Beaufort County, South Carolina The House That Got Away

We know that in Georgia the Union Army burned deed books (and Atlanta).  In South Carolina, in 1865, the Union Army burned everything and tried to burn the very dirt itself.  Allendale was burned to the ground and rebuilt miles away along the railroad.  But did you know that entire houses were hauled away??  Now to be fair, the words that survive maybe interpreted many ways, including that only material was hauled away, but is also sounds like complete houses were hauled away as well.  The illustration below is just that, an illustration.  I took a period appropriate barge, and inserted this house on it.  This is NOT an authentic photograph of the house being hauled off, and the words that survive state that the houses were hauled away on schooners, which are two masted sail boats, and I have used a steam ship.

Hey!  Where is my house????

And they hauled away the veritable houses! ...

I (FOC) have "photoshopped," that is inserted, the extant of the actual "house that got away" onto a period appropriate barge.  This is how the  house may have been hauled to Brunswick, GA c1870.  I suspect this was done with steam, not sail.

From the Beaufort County houses section, I have reinserted what is known.

House removed from either Hilton Head Island or Port Royal, Beaufort County, SC, c1870 to Brunswick, GA

Taken c1870.  Photo Copyright © 2013 Wendy Lutes, all rights reserved.  Used with permission.

This house now resides in Old Town, Brunswick, GA (national register district).  The original owners of this house in SC are unknown. It is said that the house was bought from the Union Army. The written information is a bit more vague in reference to the government.  The house has been modified multiple times over its long life and most recently, badly and sadly neglected.

The story is that the house was constructed from one or more of the surplus government buildings removed from Hilton Head Island or Port Royal. After the war the community was abandoned and the houses and other buildings were dismantled or moved. Several of them were barged to Brunswick  (Brunswick was burned by the Confederates so that the Yankees would find no shelter there) on "schooners," in a complete or nearly complete condition, where they became new homes.

This house was purchased by John Russell Cook (sometimes referenced as John Radford Cook but usually just as John R. Cook). Although the great grandsons of John R are still living in Brunswick and have an extensive historical account of the family, we do not have the purchase records.

There is written account of multiple homes being shipped down via schooner, but this is the only one that has an active oral history - and possibly written history - of that journey.

John R Cook came from Worcester, MA with his brother, George, and other close family and friends for Reconstruction. They became thriving businessmen and well-respected and loved statesmen and citizens of the community.

The receipt is extant for the purchase of the land where the house sits today. It was bought on a three-year note for $650 on Feb 13, 1871 and was paid in-full on March 21, 1874. Logic would suggest that the house was moved here and onto the property sometime during/around that period.

In fairness, it must be said that the oral traiditions associated with this house do make it sound as if it (and others like it) may have been constructed by the Union Army during the wartime occupation of Port Royal, Beaufort, and Hilton Head Island.  But I just could not resist this slant!  One might also question why they would build houses, since they had captured Port Royal, Beufort, and Hilton Head Island intact!  Frank O. Clark.

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