Tag Archives: Georgia

Oglethorpe: Between Heaven and Hell

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Oglethorpe’s tree-fronted home is shown at the right on the northeast edge of Old Palace Yard.

He lived halfway between Heaven and Hell, Georgia founder James Edward Oglethorpe. His front steps on London’s St. Margaret Lane were downwind of the King’s fish yard that occupied a courtyard that opened a few houses to his right. The subsequent air often fogged his parlor and bedrooms with acrid, pungent punctuated smells that mixed with the sounds of morning-barking fishmongers, street merchants, and neighborhood workers. Around them, the clatter of knocking, squeaking wagons and carts rolled along the lane, bouncing over sparsely patched islands of free-stone pavers that dotted the long-furrowed thoroughfare.

At the far end of the market behind the rows of salmon, trout, and eel-laden stalls was the location of Hell, an eatery and watering hole once frequented by poet Ben Johnson and ridiculed by diarist Sir William Pepys.  The main entrance lured its customers down a stairway from the interior of Westminster Hall the way hookers call salesmen from an Amsterdam window — liquor lubricates opposition tongues.  It was known for being a “petty-tavern,” a gathering spot frequented by parliament’s lowly law clerks who boozed in a basement hollow that once housed the Kings’ torture chamber, thus warranting the Hadean label.

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The Old and New Palace yards with Oglethorpe’s home marked with the red dot.

According to Pepys, the tavern was a “resort of disreputable characters and the most raffish of lawyers’ clerks.”  South, across the street to left of Oglethorpe’s house was Heaven, a more, but little more, up-scale tavern in a line of ramshackle brick and Tudor buildings running from west to east.  They blocked his view of the greater part of the Old Palace Yard like listing and leaning hung-over sailors lined across a deck of an outbound schooner. 

From there a few feet to the left and diagonally across the lane was another tavern, the Naked Boy and Star, which held the ground beside Westminster Abbey.  It served a slightly-more upscale clientele, Members of Parliament, poets, businessmen, lobbyists, and the occasional well-known Londoner.  Other Taverns in the area carried the trend with the names, Purgatory and Paradise.  A few doors away from the Star, at the corner of the Abbey, Geoffrey Chaucer had once lived in an upstairs flat near “The Poet’s Corner” where he was later interred.

Stepping from his portico, Oglethorpe’s route was “incommodious” as writer Henry Miles penned, noting that the lane in front of his home had “a paling of four feet high… placed between its single footpath and the carriageway, to protect the passenger from the carriages and the mud which they splashed on all sides in abundance.”  The wealthy in London, like everyone else, existed in a world of noise, foul smells, dust, mud, filth, and strewn garbage.  James held that rank in society — wealthy.

– Excerpt from an upcoming book by JD Byous

 

Sources

William Maitland et al, The History and Survey of London From Its Foundation to the Present Time: in Two Volumes, Book II, 1756, p 793: Rev. Mackenzie E. C. Walcott, M.A., Memorials of Westminster the City, Royal Palaces, Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, St. Peters’s College, the Parish Churches, Worthies, Streets, Modern Buildings, and Ancient Institutions, 1851, p 221.

Henry Downes Miles, The Life of Richard Palmer: Better Known as Dick Turpin…, London, p 79, 1839.

John Thomas Smith, Antiquities of the City of Westminster, London, 1807 p 68; Henry Downes Miles, The Life of Richard Palmer Better Known as Dick Turpin the Notorious Highwayman and Robber, 1839 p 79.

Henry Miles, The Life of Richard Palmer, London, p 78, 1839.

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Relax and wait for the photo to cook – Tybee Island

It was a great morning, predawn with a chance to relax and wait for the photo to cook.  At least that’s what it feels like – baking an image.  Use the recipe.  Wait for the clock.  I had been planning this shot for weeks.  Tybee Island, Georgia’s North Beach is the perfect place; tranquil, cool, quiet, and a great jetty for creating wispy, foggy waves in long-exposure images.  Over the exposure the waves “stack” and create the illusion of fog, ice, or in some cases, glass.  The sea looks as if a fog machine has pumped its haze across the surface leaving stationery items like rocks, poles, sharp.  Everything is peaceful as I push the shutter button.  Small waves split as they reached the rocks. The occasional large swell crashes into the granite quay sending salt-water sheets into the air… but only a few inches or feet.  The calming scent of salt and seawater drifts by.

Pelican and Shrimp Boat at Sunrise

The Beckster’s Pelican and Shrimp Boat at Sunrise photo. I’m jealous, still.

The ocean is relatively calm on this edge of the Atlantic. Seabirds fly over.  Some land and peck the sand searching for a sea-washed breakfast morsel.  Others fly on toward Hilton Head Island across the sound.  A pelican roosts on a marker pole several-dozen yards out in the water.  At low tide, the wooden perch stands high and dry.  At all times of the tide, it welcomes winged visitors, usually pelicans and maybe this same bird.  It’s worth a photograph, but The Beckster beat me to the best one several years earlier.  She, Kate and Tare, our granddaughters, play in the sand a few yards away.  She gets shots when I’m not looking.  She did back then too.

