Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Tour of Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah

We should have toured a plantation when we were in Charleston and had the chance, but we thought we would wait and do it in Savannah. Not a great plan...there aren't that many plantations left after General Sherman marched across the state systematically burning the plantations and freeing the slaves.

However, Wormsloe gets high marks as a semi-plantation tour. The plantation house is currently lived in  so you can't tour it, but the grounds are amazing and you can see the ruins of the original home.

James Oglethorpe came to Savannah with 39 families. Noble Jones was the only one to stay with him and see his dream to completion. The rest of the families either died or deserted when they found out that life wasn't that easy in America. Jones filled many roles, including  a physician, surveyor and carpenter.

In 1736, Oglethorpe and the Trustees leased 500 acres to Jones, who began work on a combination plantation/fort along the Skidaway River. The fortified tabby house overlooked a major water route that ran past the property, and it was ready to defend against the Spanish should they decide to attack.

 At first we were just going to wander on our own, but a tour was starting so we jumped on board.

Construction of the gate was completed in 1913...

This stunning tree-lined drive contains 400 live oaks which were planted in the late 1800s. This is where parts of the movie Forrest Gump were filmed..."run, Forrest, run!"

We're ready to go with Stephanie, and also with Barb and Ed...

When Noble's grandson, George, took over the property, the deteriorating tabby house had long been abandoned, and he started construction on a two-storey house about a half mile north of the original house. Since its construction, seven generations of George's descendants have made the house their primary residence, right up to the present day.

The Jones name was changed to De Renne in 1866. Although proud of his ancestors, George wanted a name that was more distinctive, and it solved the problem of constantly receiving his relatives' mail.

The house has changed some over the years...

But the gate remains pretty much the same today...

The branches of the trees were weighted to encourage the downward growth...

 Here is the plan of the original fortified tabby house with the walls surrounding it.

 And this is what remains today...parts of the walls.

They have put a layer of asphalt on top of the walls to stop the weathering in the short term, while they search for a permanent solution.

Originally, they buried those who died on the plantation, but the close proximity of the river and regular  flooding, meant the graves had to be moved several times. Finally, they exhumed the remains and moved them to Bonaventure Cemetery.

They built this memorial instead...

  This is a very old cedar tree, one of the most photographed trees around due to its unique shape.

The marshes and coastal waterways near where the original tabby house was built.

The fiddler crabs were interesting and hard to photograph. As soon as we got near, they would burrow in the sand. Bonus shot...three in a row!

If they have lost legs or claws during their present growth cycle, a new one will be present when they molt. If the large claw is lost, males will develop one on the opposite side after their next molt.

This was Jesse, our tour guide. He is employed by the Department of Natural Resources and cannot believe that he has landed a job where he gets to talk about history all day. He admitted he wasn't as knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, but he did love his history.

We came across a shell midden. The Native Americans at that time were largely shell fish eaters and this would have been the place they deposited the shells.

The shell midden below. The shells were also used in the production of tabby.

A perfect breeding place for shellfish...

Just to give you some perspective on the size of the trees!

It was a great tour and once again we learned so much!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing! I was thinking about visiting here and it looks like a great place! - Stretchingittotravel

floyd101954 said...

Nice information. My wife and I will now plan to visit Wormsloe while in Savannah in October.

floyd101954 said...

Great information. My wife and I now will plan to visit Wormsloe while in Savannah in October.