Historic Georgia Farmhouse Sits Empty

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Joseph Cowart House | Tattnall County, GA | c. 1850s and early 1900s

Joseph Lumpkin Cowart was born in 1849 and according to the family story, made quite the entrance on his birthday. One day, while his mother, Elsey Bowen Cowart, washed clothes on the bank of the river, she went into labor and beside the water is where her last child, Joseph, was born. When he was a boy, Joseph grew up in a log house that his father, James Cowart- a farmer and sheriff, had built. In 1853 when he was 4, his father expanded their humble two-bedroom cabin and added a separate kitchen area.

Joseph Lumpkin Cowart and Minnie Godbee

Joseph lived on the land throughout his life, helping his father on the farm, and decided to raise his own family here, too. In 1872, he married Milbury “Minnie” Godbee, and the young couple lived on his family’s land, in the home where he had grown up.

Joseph L. Cowart (misspelled Coward) and his wife, Milbary Godbee Coward. Taken about the time of their marriage in 1872.

A New House for the Cowarts

Between 1873 and 1893, Minnie and Joseph had 10 children, and they needed a larger, more modern space. So in 1904, Joseph cut and milled timber from his property and built his home for $80. The original log cabin was relocated to another property nearby but the old kitchen from 1853 was incorporated into this house and still stands today.

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Joseph Lumpkin Cowart had this house built in the early 1900s from timber milled on the property. The building to the left is composed of two rooms; a kitchen to the left with a fireplace, and a dining room. Prior to the building of this house, there was a log cabin that was moved to the Eason property, whereabouts unknown. The kitchen area was built in 1853. Photo courtesy of RBotts.
Joseph Lumpkin Cowart portrait.
Milbury “Minnie” Godbee Cowart portrait.

Joseph Cowart Lumpkin

Throughout his life, Joseph was engaged in farming and various endeavors related to sawmilling. According to a short biography: “he served as constable, and road commissioner…a man highly esteemed by his neighbors.”

Minnie Godbee and her husband, Joseph Lumpkin Cowart at their home in Tattnall County, GA.

He also leased portions of the land around his home to tenant farmers who lived across the road in a house he had built for them. Back then, the property was dotted with a variety of dependency buildings that were used for various farming activities. The tenant house is gone, but the tobacco barn, hay house, and a pack house still stand today.

Minnie passed away here in 1930 and Joseph in 1938, just one month after his 89th birthday.

Photo taken 20 Nov 1938 at the Cowart home in Tattnall County, Georgia. Joseph Lumpkin Cowart, seated at the center of the photograph, at his homeplace with his children on his 89th birthday in 1938, one month before he passed away. Left to right: Kate Collins, Hicks Cowart, Ottie Carswell, C.L. “Tebe” Cowart, Sophronia “Frona” Braswell. Seated is Joseph L. Cowart. Photo courtesy of the Cowart Family.

The Cowart Children

Joseph and Minnie left quite a legacy locally through the children they raised here- many of whom stayed in the area. One son, Cleveland “Tebe” Cowart, went on to practice law, eventually becoming a judge. Their daughter, Sophronia “Fronie” married a man named George Braswell who was a pharmacist and ran the store in town.

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Sophronia “Frona” Cowart and her husband George Washington Braswell on their wedding day in 1909.
Sophronia Cowart Braswell’s husband, George Braswell, standing outside of the Collins Drug Co. in Tattnall County, Georgia. George was the owner and pharmacist.

“Frona” Cowart Braswell moved into the home that her father had built and in later years, her grandkids had fond memories of visiting Grandma Braswell at the old homeplace. At this point, the land was no longer farmed by the Cowart Family, but was leased to other locals, and after Frona died in 1966, the home was never lived in again. The home is no longer in the Cowart Family.

Grandma “Frona” Cowart Braswell with her second husband, Mr. Hobbs, at the family home that Joseph Lumpkin Cowart built where Frona had grown up. Grandma Braswell lived here until she passed away in 1966. Photo courtesy of the Braswell Family.

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  1. I loved this story and the house. Wish you had pictures of inside the house. Such a nice family and their legacy.

  2. My Grandmother’s name was Sophronia, I’ve never seen her name until this story. Very interesting.

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