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Yellow fever, fires, storms in 1800s
Liberty lore
Children of Pride book cover
The dust jacket of "Children of Pride" shows an imagined scene of a plantation house.

“The Children of Pride” is a huge book filled with letters written by the Dr. Charles C. Jones family from 1854-68. Robert Mansen Myers is the author of this book, which was published in 1972.

All the letters are original letters saved that the family members wrote to one another and to friends. Myers chose from the thousands available which ones to publish. I read this book many years ago and am reading it again. I now have more appreciation for the history of the time and county. The family wrote what they thought of any subject and did not bite their tongues. Never did they think that other people would one day read their beautiful manuscripts.

The Joneses were prominent plantation owners of Montvideo, Arcadia and Maybank on the Liberty County coast and owned many slaves. I want to share just a few happenings that I found interesting that took place in 1854 and 1855.

July 1854 — Charles C. Jones Jr. was traveling in Kentucky and visited in Louisville. The stage stopped at a country house about 10 miles outside the city, where they ate breakfast, which consisted of hot biscuits, corn bread, eggs, fried chicken, milk, etc., in abundance.

In the piazza, where all the old neighborhood men gathered each morning to gossip, sat the famous Kentucky Giant, who was over 8 feet tall. He was the tallest curiosity in human form Charles had ever seen. The giant had exhibited all over America and Europe. He retired from public life and was now in the ordinary grocery-keeping business. Just after Charles arrived at the home of Gov. Helms, he became sick with a deathly high fever. The doctor was called, and he gave several remedies, which finally broke the fever. Then, erysipelas appeared all over his face from ear to ear and covering his mouth from nose to chin with fiery blisters, which lasted over a week.

August 1854 — The sudden death of Roswell King Jr. caused the whole community to go into deep mourning. He was a great leader and friend in the neighborhood. He left a wife and nine children. He had a will that was made in 1840 when all the children were young. The estate was to be kept together until the youngest child was 21. This was 15 years into the future. The will should have been changed, and Mr. King intended to change it, but never got around to it. The children could draw a support from the estate but nothing more.

Dr. C.C. Hones told his son, “Business matters of the moment should never be left for the morrow. Roswell died as he lived. My dear son, do not put off making your peace with God! You stand in danger of eternal ruin every hour you live without repentance and faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.”

September 1854 — Yellow fever was all over Savannah and other places. Many died each day from it, and already five physicians had succumbed to the dreaded disease. Many left the city and went elsewhere. Some went back to Liberty County and died from the fever. No church bells were heard on Sunday, as all the living was tending to the sick and dead. On top of this, a bad hurricane struck the coastal area. Houses were torn apart, trees uprooted and blocked the streets, bridges washed away and all the gas lights in Savannah were out from torn-up gas lines. Many people were in total darkness while trying to see about their sick family.

There was much destruction along the Liberty County coast. Some of the Jones’ plantation homes were badly damaged, and all the crops were almost destroyed. Dr. Jones watched as the storm ripped across Montvideo, uprooting 15 huge shade trees in the yard. He was deeply anguished to see all the pride-o-china trees destroyed. I learned that these were chinaberry trees! Mrs. Jones even found fiddlers crawling in the cellar at Maybank. Windowpanes were knocked out by the forceful winds, and the rain came pouring in. They worked diligently to cover all the books, piano and paintings. Andrew, an old slave, came to see if the Joneses were OK and asked if it was a storm or a hurricane. After the hurricane, “economy, economy, economy” was preached to the whole household, workers and boys in college.

October 1854 — (C.C. Jones fell when he was a child and stuck a stick into his lung, which caused problems all his life.) Dr. Jones has gained some flesh, but his nervous inaction continues. Dr. Wells advised his wife to blister his spine for six months. For two months, she had done it keeping the blisters just below his neck. As soon as the blisters dried up, she applied fresh ones each side of his spine and dressed it with an irritative ointment. It was painful, but he thought it was beneficial. (I learned more about this. A mustard plaster was used with mustard seeds which when applied would burn the skin. Back then, they thought this was a great thing to do!) He was also told by his doctor to be sure that he did not stand up to study! He said that when the body is in the erect position, an immense amount of muscular and nervous force is extended.

December 1854 — The Lambert Plantation cotton house was burned to the ground, and over half the crop was lost. Big Sarey was warming her fingers at the fire a good distance from the cotton house and her skirt tail caught fire, which she did not know. Going back to the cotton house where she was moting cotton (picking seeds, trash, etc., from the cotton bolls), it all went into flames. All the helpers on the plantation fought the fire. Big Sarey was so embarrassed and sorry for the fire she caused unintentionally. This was a huge loss since the hurricane had already caused so much damage to the cotton crop.

January 1855 — Louisa Jane Robarts sent out letters to about 15 of her favorite relatives and friends, telling them to keep it a secret but that she was going to marry Dr. Tennett of Marietta around March, and she wanted a wedding at the Jones’ plantation home. Dr. Tennett was a fine man with a well-established practice and had a nice home. He had fantastic qualifications for a good husband, and she knew she would be very happy with him! Also, he had a ready-made family of eight children! Louisa did not know this, but all the ladies were shaking their heads and saying that she did not know what she was getting into. As she was making great wedding plans, the doctor became very sick and, after a few days, died. The wedding never took place and Louisa never married, but remained an old maid all her lonely life of 84 years.

April 1855 — Laura Maxwell, niece of Dr. C.C. Jones, was sick with a bad cold, fever and a distressing cough. Dr. Charles Jones prescribed that iodine be applied to her throat and chest three times a day to check the cough. Laura described it as like a shovel of burning coals causing the whole body to sympathize with the afflicted part. Laura’s mother applied it with a camel’s hair pencil. Laura said her mother enjoyed “painting” her three times a day in a cross pattern, making it larger each time! The iodine was absorbed into the skin.

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