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Amos Scudder:

A Yankee in Savannah by Shelley Carroll submitted to Dr. Roger Warlick Department of History Armstrong State College 27 May 1994



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Throughout the course of this project, I received help from

many people. I would like, then, to extend my thanks to the staff at the Georgia Historical society, without whom this paper would not have been possible. I would like to particularly thank Dr. Christopher Hendricks for spending considerable time with me discussing architectural elements of Scudder's buildings, and Dr. Mark Finlay, for sharing with me his research on the Savannah and Ogeechee Canal, and for putting up with my annoying canal questions. Special thanks to Ann Inglis and Ralph Jones of the Westfield Historical Society in Westfield, NJ for taking their time and efforts to send information to me. I would also like to thank the staffs of the Bull street and Lane Libraries for their time and patience. Thank you, too, to Dr. Roger Warlick for his patience, guidance, and inspiration!



ABSTRACT


Amos Scudder was born in Westfield, New Jersey in 1779. He married Phoebe Ross in 1803, and together they had eleven children. The Scudder family lived in Savannah, yet kept their family farm in

Westfield as a summer residence. A bricklayer/mason/architect, Scudder is credited with building many of Savannah's private residences, some of her finest public buildings, and many rice mills along the Savannah River and Ogeechee Canal. He built or repaired many sections of the canal, and served as the President of the Canal's Board of Directors from 1837 until his death. He served on the Savannah city council from 1830-1839. Scudder died in Plainfield, New Jersey on 13 June 1856 and is buried next to his wife in the Westfield Presbyterian Church Burying Ground.






TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements. .. ......X

Abstract. .. …….. .. .… .. . ... ... .. .. .. ..xi

Introduction. 1

Family life and Genealogy. . 2

Trip By a Four-Horse Hitch 7

And Then He Bought Property. 9

Career as an Architect and Builder 12

How "The Folly" Became "Scudder's Canal" 21

A Model citizen? ... 31

The Ivanhoe Fiasco. . 32

The Estate of Amos Scudder. 33

Conclusion. 35

Epilogue. 36

BIBLIOGRAPHY 3 7

Appendices. A-S




Scudder 1

I. INTRODUCTION

On 13 June 1856, 77 year-old Amos Scudder passed away in

Plainfield, New Jersey after battling a long illness.1 But who was AmOS Scudder, and why was this New Jersey native so important to Savannah, Georgia? In order to understand Amos Scudder's importance to the Savannah community, one must understand the things that were important to him. To Amos Scudder, the Ogeechee Canal meant everything; it was "the pet in the winter of his years.2 And as "canal fever" tore through the northern united states, a canal meant everything to South Georgians.3

Amos Scudder was an aggressive, litigious entrepreneur who made

financial success his business. An architect and builder, Scudder involved himself in all aspects of the Savannah community, serving on the Savannah city council for nine years and constructing some of Savannah's finest public and private buildings, including the City Hotel, the Savannah Theatre, the Archibald Bulloch­ Habersham

1 Daily Morning News (hereafter cited as DMN), 18 June 1856:2/1. Obituary. Corroborated by: Kloos, Roberta. "The Scudder Family in Georgia," (hereafter cited as: Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia."). Georgia Historical society (hereafter cited as GHS), Genealogy Files. This source adds that Scudder probablydied of consumption.

2 Savannah Daily Herald, 23 June 1865:4/2, s.v. "The Savannah and Ogeechee Canal."

3 Dr. Mark R. Finlay, "CANAL," unpublished article, used with permission of author. Hereafter cited as: Finlay, "CANAL." Finlay, professor of History at Armstrong State College, stated that while Southerners caught "canal fever" just as Northerners did, the South faced funding shortages that often put Southern canals in a bad light. Southerners wanted canals as much as Northerners did, Finlay said, yet economics held them back.




Scudder 2

House and the Independent Presbyterian Church. It was his ownership of and work on the Ogeechee canal, however, that earned him the respect of many of his peers and a place in Savannah history. Because of his hard work, persistence and dedication, the economically endangered "Folly," as the canal was sometimes called, was saved from certain economic failure and rejuvenated, becoming known as "Scudder's Canal" in the late 1830's.

