ARNSTRONG STATE COLLEGE
MARY MARSHALL: A BIOGRAPHY
AUGUST , 1974
History can be likened to a major jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are there - it is a matter of finding them and putting them together to form a coherent pattern or picture. At times the pieces fit nicely and the task is easy. At other times the task is formidable for the pieces are scattered and lost and it is difficult to find and assemble them into logical order. Such were the circumstances in regard to this research. There are no available books, journals or diaries that render any detailed account on the life of Mary Marshall. The only sources of information available were newspaper articles, legal documents, property records and tax digests. The information in this report was culled in most part from the bits and pieces found in these sources.
The fact that there is any coherence, continuity and content to this biography is due in great measure to the cordial and patient help of Mrs. Lilla Hawes, Mrs. Miriam Brown and Mrs. Connie Stephenson of the Georgia Historical Society.
Another contributing factor to the information assembled here was the contact made with Mrs. Marshall’s descendants, Mr. Barclay
T. Macon of Atlanta, Georgia and Mrs. J. C. Macon, Jr. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their willing contributions of family documents and pictures added many missing pieces to the puzzle.
A very special thank-you must go to Dr. Roger Warlick and Mrs. Howard Morrison who provided this project for me to pursue and without whose advice and guidance it could not have been accomplished.
History has shown that all societies have their myths and
mysteries. They play an integral part in any culture. Savannah, so full of historical significance, is not immune. The name of Mary Marshall is well-known to those knowledgeable in the architectural and family histories of Savannah. Outside this realm the name of Marshall is known through its association with Marshall Row and the old Marshall House. But the character, background and life of this remarkable lady have remained a virtual mystery. Through time, mystery elicits myth, but history has proven that all myths have enduring roots.
Historically, Mary Marshall’s roots go back to Colonial America and endure through an era that saw the establishment of our Republic, the deleterious effects of several major wars, and the seeming stability and prosperity of the closing decades of the 19th century. Locally, her roots go back to a Savannah of wooden houses and dirt streets, and endure through an era of local growth and prosperity into a city of charm and culture. Her family roots go back to loving English parents, to a long and happy marriage and endure through ultimate family tragedy and scandal. It has been almost a century since Mrs. Marshall’s death in 1877. During the years fact and fiction have become interwoven. It is the purpose of this paper to separate the two and to chronicle a dozen decades in the life of a very unique woman.
Civic, Social and Family Life
On the Fourth of July in the year 1807, a young twenty-three year old matron steps out onto the second story porch of her home, holds aloft a silken banner made with her own hands, and delivers the following presentation speech to the Corp of Volunteer Guards assembled on the street below:
Gentlemen - It is with infinite satisfaction I am enabled on this auspicious day, sacred in the hearts of Americans as the birthday of their liberties and independence, to present you with this address.... I trust it [banner] will be considered as an ornament to your corps. But should the voice of your country, in the cause of Justice and Freedom, summon you to the tested field to unfurl it in the face of an enemy, I feel a proud confidence that you will valiantly defend this banner, and your country’s rights, surrendering either but with your lives.... I pray you to accept my best wishes for your continued prosperity as Savannah Volunteer Guards.1
Thus describes one of the first of many modest and munificent contributions that Mary Magdalen Leaver Marshall was to make to the city and citizens of Savannah, Georgia during her long and productive life.
To unravel the myth or define the mystique of Mary Marshall one must begin with her death rather than her birth. The following paragraph is from the Savannah Morning News
, January 29, 1877:
We regret to learn of the death of Mrs. Mary Marshall which took place at her residence yesterday morning at half-past three o’clock. She had no sickness or disease, but passed away gradually and imperceptibly, growing weaker and weaker from day to day during the past
week until she sank to sleep. Thus passed away at the ripe age of 93 years, one whose life has been full of energy, industry and usefulness.... Mrs. Marshall was as remarkable for her gaiety and sprightliness of disposition as for her industry and thrift.2
To be described as sprightly and energetic, industrious and useful, and thrifty and gay presupposes a very remarkable woman. Mary Marshall was just such a person. The local myths that have arisen as to her wealth, property and tenaciousness are all true. What has not been known is her compassion and empathy for her fellow man. She made a lasting contribution to the civic, philanthropic, social and architectural endeavors of the city.
Mary was born in Savannah
, Georgia on September 7, 1783 to Gabriel and Mary Schick Leaver. Facts seem to indicate that she was their only child and as such inherited a sizable estate from her affluent parents. Gabriel was well-known in Savannah as a cabinet-maker and respected citizen. A description of him is as follows:
The cabinetmaker. . .was a well-to-do citizen, a Mason, a Jew and a Christian. He owned a large plantation three miles west of Savannah, lived in a house next door to Mordecai Sheftall on Broughton Street and rented houses in Ewenburg opposite Mr. Rupert’s. He kept two apprentices in his cabinet shop. His tomb is in the back yard of the old Marshall Place, the northwest corner of West Broad and Oglethorpe Avenue. Cut on the huge slab of brown granite in ancient letters may be read the following inscription: ‘Beneath this stone lies the interred body of Gabriel Leaver, late of this city. He bore a long and painful illness with fortitude and departed this life with Christian resignation, on the 22nd day of October, A.D. 1785. Anno Mundi, 5795, aged 38 years.’ He lived an honest and upright man and died lamented by all his acquaintences.3
That he was a kind and goodly man is reiterated in the Georgia Gazette of October 29, 1795 when it states in his obituary that “he was a kind husband, an affectionate parent, indulgent master, and benevolent friend."4 The report regarding his tombstone is questionable as it lies, at present, in the Marshall plot at Laurel Grove temetery. It is broken into several pieces and the letters are barely discernible.