While shooting a small wedding at sunrise I noticed she was missing.  She had spotted the photo unrelated to the bride and groom, ditched us and went for it.  I’ve been jealous ever since that time.  The sun had lifted from the edge of a cloud bank just above the water and was directly behind the bird.  In the distance, a shrimp boat headed to deeper water, in just the right compositional place.  It’s a great shot and I give her the best compliment that any photographer can give another, “I wish I had taken that one.”  Leaving the wedding, however?  She can get away with it.  She’s The Beckster.

 

Jetty and Pelican Before Sunrise

The test shot of the jetty and pelican before sunrise. 60-second exposure at f11. I like it so I kept it.

This morning the old bird sits in the same spot, in the same position.  But that’s not why I’m here.  I’m here for long exposures and I haven’t made one in years… thirty-five years.  Back then I had a Toyo 4×5″ view camera that I carried to the bottom of a canyon to capture the North Fork of the Tuolumne River near Twain Harte, California.

Jim taking photos by Bec

A photo of me by The Beckster as I shoot the pre-dawn test images. She’s sneaky, but then, she’s The Beckster.

Long black and white exposures were not a problem in the shadow of the surrounding mountains.  The extended shutter opening captured the flowing stream as if it were ribbons of glass.  One second, two, three, four, I counted off the time.  Around four shots and I’m finished.  Sheet film isn’t cheap.  It wasn’t then either.  Afterward, I developed and printed my favorite image and painstakingly oil tinted two.  One went to my Uncle Roy in Savannah.  It was a Christmas present.  The other I kept.  Over the years mine was destroyed while in storage.  Then later, sadly, my friend and uncle died.  The photo stayed with aunt Dot, his wife, until her death.  Now I have it back.  I cherish the copy and the memories that it represents.

Tuolumne River, 1982

This is the image I made in 1982. It took a bit more effort and I love it. But, boy, do I love digital!

Those cameras take more thought and preparation.  But today I still go down the checklist.  Tripod?  Check.  Filters?  Check.  Correct lenses?  Check.  Oh, yeah.  Camera?  Check.  Now, find the exposure and wait for the sun.  I have the filters that cut light, ND16 and ND8 stacked in front of the lens.  Boy, I love digital.  Good black and white images can’t be beaten.  But I do love the ease of computer-aided photography.

Jetty And Pelican with Sun

The jetty and pelican as the sun breaks above the horizon, the color version.

I compose the image.  What’s the exposure?  It’s time.  The sun should be coming up, but I need a test.  I take one shot.  It’s overexposed so I stop the lens down to a smaller aperture to cut down the light.  Snap again.  One-minute exposure at f11.  Got it.

The first one is perfect.  All of the images made are perfect.  Did I say I love digital?

Not bad for thirty-five years in long-exposure hibernation.

Now the dilemma.  Which one… and…  color or black and white?

Leave a note below or email me and tell me your think.

– Jim

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Tuesday, then occasional photos/photo tips on Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

© J.D. Byous 2018, All rights reserved.

 

 

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E-Web, Schmee Web, A Walk in the Park…

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

…well, at least a walk down the drive.

The walk down the drive with my grandkids is only 200 yards long.  The school bus arrives just before sunrise this time of year for the ride to their North Georgia middle school.  Most times I carry my camera when I visit.  Doing so this morning did not let me down.  The terraced hill above the house is shrouded in a low thin mist that divides the embankment from the forest that grows tall and dense past the farmland along the ridge.  But, this morning’s view contains a bonus.  Hundreds of small one-half inch spiders had dotted the landscape with their delicate and beautiful nets.  Covered in dew, they stand their silent vigil, patiently awaiting their morning meals… that and for the offhand chance that I might grab their portrait on the dawning light.  I comply.  Here are the results.  A good way to remember September 11.  A good way.

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Just prior to dawn the mist rises from farmland between the berm next to the drive and the forest beyond and separates the scene.

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A cast net hangs motionless before the morning breeze begins.

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A slight puff of wind bends this web as its owner waits for the sun to rise.

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Barely visible, and just as does several cousin spiders, this one holds a droplet of dew in his jaws as he awaits breakfast.

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A record shot for my granddaughter, her school project, a pumpkin plant, blooms in the dawning.

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A ray flower greets the morning. A “daddy long-legged” spider pokes three of his appendages from behind the petals…. Look close.

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A less spectacular garden spiderweb stakes out a lower and less showy net.

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A grass spike is outlined by a recent visitor.

The morning sun peeks above the hilltop creating dew-diamonds on the webs and plants.

The morning sun peeks above the hilltop creating dew-diamonds on the webs and plants.

© J Byous Company, 2015 All Rights Reserved.

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The Mysteries of the Trustees’ Garden

The History of the Trustees’ Garden

The Gas Works Wall

The 1853 Gas Works Wall at Trustees’ Garden is often mistaken for “Old Fort Wayne.” Studies find that it is partially… very partially… true.

