Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Pre-Civil War #Savannah. 155 Years Before ... and Today!

SAVANNAH Georgia (December 2, 2013) -- We forget how different life was before the American Civil War (1861-1865). Because Savannah was not burned by Union forces, as was Atlanta, world-famous architecture and the city's genteel way of life remain for tourists and locals to see and enjoy.

As we pause to look back to the happenings of 1856, the year that our stately home -- now Zeigler House Inn -- was built, we have a better appreciation of Savannah today.

Zeigler House Inn's Innkeeper Jackie Heinz (R)
picnicking playfully in Laurel Grove Cemetery with
friend Diane McCray, innkeeper at
Green Palm Inn B&B. Laurel Grove Cemetery is
where many 18th and 19th century Savannahians are
buried, including the inn's namesake Solomon Zeigler.
We hope you enjoy this flashback Thursday, and get away for a visit to Zeigler House Inn and historic-rich, convivial Savannah! 

The Zeigler House Inn was built in 1856, the stately home of lumber merchant Solomon Zeigler. Mr. Zeigler was a Salzburger descendant whose family had settled in Georgia's colonial Ebenezer, Georgia -- a small community just north of Savannah along the Savannah River. In 1858 another Salzburger family descendant, William Ryan, built his home in Savannah at 220 East Oglethorpe Avenue. -- Source: "Civil War Savannah: Savannah, immortal city" by Barry Sheehy, Cindy Wallace.

Our own Solomon Zeigler was prominent in Savannah business circles. He sat on the committee that made the difficult decision to surrender Savannah to the Yankee army. Abraham Lincoln's letter to General William T. Sherman on Monday, December 26, 1864 acknowledged Sherman's Christmas gift -- the capture of Savannah. The relatively peaceful fall of Savannah spared the city's beautiful architecture.


In 1864, leading 62,000 troops divided into two main columns, Sherman embarked on a “March to the Sea” -- Savannah, Georgia USA. He intended to make the Confederates “howl” by having his men confiscate or destroy all materials useful to the Southern war effort as they marched across nearly 300 miles of hostile Georgia toward the port city of Savannah.


Originally shining a red light, the
"Beacon Range Light" aka
Old Harbor Beacon, was installed in 1858.
The Federally sanctioned navigation aid
during the American Revolution
is still located on "The Bay" --
the Savannah River bluff
near Bay Street and East Broad Street.
Photo: Branan Sanders, 1934.
Pre-Civil War Savannah: 1856, the Year Zeigler House Inn was built. 

Now 121 West Jones Street, prior to 1897
the street address was 163 Jones Street (front); and 88 Barnard Street (side).  The top floor was added in 1885.

The SS Savannah had made the first steam-assisted crossing of the Atlantic in 1819. But the first regular steamship crossings didn’t begin until the 1840s. By the 1850s, many wealthier passengers moved to steamships while most immigrants still crossed the ocean on sailing vessels.

By 1856 the mass immigration from Ireland had become a permanent institution.  In the mid-1800s Savannah was home to the largest number of Irish immigrants in Georgia. Irishmen worked to built the railroads connecting Georgia towns, and the Ogeechee Canal. Many were Orangemen, Irish Protestants.


The majority of Savannah's Irish came from only six of Ireland's thirty-two counties, Wexford, Cork, Mayo, Tipperary, Cavan and Kerry. Savannah and County Wexford in Ireland had particularly strong connections. The strong link to Wexford provided "acquaintance, kinship and remittances."

From Ireland, these are a few of the Irishmen naturalized in Savannah courts in 1856 -- William Hussey, John Immen, James Judge, Darby Keirns, James Kelly, Patrick G. Lane, and Michael Laracy.

Irish immigrants and free black people lived in the same parts of the city where they engaged in a underground economy (black market) in which alcohol was reportedly the most important commodity. Tobacco, linens, foodstuffs and the like were undoubtedly bartered as well. -- Source: Sullivan's Irish America

The St. Patrick's Day season opens the third weekend in February each year. Every weekend thereafter until March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) is filled with local Irish events. It's sports coat weather in Savannah for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. 

In 1860, Savannah was the 41st most populous city in the United States of America. Savannah retained a consistent number of free African Americans throughout the antebellum years (725 in 1860), and they were engaged in a variety of entrepreneurial activities.


