Archives of Bryan County

Archives of Bryan County
From the editors of
Roadside Georgia
Created: December 19, 1793
Created From: Chatham, Effingham and Liberty
Counties taken from:Bulloch, Emanual, Candler and Evans
Name derivation:Jonathan Bryan, a member of Royal Governor James Wright's council. He lost his job after he led one of the first meetings of the radicals in Savannah.
LocationBryan County stretches inland from the islands of coastal Georgia, just sout of Savannah.
History:Recent discoveries push the date of habitation for what today is Bryan County well before the time of Christ. In the 1500's Spanish sailors explored the Ogeechee River and Spanish monks established the mission of Santa Diego de Satuache on the land now known as Genesis Point. In the early 1730's the land was settled, becoming part of what was briefly known as the County of Savannah in 1741. In 1745 a town was laid out but never developed. Royal Governor John Reynolds revived the idea of a major port on the Ogeechee to serve as the new capitol of Georgia. The deep water port had much to be desired, but never came to pass. Under Royal Governor James Wright the land was organized into St. Phillip's Parish.

In 1777 the revolutionary government formed the original counties. Bryan was formed from 3 of these counties in 1793. Over the years many of the towns have had the honor to be known as county seat. Since 1935 the county seat has been Pembroke.

Plantations growing rice and cotton were the major source of income before the Civil War. After the war, a sharecropper system replaced the plantation system where poor blacks and whites worked for the larger landholders.

Genesis Point on the Ogeechee River was the location of Fort McAllister, now a Georgia State park. Built in 1862-1862 on land belonging to the area's largest slaveholder, Joseph McAllister, and named in his honor, the fort was the site of the first sea-land battles involving the ironclads. Nine distinct battles were fought involving the fort, including the final battle of General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea, which ended in Bryan County. (For more on the battles of Fort McAllister, please see Col. Samuel Taylor's article, Fort McAllister.)

Henry Ford began to buy Bryan County land in the 1930's. He formed the city of Richmond Hill and built a winter home on a nearby plantation.

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