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Sick woman saved home during Civil War

POSTED: September 10, 2012 2:30 p.m.
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The Bacon-Fraser house has sat about a block away from the Liberty County courthouses for more than 180 years.

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On East Court Street in Hinesville, a block from the Liberty County Courthouse, you can’t help but notice the beautiful, 183-year-old home nestled beneath a canopy of lovely old live oaks. You may even notice the historical marker in the front yard by the sidewalk. If you are a native of Hinesville you already know the history of the home and perhaps have toured the inside.

The original property was purchased by Mary Jane Hazzard Bacon from the heirs of John Martin and included just over 23 acres. The home was built in 1839.

Peggy Fraser, widow of Olin S. Fraser Sr. currently lives there. Seven generations of this same family have continuously resided in the home since it was built.

The living room has not been altered since the original building of the house. The molding and trim are all hand made of pine and are very ornate and detailed for a house of that era.

The only alteration in the master bedroom is the closet door which was originally a window. The floors are worn possibly due to the excessive traffic in the room. All of the original ceilings in the downstairs are 11 feet tall and upstairs are 10 feet high. The upstairs bedrooms are all original with the exception of the closet additions in each room.

The mantle in the den was fashioned from a portion of a timber that was taken from the ruins of the Midway Church. Before its current use as a mantle, the timber was used as a support beam for the house. The beam was 44 feet long and later removed from under the house to be cut and used as a mantle in the den. The mantle is charred on all four sides, giving credence that it was taken from the Midway Church, which was burned by the British in the Revolutionary War in 1785. All doors in the house are “Christian Doors” with a cross visible by the use of panels.

In December of 1864, the reality of the Civil War came to Hinesville and Liberty County. Sherman’s forces began closing in around the city and gathering all the food supplies for their soldiers they could find. Simon Fraser, living in this home just a block from the Liberty County Courthouse, was the clerk of superior court at the time. He had heard that Sherman’s forces had destroyed a number of courthouses during their march through the state. Determined to prevent this calamity from happening to Liberty County, Simon placed the six books containing the records in a carriage. His 15-year-old son, William, and his friend Dr. Farmer who was a member of the state legislature, and a servant went to the woods to hide until the Yankees left. Thus, the records were saved.

Simon’s wife, Mary, and two young sons, Donald and Joseph were left at home. Dr. Farmer’s wife was sick in the west bedroom with a fever.

A federal officer rode up to the house and addressed the ladies on the porch, “Madam, I have orders to burn this house. You will have 15 minutes to remove your belongings and vacate the premises.”

Mrs. Fraser, concealing the box of family silver under her huge billowing skirt, was shocked. She told the officer that little would be gained and that there was a lady sick upstairs with a bad fever. They sent a man upstairs to verify the fact. He relented and said he would spare the house, but all outbuildings would be burned.

All the food and livestock were being taken away, but the officer told Mary that her two young sons would be permitted to go to the outbuildings and bring back all they could in the next few minutes. Joseph ran and lost his new hat in the process. A Yankee soldier picked it up and wore it off. Joseph was mad!

The federal officer bid Mrs. Fraser farewell and wished her luck for the uncertain days ahead.  She thanked him and said, “I’m glad to know there is at least one gentleman in the Northern army!”

Layton Fraser described the old home place when he was growing up there. The back yard became his workshop as soon as he learned to handle a hammer and sea. Croquet was played under the old oak tree in the front yard as far back as he could remember. There were flowers and shrubbery in the front yard but the area under the oak tree had no grass at the time and the surface was hard as a brick. The big oak still stands and Layton’s father, Joseph, pruned it with his pocket knife when he was a boy. A tennis court was built on the east side of the fence and all the young people in town played on it. One summer, Layton built a miniature golf course with a variety of putting spaces and hazards which provided a lot of pleasure and practice. Horses and mules romped in the barnyard behind the house.

Watermelon cuttings and ice cream parties were held on the lawn in the summer. In the fall they sometimes had chicken pilau and other parties. Large fires built in a fire-stand illuminated the entire lawn at night.

This house was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1982.

 

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