The extensive references to home and office building construction in 1856 and 1858 are to emphasize Savannah's bustling city and thriving economy pre-Civil War. We recommend reading "Civil War Savannah: Savannah, immortal city" by Barry Sheehy, Cindy Wallace, from which most of the construction dates came for this blog. 


Savannah in 1856

- The magnificent Sorrel-Weed home on West Harris Street was built in 1856 for Francis Sorrel. The haunted mansion is open for tours.
- When it opened in 1856, Massie School was Savannah's first public school. In 1841 Peter Massie, a Scotsman from Glynn County, had given the city of Savannah $5,000 to build a school for "children of the poor." The city invested the money in railroad and gas company stock. In 1856, when the investment had reached $14,008, noted architect John Norris was hired to build the school. Norris created Massie's central building on East Gordon Street at Calhoun Square. The School is open for tours. 
Berrien Mansion on Broughton Street,
currently under extensive renovation.
- John M. Berrien died in 1856. Berrien was a successful attorney, U.S. Senator and President Andrew Jackson's attorney general.  The Berrien home is at 322-324 East Broughton Street and is currently being extensive renovated by a descendant. The architect for the project is Gerald Cowart.
- 21 Barnard Street was built in 1856-1857  for John S. Montmollon at a cost of $11,500. Alexander Bryan leased the 3rd floor for slave trading.
- 24 East Jones Street was built in 1856 for J. B. Howell.
- 125 East Jones Street was built for Francis Waver in 1856.
- 207-209 West Jones Street was built for Jesse Mount in 1856.
- 104 West Gaston Street was built in 1856.
- Captain John Stevenson lived at 225 East Bryan Street in 1856. Originally from Canada, Capt. Stevenson was the harbor master and ship captain before the war.
- 221 East York Street was built for Charles P. Landershine, a successful blacksmith in 1855-1856.
- 302 - 308 East State Street was build in 1856 for Edward Morant by John Scudder. Mrs. Frederick Habersham lived in the home from 1856 through the war. The rent was $600/year.
- 2 - 4 East Liberty Street was built for Charles F. Mills in 1856.
- 207 East Charlton Street was built in 1856-1857.
- 439 Abercorn Street was built for John G. Mingledorff.
- 220 - 222 East Gordon Street was built for Edward Purse.
- Well before 1862 African-American men used African woodcarving technique in the vicinity of Savannah. "Walking sticks with lizards and snakes were noted in Brownsville, west of Savannah. At Frogtown and Currytown [near the Georgia Railroad Museum today] wood carvers produced full length human figures and busted mounted on blocks of wood." Clay sculptures were produced on Wilmington Island during the same period. -- Source "Great & Noble Jar: Traditional Stoneware" of South Carolina by Cinda K. Baldwin.
Today at the Beach Institute in Savannah, there are exhibits of arts and crafts with a African-American influence, including a collection of wood carvings by Ulysses Davis, a renowned folk artist.

Savannah in 1858: Flourishing city growth towards Forsyth Park shows in snapshot of two years later.