Gabriel Leaver came to Savannah from England and his ability as an artisan is attested to in several articles on furniture-making. According to Will H. Theus, in describing some tables owned by The Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, “These tables are original Telfair pieces and probably were made by one of the local cabinetmakers working here at the time, perhaps by Gabriel Leaver, one of the most prominent of the local cabinetmakers.”5 Mr. Leaver's artistry did not end at making graceful tables, for colonial records show that the heirs of the estate of Lucy Tondee paid “Mr. Leaver for the coffin 10."6 Gabriel was a personal friend of Peter Tondee’s and an executor of his estate.7
He was also an astute businessman. He had the vision to buy some very choice parcels of land in Savannah’s business district. It is this inheritance that was given to his wife at his death and subsequently to Mary Magdalen, his daughter. It included the following property:
Lot 2 (100 x 90) William St. Ewenburgh
1/2 Lot 7 (40 x 90) William St. Ewenburgh
Lot 4 - First Tything - Anson Ward (Broughton Street)
Lot 6 - Heathcote Tything - Decker Ward (Broughton Street)
1/2 Trust Lot Z - Anson Ward (Abercorn Street)
Lot 10 Percival Ward (South Oglethorpe)8
There is very little information available on Mary Marshall’s life as a young girl. It is to be assumed that she was raised by
her mother and a governess, learning the social graces, handiwork,
etc; that was expected of daughters of affluent families of the times. Her future activities and accomplishments give evidence to many talents developed in childhood. The assumption that she was raised by a governess is taken from the fact that she provides in her will that “the said Mary Barclay [granddaughter] shall be liberally educated and that a governess shall be employed for her at an adequate salary until she arrives at mature years.’9
The first direct mention of Mary Marshall in printed form is a brief notice of her marriage to James Marshall of St. Augustine, Florida on October 30, 1800. She was 16 years of age at the time. The next reference is the banner ceremony in 1807, which was mentioned previously. Mary’s allegiance to the Volunteer Guards was fostered by her husband James, who was a First Lieutenant in the Corp when it was formed in 1802 and rose to a Colonel and Commander in later years Nary’s interest heightened as years went on and on Washington’s Birthday in 1822 she presented another banner to the corps. The event was described as follows:
Yesterday a superb standard was presented to the corps of
Savannah Volunteer Guards by the lady of Colonel Marshall.
At four o’clock the company marched to the front of the
Colonel’s house, where the colors were presented by the fair
donor, accompanied by a few appropriate observations....
The following is a description of the standard from memory— On one side the Georgia arch of the Constitution.... in the centre, within the arch, Minerva, with Justice on her right and peace on her left hand. The lower part of the flag ornamented with military trophies, enclosed in a wreath of oak leaves and acorns and an inscription containing the name of the Corps-... The whole most elegantly worked and studded with spangles, on a ground of blue silk.10
Time has only slightly marred Mrs. Marshall’s superb needlework, for the beauty and excellence of the standard just described may be seen, today, hanging on the wall at the Guards Armory on Bull Street.
Mrs. Marshall’s artistry did not stop with her thimble. Her home was always the center of social gatherings and parties. The refreshment table at one such festivity was described as “ a board crowded with viands, fruits, wines and cakes and decked with characteristic good taste..., a feast of reason and a flow of soul.”11
Her gaiety and sprightliness must have continued into her elder
years for on Washington’s Birthday in 1873 at the age of 89 years she invited the Guards “to partake a handsome collation” at her residence at four o’clock.12
Her hospitality was not limited to parties and fetes. In 1861 the following advertisement appeared in the daily paper:
To the Editor of the Morning News
Sir: Be pleased to state in your valuable paper that I am prepared to receive at my dwelling, West Broad Street, any of the sick and wounded soldier’ that may be brought from Port Royal or elsewhere, where they will receive every intention.
Mary M. Marshall13
evident from the above that compassion was another attribute found in this remarkable lady. To attest to the fact that her home was turned into a virtual “house of healing” during the 1860’s, there was a poem sent to the Savannah Daily Morning News
lauding Mrs. Marshall and her daughter for their good works. It was written by the mother of a wounded soldier who was cared for at the Marshall home and reads, in part:
Oh, blessing on that mother good
And on that daughter mild,
Who find within their heart and home
Place for the stranger’s child.
As long as gratitude shall form
Of memory’s chain a part
The name of Marshall ere shall live
In every thyobbing heart.14
Mary Marshall’s good works started many years before the war. There are numerous mentions to her charitable activities in regard to The Society for Relief of Poor Widows with Dependent Children and The Savannah Female Asylum. She was an excellent and energetic money
There are numerous mentions in the Savannah Female Asylum's raiser.
minute books of the monies raised by Mrs. Marshall. In one instance
she “collected $3,000 from sundry persons.”15 Her ability as a business woman was also recognized by the organization for she was chairman of the building committee, and as such was involved in the purchase of a new home for the organization along with items such as shutters, ironwork and railings.
It is interesting to note that Mrs. Marshall’s most active years of endeavor for the society were 1839, 1840, and 1841. It was in the year 1840 that Mary Marshall adopted a female child which she called Margaret, She and her husband had no children of their own. The
origin and adoption of this child was vague and mysterious thus giving rise to speculation and myth.
At the outset of this research it was thought that there could be a possible connection between her activities for the Savannah Female Asylum and the adoption of a child. Subsequent research and personal interviews brought to light a family document stating that the adopted child, Margaret, was one of a family of ten Irish children in the neighborhood. The document has been turned over
to the Georgia Historical Society, 16The name of the Irish family
has been deleted at the request of Mrs. Marshall’s descendents.
Mary Marshall was 56 years old when she adopted this child -a further testimony to her energy and spirit.
