96 Governor William schley to W.W. Gordon, 17 January 1837, in
Georgia. Executive Department. Western and Atlantic Railroad Correspondence, 1824-1826, 1835-1839, Georgia Department of Archives and History, Reel 201/12. Thanks to Dr. Mark Finlay, Armstrong State College Department of History, for use of this information. Corroborated through The Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company Minute Book I. 1926-1840, 1 April 1837, p. 240. Georgia Historical Society, MS 1362 RR.
97 Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Companv Minute Book I. 1826
1840, 1 April 1837, p. 240. Georgia Historical Society. Central of Georgia Railway Papers, Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company. MS 1362 RR.
98 Ibid., 4 April 1837, p. 243.
99 SDH, "Savannah and Ogeechee Canal," 23 June 1865: 4/2.
100 Daily Georgian, 18 August 1838: 2/4. This was an editorial
recognizing the efforts Scudder had put into the canal. The author said, "we have faith in Scudder." Information obtained from Dr. Mark Finlay, Professor of History, A.S.C.
were; the biggest difference lie in that the North had the funding, while the South did not.101 Yet Scudder was determined to make the Ogeechee Canal work for Savannah.
Internally, Scudder motivated the Board of Directors through investigations into expenditures and possible improvements.102 physically, banks were raised, old locks were repaired, new locks and towpaths were installed, and the canal was put in a general boatable condition. Often, when outside money was not available, Scudder used his personal money to pay for canal improvements.103 Along with W. Williamson, Scudder spent $16,850.00 of his own money to widen the canal at the water-live to lOO feet and deepen the canal by 20 feet to enable it to hold the same amount of water as the stiles Lock. This called for the construction of a new lock, at the expense of $11,000. 00.104
But the canal was not out of the woods yet. After being unanimously re-elected in April of 1838, President Scudder called
101 Dr. Mark R. Finlay, "CANAL," unpublished article, used
with permission of the author. While Southerners were afflicted with "canal fever" just as Northerners were, the South faced funding shortages that often put Southern canals in a bad light.
102 Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company. Minute Book I. 1826
103 Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company. Minute Book 1.1826
1840,25 July 1837, p.262. At a meeting of the Board of Directors, Scudder reported that he and William Williamson had contemplated certain work on the canal at their own expense. They were to...increase the width of the canal at the water-live to lOO feet, and about 20 feet on the bottom by elevating the canal banks.
104 Ibid. , 25 July 1837, pp. 262, 264.
a special meeting of the Board in July. Judge James Moore Wayne, a member of the Board who later became Savannah's first Supreme Court Justice, reported that he had been successful in borrowing $30,000.00: $20,000.00 from the Planter's Bank, $5,000.00 from the Bank of the State of Georgia, $2,500.00 from the Marine and Fire Insurance Bank, and $2,500.00 from the Central Rail Road and Banking Company.105 One. week later, J. Reynolds, an engineer, reported that the canal would cost $31,572.00 to repair.106 It seemed the canal finally had the money needed for repairs and was well on its way.
Oddly enough, though, in November, the Board, under the direction of James Moore Wayne, demanded that "Scudder furnish the Board...with a statement in detail of the expenditures which have been made in constructing the lock on the River, the materials on hand, and with a statement in detail of what will be necessary to complete and put the lock in operation.107 One month later, Scudder unexpectedly resigned as President of the Board, and as a Director. Puzzled, the Board agreed to accept his resignation as President, but resolved to request that he "continue his connection with the Board" in the position of a Director.108 Scudder
105 Ibid., 3 April 1838, p. 272; 6 July 1838, p. 276.
106 Ibid. , 13 July 1838, p. 280.
107 Ibid. , 19 November 1839, p. 323.
108 Ibid., 30 December 1839, p. 324. It is important to note
that there were no entries in between the demands for proof of expenditures and Scudder's resignation. No explanation for the resignation was given, nor were any assumption as to the reason
conceded to the wishes of the Board and stayed on as a director.109 The reasons for Scudder's resignation are still unknown. Perhaps a conflict arose between Scudder and Savannah's esteemed justice, James Moore Wayne, causing Wayne to second guess Scudder's integrity and Scudder to dislike Wayne enough to resign his position to avoid further conflict. Perhaps Scudder had something to hide. I assume that he supplied the Board with a reason sometime between 1840 and 1848, but unfortunately, no records of the Board are available from those years.
