Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Swamper Homestead

This unplanned visit was quite fascinating.  

Here's a bit about this family:

"In the late 1800s, W.T. Chesser and his family settled a small island on the eastern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. The Chesser's were a rugged family, carving out a life in the often harsh conditions of the area. Their history is typical of many area settlers; they ate what they could shoot, trap, catch and grow on the sandy soil. Cash crops were primarily sugar cane, tobacco, and turpentine. They lived simply, worked hard, and played hard, when possible."  (http://www.fws.gov/okefenokee/Chesser%20Island.html)

       W.T. Chesser had 6 sons.  Two of his sons went on to marry and settle on the land to take over the estate.  One of his sons, Samuel, had a son named Tom who with his wife Iva, built the house that you see in the photograph below.  It was his and his wife's dream house.  They had 7 children.  The children were educated three months out of the year by a tutor that they paid to come and live at the estate for that time period.  Otherwise they worked on the farm.  They were primitive Baptists and were fond of a disctintive type of music-"sacred harp singing."  The short video below explains a bit more what this historic music is and let's you hear it.  

      The home that we explored was built in three weeks.  What is even more amazing is that they hired a carpenter who felled the trees and hewed the lumber himself.  So basically the house was built from scratch in 21 days.  It cost approximently 200 dollars to build.  Amazing.  There was no running water, no electricity.  I was quite thankful though to find an old working well pump in the house so I could wash my "poopy" hands-I had just changed a rather yucky diaper :)

We found it quite interesting that the bath tub was situated in the screened in porch????  :)

The family still has reunions at the old homestead where they cook lots of biscuits or other items in the old wood burning stove.  Pretty fascinating. 

No comments: