descend from.  There’s only one other family that descends from Alexander James, and they descend through his youngest child, Edward Payson Lawton.  In the papers of Benjamin Spicer Stafford, he refers to this person as “Ned”.

I love this so much, this finding of these little facts that personalize these long-deceased people.  “Alex”.  “Ned”.  I. Love. This.

There are other references that we’ve found that refer to Transpine Plantation  being part of the larger Mulberry Grove Plantation.  I don’t know why one plantation would be part of another one.

Which brings us back to the enormous oak that we saw.  Live oaks mean something here.  Many times they define an allee, or lane, to a house, like a driveway.  A lone oak?  I don’t know specifically.  But it means that someone was there.  It brings a humanness to the spot.  We’ve seen one other oak that was bigger, and that’s the Angel Oak.

In some of his reference materials, Sugar saw where Alex Lawton had a small house, basically cabin sized, built for his mother Sarah Robert Lawton to live in during her later years, and it was built at Transpine.  The enormous oak we saw was next to a little house, and he wondered if that would be the location of Sarah’s house.

We wiggled all week in anticipation of going back to see the tree up close and to measure the house.

*****

We drove past, and saw yet something else that we had missed in all our previous passes.

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It’s less than 20 feet from the dirt lane.  What is it?

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We wore our rubber boots because we have no idea what we might step into.

 

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This building is all cattywampus. I told him not to go in there because it was going to fall down around his ears. I wouldn’t go in at the same time in case it collapsed. Somebody would need to be able to call 911.

 

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To the right of the door.

 

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To the left of the door. Perhaps this was an old store.

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Okay…
I’m leaning in the door at approximately the same angle as the left wall. This place is scaring the bejesus out of me.

 

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The left side of the building.

 

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Part of the support system holding up the front porch.

We walked along the left side of the building, and Sugar said, “Don’t step on that skull.”  I said “huh”, and looked down and saw that I was indeed stepping on a skull.  Just a skull, no skeleton.

 

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The back wall has completely fallen away from the building. See the sunlight coming THROUGH the building?
My apologies for being to antsy to allow the camera to focus clearly before I made this shot.

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I manned up, and skittered inside the building to get a detail of the wall support.

 

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And when I turned, I saw a chimney suspended in the air.

I skittered back out, and we decide to get back in the van to head toward the enormous live oak.

But first.  The morning sun slants through the trees.  We are facing south, and there’s a half-allee of live oaks on our right.

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Further along this lane is the enormous live oak.  I was still jittery about the ambiance at the old building, and I didn’t have my wits about me to remember to take a photo of the tree with a real-life frame-of-reference, like a person.

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But see that tiny building to the left of the tree? That’s about 22′ wide by 34′ long.
Are you getting a sense of how big this tree is?

 

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This long horizontal branch has broken away from the tree, although it is still attached.

We turn onto the field lane, which is between the house and the field, and stop to have a bite of early lunch.

 

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That mass of greenery is the house.

 

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This is a zoom shot of the previous view. See the walls of the house under all the greenery?

 

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Sugar brought his machete because of all the vines. He’s chopping and whacking a path for us.

 

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Dear God, that’s a widow-maker hanging over his head. I was as jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but he wasn’t worried.

 

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The house is not the right dimensions to be Sarah’s house at Transpine, but perhaps it was here once.  Regardless, Sugar named the live oak “TransOak”.

Then onward past what we believe to be the original location of the house at Mulberry Grove which was burned by Sherman.  There’s a lane which is marked No Trespassing, but the road map shows that it is a public road.

Yes, we did drive along it.  And took photos out the driver’s side window.  Some are zoomy, some are not.

 

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The gate to the driveway to the house.

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Further along the lane, we come to more fields.

 

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Peanuts!  My father used to plant peanuts.

Sugar agreed to go again to the Lawton Cemetery so I could take some photos of headstones to confirm that this was indeed the Lawton Cemetery that Mama Florrie said it was.

And that’s another blog post.  (Spoiler:  she was right.)

 

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On the Way to Stafford’s Crossroads

November 23, 2013

Sugar received his copies of the Benjamin Spicer Stafford papers from the Caroliniana Library.  Stamped on each page?  May not be reproduced or copied.