In the business world Amos Scudder was a shark, never hesitating to step on toes in order to get what he believed was rightfully his. He was prone to litigation, and had a high success rate in the court system. His personal life is sketchy, but from the available manuscripts, it appears that his business life took first priority. This paper will attempt to detail Scudder's life in Savannah, from his productive architectural and building career, to his civil service, and finally, to his legacy, the Ogeechee Canal.

II. FAMILY LIFE AND GENEALOGY

Captain Ephraim Scudder 1st (b. 1742, d. 1788) married Martha

Spinning (b. 1750, d. 1814) on 1 March 1768.4 On 14 February 1779, their son Amos was born in Westfield, New Jersey.5 He was the sixth of eight children born to Ephraim, a Revolutionary War

4 Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 11. GHS.

5 Genealo of the Westfield Branch of the Scudder Famil

(hereafter cited as Genealoqy),pp. 17, 28. Westfield Historical Society, Westfield, New Jersey (hereafter cited as WHS); Kloos "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4, GHS. ,






Scudder 3

veteran who served with the Essex County unit of the New Jersey Militia.6 His siblings were Rachel, Ephraim, Sally (or Sarah), Elizabeth (or Jenny), Arrowsmith (Smith), Anne, Phebe, and John Spinning.7 Amos was baptized into the Presbyterian faith on 11 April 1779 in the Westfield Presbyterian Church.8

On 26 December 1793, Amos and soon-to-be wife Phebe Ross obtained a marriage license, however the two were not married until 23 September 1803.9 The early marriage license may have been a system of betrothal, an insurance policy intended to guarantee a marriage between the two, as Amos was only 14 years old in 1793.10 Through their union of matrimony, Amos and Phebe had eleven children: Theodore, Emily P., Mary, Ann Eliza, Amos Picton, John, Catherine C., Ephraim, Caroline Mathilda, Phoebe, and Sarah.11

6 Genealogy, p 16, WHS. The Records of Officers and Men of New Jersey in Wars. 1791-1815, Trenton: State Gazette Publishing Company, 1909, did not list Ephraim Scudder as a Revolutionary War veteran. It did, however, list another man from Essex County, Ben Scudder. This may have been Amos' father.

7 Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 11, GHS.

8 Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p.11, GHS.

9 New Jersey Marriage Records 1665-1800, p. 343. GHS; Genealogy, p. 28. WHS.

1O Because of the ten year discrepancy between the date of the marriage license and the marriage, and because Amos was only fourteen years old at the time, I am assuming that the 1793 marriage license was indeed a system of betrothal.

11 Genealogy, p 28; Walter C. Hartridge Collection (hereafter cited as Hartridge Collection), Box 71, Folio 1349. MS 1348, GHS.




Scudder 4

Amos Scudder's first child, Theodore, was born on 22 April 1805,12 He was baptized into the Presbyterian Church on 13 August 1812, He married Emeline Coggshell of New Rochelle, New York on 3 November 1830, and died in Westfield on 20 November 1837 at the age of 32. He left no children.13

Emily P. Scudder was born on 30 July 1807, She, too, was

baptized in Westfield on 13 August 1812. Emily became the fourth wife of Mulford Marsh, also a native of Westfield, who later moved to Savannah and became a prominent Savannah attorney. She died on 29 September 1876, leaving no children.14

Mary Scudder was born on 7 April 1809. She was baptized with

Theodore and Emily on 13 August 1812, and later married Job Magee of Elizabeth, New Jersey. They had no children.15

Ann Eliza Scudder was born on 27 December 1811 and was baptized with her three older siblings on 13 August 1812. She married Moses Crane of Westfield on 25 October 1836. She gave Amos two grandchildren, Theodore and Sarah, but both children died young, Ann Eliza died on 13 December 1881.16

12 Genealogv, p.28, WHS,

13 Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4. GHS.

14 Genealoqv, p. 29, WHS; Sketches of Eminent Americans, xerox

pages contained in Hartridge Collection, GHS; Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4, GHS.

15 Genealogy, p. 28; Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p.4.

Georgia Historical Society.

