by Lucile Stacy Martin
Taylors Creek, one of the earliest settlements in Liberty County, presumably received its name from the Taylor brothers, James and William, who, according to the Colonial records of Georgia, obtained grants of land in the 1760s on the banks of the creeks in this area.
Pioneers were attracted to this section because of the beautiful Canoochee River, the creeks and the groves of huge live oak trees and pine forests. They came here from adjoining counties and states and received grants or purchased the land on which to begin a new life.
The families who settled here during the period from 1760 until 1820 and became prominent in the development of the community and county were: Eli and Newman Bradley, who came here about 1800; Abram Daniel of Bulloch County moved here in 1801 or 1802; James Darsey, son of William Darsey, a Revolutionary hero settled here in 1799. He and his wife, Amelia Sarah Strother were charter members of Taylors Creek Methodist Church; the Reverend Jonathan Gaulden from South Carolina; Martin James Caswell from North Carolina; Robert Hendry, a Revolutionary hero, who moved from North Carolina to Burke County, Georgia and then to Taylors Creek in about 1801; James Laing who received a land grant in 1828; Martin Martin, one of the earliest settlers; and James McPhail from South Carolina. Other early families were the Bird, McGillis, May, Mims, Porter, Ryon, Shuptrine, Dawson, Girardeau, Griner, Grice, Stacy, Stafford, Thompson, Zoucks and others.
These pioneers had three roads from other sections of the state and county to bring them into Taylors Creek-the Sunbury Road which led from Sunbury to Greene County, in the upper part of the state; the Hencart Road and the Colony Road which formed a junction with the Sunbury Road at Taylors Creek. The Hencart Road began in Bryan County and continued through Taylors Creek to a crossing on the Ohoopee River and made connections with other roads branching in different direction; the Colony Road had its own bed for about six miles and at intervals it joined the Hencart Road which eventually reached Savannah. These roads placed Taylors Creek in a strategic position as the crossroads which was an important factor in the growth and development of this area.
The land was fertile and the fields were large which made the settlement primarily agricultural with many small farms and only family labor. However, there were a few plantations with slave owners. Other industries included turpentine distilleries, saw mills, grist mills, blacksmith shops and general merchandise stores.
In 1807 the Reverend Angus McDonald, a Methodist circuit rider, organized the Taylors Creek Methodist Church with seven members-James Darsey, Mrs. James Darsey, Robert Hendry and probably the older members of their families were the other four. The congregation grew rapidly. and soon a small meeting house was built which served the needs until 1841, when a new building was erected. In later years it was remodeled by adding a bell tower, a steeple and a porch which extended across the front. The Taylors Creek church was included in the South Carolina Conference until 1830, at which time it was placed in the Georgia Conference.
At the quarterly conference in 1856 held at Taylors Creek, a parsonage was authorized to be built. The members decided it should be placed in Taylors Creek because of its importance on the Hinesville circuit. The amount of $425.00 was specified as being necessary for the churches to raise for this residence for the minister. The final cost was recorded as being $513.00.
About the same time the church was established, camp meeting was organized to be held at the camp ground located a short distance from the church. In 1859 the camp meeting site was donated to the Methodist Conference by Dr. J. P. Mell, Newman Bradley and Robeson Bird. The trustees were: William H. Martin, David M. Sheppard, Angus Martin, James Alexander and Angus M. Laing. Others instrumental in the promotion of camp meeting were: Abraham Daniel, Robert Hendry, James Darsey, Newman Bradley and Dr. J. P. Mell.
Camp meeting was held annually beginning on the third Friday in October and continuing until the following Tuesday and included all denominations throughout Liberty and surrounding counties.
A tile-covered tabernacle was constructed in the center of a grove of hickory and oak trees. Small, unpainted frame buildings called "tents" were built around it and formed a large square. Families occupied the same tent each year and elaborate preparations were made from year to year "to tent" at camp meeting.
Early tent holders were: Capt. Enoch Daniel, William H. Martin, Nathaniel Martin, Daniel E. Martin, J. R. Martin, Berry D. Martin, Joseph J. Martin, John G. Martin, Angus Martin, Enoch Martin, John A. Martin, A. A. Martin, James Darsey, Squire Ben Darsey, John M. Darsey, Robeson Bird, Capt. Israel Bird, James Caswell, J. M. Caswell, Arthur Floyd, D. C. Shuptrine, Daniel Perry, Rhese Floyd, W. M. Floyd, Little Berry Hendry, John Theiss, Newman Bradley, Dr. J. P. Mell, John McCall, Capt. William Hughes, Thomas Lanier, John Baker, Dr. A. I. Hendry, George Cox, Micaijah Stevens, W. P. Brewer, John G. Ryon, H. C. Reppard, William Whitten, William Sheppard, William May, Enoch Hendry and C. A. May. Others were the Staffords, Olmsteads, Smiths, Joneses, Stacys, Rahns, Ways, Brewtons and Hineses.
According to the minutes of the quarterly conference the Taylors Creek church had a number of Negro members before and during the War Between the States, and the Hinesville circuit carried on missions among them and granted two of them licenses to preach.