*Sigh*

Perhaps with permission.  Perhaps I could request permission to transcribe and share on the blog.

In the meantime, Sugar wants to find the area where Benjamin Spicer Stafford lived.  Mr. Stafford mentions the location of other homes, businesses, and areas, as to how far away they are in miles.  He mentions Colonel Alex Lawton’s place, and also Robertville.

So it’s time for an outing.

We head out towards Hampton County, and turn right onto a little dirt lane just past Tye Branch Road.  We were on this road before when we were looking for Colonel Lawton Cemetery, and we know that there is a Stafford Church, but we know little else about the area.

And here we are at Stafford Church.

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We don’t have any people here.  The only name I’ve seen before is Dr. John King Garnett Tuten, who was the doctor who signed off on a lot of the death certificates that I’m reviewing for several other blogs that I’m publishing.

We traveled the route back the way we came.  And we saw things we hadn’t seen before.  It was a good thing to travel in reverse.

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We’ve never heard of Mulberry Island Plantation, but we think that this confirms that this general area is definitely Sugar’s ancestor’s plantation Mulberry Grove.  (I did an internet search and can find nothing about Mulberry Island Plantation.)

A little further down the dirt road, which is incidentally named Two Sisters Ferry Road, we see the most enormous live oak tree by a little house next to a field where workers and machines appear to be harvesting a crop in the distance.  We decide to return on a Sunday for a closer inspection, because we’re guessing that workers won’t be working on a Sunday, and we won’t get reported for trespassing.

When we came to the intersection where we would normally turn left onto the highway, we noticed another dirt road directly across from where we were stopped.

So we followed it to its end where it intersected onto Pleasant Hill Road, a distance of some 7 miles.  There was absolutely no one and nothing around, except a cotton crop.

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Sugar wonders if he can remove a cotton plant, like the little lonely one that has no cotton blossoms on it. We don’t have a shovel, but he does have an old knife, which might not be sharp enough to release the plant. There is an amazing tough root system, like old runners slightly exposed in the dirt from which the cotton plants grow.

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We headed over to the Colonel Lawton Cemetery to see if there was anything that we could learn there.  I found a few more headstones that I photographed to add to the new blog that I made about Colonel Lawton Cemetery.  It’s called Certifiable Presence.

Now I want a cotton field…

The Caroliniana Library

November 18, 2013

Sugar’s always got a plan. Sometimes I think it’s a guy thing.

Regardless, he has deep roots here, and mostly I’m along for the ride.  I suppose it’s like I’m his personal historian, even though he’s the history major.  His intent on going to the Caroliniana Library is to view the Lawton Papers, most specifically the Benjamin Spicer Stafford reminiscences.

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The gray area on the left of the photo is a column. It’s not possible to get the entire façade of the building into one photo. At least my skills don’t make it possible.

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 SOUTH CAROLINIANA

LIBRARY

1840

The central portion of this structure is the oldest freestanding college library in the

United States and has served continuously as a library since its completion in 1840.  It is

based upon design elements by South Carolina native and nineteenth-century federal

architect Robert Mills.  Its reading room was inspired by Charles Bulfinch’s 1818 design

for the US Capitol’s Library of Congress room, which was destroyed by fire in 1851.

 

Known only as the College Library for its first 100 years, wings designed by architect

J. Carroll Johnson were added in 1927.  When a larger main library was erected in 1940,

this building became a repository for published and unpublished materials relating to the

history, geography, literature, and culture of South Carolina.  It was named the South

Caroliniana Library – the term “Caroliniana” meaning “things pertaining to Carolina.”

We signed ourselves into the guest book, and chatted with some of the librarians who were quite familiar with the Lawton holdings.  One librarian inquired after Thomas Oregon Lawton, asking after his health, because he hadn’t been seen in a few years, but had been quite an active researcher.  The Mr. Lawton in question is actually now deceased, but was remembered fondly by the staff.

So they were happy to take up some Lawton conversation.  After we viewed the card catalog, and decided where we wanted to begin, like, ummm, in the beginning, we were given a roll of microfilm with the earliest records, and another one with the Benjamin Spicer Stafford memoirs, to take upstairs to another section of the library where the microfilm readers were.

