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Historical Collections of Georgia
Rev. George White, M. A.

transcribed by Carolyn Jarrard

This county was laid out in 1793; a part taken from Effingham, 1794; and a part set off to Bulloch in 1796.
There are no large towns or villages.

The county site is BRYAN COURT-HOUSE Fort Argyle, so called by Oglethorpe, after John, Duke of Argyle, stood upon the west bank of the Ogeechee River; built in 1732, as a defence against the Spaniards. Hardwick, so called from the Earl of Hardwick, Lord High Chancellor of England, is situated on the south
side of the Ogeechee River fifteen miles from the ocean.

Extract from census of 1850:--Dwellings, 212; families, 212; white males, 604; white females, 560;
free coloured males, 10, free coloured females, 5.
Total free population, 1,179; slaves 2,245. Deaths, 63. 209 farms.
Value of real estate, 8250,000; value of personal estate, 31,235,400.

SAMUEL STILES, with his brother, B. Stiles, came to this country about 1769, and settled a plantation in what is now called Bryan County. When the Revolutionary War commenced, although his family was in Bermuda, Mr. S. Stiles
took part with the Americans. His services to the United States were valuable. He was engaged, a large portion of his time, in procuring warlike stores and ammunition for the United States, as well as for the State of Georgia Much of the powder used by the Americans in the Revolution came from Bermuda. It is said that the Bermudians, being in a starving condition, stole the Government powder from the magazines, and sold it for provisions, and that Mr. Stiles was the person who arranged the trade, and carried off the powder. The British Government offered a large reward for the apprehension of the persons engaged in the theft. Mr. Stiles had the honour of being at the siege of Savannah, at which he had a horse shot under him.
The Count D'Estaing made Mr. Stiles liberal propositions to assist him in taking some of the West India Islands, but unavoidable circumstances prevented his acceptance of the offer. This gentleman was connected with the army during the greater part of the Revolutionary War. His contemporaries speak of him as a man of high virtue and patriotism. Though brought up in affluence, he cheerfully endured all the privations to which the Southern army was exposed. In a paper describing some of the incidents of the war in Georgia, which has been placed in our hands, we find the following particulars in relation to Colonel Clay. He went as a volunteer under Jackson to the relief of Wilkes County. His patriotism was severely tried. At this time the sufferings of the army were great; at night officers and men lay exposed to the open air. Mr. Clay submitted to all these privations, eat and slept like the common soldier. He was highly esteemed by his fellow-citizens. He was place upon the Committee appointed by the Sons of Liberty, in 1774, to draw up resolutions relating to the grievances of which the colonies then complained; and also upon the Committee to receive subscriptions for the suffering citizens of Boston; and in 1775 was appointed a member of the Council of Safety. He was also a member of the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1780, besides filling many important offices.

REV. JOSEPH CLAY:--This gentleman, the son of Colonel Joseph Clay, was born in the city of Savannah, August 16, 1764. The Hon. Mr. Berrien says: "I knew him well; he was the friend of my father, and my legal preceptor. At his own request, I lived in his family in the country, while engaged in the prosecution of my law studies, and had therefore an opportunity of knowing and appreciating his many virtues. He was descended from one of the oldest and most respectable families in our State, and was himself possessed of talents of the highest order. He was liberally educated, and received the first honour in the class of which he was a member, at the College of Princeton, where he graduated. "Returning to Georgia, he entered upon the study of law, and having been admitted to the bar, soon rose to the highest eminence in his profession. He was particularly distinguished as an advocate, and especially in criminal cases. "Mr. Clay was called from his retirement (in what precise year I do not recollect) to fill the office of District Judge of the United States for the district of Georgia, and presided in that court for several years, with distinguished ability and with universal approbation. But he was destined , in the providence of God, to a higher sphere of action. Mr. Clay had always been a moral man. His disposition was peculiarly amiable, and he was distinguished by a warm and active benevolence. Those, combined with his social qualities, made him and object of universal affection and respect in the community in which he lived. If any one of that community had requested to point to a man of blameless conduct, he would have been designated. He alone did not concur in this judgment. While he was yet actively engaged in his judicial duties, the subject of religion presented itself to his mind and engrossed his thoughts." He became a member of the Baptist Church in 1802, and immediately entered upon the ministry. He died in 1811.

On 20th August, 1852, died in this county, Beas, an aged Negro woman, where history in some respects is remarkable. On the death of her then late mistress-the widow of a Revolutionary officer in South Carolina-her younger son was left under the care of a rapacious executor, who took little or no care of him, and squandered the greater part of his property. While this lad was living on this plantation, not very far from Charleston, Beas, who had been freed by her mistress for her faithful conduct, grieved at the treatment which her young master was receiving, went to the plantation, took the orphan, then a very little fellow, carried him into Charleston, and there supported him by her own labour and that of her husband, who was a fisherman for Charleston Market. She afterwards came with him to Georgia, to see him educated, took care of him while at school, and on his marriage continued to live as a domestic in the family, making herself useful in several departments of voluntary service. For some time previous to her death, she was very infirm, and at her decease must have been considerably over one hundred years old. She was often heard to speak of the risk she ran in entering Charleston at night.


From the number of mounds or burial-places on the banks of the Ogeechee, that river would appear to have been a favourite one with the natives. About fifteen miles from its embouchure, a part of the land projects several miles out, called the "Seven Mile Point," from the number of miles in its circumference-across this point the extent is not more than the sixth of a mile; and each side of it is swept by the bold and rapid river. The tumuli abound more especially here; and there are found in them, besides a great number of human bones, the urns in which the ashes and bones of the dead are contained. Some of these urns are carved with a degree of skill and beauty, and contain, also, the ornaments in use with the natives, among which I have found pearls, perforated to be strung, and on one occasion an ornament which, from its size and texture, must have been made from the tooth of an elephant or hippopotamus; a proof (as neither these animals nor their relics are found with us) that the earliest inhabitants of this continent had commercial relations; and a concurring proof, with the remains of regular fortifications, and other works of art which are found everywhere in our country, that there was a people who had attained a higher degree of excellence in the arts of civilized life, than those who were its inhabitants when Columbus discovered it.

The bones found in the tumuli mentioned are in a petrified state, to which may be attributed their preservation; and it may also be remarked, that their processes and spines for the insertion of muscles are bolder and more prominent than those we find at present; their muscular force must have been proportionately greater. A very old burial-place of the earliest white settlers adjoins the Indian one, and also a more recent one of the negroes, a striking malgamtion in the death of those races, who each are so widely separated by customs, and physical and more peculiarities.-Savannah Republican.

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