- One of Savannah's popular beauty shots is the iconic Forsyth Park Fountain, which was constructed in 1858. The fountain was designed by a French iron foundry for the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. The Savannah version was purchased from the Janes, Beebe & Company catalog as the centerpiece of FORSYTH PLACE, which was the original landscaped area of the park. The distance around the 30-acre park is 1.5 miles, making it a popular walking path.
- The Savannah Republican was the newspaper. 
- The old City Market on Ellis Square served Savannah during the Civil War.
- The 'ice house' owned by Alfred Haywood was on the corner of Hull and Abercorn Street. 
- 11 West Gordon Street was built for Reverend Charles B. King in 1858.
- "Gas, bells,  speaking tube, stable, and wide pavement" was headline in Savannah Morning News, June 5, 1858. Source: "Civil War Savannah -- immortal city"
- 24 East Jones Street was built in 1856 - 1858 for J. B. Howell.
- 18 & 20 West Hull Street were built in 1858 for John and Ephraham Scudder, one of Savannah's most prolific masons and builders. Today the property is a portion of Foley House Inn.
- 124 West Gaston Street was built in 1858-1859 for Israel Dasher at a cost of $4,500.
- Stoddards Row on Upper Factors Walk was built in 1858-1859 for planter John Stoddard. He and his wife were catalysts behind the Ladies Gunboat Society that built the ironclad warship CSS Georgia. A large piece of this ship was recently salvaged in November 2013 by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and U.S. Navy.
- The convention of the Episcopal Church of Georgia was held in Savannah in 1858 at St. John's Church on Madison Square. 
- In geneological records we find that Adam Hohenstein from Germany and Louis Hohenstein from Prussia became naturalized citizens in City Court in Savannah, 1858.
- Abrahams House for Indigent Widows at 548 East Broughton Street was built in 1858.  The Savannah Widows Society, still the oldest charitable organization in Georgia, commissioned the building. A newspaper report describes how "the little ladies go forth to shop or visit friends in their best bib and tuckers [best clothes]. There was no hint of institutional conformity." (Source: Civil War Savannah...) It is today a property of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
- 201 - 203 East Charlton Street (now Suites on Lafayette Square) was built by John B. Gullie.
-- 11 West Gordon Street was built in 1858. It sold in August 2011 for $1,495,000.
- 423 - 425 Bull Street was built for Presbyterian minister Charles W. Rogers.  His plantation, "Kilkenny Bluff" in today's Richmond Hill, Georgia, was the site of bloody Civil War skirmishes in September 1862.
- When Betsey Baptiste died in 1858, she left an estate worth $500. She was purchased as a slave by a free person of color when she first arrived in Savannah. During this time, she was taught by her owner the skills of being a successful vendor at City Market. Baptiste was eventually freed by her owner and purchased several pieces of rental property on Bay Lane. In 1860, a cotton warehouse was built on the rear of the site, which later was the Savannah Coca-Cola plant, then the former Mulberry Inn. Now in full renovations, the Kimpton Hotel now owns the property to be known as "The Brice".  
- The Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad completed laying its tracks to Thomasville, Georgia, in 1858.
- The name of slave merchant Joseph Bryan is mentioned frequently. In November 1858, Bryan purchased a "Negro Yard" from William Wright at 24-26 East Bryan Street on Johnson Square.  That same month, the slave ship "Wanderer" landed the last shipment of African slaves brought to Georgia, on Jekyll Island near Savannah. The following year, one of the largest slave sales in U.S. history took place at the Ten Broeck Race Course, now an obscured landscape [near Bartow Elementary School today, once] on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia. 436 enslaved persons from the Butler plantations near Darien were sold in an event remembered as "The Weeping Time."
- 424 - 426 Barnard Street was built for William H. Bordley.

- Gordon Row (101 - 129 West Gordon Street) was where Charles Von Horn lived at the time of the "Wanderer" scandal of 1858. Von Horn was a city jailer and ship chandler. The Gordon Block row as one of the finest rental properties in the city, built in 1853. Featuring running water, Von Horn's home bathroom was considered more of a "bathing salon" than a indoor commode. -- Source: "Civil War Savannah: Savannah, immortal city" by Barry Sheehy, Cindy Wallace.

Get away soon! You'll need very little vacation planning with your stay at Zeigler House Inn -- rmail innkeeper@zeiglerhouseinn.com and call toll free 866-233-5307.

landed the last shipment of African slaves brought to Georgia, on Jekyll Island near Savannah, - See more at: http://www.southernspaces.org/2010/unearthing-weeping-time-savannahs-ten-broeck-race-course-and-1859-slave-sale#sthash.p2ImveDZ.dpuf
the arrival of the slave ship Wanderer—which in November 1858 landed the last shipment of African slaves brought to Georgia, on Jekyll Island near Savannah, the Ten Broeck slave sale - See more at: http://www.southernspaces.org/2010/unearthing-weeping-time-savannahs-ten-broeck-race-course-and-1859-slave-sale#sthash.p2ImveDZ.dpuf
the arrival of the slave ship Wanderer—which in November 1858 landed the last shipment of African slaves brought to Georgia, on Jekyll Island near Savannah, the Ten Broeck slave sale - See more at: http://www.southernspaces.org/2010/unearthing-weeping-time-savannahs-ten-broeck-race-course-and-1859-slave-sale#sthash.p2ImveDZ.dpuf
Copyright © Zeigler House Inn / Sandy Traub


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