In Search Of Transpine

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.



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


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



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.



To the right of the door.



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


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



The left side of the building.



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.




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.


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



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.





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.


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?





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.



That mass of greenery is the house.



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




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




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.
















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.









The gate to the driveway to the house.



Further along the lane, we come to more fields.





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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4 Responses to “In Search Of Transpine”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Great pictures, Ruth, and interesting discoveries even if they weren’t exactly what you were hoping to find.


  2. leo lawton Says:

    On page 168 of Kith and Kin it is stated that Transpine was the summer house of the Mulberry Plantation. Somewhere in the back of my head, which isn’t reliable any more, it seems that maybe the home of Thomas Oregon Lawton that died in the past few years may have lived at Transpine?


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