There were court documents, and maps, and too, too much for us to take in at one sitting.  And that was only one roll of microfilm.  We decided to review the Stafford papers, and Sugar made a plan about which pages he wanted copied.

Fifty.  Only Fifty.  (Once he actually received them in the mail, he wanted the remaining pages about where the Staffords moved west out of South Carolina.)

We were told downstairs that there is a microfilm reader that will allow you to save to a thumb drive, which I just happened to have, but the librarian upstairs didn’t ask us if we wanted that machine, and we didn’t know to ask.

We decided that it’s an easy day trip to get back to do more research, and we found some lunch, and we headed home.

(Ask me if we’ve been back yet.  Nope, dogs and cats and life got in the way.)

Destination Columbia

November 14, 2013

I’m usually doing the driving on our trips. Sugar is a professional driver, of sorts, but he hates to drive.

And he doesn’t usually take the photos, either, although he did take the one of the Mary Willis Library and a few at the Sarah Hillhouse house.  He’s got potential.

So I’m usually not driving and snapping photos at the same time.  Sugar is the best spotter.  Of signs, and markers, and tombstones, and turtles in the road, he’s your man.  But sometimes between the two of us, we can’t read a sign way down the street when we’re inner-city driving, and I’ve got a trick that helps me, and might help you.

I use the camera on a zoom setting, and take a photo of the street sign, then look at the photo on the camera display.  You can also take a zoomy photo, and then zoom in even more.  This trick came in handy when we were trying to find our turn so that we could end up at our destination.

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This photo was taken from two blocks away while we were waiting at a red light.  Pickens wasn’t the street we needed.

We found our street, and wound around a bit more to our destination.

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Claussen’s Bakery.  It’s a boutique inn, and you can read more about it here on their website.

And tomorrow?

The South Caroliniana Library!  A LawtonFest!

From Washington to Columbia

November 14, 2013

Most of the way from Washington, Georgia, to Columbia, South Carolina, is two-lane. We decided to pull over to reinspect the map, and luckily, there was a handy pull-over spot.

In front of a church.

With historical markers.

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Smyrna Methodist

Church

     ORGANIZED IN 1785 OR 86 BY

TWO PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS REV.

JOHN NEWTON & REV. JOHN SIMPSON.

FIRST HOUSE OF WORSHIP ERECTED

IN 1793 ON LAND GIVEN BY SIR JOHN

TALBOT IN 1820 PRESBYTERIAN MEM-

BERSHIP TRANSFERRED TO WASHING-

TON AND OFFERED SMYRNA TO THE

METHODISTS.  REGULAR CHURCH

SERVICES HAVE BEEN HELD ON THIS

SITE WITHOUT INTERRUPTION SINCE 1793.

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SMYRNA CHURCH

Smyrna Church was organized about 1786, by the Rev. John Newton

and the Rev. John Simpson, Presbyterian ministers under the

jurisdiction of the South Carolina Presbytery.  Services were

at first held in the homes of the members.  The first Smyrna

church edifice, built on this site in 1793, was of logs, with

a steeple.  The first regular pastor was the Rev. John Springer,

who preached here until 1801.  About 1820, the church membership

decline to fifteen, and these removed to Washington to affiliate

with the Washington Presbyterian Church.

At this time, the Smyrna Presbyterians, through their elders,

tenered the use of the church edifice to the Methodists, who

accepted and soon established a flourishing Methodist Society

here.  The old church was in use until 1860, when it was torn

down and a new building erected.  On October 6, 1886, the title

to Smyrna Church was passed from the Trustees of the Washington

Presbyterian Church to the Trustees of the Smyrna Methodist

Church.  In 1911, a new building was constructed, the third

Smyrna on this site.

In the 1840s, an encampment was prepared near the church, and

was used as a camp ground by both Presbyterians and Methodists.

 

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SMYRNA CHURCHYARD

This burying ground was laid out in 1788 when

Sir John Talbot gave two acres of his vast

estate for use as a Presbyterian Church and

churchyard.  Sir John was descended from the Earl

of Shrewsbury.  His own son, Matthew Talbot, served

as a Superior Court judge, President of the

Georgia Senate in 1811, 1817-22, and as Governor

of Georgia from Oct. 24 to Nov. 5, 1819.  Both

are buried here.