Other evidence of her active nature was the many trips that she and her husband used to take. The newspaper accounts of their arrivals and departures are numerous. Most of the trips were by boat or “sloop” to places such as Charleston, Augusta, New York City, Providence, R. I., and Liverpool, England.
Mrs. Marshall’s business acumen was exceedingly great. She is described by James S. Silva in his memoirs on the 1850’s as “The
wealthiest woman of the city."17 This wealth is attributed to her
own business dealings, not her inheritance. Though she was left several choice pieces of property she improved upon them by building houses and stores. It is interesting to note they were of similar style architecture; square, box-shaped, double tenement., three or four story, gray brick houses with marble steps and iron railing
leading up to a second story stoop. The Marshall Row Houses on
Lincoln and Oglethorpe Streets are extant examples.18 She also
added more pieces of property to her holdings. The appraisement of the estate at Mary Leaver’s death was approximately $35,000. At Mary Marshall’s death the estate was valued at approximately $250 to $300 thousand dollars. A more detailed description and account of all property holdings and values can be found in Chapter II. A city map showing all of the properties can be found in the appendix.
Mrs. Marshall’s own home was a big frame dwelling on the Northwest corner of West Broad and William Streets. It must have been finely appointed and luxuriously furnished for J.F. Waring in his book Cerveau’s Savannah classifies it as one of Savannah’s “mansions. "19 It was four stories high and had two side porches. There was a second story stoop and iron railings on the stairs. A carriage house and garden were enclosed by a brick fence and iron gate. The Georgia Historical Society has just acquired an excellent set of pictures of the house and gardens from one of Mrs. Marshall’s heirs, Mr. Barclay T. Macon20 of Atlanta, Georgia.
The real scope of Mrs. Marshall’s contributions to the architectural scene of Savannah cannot be adequately measured. Her two major contributions were The Marshall Hotel on Broughton Street and Marshall Row, a group of four houses still standing on Oglethorpe Street. These two endeavors, alone, would have sustained her name in savannah’s history but she was constantly improving her property through extensive building and upkeep.
She was tenacious when it came to her property holdings
as evinced in a legal dispute with the heirs of the Robert Bolton family. She wrote a letter to the Savannah Morning News presenting her side of the controversy. It was a masterpiece of legal documentation. 21 She ended her letter with the following paragraph:
I trust upon the reading of this complete chair of title, that the public will see that I have held nobody’s property and used nobody’s money but my own. Such a charge against me was very serious, and will excuse the publication of a series of titles proving my honest possession of Lot Y
, Anson Ward, now claimed by the heirs of Robert Bolton, in evidently complete ignorance of the facts.22
Though Mrs. Marshall’s property was vast and valuable, it was not iminume from the constant fires that plagued Savannah. Innumerable inches of newspaper space are devoted to the various damages sustained by the property over the years. One would expect or even allow for a feeling of anger or depression on Mrs. Marshall’s part due to her numerous losses, but her exemplary character and empathy always dominated. For example, an editorial in the Savannah Morning News
in 1852 reads as follows:
Mrs. Marshall yesterday presented Engine Company Number 4 with a check for $50, in acknowledgement of their efficient services in saving her property during the late fire. The liberalty displayed by Mrs. Marshall is highly commendable and is worthy of imitation.23
Her gratitude did not stop with this donation. In 1867 she was
instrumental in forming the Marshall Hose Company. It’s “birth” was quite an auspicious occasion:
Yesterday was a gala day with the new organization, The Marshall Hose Company. The company met at Fireman’s Hall, and at half past three, preceded by the Washington Cornet Band, marched from the Hall along the route designated. On arriving in front of the house of Mrs. Marshall, the lady patroness of the company, they halted. Here the presentatisn of a beautiful wreath was made by Mrs. Marshall’s granddaughter, young Miss Mary Marshall Barclay, in a few well chosen expressions for the success of the company.. After three hearty cheers for the donor and her grandparents, the line of march was resumed.24
So far the enumeration of Mary Marshall’s accomplishments and characteristics have included a strong and energetic spirit that produced a large material estate; a compassionate and empathetic nature that showed itself in many civic and charitable endeavors; and a gay and sprightly social demeanor that displayed itself in a social sense. Nevertheless, this author feels that Mary Marshall’s crowning achievement and the one that gave her the most pleasure was her garden adjacent to her home. In her will there is specific mention of the house and garden. In the event that her granddaughter, Mary Barclay left no heirs
, Mrs. Marshall bequeathed the property to Christ Episcopal Church of Savannah to be used as a parsonage. Her further instructions state:
... I desire and direct that the gardens attached to said home shall be kept in the same condition that they now are:
That a gardener shall be permanently employed at a stipulated salary.... to attend to said grounds and also my lot in Laurel Grove Cemetery.25
The explicit reference as to her gardens shows that she prized them highly. She was gracious with their beauty, though, for she
opened them on many occasions for the citizens of Savannah to enjoy. One such visit by the editor of the Savannah Morning News ‘rated a lengthy editorial. It reads in part:
The splendid flower garden attached to the residence of Mrs. Mary Marshall.. .is generally regarded as the most beautiful in the city and attracts the attention of every passerby. Yesterday, by invitation of Mrs. Marshall, we enjoyed a stroll through the elegantly arranged grounds and inspected the green hobse, which was filled with the rarest plants and flowers to be obtained.. .. We may say that a finer collection of flowers and plants probably cannot be found in any other private garden in the state. The grounds are well laid out with walks, and handsomely set off with life size statues and a beautiful fountain.26
The recently acquired pictures of the home and garden substantiate the editor’s description. They show the walkways, flora, and abundant statuary quite clearly and give an insight as to what was considered handsome and elegant in Mrs. Marshall’s era. It is lamentable that someone of Mrs. Marshall’s elegant and exacting character, particularly in the realm of nature; someone who so lovingly cultivated exquisite gardens now resides in an overgrown, unkempt cemetery lot in Laurel Grove Cemetery. In some instances the weeds are waist-high, the rubble makes it precarious to walk and some of the statuary is broken and cracked.