 Historians and archaeologists uncovered a wealth of military and industrial history on the grounds and in the buildings situated on an historic bluff overlooking the Savannah River.

The surface is rough and scratches at my fingertips as I run them along the plane of fire-hardened bricks.  A faint-but-pungent scent of coal tar wafts from the walls that have been forgotten and misinterpreted for generations. In sequence, seven earthen fortifications stood here through the years.  There is nothing left of them today – or so many historians believe.  But here is the evidence:  a small section of one fortification did survive, undetected by decades of history buffs and connoisseurs of the past.

This remnant of an earlier Savannah is old.  Well, “old” by the youngest-of-the-thirteen-colonies benchmark.  Hidden in plain sight for a century and a half, the now sandy-brown wall reflects the morning light through a narrow archway. A few yards away sleepy commuters navigate past, their vehicles climbing the road-grade beside the city’s legendary Trustees’ Garden. If a piece of land could be a movie character, Savannah’s Trustees’ Garden would be Forrest Gump.  Always in the background, excluded and ignored.

But like the character portrayed by Tom Hanks, the site holds secrets of which the bus-stop folks know little.  The Garden’s ten-acre plot of sloping ground has, as some say, “more history per square foot than any other spot in the city.”  And, I like to think, possibly in the southeast.  I love and study history.  Never have I seen one small plot of land with so many significant and overlapping historical characteristics. The Trustees’ Garden was planned in 1732 when Georgia’s founder, James Edward Oglethorpe, enlisted the help of John Pine, an English artist, and engraver.  The two of them conferred and drew a plan for rows, rank, and file for mulberry, orange, peach and other trees and then inked the lot lines for the rest of the town.

When the settlers arrived in 1733 Oglethorpe staked-out the garden and had it planted the following spring. The garden itself lasted less than two decades.  In historical records, the area is always an afterthought — a footnote.  Life and history are like that.  Who knew this chocolate-history-bonbon in a box held so many hidden treats and treasures?  You never know what you’re gonna get. The land has changed hands many times over the years.  Early on, the profits expected by the Trustees failed to blossom, so the title was passed to former Royal Governors, then to industrialists, and eventually to hotel developers.   The current owner, Charles H. Morris, initiated a shift toward the preservation of the Garden’s rich history.  The renovation and historical inspection of the site is slowly revealed forgotten stories that seem to peel away, like the layers of a Vidalia onion.

A historian in his own right, Morris took his time with the renovation.  “I want to get it done right,” he said.  “I want to make sure we think it through.” The Garden’s northernmost section, alongside the Savannah River, has long been known as a strategic military location.  Over the years, military leaders fortified the bluff to provide protection against enemy ships that might sail up the river from the Atlantic.

Earthen fortifications were built on the site when hostilities seemed imminent.  Then, as each war or threat of war ended, each successive fortification fell into ruin. Dirt is easy enough to move, so for each new conflict, the battlement-du-jour was staked and excavated in accordance with the newest defensive plan.  The soil from the dry moats was “thrown up” to the inner line to create the parapets… time after time, fortification after fortification. At least seven battlements have stood on this site, beginning with colonial times and extending through the Civil War, when the last fort anchored the Union Army’s line on what was then the terrace of the Savannah Manufactured Gas Works.

In order the seven were; Oglethorpe’s fort, built circa 1740, Fort Halifax, circa 1759, Fort Savannah, 1778, British cannon emplacements employed during the Siege of Savannah 1779, Fort Prevost, 1780, Fort Wayne, 1813, and the Union fortifications in 1865.  There is evidence that there may have been additional fortifications as well, but that is yet to be determined. An interesting legend surrounds the brick wall that currently stands watch over the river at the location of the recently discovered Revolutionary War-era structure.  Guide books refer to the wall as part of “Old Fort Wayne.”

Many historians do the same.  The confusion is justified.  The building of the wall in 1853 destroyed the older fort that was the namesake of General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.  The older earthen ramparts were shoveled into the interior of the wall to create a terrace for gasholders.  Workers unearthed old cannons that they placed along the wall, making it look like an old fort to generations of Savannahians.

Everybody in town knew that the fort had been located on that spot. After all, the cannons were there to prove it. Fort Halifax, the second on the bluff, was built in 1759.  It was a tender spot and tinder box during the days leading up to the American Revolution.  In December 1765 the “obnoxious” stamps that represented taxation by the Crown were stored at the fort.  Royal Governor James Wright placed the stamps there for protection against the local Sons of Liberty, who vowed to burn them.  Fifty-five Royal Rangers under the leadership of the Governor and Captain John Milledge stood guard.  Nearby, 200 angry Patriots awaited an opportunity to strike a blow for liberty. Wright had the stamps moved by ship to Cockspur Island at the mouth of the river, thus defusing the matter, at least for awhile.

And that’s only a partial history of the site. I’ll post more later.

– JD Byous

Looking east from the location of the ancient powder magazine.

Looking east from the location of the ancient powder magazine.

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