16 Genealoqv, p. 29; Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4. Georgia Historical society.






Scudder 5

Amos picton Scudder was born on 17 March 1813. He did not spend much time in Savannah, but instead became a viable part of the Westfield and Rahway communities in New Jersey. He was baptized in Westfield on 26 September 1813. He married Susan Aymar Marsh on 25 April 1844 in Rahway. He gave Amos six grandchildren: Mulford Marsh (1845-1918), John Randolph (1847-1914), Margaret Aymar (1850-1923), Elizabeth smith (1853-1924), Ephraim (1854­

????), and George Marsh (1857-1922).17 Amos Picton held a high position in his community and in politics. He served as the Director for the National Bank of Rahway, and in his later years, served as Director of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Union County, New Jersey for eleven years. He ran as the Democratic candidate for the New Jersey State Assembly on two occasions, but was unsuccessful. He was killed in Rahway on 17 June 1872 when he was thrown from a horse, sustaining serious head injuries.18

John (8th) Scudder, was born on 24 January 1815, and was baptized on 2 July 1815 into the Presbyterian Church. John would take up his residence in Savannah and along with younger brother Ephraim, form the corporation of J & E Scudder. He was married to Sarah Amanda Crawford Wilson in December of 1839 by Pastor J.G. Binney in

­

17 Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 5, Georgia Historical Society. Kloos says that Ephraim moved to South Dakota, and no information is available thereafter.



18 Genealogy p. 29; The Scudder Family Pagers (hereafter cited as Scudder Familv PaDers), Folder 18. MS 719, Georgia Historical Society. Folder #8. Information taken from newspaper clippings from a New Jersey publication, title and dates unknown, s.v. "Serious Accident," "Death of Mr. A.P. Scudder," and "Sad and Fatal Accident.” Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 5. GHS.




Scudder 6

Savannah’s First Baptist church. They had two children: Mary Elizabeth and Henry Wyler. John died on 23 May 1869 in Westfield of acute pneumonia.19

Catherine C. Scudder was born on 30 July 1817. She married

Jonathan Corey, Jr. of Westfield and had five children: Martin, Mary, Frank, Phebe, and Elizabeth. She died on 4 September 1889 in

Westfield.20 Ephraim (4th) Scudder was born on 30 March 1819. He, like his brother John, kept residence in Savannah and followed in his father's Masonic footsteps. Ephraim died at 10:00 a.m. on 15 August 1872 in Bryan County in the home of his friend, Thomas Davis. He had been ill for some time, and was visiting Bryan County in hopes of recuperating when he was "suddenly taken with a congestive chill which terminated his existence." He is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery. He never married.21

Caroline Mathilda Scudder was born on 7 August 1823 in New Jersey. She was baptized on 7 October 1853 in Savannah's First Baptist Church. She married Milton Julius Buckner on 7 February 1855 in Savannah, and had five children: Caroline Mathilda, Ann

19 Genealogy, p. 29; Index to Marriages 1806-1851 p.221,222. Chatham County Probate Court; Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia,"p. 22. GHS; SMN, 29 June 1869: 2/4.

20 Genealogy, p.29; Kloos, "The Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4. GHS.

21 Genealogy p.29; Hartridge collection, Box 72, Folder 1349. MS 1348, Georgia Historical Society; Kloos, "The Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4. GHS; Scudder Family FaDers, folder 8, s.v.

newsclipping, undated. MS 719, GHS.






Scudder 7

Cote, Marion Scudder, Harriet, and Estes Elleott. Caroline died on 17 February 1884.22

Phebe Scudder was born on 27 April 1824, and was baptized on 5 November 1828. She married Lewis Meeker of Westfield on 7 October 1845. She died little more than a year later on 10 October 1846 in New Jersey at the age of twenty-four.23

Sarah L. Scudder was born on 22 May 1826, and baptized with sister Phebe on 5 November 1828. She later married Elias Vreeland, and died in Westfield in 1882.24

Amos' wife Phebe died on 31 July 1838 at the age of 58. She is buried in the Westfield Presbyterian Church burying ground in Westfield.25 Scudder never remarried.