Still, the canal continued to operate, and by late 1840, many "extensive improvements" were made. The canal had been "deepened sufficiently to admit vessels, and had been widened for 1/3 of a mile to allow the loading and unloading of vessels."11O In 1847, it seemed that Scudder's canal would finally "exhibit its fruits."111 He had completed an additional lower level of the canal, and it was filled with water as far as the courvoisier's lock, and then all the way to the city. The improvements on the canal allowed for the transportation of vast quantities of timber and other goods, and the land along the newly revived canal would made.
109 Ibid., 11 February 1840, p. 325. No one was elected to fill Scudder's position, and in the next canal entry in 1848, Scudder is again president.
110 The Daily Georgian, 25 November 1840: 2/4, s.v. "United
states sixth Census. Canal."
111 The Savannah Georgian, 30 November 1847: 2/2, s.v. "The
Be cultivated for rice planting.112 For this, "Mr. Scudder deserves the thanks of his fellow citizens."113
In January of 1848, and again in 1849, Scudder was elected to
the board of Directors and chosen as their President.114 By
1849, Scudder still owned the controlling 1468 shares in the company while his son-in-law Mulford Marsh owned 1467.115 Scudder was elected as president of the Board every year until his death in 1856.116 By 1849, the canal was worth approximately $160,000.00, and Scudder was a very rich man.117 His sons, John and Ephraim, also became involved in the affairs of the canal, from both a business and a labor aspect. John Scudder was elected to the Company's Board of Directors in 1851, and Ephraim joined his father and brother in the ensuing year. In many ways, the canal.
114 Savannah and Oqeechee Canal Company. Minute Book 11,1848
1858, 10 January 1848, p. 1; 8 January 1848, p.1. Georgia Historical Society. Central of Georgia Railway Papers, MS 1362 RR.
115 Ibid., 7 February 1849, p.4.
116 Savannah and Oqeechee Canal Company. Minute Book 11.1848
1858, 16 January 1850, p. 16; 16 January 1851, p. 32; 14 January 1852, p. 39; 12 January 1853, p. 44; 8 January 1855, p. 44; 31 December 1856, p. 45. Although the elections of January 1856 are not recorded, I have assumed that Scudder was indeed re-elected as president because of the 31 December 1856 entry, which read: " Mr. Sorrel was requested to take the chair and the Board president to supply the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Amos Scudder. John Scudder received the unanimous vote and took the chair as President."
117 David Galloway, ed., The Directory of the city of Savannah, Lor 1850, p. 48, s.v. "The Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Company."
was under the definite control of the Scudder family.118 Though
times were often difficult, Scudder's persistence with the
financial end of the canal affairs paid off when steamboats and other large vessels could reach the Railroad bridge from his newly repaired canal.119 After his death, the canal did indeed lose some of its vitality, but it continued to operate under the control of his son, John, and his son-in-law, Milton J. Buckner.120
VIII. A Model citizen?
In 1830, Scudder was elected as an alderman on the Savannah city Council, where he served until 1839.121 Scudder first took his seat on the city Council in September, 1830.122 This was not, however, his first contact with the board of aldermen. Scudder had, in many instances, visited the Council to plead his case on any number of issues. In 1829, for example, he spoke to the aldermen and tried to convince them to allow the building of a
118 Savannah and ogeechee Canal Company. Minute Book 11.1848
1858, 13 January 1851, p. 32; 12 January 1852, p. 39; 10 January 1853, p. 43; 9 January 1854, p. 44; 8 January 1855, p. 44.
119 Daily Georgian, 16 March 1839: 2/6. Savannah Georgian, 30
November 1847: 2/2.
120 Ibid., 31 December 1857, p. 45; 12 January 1857, p. 46; and
11 January 1858, p. 46.
121 Thomas Gamble, A History of the City Government of
Savannah. Georgia from 1790-1901, p. 20, s.v. "A Roster of Aldermen of the City of Savannah, Georgia, 1790-1901," s.v. "SCUDDER, Amos."
122 Minutes of the city Council of Savannah. 1828-1831, p. 162. GHS, microfilm.
second theater in the center of the city.123 Later that year, he found it necessary to defend the condition of his rice mills, when the city's Board of Health questioned their sanitation, and when his lease on the eastern half of the trust filature lot came due.124 As some citizens pointed out in the years after the completion of the Ogeechee Canal, Scudder may have run for city council for personal gain, and not for the gain of the community.125
IX. The Ivanhoe Fiasco
His connection with the Ogeechee Canal also led Scudder to purchase a steamship, the Ivanhoe.126 The Savannah built Ivanhoe was a 127-ton steamer that ran from Savannah to Florida, and Florida to Augusta, by way of the Ogeechee Canal.127 Interestingly enough, in 1845, the Ivanhoe became a thorn in Scudder's side. Wylly Woodbridge filed a suit against Scudder, citing "endangerment" and other grievances for the loss of a slave,
123 Minutes of the citv Council. 1828-1831, p. 97.
125 Letter to Editor. DMN, 6 June 1855: 2/3. Angry citizen
complained that Scudder's Canal received special treatment from the city because of Scudder's city council seat in the thirties.