Family played an integral part in Mary Marshall’s life. Her
early marriage to James Marshall lasted for 45 years until his death and their many parties, trips and common interest in the Volunteer Guard seemed to give testimony to a happy and productive life together.
James' early life remains a mystery. His tombstone in Laurel Grove Cemetery provides the information that he was born on July 19, 1780 in St. Augustine, Florida. His reasons for coming to Savannah are not known. His early career started with the position of City Treasurer and culminated in his being appointed Cashier of The Planter’s Bank in Savannah at its organization in 1812. He held that position until his ultimate sickness and death. In banking circles of that era the position of Cashier was regarded as one of trust, responsibility and high rank.
There are numerous newspaper accounts of James’ activities, particularly with the Guard, He was regarded highly by his fellow citizens and business colleagues. His stoic spirit and sterling character are described in his obituary as follows:
He departed this life on Sabbath morning with a calm spirit of resignation to the divine will. Subject for some years to paralytic strokes, he always bore himself with the fortitude of a philosopher. ... Colonel Marshall was ever conspicuous for the courtesy, of the gentleman, while his integrity was above reproach.27
If James Marshall was respected in civic and banking endeavors, he was revered in the Volunteer Guard. His long and colorful career as a citizen-soldier began in 1802 when the Guard was formed. Durin
the War of 1812 and for a number of years he headed the company. He subsequently accepted command of the First Regiment Georgia Militia with the tank of Colonel. He served in both posts with valor and dignity and was the object of esteem and loyalty from his fellow officers and men. This admiration was shown many times during his lifetime. One last tribute was displayed upon his death. An account of his funeral reads as follows:
His mortal remains were yesterday escorted to their earthly tenement by the Volunteer Corps of The First Regiment composed of the Guards,... The Artillery,... The Blues,... The Irish Jasper Greens,... and the Phoenix Riflemen, all under the command of Captain White. Their appearance as a military escort was an honor to Colonel Marshall and to our city.28
As stated previously, James and Mary Marshall had no children of their own. When they adopted Margaret in 1841 James was 60 years of age and already suffering the debilitating strokes that ended his life in 1845. The question of why the Marshall’s waited so late in life to adopt a child remains one of the mysteries of this research.
Margaret, herself, had a short and relatively unhappy life, Her exact age at the time of adoption is not known, but her baptism is recorded in The Christ Church Record Book on June 20, 1841.29 tier death notice in 1866 stated that she was 25 years of age. Thus it is to be assumed that she was an infant at the time of adoption.
Her marriage in 1855 seemed to portend an exciting life and future. The announcement in the Daily Morning News reads as follows:
Married by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Elliott, D.D.A. Adalbert E. W. Barclay, Esq., youngest son of Her Majesty’s Consul at New York, to Miss Margaret Marshall of Savannah, Ga.30
The Barclay family was prosperous and prominent. Anthony Adalbert Ethelston Waidburgh’s (A.A.E.W.’5) father was well known in diplomatic circles and also for having translated Richard Henry Wilde’ s poem “A Summer Rose” into Greek.31 The Barclays were neighbors of the Marshalls as they lived on the southeast corner of Oglethorpe Avenue and West Broad Street. Their hone later became the location of the Wetter House.
If the death and baptismal records stated above are accurate, Margaret married A.A.E.W. in 1855 at the very young age of 14 or 15; Adalbert was 21 years old. Perhaps it was this age discrepancy that fostered the stormy relations that were to follow. Margaret filed suit for divorce in 1859 charging intoxication, physical abuse, and adultery. It was a long and bitter affair.32
The divorce decree became final in 1862, but the acrimony and fighting did not end. A marriage settlement made previous to the
Barclay-Marshall wedding had given lots 44 and 45 Jackson Ward to Margaret Marshall and her heirs, In later years, after Margaret’s death there was a long and tangled court suit between A.A.F.W. and Dr. J. J. Waring (Trustee for the Marshall estate) over the ownership of the two pieces of property. The issue was resolved by the court in Dr. Waring’s favor and the property was returned to the Marshall estate.33
Three children were born to Margaret and Adalbert during their brief marriage. Two died in infancy but one
, Mary Barclay survived.34
It was Mary who was to become the sole heir of the Marshall estate.
Mary Marshall continued her charitable and civic endeavors through this period with her same energetic force. Her ministrations to the sick and wounded during the 1860’s were ably aided by her daughter. It is possible that Margaret, who had taken back her maiden name, had returned to live in her mother’s house. The emotions that Mary Marshall must have felt at seeing her daughter in such an unhappy situation can only be conjecture, but for a woman who took such pride in family and home it must have been a bitter experience.
Even more devastating was Margaret’s early death from “paralysis of the heart”.35
One would expect that the scandalous divorce and untimely death of her daughter would be too much for a woman in her late SO’s to suffer, but Mary Marshall’s indominatable spirit again came to fore and at the age of 86 she commenced to raise her 8 year old granddaughter. The divorce had severed the relationship of A.A.E.W. Barclay and his daughter, thus Mary Barclay was placed in the custody of her grandmother.
Mary Barclay became the focal point of her grandmother’s later life. She was educated by tutors and governesses and was obviously trained to emulate her grandmother’s ways as displayed by her speech to the Marshall 1-lose Company.36 Mary’s marriage and family history can be found in the epilogue of this paper.