III. JOURNEY BY A FOUR-HORSE HITCH-­ ARRIVING IN SAVANNAH

Scudder's arrival in Savannah is a point of debate. Some sources put him in town before the second building of Christ Church in 1804, while others say he arrived in 1817 to help build rice

22 Genealogy, p.28; First BaDtist Church Register 1800-1946, p. 68, no. 1064. Hartridge Collection, Box 71, Folder 1348. MS 1348, GHS; DMN, 9 February 1855:2/4; Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p.4. GHS. It should be mentioned that Caroline was born into a Presbyterian family, and she probably did not convert to the Baptist religion until after her father built the First Baptist Church.

23 Genealogy, p. 30; Hartridge Collection, Box 71, F 1348.

MS 1348, GHS; Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4. GHS.

24 Genealogy, p. 30; Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p. 4.

GHS.


25 Genealogy, p. 28. Kloos, "Scudder Family in Georgia," p.4,

GHS.





Scudder 8

mills along the river.26 Letters left at the post office are the only proof that Amos Scudder was in Savannah previous to 1811.27 So although he may have visited Savannah or worked here earlier, he does not appear frequently until 1811, when he can be found in the official city records.28 For a long period of time, he claimed New Jersey as his permanent residence, and used Savannah as his winter home. Each spring and fall, he made the journey between Savannah and Westfield by a four-horse hitch. In most cases, he is not listed as owning any property in Savannah until 1819, when he claimed one slave in his taxes.29 Not until 14 January 1820 does he actually claim land in Chatham County, when he takes up a permanent residence at Lot #2, Frederick Tything, Derby Ward, or 7

26 Mills Lane, Architecture of the Old South, 74. Lane first places Scudder in Savannah before 1804. I have not found any proof to corroborate with Lane's estimate.

27 Columbian Museum and Savannah Advertiser, 8 December 1804: 3/5; Georgia Republican, 8 July 1806: 3/4; Republican and Savannah Evening Ledger, 7 July 1807: 2/2; 3 October 1809: 2/2; 4 September 1810:2/2; 2 October 1810: 2/2. All of these newspaper entries stated that Amos Scudder had a letter in the post office and tell us nothing of his purpose in Savannah.

28 city of Savannah Tax Digests, 1809-1815, p. 75. C5600 CT­70-01(on microfilm), Georgia Historical Society. The 1811 Digest lists Scudder among those who own no property, but more importantly signifies that he claimed no property.

29 Marshes and Scudders, p. 44, Westfield Historical Society; Cityof Savannah Tax Digests, 1819-1825, p. 68. C5600 CT-70-02, GHS. Scudder paid two dollars for one slave and a seventy-five cents poll tax.






Scudder 9

Orleans Square.3O The Cerveau painting shows a brick structure here, valued at $13,000.00 in 1821. It is possible that Scudder himself built these buildings.31



IV. AND THEN HE BOUGHT PROPERTY

In 1824, Scudder bought the east half of Lot 13, Jackson Ward, or 114 East Hull Street, from John Crane and the Crane and Baker Company.32 He built a brick home on the lot, one block from the Savannah Theatre.33 In 1848, however, Scudder is listed as living in the Orleans Square home, though both properties remained in his possession.34 Both the Hull Street and Orleans Square homes stayed within the family well after Amos' death.

Throughout his stay in Savannah, Scudder owned various other properties in town. He purchased the brick buildings on the corner of Congress and Bull Streets, or Lot 1, Tyrconnel Tything, Derby Ward. The buildings began to steadily decrease in value, until

30 Ibid., 1821, p. 79. Scudder paid $26.00 in taxes on the house and a $2.00 poll tax; Deed of sale, Deed Book 2K , p. 137, Chatham County superior Court, Records Room. Scudder bought the property on January 14, 1820.

3J. Examination of the Cerveau painting, housed in the GHS, in comparison with the 1821 tax digests show that Scudder definitely built something on the property in the early 1820's.

32 Deed of sale, Deed Book .2.M, p. 465,466. Chatham County

Superior Court, Records Room.

33 Mary Lane Morrison Papers, folder 10, p. 106. MS 1320, GHS.

34 David Galloway, Directory of the citv of Savannah for 1849,

p. 34, section 8, s.v. "Scudder, Amos."