W.H.T. Walker, Confederate General killed in the

Battle of Atlanta, was a descendant of Sir John

Talbot.

The Presbyterians moved to a new building in

Washington in 1825.

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And taking photos of both sides of the markers, even though they are identical, shows interesting details of the landscape, like how near the highway is, or the foliage.

Or Sugar sitting in the car, pushing food in his face.

In Washington, Georgia

November 13, 2013

Do you love Washington, Georgia? We do, too. After we toured around the old section of Resthaven, we headed back to the B&B. It was dark, and Sugar wanted to stroll around. There were no sirens, no booming car stereos, no loud neighbors.

The house next to the B&B was once owned by some relation of Sugar’s (of course.)  It was on a large corner lot, and well-protected by trees, bushes, and foliage.  We decided we’d have to go all stealth the following day to get a good photo.

We sat on the back screened porch at the B&B and talked about the day, and made plans for tomorrow.  I attempted to get a wireless signal from the Wi-Fi, but the security code didn’t work, and I wasn’t about to disturb our hostess in her apartment.  I twitched a little while we decompressed.

*****

The next morning we went to the car to load a few things before breakfast.  Who is waiting outside for us?  A resident cat.  Apparently there are several neighborhood cats that roam about.  This one was quite comfortable.

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You already know that I have some cat treats in the car.

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We sat down to breakfast with our hostess, who filled us in on the comings-and-goings of the state of things in town.  Then we went on our stealth walk.  In broad daylight.

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This is the driveway to the B&B.  The house is to the right.  On the left side of the photo is another driveway.  That’s the house we are curious about.

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In front of the house bordering the sidewalk is the most amazing camellia hedge that I’ve ever seen.  Ten feet high?  More?

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I parted the camellias to see that they are concealing an ironwork fence.

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Thank goodness for the zoom feature on the pointy-shooty camera.

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These photos would have so much more meaning if I could remember which relative they belonged to.  Perhaps someday I’ll remember, or perhaps someday I’ll ask Sugar.  Perhaps.

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Impossible to get a good shot of the front of the B&B, even from across the street.  Immm-possible.

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Now we’re ready for another drive-about.

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HOLLY COURT

This lot, originally sold by the Town Com-

missioners in 1804 to John Griffin, was

later owned by Henry Anthony.

This structure combines two separate houses.

The back part probably dates from 1817;

the front was moved by oxcart from 7 miles

out in the County by Dr. Fielding Ficklen

in the 1840’s.  In this house, Mrs. Jefferson

Davis and her two children spent a few days

awaiting President Davis’ arrival after the

fall of Richmond.

Dr. James Pettigrew Boyce, Co-founder and

first President of the Southern Baptist

Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., married

Elizabeth L. Ficklen here, Dec. 20, 1848.

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I had parked across the street from the Holly Court by another beautiful house.  Beautiful houses are everywhere.  All I could think:  That’s a lot of paint…

I’ve heard of big, old houses referred to as “women killers”.  All the work – the dusting, the cleaning, the polishing, the fires to be maintained, the carrying of items and the organizing.

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Then a bit more driving around to the Public Library.

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Our hostess at the B&B had told us about this next house.  I took a lot of photos.  At one point the police drove by while we were walking all around the porches, and did not stop to question us.  Apparently we looked harmless enough.

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The view over the side gate.

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The side porch.

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The zoomy view of the garden from the side gate.

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CAMPBELL HOME

  This was once the home of two distinguished

Georgians – father and son.

Duncan G. Campbell was noted for drafting the

treaty that removed the Cherokee Indians from

Georgia and also for introducing in the Georgia

legislature the first bill providing for higher

education for women.  John Archibald Campbell,

born here in 1811, was an Associate Justice of

the United States Supreme Court from 1853

until 1861, when he resigned to become Assist-

ant Secretary of War for the Southern Confederacy.

After the war he practiced law in New Orleans.

This house is really two houses in one.  It

has two identical front doors and the wain-

scoated panels under the front windows open.

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This thermometer that is mounted to a column has been painted over. The large hook has a corresponding hook mounted to the house, most probably for a hammock.

