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Coastal Liberty's history comes alive
Liberty lore
Margie Love
Margie Love is a history buff. - photo by File photo

T.C. Stevens, a native of Liberty County who moved to Jekyll Island and graduated from Glynn Academy, has written some fantastic stories about old Liberty County around Dorchester, Springfield Plantation and the rest of the Liberty County coast.

I am sure he is going to write a book of his great memories soon. I read several of his posts on Facebook on "My Georgia Coast" and asked if I could share a couple. He graciously agreed.

Abial Winn, a prominent citizen of Liberty County is his great-great-grandfather. (I think I have this right.) Abial was a member of the State Senate and was captain of the Liberty Independent Troop from 1842-1845 and 1859-1862.

Abial’s wife was Louisa Vanyeverine Ward Stevens (1818-1892).

This is a story Stevens told about his great-grandparents’ wedding.

"On May 7, 1862, my great-grandparents were married in the Dorchester Presbyterian Church. The bride, Elizabeth Olivia Winn (1839-1926), grew up in her parents’ home, which was directly across what is now Brigdon Drive in Dorchester Village. On the day of the wedding, her father, Abial Winn (1815-1874), had red carpet bought for the purpose of rolling from the bottom of the stairway in the house, out the door, across the yard, road and churchyard and all the way to the church altar. On this carpet, flanked by family, friends, neighbors and servants holding lit torches and lamps as it was an evening wedding, she walked to join her groom to begin a new life. The lucky young man was William Maxwell Stevens (1837-1872). He was a lieutenant in Company G of the 5th Georgia Calvary.

"After the ceremony, the carpet was rolled up and sold throughout the community for the support of the church. The red carpet was 30 inches wide and was used in homes as runners in high-traffic areas such as hallways and in front of furniture since everyone had hardwood floors. The last remnants of the carpet graced the pulpit of Dorchester Church until last year. The beautiful Winn home was destroyed by fire in 1972 and was never replaced."

T.C. did not say what was served at the wedding reception but:

"In March of 1838, William Maxwell and his wife Betsy hosted a wedding for their good friends Abial Winn and Louisa Ward at their new plantation home, Lodebar. It was a grand occasion with numerous family members and friends from far and near. Tables were set up on the piazza, and the dining-room sideboards were loaded with hams and tongues, wild ducks and turkeys, shrimp and crabs, sauces, pies and eight different kinds of puddings, together with preserves and cakes and three pyramids with jellies and syllabubs.

"William (1785-1866) and Betsy Maxwell (1794-1856) were such close friends of Abial and Louisa Winn that when Betsy got really sick, she went to stay with Louisa. Here she was given great care and love until she died. Ten years later, when William became ill, he, too, wanted to go to the home of his close friends and be at the same home where his beloved wife had spent her last days. William Maxwell had been captain of the Liberty Independent Troop from 1815-1818 and 1819-1832. They were both buried in Midway Cemetery.

"Just a tad of information about the couple who were married with the red carpet rolled out. W.M. Stevens made second lieutenant in 1862. He was captured by the Yankees at the Cay House in Walthourville on Dec. 14, 1864, and held as prisoner of war. He was released from Fort Delaware, Delaware, on June 17, 1865. He walked home after his release from Richmond, Virginia. He apparently never overcame some of the complications of war and died before the age of 35 on July 13, 1872, just 10 years after his wedding. Olivia remained a widow until her death in 1926, and was the last person to be buried in the Midway Cemetery. He and Olivia had one child, William Maxwell Stevens Jr. He married Matilda Maxwell in 1890, and they had 10 children, one of whom was Thomas Clay Stevens (T.C.’s father)."

This has been just a small peek into the colorful past of Dorchester Village. Liberty County is filled with great history and there are several books that tell us about it. "Dwelling Place," "Children of Pride," "Pictorial History of Liberty County," "Sweet Land of Liberty," "Back When, Images of America Liberty County," "The Untold Stories of People and Places St. Catherines Island" and others are great books about our history. We just have to take time to explore them! The older people who know the history should take time and write their stories before they are lost forever. The story of early Dorchester came from bits and pieces from all of the above and from T.C. Stevens.

Love is a history buff.

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