Mary Marshall’s uniqueness does not end with her family, social and civic life. As Mr. James S. Silva put it so aptly in his memoirs:
... She was a woman of ways peculiarly her own. Her carriage could be seen very frequently waiting in front of Madame Neve’s home, while she was in the house in consultation with the oracle of the present, past and future, or in other words, with the most renowned of Savannah’s fortune tellers.37
At the age of 90, Mary Marshall became the center of a somewhat remarkable legal episode. Rumors had begun to circulate in Savannah that she was being held a virtual prisoner in her own home by her governess-housekeeper. Further rumors seemed to indicate that the housekeeper and some unsavory friends were fraudulently taking the family jewels and property for their own purposes. To such an extent did these tales grow that, in a most unusual act, a Chatham County grand jury made Mary Marshall the subject of a paragraph in its special presentments to the court. With all good intentions they petitioned for a writ of “de lunatico inquirendo”. They deplored the ill-treatment of Mrs. Marshall and asked that the court appoint a guardian on her behalf to prevent the further dissapation of her estate. The rumors and gossip were never proven and the case was dismissed by the judge on the grounds that the grand jury did not comply with proper legal procedure in begging the petition.38
Mary Marshall had appeared in court to attest to her own mental capacity. She did not want a court appointed guardian and to circumvent another such situation added a codicil to her will establishing an old family friend, Dr. J. J. Waring as trustee of her estate and guardian for Mary Barclay.
It is sad that the last years in the life of such a noble lady were clouded with innuendo and ignoble incidents. It is to her credit that she always seemed to be able to endure these episodes and remain unshattered. Her life can be likened to the rose in Richard H. Wilde’s poem “That opens to the morning sky,” and at evening “is scattered on the ground to die."39 Mary Marshall’s life opened with a brilliance and brightness. In her early years, as a woman, she was vibrantly alive and far exceeded her counterparts in wit, energy and achievement. Her later life, like the “rose at evening," was scattered and fragmented. Sorrow and scandal crowded her latter days until her death in 1877. Perhaps the line of the poem that is the most touchingly true in regard to Mrs. Marshall is the last -- “But none shall thus lament for me." For a woman so exquisitely alive to history and to a gracious node of living during her lifetime she lies now in forlorn neglect in Laurel Grove Cemetery. It is ironic that this unique lady who gave so much of herself to a family and a city that she loved has no one to lament for her.
CHAPTER II PROPERTY HOLDINGS AND EVALUATION
The following chapter is devoted to the various Marshall property holdings and transactions beginning with Mary Marshall’s inheritance from her parents and ending with the distribution of the estate to her heirs in the 1900’s. The City of Savannah Tax Digests 1 were used to determine the value of the property. As this report deals with a span of time of approximately a century, a random appraisement was done at several year intervals. This includes the years that a family death or change of ownership took place, specifically 1817, when Mary Leaver died and 1845, when James Marshall died.
The evaluation is presented in three forms: (1) A table that includes the total real estate value at a given year, the amount of taxes paid on said real estate, other assets owned by the family and the page number in the digest where the information was found.
(2) A timetable showing the various pieces of property owned by the family at a given year. (3) Individual property listings that include descriptions, maps, pictures and evaluations.
There are a few points to keep in mind when studying the tables, charts, and individual listings, namely,the fact that Savannah had several major fires, particularly in the 1820’s and 1850’s and numerous smaller ones throughout the years. Thus causing
fluctuations in real estate values. The Marshall properties seem to have been affected regularly. Another point is that all of the Tax Digests used in drawing the property lists and estimates are hahd-written, thus a few discrepancies in lot numbers and evaluations are found. These may be attributed to difficulty in deciphering on the part of the writer in days past or on the part of the reader in days present, A third point is that improvements as such are not listed in the evaluations. These tend to make the property value higher. It is to this author’s regret that a more extensive, in depth analization of the property holdings showing improvements, etc. could not be made at this time. A future endeavor is planned in this regard. A few of the buildings have been studied by students from Armstrong State College, Savannah, Ga. and their information has been incorporated in the appendix.
The individual maps at the top of each ward listing are from the City Ward Maps, 1910
. These were used primarily for clarity as they give a simple outline showing the area and streets involved. The larger map sections showing the individual buildings is from Sanborn’s 1884 Map Book of Savannah
. These would approximate the area around the time of Mrs. Marshall’s death.
The fold out map in the appendix is Vincent’s 1853
. This map shows all of the property owned by the family. It is
interesting to note that this very same ownership continued after Mrs. Marshall’s death in 1877 until the final distribution of the estate in the early 1900’s. The 1853 map is the most credible in showing-the Marshall property for it was the 1850’s that was the most productive for Mrs. Marshall. The Marshall House had just opened and the property known as Marshall’s Row was being completed. The Kodacolor pictures show what is standing on the sites at the present date, August 1974. Ward listings are in alphabetical order.
Listed below are the total values of all properties held by the family at a given year from 1809 to the final distribution to heirs in the 1900’s. The figures were taken from the City of Savannah Tax Digest - 1809 through 1877 and also from probated will assessments.
Tax Digests Page Value of Property Taxes Paid Other Assets
Property in name of Mary Leaver.
1809 44 $ 12,500 $ 36.50 6 Slaves
1810 35 18,000 38.25 3 Slaves
1816 32 18,000 43.50 2 Slaves
1817 38 32,000 65.50 3 Slaves
Property in name of James and Mary Marshall.