Scudder 10

1853, when J. P. Screven desired the property for the Screven House, a local hotel.35

Because of his connection to the Ogeechee Canal, Scudder also purchased various wharf properties. He became interested in the proposed canal early on, for he purchased one such property, in Warren Ward, in 1810.36 Lot 3, Warren Ward became "Scudder's Wharf," where Amos constructed various mills and warehouses, including the Steam Saw Mill Building.37 It is possible, too, that this was the site of the Savannah Steam Rice Mill, incorporated on 19 December 1827 by Alexander Telfair, Robert Habersham, and Amos Scudder.38 Regardless, on 26 March 1839, the Steam Saw Mill Building caught fire, and "being built of wood, burned quickly.39 Fortunately, the mill was saved. That same night, however, the city's old filature lot, where Scudder also owned property, caught fire as well. The larger buildings on Reynolds Square were engulfed in flames. The larger building, belonging to Scudder and Mr.

35 City of Savannah Tax Digests, 1826, 1834, 1848, 1852, and 1853, s.v. "Scudder."; Deed of sale, Deed Book .J.M, p. 155, Chatham County Superior Court, Records Room.

36 Savannah Republican and Evening Ledger, 5 May 1810:2/1. Although I could find no deed of sale, this newspaper article referred to a sale of Scudder's Wharf, lots 2 and 3, in Warren Ward. Lot 2 was purchased by Williamson.

37 Georgian, 19 March 1839: 3/6; SMN, 9 December 1973, s.v.



Mary Lane Morrison PaDers, Folder 10. MS 1320, GHS.

38 Mary Lane Morrison PaDers, F 10, p. 42, s.v. "Savannah Steam Rice Mill." MS 1320, GHS. Corroborated by A ComDilation of Georgia Laws, William Dawson, p. 195-96.

39 Georgian, 2 March 1839:2/2, s.v. "Fire Again."

41 Deed of sale, Deed Book, p. 158, 169. Chatham County Superior Court, Records Room; Deed of sale, Deed Book lN,p 14,20, 126.

(


1

1 I

Scudder 11

Thomas Clark, was covered by $8000.00 in insurance, but unfortunately, nothing else was insured. Scudder owned various other buildings in the area, many of which caught fire, including a double housing tenement on St. Julian Street. Three of his buildings were more or less "destroyed by the conflagration" as well, and his losses were heavy.40

Scudder also purchased Yamacraw Wharf Lots 8 and 9, from the estate of General John Twiggs in 1824 and in 1827, respectively.41

An examination of the vincent Map leads one to believe that this was the site of the rice mills that Scudder was rumored to have built,­ though no other evidence exists to support this claim. Regardless, some structure was built on the property in 1852 or 1853, for the property drastically increased in value.42

In addition to buying a great deal of property in Savannah and making various improvements, Scudder improved upon the property of others. He is credited with building many of Savannah's private residences and some of her finest public buildings, including the Savannah Theater (1817), the Archibald Stubo Bulloch-William Neyle Habersham house (c. 1818), Independent Presbyterian Church (1819), the city Hotel (1822), the Greene Monument (1825), the White Oyster ­

40 Savannah Georgian, 26 March 1839: 2/2,3, s.v. "Destructive Conflagration."; Deed of sale, Deed Book 21:1, p. 317. Robert smith to Amos Scudder, E 1/2 of Filature lot D.






Scudder 12

Beacon (1831), the First Baptist Church (1832), Christ Church (1838), the Old Oglethorpe Barracks (where the Desoto now stands) and Scudder's or London Row (c.1853). He was perhaps best known in Savannah, however, not as an architect and builder, but as the man who built and restored certain sections of the Ogeechee Canal through the Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company (1827-1856).



V. CAREER AS AN ARCHITECT AND BUILDER

Amos Scudder, "famous in this city for building the Savannah Theatre," was primarily an architect and builder.43 Although the sheer number of projects Scudder was involved with in his later years suggest he was a contractor, there is no concrete evidence to substantiate this claim.44

In 1800, at the age of 21, Amos built a brick mansion at 1919

Central Avenue in Westfield.45 The house (pictured in appendices A-D) was a two-story, double-pile, brick Georgian structure, boasting four end chimneys and a basement level. It consisted of five bays and a symmetrical facade with a pedimented porch. The porch, which appears to be of Greek revival style, was probably an addition to the original house. The structure had an irregular

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