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Look! Two front doors! Because it’s two houses in one!

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The lower panels, painted red, can be fully opened from the inside. It’s like having many doors to the outside. But no screening.

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Next stealth move, again in broad daylight.  The Sarah Hillhouse house.  Our hostess at the B&B said that some elderly folks still live there.  The property was theirs, but was sold and now belongs to the state of Georgia who allows them to live out their years there.

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HOME OF

SARAH HILLHOUSE

*****

This Federal style house was begun in 1814, by Sarah Porter Hillhouse

who came to Washington in 1786, from Connecticut with her husband

David.  In 1801, David purchases the town’s first newspaper The

Monitor, and when he died in 1803, Sarah became the first woman in

Georgia to edit and publish a newspaper which she continued to run

for more than a decade, along with the print shop her husband had

established.  Here she also printed the official records of the state

legislature.  Articles in The Monitor, which generally had a circulation

of 700 to 800, give a vivid account of events of interest to the people

of Washington in the early 1800’s.  Mrs. Hillhouse’s other business

interests included trading in land and commerce.   Her letters provide

an interesting insight to life in early Washington.  She was a successful

businesswoman at a time when women were seldom active outside the

home, and she helped to build a frontier village into a thriving community.

Her home was enlarged to its present form in 1869 when Gabriel

Toombs acquired the property, and moved the end rooms from the

Toombs Plantation on log rollers and added them to the house.

Toombs and his descendants lived here for more than a century.

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Yes, I am standing right in front of these people’s house, right in their front yard, taking a photo of this marker.  The people across the street at the Chicken Shak don’t seem to notice.  It’s lunchtime, and the smell of fried chicken is heavy in the air.

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You might be asking why I take so many photos of the same thing, like historical markers.  I capture each side, which sometimes means moving branches of trees out of the way, like for the Campbell House.  I’ve gotten home after a trip, and found that the one photo I took was out of focus, or there was glare, or it was just a bad photo.  It seems a waste not to publish them here, and the blog is free, so you get extra photo goodness.

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Plus when am I ever again going to stand brazenly in the front yard of Sarah Hillhouse’s house?  Ummmm, never.

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Sadly, we leave Washington, Georgia, and head to Columbia, South Carolina.  Sugar is satisfied that we got to see all there was to see about his relatives.

Onward to Columbia!  (Did Sherman say those words, too?)

Catching Up With Fanny Andrews in Washington, Georgia

November 2, 2013

This is the third post of a series. Click here for the first part, and here for the second part.

After leaving the Gilbert-Alexander House and not getting accosted, although no thanks to our efforts, we tootled around a bit more.
Sugar had seen a marker or two that he wanted to investigate.

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Oh, yeah.  Now we’re having fun.  We stopped on the side of the road to view this marker.

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TWO HUNDRED FEET EAST

SITE OF

PRESBYTERIAN POPLAR

HERE WAS HELD THE FIRST

ORDINATION OF A PRESBYTERIAN

MINISTER IN GEORGIA, JULY 22, 1790,

WHEN JOHN SPRINGER WAS ORDAINED

AND INSTALLED PASTOR OF

SMYRNA PROVIDENCE AND

WASHINGTON CHURCHES

BY A COMMISSION OF THE

PRESBYTERY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

COMPOSED OF

REV. ROBERT HALL

AND

REV. FRANCIS CUMMINS

That is surely important news for someone.  I don’t know who you are yet, so feel free to comment.  Don’t just sit there.

We headed back over to another marker that we saw near the Catholic Cemetery.  Sugar has a nose for markers.

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THIS TREE PLANTED – 1930

HONORING

ELIZA FRANCES ANDREWS

“MISS FANNIE”

TEACHER, AUTHOR,

RENOWNED BOTANIST

WASHINGTON WOMAN’S CLUB

1982

AUG. 10, 1840

JAN. 21, 1931

Reading this marker meant that we needed to cross the street to take a photo of the tree.  The walking lady hardly gave us a second look, like people wander around this town all the time taking photos.

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Our hostess at the B&B had told us about the Resthaven Cemetery on the edge of town.  We still had daylight, and we found it easily.  We found the cemetery, but I couldn’t find the entrance, because you have to do a quick lefty-righty thing to get to the entrance, and we turned around in a dicey-looking parking lot.  (*Not* someone’s driveway.)