1819 48 40,500 88.00 4 Slaves
1 Top Chair
1821 60 42,000 96.75 5 Slaves
1 Top Chair
1826 75 26,000 105.12 3 Slaves
1830 93 14,000 97.81 7 Slaves
1835 45 14,000 105.00 8 Slaves
2 4 Wheel Carriages
1840 65 26,000 169.07 4 Slaves
1 4 Wheel Carriage
4 2 Horse Carriages
1845 63 38,000 451.00 14 Slaves
4 White Carriages
1849 54 47,800 508.00 7 Slaves
1852 68 97,000 773.00 7 Slaves
1855 69 173,500 1,362.00 7 Slaves
1860 183 182,360 1,870.00
1864 135 200,810 1,082.00 8 Slaves
1870 210 220,700
1874 223 234,320
1877 185 274,250 871.00 Furniture — $1,500
1905 - Approximately 300,000 according to Estate
Mary Marshall’s crowning achievement in an architectural sense was the Marshall Hotel or Marshall House. Building was started about mid-century and the opening of the hotel was awaited with anticipation.
it created quite a stir on the Savannah business and social scene.
The Daily Morning News
of March 14, 1851 made the following comments:
Among the many advances made by Savannah in every department of business, we are pleased to see a move in the matter of hotels. We have now good hotels and boarding houses
, but not enough of them. It is in view of this fact that the enterprising lady whose name the house bears is erecting a hotel, the Marshall House, in that part of Broughton Street between Drayton and Abercorn on the soutbside. . . . The front of the first story is of granite and is divided into a number of capacious well-arranged stores. The front of the building (above the first story) is of Philadelphia pressed brick and the entire appearance of the hotel is chaste and respectable-not wanting in ornamental finish yet not uselessly decorated. The public entrance is at the east end, where are to he located the office, reading rooms, bar, smoking rooms, etc. The private entrance is at the west end above which (on the second floor) will be the gentlemen’s parlor, the ladies front and back parlors and a number of private parlors, besides two dining rooms each capable of seating ninety persons.2
The hotel was finished in 1852 and lived up to the expectations of the owner and the public. It enjoyed many years of prosperity and acknowledgement as a “fine hotel.” There were some dissatisfied customers, though, particularly William Makepeace Thackeray, who, with his secretary Eyre Crowe left after one night’s lodging at the hotel claiming “too many fleas.”3
The hotel is further described by Thomas Gamble in an article on Savannah Hotels.
A great veranda extended along the front of the hotel covering the entire sidewalk. . . On the piazza the guests could enjoy the street scene in comfort, and the old timers tell that it was a favorite lounging place where the guests and their visitOrS passed many hours. There was another feature of the Marshall house which was rather unique. It possessed an observatiOn roof... guests and visitors could go to the roof and view the town and surrounding country.4
In later years the Marshall House became the Geiger Hotel, but the name is not forgotten in Savannah. It still evokes fond memories and numerous stories on the part of Savannah’s citizens. At present the site contains a number of small retail shops on Broughton Street.
ANSON WARD ROW FOURTH TYTHING
LOTS 9 & 10 AND BUILDINGS 230-244 OGLETHORPE AVE. EAST
YEAR LOT VALUE
1855 9 10 $ 6,000
1860 “ 26,700
1864 “ 26,400
1870 “ 35,100
1874 “ 28,800
1877 " 28,800
The Four houses still standing on this property were built by Mary Marshall and are today known as “Marshall’s Row.” These particular houses were the center of a dramatic restoration rescue effort. The following is an excerpt from the Savannah-Morning News, September 4, 1960.
Marshall Row, made up of four 100-year old Savannah homes on Oglethorpe Avenue, will not be torn down after all. Four members of Historic Savannah, Inc., as individuals have bought the old structures of Savannah brick and saved them from the wrecker’s hammer.... In an almost melodramatic development, the buildings were saved by purchasers after wreckers had already gone so far as to remove the homes’ windows.5
Marshall Row is located at the Northwest corner of Oglethorpe and Lincoln Streets. The houses were built in the 1850’s after a fire had leveled the wooden buildings in the neighborhood. Each residence has a 30 foot frontage on Oglethorpe Avenue and extends some 60 feet back to a lane. Each home consists of four stories with the typical second story stoop entrance and distinctive white marble steps. The Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott, first Episcopal Bishop of Georgia (1841-1866) resided in one of them. The house at 230 E. Oglethorpe was restored and became the home of the late Pulitzer Prize poet Conrad Aiken. Reports said that the site was purchased for $45,000 by the new owners.
PROPERTY IN CHATHAM COUNTY
According to Mary Marshall’s will she owned the following property in Chatham County:
(1) One-thousand acres of land known as “Woodlands” on the Ogeechee Road.
(2) Ten lots on or near the White Bluff Road known as “Kingsland”. 6
Numerous attempts to establish the exact whereabouts and value of this property were made
, but were virtual failures. The only usable maps were right-of-way acquisitions through Marshall and Taliaferro Swamps dated 1915. These drawings did not give an exact location of the property, but were used along with other old Savannah maps to give the approximate rendering of the “Woodlands” area on the following page. This was accomplished with the able help of Mrs. Foremen Hawes, Director of the Georgia Historical Society.
A property deed from C. C. Taliaferro to the Mount Moriah
Baptist Church dated May, 1889 places another county location on
the Ogeechee Road “4 1/2 miles distant from the city.” Again,
no exact location is given. The Ogeechee Road area was still in the Marshall Estate as late as 1905; at which time approximately $800 per year was being collected in rental of the land.
Mary Barclay lived comfortably after her grandmother’s death. the sole heir to the Marshall Estate she had a generous allowance and a sizable amount of property. She married C. Champe Taliaferro in 1881. Mr. Taliaferro was from a prominent family in Mount Sharon, Virginia. He was an educator and is mentioned in Two-Hundred Years
of Education in Savannah
1n1881, C.C. Taliaferro established the Boys Select School in Bogardus Hall, 122 State Street. He had conducted a private school
since 1870, and was a popular teacher.8
Mary Barclay Taliaferro died in 1893 leaving three children:
Frances Armistead, Charles C. Jr., and Albert Barclay Taliaferro. Mr. Taliaferro moved back to his family estate in Virginia after the death of his wife taking the three young children with him.