There is evidence of a Baptist church in the community from an old deed dated 1847 from Eli McFail to James B. Jones, D. L. Baggs, John Delk, Wm. B. Darsey, A. Hodges, Eli Beasley and W. P. Girardeau, trustees of Taylors Creek Baptist Church, which designated the land near the academy "for the purpose of erecting a Baptist meeting house for the worship of God." Witnesses to the deed were N. Bradley and John A. Hendry, J. P.
Religion and education were the foundations on which the Taylors Creek citizens built their community. First the church was built, then in 1833 the General Assembly of Georgia incorporated the Taylors Creek Union Academy with Eli Bradley, Enoch Daniel, Robert Hendry, James Laing and William H. Martin as trustees. The school operated continuously, except for a short time during the War Between the States, until the community came to an end in 1941, when it was included in the Fort Stewart area. Among the early teachers were the Reverend Moses W. Way, his son, Moses, the Reverend John W. Turner, Samuel J. Andrews, Joseph I. Daniel, Miss Alice Wilson, George Mills and James Robert Hendry, who substituted.
When the high school was added to the academy, the name was changed to Liberty Institute, and it became one of the most recognized schools in the state. Ministers, doctors, lawyers and business leaders received their early education here. Mell A. Morgan, a graduate of Emory College, was employed as principal from 1887 until 1889. Other teachers until 1900 included M. A. Morgan, George Dorough, Miss Clifford Daniel, Alex Geiger, Elias Benton, J. W. Twitty and William E. Rambo.
Taylors Creek always gave more than her share of sons to the cause of freedom. They were members of the Liberty Guards, the Liberty Mounted Rangers, the Liberty Volunteers, the Altamaha Scouts and the Liberty Independent Troop, at one time or another. Many were on battlefields and some gave their lives.
Following the War Between the States the inhabitants of Taylors Creek united in what they had left and rebuilt their community. It was with courage and determination that this area became an educational, religious and cultural center.
In 1837 Hinesville became the county seat, and many of the professional and business men moved there for better opportunities, and gradually Taylors Creek began a decline that in 1881 the following information appeared in the Georgia State Gazeteer: "Taylors Creek, Liberty County-Only a country post office, seven miles from Hinesville Courthouse and 11 from Mcintosh No.3, S. F. & W. Ry.-Its shipping office, via which it is 286 miles from Atlanta. It has one common school and two churches Methodist and Baptist-one steam saw mill, and two saw mills operated by water power derived from a neighboring stream. Cotton, lumber and rice are the chief exports. Mail semi-weekly. M. R. Mooney, Postmaster."
Taylors Creek citizens and their trades:
Armistead, T. S.,Rev. Methodist
Bird, G. P., Constable and grist mill
Bird, L. L., Constable and saw mill Bradley, D. M., Gen'l store
Bradley, W. H., Gen'l store Caswell, J. M., Grist mill
Daniels, E. B., Saw mill
Daniels, J. W., Dentist and grist mill
Easterling, W. M., Grist mill
Floyd A., Wheelwright
Floyd, T. A., Grist mill
Fraser, W. A., R. R. and Ex. Agent
Hendry, R. S., Justice
McGillis, H., Gen'l store
Mills, J. M., Teacher
Mooney, H. R., Physician
Mooney, M. D., Physician
Mooney, V. E. A., Rev. Baptist
Price, J. T., Gen'l store
Price and Durance, Gen'l store
Rustin, S. B., Blacksmith
Smiley, D. A., Gen'l store
Souther, J., Gen'l store
Swindle, H. A., Grist mill and saw mill
Wilson, W. B., Constable and saw mill
Winn, Theo M., Lawyer and grist mill
Taylors Creek, Liberty County, Planters and Farmers:
W. A. Baggs G. P. Bird
I. L. Bird
J. M. Caswell J. R. Curry E. B. Daniels J. O. Davis
W. M. Easterling A. Floyd
C. H. Floyd T. A. Floyd S. R. Harris M. Johns
W. A. Kennedy B. D. Martin D. E. Martin
F. P. Martin
J. G. Martin
J. R. Martin
S. S. Martin
W. M. Martin, Jr. S. B. Rustin
W. B. Wilson
T. M. Winn
Darlot has a population of 50, one church, Methodist, and two saw mills. Cotton and rice are the products. Mail semi-weekly. Robert N. Andrews, postmaster.
Andrews, Robert N., Methodist and Photographer
Daniel, A. B., Physician
Daniel, E. & J., Saw mills
Daniel, J. W. and Bro., Dentists
Daniel & Wilson, Saw mills
Henry (Hendry), A. J., Physician
Rustin, S. B., Opiary
Planters and Farmers
S. E. Bradley
T. S. Bradley J. M. Dorsey J. E. Mann
D. C. Shuptrine J. W. Wells
The Canoochee River provided excellent facilities for recreation for the community and county. Fishing, boating and swimming with picnics were popular during the summer, and hunts in the winter. Wild game was plentiful, and deer and fox hunts were enjoyed along with quail and dove shoots. Taylors Creek always lived up to its reputation as being a wonderful place in which to live.