the promised land then and now
Jun 30, 2009 | Posted by: twomucht
by Dorethia Livsey
Envision with me the scene of a thousand acre antebellum plantation with twenty-six slaves...
The original owner of this historical plantation was Thomas Maguire, an immigrant from Ireland. .He settled at Rockbridge just south of Centerville in 1825. There he built his life around this 956 -acre plantation, he called it "The Promised Land". Along with his 10 children and 26 slaves, Maguire cultivated the land and built a small empire around himself.
He built "The Big House", as it is referred to today. It was comparatively modest in size and ornamentation, but substantial. It stands today. Though one wonders how it escaped the torches of General Sherman's men when they passed by here on their 'March To The Sea'.
This spectacular story can be found in the pages and between the lines of a Farm Journal or diary, that was kept from July, 1859 to July 1866 by the master of this plantation. Maguire came from Ireland as previously indicated and settled in Gwinnett County. He became one of the leading citizens of the county.
His surviving diary, chronicles the daily activities of plantation life. It tells of growing cotton, wheat, corn, vegetables, fruits, raising hogs, cattle and sheep. Activities on the plantation also included carpentry, blacksmithing, ginning, tanning hides, milling flour, grinding cane and making brick. The big house was also used as a court house and post office during the Civil War days. Maguire's journal also records the effects of the War Between States on his plantation and the Atlanta area.
In November of 1864,Yankee soldiers on their "March To The Sea", passed by the Promised Land and burned Maguire's gin house, stables, barn and fences, while Maguire hid out in the woods. The soldiers also slaughtered his livestock. He and his family, along with his slaves, hid out in the woods for three weeks. They were in fear for their lives.
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