It was to Frances Armistead Macon and ultimately her two sons,
J. Conway Macon and Barclay T. Macon that the final remains of the Marshall Estate were distributed. Various parcels of land were sold at different tines after Mrs.Marshall and Mrs. Taliaferro’s death. None of the property remains, today, in the possession of the descendants nor do any of the descendants live in Savannah.
1Savannah Morning News
, 29 January 1877.
2Savannah Morning News
, 29 January 18’7.
Bowden, Ilaygood, History of Savannah Methodism
, (Macon, Ga. J.W. Burke Co.,1929), p.53.
Theus, Will H., “ Furniture and Cabinetmakers of Early Coastal Georgia, “ Georgia Historical Quarterly
36 (September 1952) : 223--227.
Theus, Will H., Savannah Purniturc 1735-1825
(Savannah,Ga. by the author, 1967), p.31
Colquitt, Delores B., “Peter Tondee the Carpenter, “ Georgia Historical Quarterly
10 (December 1926) : 302-10.
Tondee, Peter, Estate Administration Pile #1, Chathain County Court of the Ordihary. ( A photostated copy may be found in the Marshall File at the Georgia Historical Society.)
A more in depth study of all property acquisitions and transactions is to be found in Chapter II.
Marshall, Mary, Will- Record Book 4Q, Chatham County, Georgia, Superior Court, Folios 88-91. (Photostated copy-Georgia Historical Society)
, 23 February 1822.
11Savannah Morning News
, 22 February 1873.
12Savannah Morning News
, 22 February 1873.
13Savannah Morning News
, 8 November 1861.
14Savannah Morning News
, 3 January 1862.
Female Asylum, Minute Book 1839, P. 410.
Historical Society, Marshall File.
l7Silva, James S., “ RecollectiOns of an Old Savannahian,’ Letter #25, Scrapbook, Georgia Historical Society.
5ee pictures page 56.
l9Waring, J. Fredrick, Cerveau’ s Savannah
, (Savannah, Ga.:
Ga. Historical Society, 1973) p. 45
documents were in the personal file of Barclay T. Macon, great, great grandchild of Mary Marshall. Copies are in Marshall File.
21Savannah Morning News
, 6 December 1875. Copy-Marshall Pile, Ga. Historical Society.
22Savannah Morning News
, 6 December 1875.
23Savannah Morning News
, 29 May 1852.
24Daily Moriling News
, 27 August 1867.
Marshall, Mary, Will- Record Book 4Q, Chatham County, Ga., Superior Court, Folios 88-91. Copy-Marshall File, Ga. Historical Society.
26Savannah Morning News
, 10 october 1873.
27Savannah Morning News
, 27 May 1845.
28Savannah Morning News
, 27 May 1845.
Christ Church of Savannah
, Baptism Book, Ga. Historical Society, p.75
30Daily Morning News
, 23 November 1855.
lWilde, Richard H., Summer Rose
, ( Savannah, Ga.: J.Estill Printer
, 1971), p. 4-42
Marshall-Barclay divorce proceedings, Judgement Book C, #9402, Chatham County, Ga., Superior Court. ( Copy- Marshall File- Ga. Historical Society.)
rhere were numerous newspaper articles covering the legal proceedings. The most informative were in the Savannah Morning
News, 6, 7, 8, March, 1876, and 10 May, 1877. All of these are on file at the Ga. HIstorical Society.
5ee the family chronology p. 61.
35Daily Morning News
, 28 May j866.
Silva, James S., “ Recollections of an Old Savannahian,” Letter # 25, Scrapbook, Ga. Historical Society.
38Savannah Morning News
, 30 April, 1874, 1 May 1874.
39Wilde, Richard H. ,“ The Summer Rose,” Summer Rose
, (Savannah, Ga.: J. Estill Printer, 1871), p. 4-42
lThe City of Savannah Tax Digests are to be found at the Ga. Historical Society.
2Daily Morning News
, 14 March 1851.
Mackall, Leonard H., “Notes on Thackeray in Savannah,” Georgia Historical Quarterly
, 15 ,p. 89.
4Savannah Morning News
, 18 March 1929, “Savannah Hotel History.”
5Savannah Morning News
, 4 September 1960.
Marshall, Mary, Will-Record Book 4Q, Chatham County, Ga., Superior Court, Folios 88-91. Copy in Marshall File- Ga. Historical Society.
copy of the property deed may be found in the Marshall File. at the Ga. Historical Society.
Bowden, Haygood, Two Hundred Years of Education in SavannahBicentennial 1733-1933
, (Richmond, Virginia: Press of the Dietz Printing Co., 1932), p. 360
INDEX TO WILLS - CHATHAN COUNTY COURT OF ORDINARY
Name of Estate File No. Capacity Date
Leaver, Gabriel 18 Administrator 1796
Leaver, Mary 57 Administrator 1817
Marshall, James 300 Extrx. 1845
Marshall, Margaret 413 Adtr. 1866
Marshall, Mary M. 543 Trustee-Adtr. 1892
Taliaferro, Mary M. 221 Extr. 1893-1928
Barclay, Margaret 327 Guardian
Barclay, Margaret 699 Adtr. 1892
Barclay, Mary 462 Guardian 1874
General Index - Wills, Estates, Administrations, etc. Chatham County, Georgia Volume I - W.P.A Official Project, 1937
1783 MARY MAGDALEN LEAVER (MARSHALL)- BIRTH
1795 GABRIEL LEAVER - DEATH
1800 MARRIAGE - MARY LEAVER TO JAMES MARSHALL
1817 MARY LEAVER - DEATH
1834 A. ADALBERT E.W. BARCLAY - BAPTISM
1841 MARGARET MARSHALL - ADOPTION AND BAPTISM
1845 JAMES MARSHALL- DEATH
18S2 MARSHALL HOTEL COMPLETED
1855 MARRIAGE - MARGARET MARSHALL TO A.A.E.W. BARCLAY
1858 MARY BARCLAY BAPTISM (DAUGHTER OP MARGARET A.A.E.W.) JAMES MARSHALL - AGE 1 YEAR 7 MONTHS - DEATH
(SON OF MARGARET & A.A.E.W.)