Sugar knew what the marker for Fanny Andrews looked like, and we easily found the old section, and he went right to it.  There were SO many Andrews people, and their affiliated families, so I took lots and lots of photos.

Here’s where things get complicated for you the reader. Feel the urge to scroll past these unidentified people.

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Eliza Frances “Fanny” Andrews

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Someone had been here before us and left fresh flowers. I wish that we could take credit for being clever and bringing flowers for a world-famous botanist. Nice move, mystery person.

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It was a perfect time of day for photographing tombstones.  The angle of the setting sun created shadows and made the inscriptions easier to read.

On the way to the car, we saw a section with small markers with no inscriptions at all.

There’s an interesting pattern of sunlight on the right side of the photo below.  If you believe in angels, you might enjoy this photo.

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The sun is setting, and the night is calling, and the birds settle down for an evening of rest at beautiful Resthaven.

The Gilbert-Alexander House in Washington, Georgia

November 2, 2013

This is the second part of a series. You can read the first part by clicking here.

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GILBERT – ALEXANDER HOUSE
In the 1780’s Felix and William Gilbert, Virgin-
ians, camped in a beautiful grove here and were
so pleased with the scenery that they returned
later to take land grants. In 1808 they erected
the brick portion of this house, one of the
oldest brick structures north of Augusta. Their
descendants are the only families who have
occupied it. The burial grounds on the property
attest the continuity of the family for more
than 150 years.
The Alexanders, descendants of the Gilberts,
served with distinction in the War Between
the States. Porter Alexander, who lived here, was
a Brigadier General of Artillery in the Confed-
erate Army.

Porter Alexander was Sarah Alexander Lawton’s brother.

The opposite side of the historical marker is the same, but a bit brighter to read since it faces the sun.  Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

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Y’all know that tree photos are coming. And probably gravestones. Yeah, definitely gravestones.

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Then I did something that I usually don’t do. I drove down their driveway.

Let me explain more about the terror I feel about driving down someone’s driveway unannounced.  When I was growing up, and we would be out for a drive in the country and ready to go home, you never, ever (repeat never) turned around in someone’s driveway.  It’s rude, and it’s like an unspoken code.  You might drive miles out of your way looking for a likely turnaround spot, or a church parking lot, or a road intersection, but that’s just the way it was.  Imagine the panic I feel when I not only pull into the driveway, but continue on.  Illegal trespassing could get you shot, but strangely has never happened to us.  But still, suppressed panic.

So Sugar is egging me on (Drive down the driveway!  There’s no sign!), which is easy for him to say, since he’s not the one doing the driving.  I get all big-eyed in terror (No sign!  We’ll never get this chance again!), and what the heck.  The car creeps forward like a trundling ottoman down the allee of young trees (Look!  They’ve got an allee!  They want us to drive down!), humping over a few tree roots, and he screeches, “There’s statues!  Over there!  To the back of the house!  That’s the cemetery!  Get a picture!”  I grip the wheel a little tighter, and screech, in a whisper, right back at him, “No!  I’m driving the damn car!”, and he wants me to drive closer and closer until we’re almost at the front porch.  We decided that was far enough, even though I’m sure that I could gun it and tear across the front of the house and shoot out the other end of the driveway back onto the street, because it appears to me that the driveway in actually an upside-down “U” that connects to the street in two places.  Sugar wasn’t so sure, so we decided to back up, which would be quite a driving feat for me since we’ve already traveled down the driveway the length of a football field.

I start to back up, and my car antenna catches on a low-hanging branch of a giant tree.  “Spronnnngggg” vibrated the car, and by now we’re sure that there are no occupants in the house, because they surely would have come outside to view the two old people arguing in the bright yellow car that is vibrating like a tuning fork.

We run like hell.

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And what does Sugar want to do now? Why, that’s right, he wants to go to the other driveway entrance and approach from that side.

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Yes, we crept forward from that side, too, but I was able to agree to try one last photograph and used the zoom feature on the camera. He assured me that people probably constantly drive down the driveway taking photos of the house.

Then I turned the car around and headed out. Pronto.
More driving around. More history.