126 Case # 7580, Chatham county Superior Court Judgements.
GHS MS 5125, s.v. "Wylly Woodbridge v. Amos Scudder." This court case is the only link to Scudder. It states that 1n 1824, Scudder was "possessed of a certain steamboat called the Ivanhoe."
127 Ruby Rahn, River Highwav For Trade: The Savannah, p. 19,
s.v. "Steamboat Ivanhoe."
Ned, aboard the steamship. Scudder "took so little and such bad care of said steamboat, Ivanhoe, in the direction and management of the same" that Ned was killed as a direct result of the "carelessness, misdirection, and mismanagements of the servants of Amos Scudder."128 Woodbridge sought $2000.00 in damages, for Ned was "struck, wounded and killed and thereby lost wholly to the petitioner [Woodbridge]."129 Although Scudder was found not guilty, his innocence rested upon the condition that he pay to wylly Woodbridge the sum of $500.00 as compensation.130
XI. The Estate of Amos Scudder
Amos died on 13 June 1856 in Plainfield, New Jersey.131 His will, drawn in 1852 and probated in Savannah, left three of his sons as executors: Amos picton, John, and Ephraim.132 His oldest son, Theodore, died nineteen years earlier in 1837. To his daughters Mary, Caroline Mathilda, Sarah, Ann Eliza, and Catherine he left $4000.00 each. To daughter Emily he left $1000.00. He left a total of $5000.00 to three of his grandchildren, and the rest of the estate was left to the three executors. The will also
128 Case #7580, Chatham County superior Court Judgements, MS
131 DMN, 18 June 1856: 2/1.
132 Last will and Testament, S-299, Chatham County Probate
Court; DMN, 10 July 1856: 2/7.
identified five slaves who were, at the time of his death, the property of Amos Scudder. His sons would hold his estate intact for a few years after his death, but when Amos Scudder died, most of his investments died with him. Amos Picton moved back to New Jersey, and John and Ephraim alone remained in Savannah to continue their father's legacy. Forming the corporation of J & E Scudder, John and Ephraim built various residences throughout the city, and continued their connection with the Ogeechee Canal for a short time. It appears, however, that the canal was a passion that belonged only to Amos, for although John served as President of the Board of Directors for a few years after his father's death, he eventually turned to architecture and abandoned the canal.133
133 Last Will and Testament, S-299, Chatham County Probate Court; Savannah and Ogeechee Canal Companv Minute Book II. 18481858, 13 January 1859, p. 47, John Scudder is no longer on Canal Board; Mills Lane, Architecture of the Old South (Savannah: Beehive Press), p. 74: SMN, 19 January 1958, section C, p. 1.
Amos Scudder was the proverbial jack of all trades. Jumping from architecture to civil engineering to civil service, he had his hands in virtually every cookie jar in the Savannah area, and in New Jersey. He was aggressive, intelligent, litigious, and determined to be successful. Many questions surrounding his personal life remain unanswered, such as the reason for his resignation from the canal company in 1840. Still, the biggest question can not be resolved: Why did Amos Scudder, a successful architect and builder, become involved in a massive civil engineering project? One can only guess. Amos Scudder lived his life to the fullest, as we can tell by his extensive involvement in the Savannah community. His reasons for such intense involvement are unknown, but regardless of his intentions, his impact on Savannah was a positive one. Amos Scudder gave beauty to Savannah through his architecture, and gave her prosperity through the Ogeechee Canal. He was, indeed, a great figure in his day, and a notable part of Savannah history.
After two months of research, I am still not satisfied with my
research on Amos Scudder. Too many questions remain unanswered. My biggest question is why he took on a massive civil engineering project in the Ogeechee Canal. I believe that he worked on canals in New Jersey, probably the Delaware and Raritan canals, but proving this hypothesis would warrant an investigation of New Jersey canal records. A closer examination of the actual construction of the Ogeechee Canal may also give an insight into Scudder's character- how were the slaves treated? Was Scudder a tyrant? I plan to further study Scudder's life and answer some of my questions, and I plan to travel to New Jersey in order to accomplish this goal. I know that somewhere there exists a peice to this puzzle that can lead me in the right direction. I am requesting an independent study in Senior Thesis to further research Amos Scudder, and request that this paper be kept on file at the Georgia Historical Society for staff use only until the completion of my research.
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