1859 DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS - MARGARET A.A.E.W. BARCLAY
MARGARET BARCLAY - AGE 7 DAYS DEATH (DAUGHTER OF A.A.E.W. MARGARET)
1862 MARSHALL - BARCLAY - DIVORCE DECREE FINAL
1866 MARGARET MARSHALL BARCLAY - DEATH AGE 25 YEARS
1874 DR. J. J. WARING TRUSTEE - GUARDIAN OP MARSHALL ESTATE
1877 MARY LEAVER MARSHALL - DEATH - AGE 93 YEARS
1881 MARY BARCLAY AND C. CHAMPE TALIAFERRO - MARRIAGE
1893 MARY BARCLAY TALIAFERRO - DEATH
Books and Periodicals
Bowden, Haygood. History of Savannah Methodism. Macon, Ga.
W. Burke Co., 1929.
Bowden, Haygood. Two Hundred Years of Education in Savannah -Bicentennial 1733-1933. Richmond, Va.: Press of the Uietz Printing Co., 1932.
Candler, Allen D.) comp. The Colonial Records of Georgia 19,pt.
2. Atlanta: Franklin Printing Publishing Company, 1904.
Colquitt, Delores B. “ Peter ‘Fondee The Carpenter.” Ga. Historical Quarterly lO(Dec. 1926): 302-310.
Haunton, Richard. “Savannah in the 1830’s.” Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 1968.
Georgia Genealogical Reprints. Index to the Headright and Bounty Grants of Georgia 1765-1901 Vidalia, Ga.: Georgia Genealogical Reprints, 1970.
Savannah’s Great Fires. Preface by Remer Y. Lane. Savannah, Ga.:
Evans Printing and Office Supplies. (No date).
Savannah (Ga.) Volunteer Guards. Historical Sketch, May 1886
. Savannah, Ga.: Savannah Morning News Steam Print, 1886.
Shoales, A.E., compiler. Chronological History of Georgia
. Savannah, Ga.: The Morning News Print, 1900.
Theus, Will H. “Furniture and Cabinetmakers of Early Coastal Georgia.” Ga. Historical Quarterly
36 (Sept. 1952): 223-227.
Savannah Furniture 1733-1825
. Copyright applied for 1967.
Wilde, Richard Henry. Summer Rose
. Savannah, Ga.: J. Estill Printer, 1871.
Indexes - Digests - Legal Documents
Chatham County, Ga. Court of Ordinary.
Index to Estates A-Z, 1742-1955. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Court of Ordinary.
Index to Marriage licenses. Book 4 L-Z,(Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
thdex to Deeds, etc. Mc-R, 1785-1910. (Handwritten,)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Index to Deeds, etc. F-L, 1785-1910. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Civil Minutes, July 1873 - Dec. 1874. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Judgement Docket Book C. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Record Book P. Folios 542-544. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Record Book V. Folios 288-290. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Record Book 4-Q. Folios 88-91. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Schreck Index. (Handwritten.)
Chatham County, Ga. Superior Court.
Map Book 12-F, P. 446. (Handwritten.)
Christ Church, Savannah, Georgia. Record Book-Marriages, Baptisms, Deaths and Confirmations, 1822-1851
Georgia Laws. Acts of the General Assembly 1859
. Milledgeville, Ga. : Broughton, Nesbit and Barnes State Printers, 1860.
Laurel Grove Cemetery (Savannah, Ga.). General Index to Keepers
Records Book. Savannah, Ga. : W.P.A. Official Project, 1939.
Savannah (Georgia) Female Asylum. Minute Book 1810-142. (Handwritten).
Savannah, Ga. Georgia Historical Society. Albert Wylly Papers.
Savannah, (Ga.) Tax Digests 1809-1877. Georgia Historical Society.
Warren, Mary B. Marriages and Deaths 1763-1820
. 2 Volumes. Danielsville, Ga., Heritage Press, 1968.
1884 Map Book. New York: Sanborn Map and Publishing Co., 1884
Savannah (Georgia) City Map Ward Book, 1910.
Vincent, Edward A. Subdivision Maps of City of Savannah. New York: 1853
Memoirs and Private Papers
Silva, James S. “Recollections of an Old Savannahian.” Georgia Historical Society. (Scrapbook.)
Gamble, Thomas.”Pifty Years Memoirs of Life in Savannah, Ga.”
Savannah Public Library. (Scrapbook.)
Wylly, Albert. Georgia Historical Society. Private Papers.
Columbian Museum and Savannah Advertiser, 1800, 1801, 1802, 1807, 1811.
Columbian Museum and Savannah Daily Gazette, 1817.
Daily Georgian, 1819, 1822, 1825-26, 1828-29, 1833-35, 1839, 1841, 1843, 1846.
Daily (Savannah) Morning News, 1850-56, 1858, 1860-62, 1865.
Daily (Savannah) News and Herald, 1866, 1867. Savannah Morning News, 1872-77, 1880-82.