In my previous posts, I mentioned that Midway was political.... and I mean very political. Most residents were well-educated, die-hard patriots who fiercely supported the revolt against Britain - a stance that many would pay dearly for.
Their parish (St. Johns Parish) was the first in the colony to assert its independence. Later, its town of Sunbury would be the last in Georgia to resist surrender to the British.
After the Revolution, Liberty County was established (containing Midway). Liberty which was honored with its name for providing two out of three of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence (Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnett). Additionally, six congressmen (two of whom were senators) and four governors had been Liberty County citizens. Over time, five Georgia counties would be named for Liberty County citizens, too.
Lyman joined local patriots and attended meetings of the “Friends of Liberty” in Savannah. At these meetings, Lyman became friends with Button Gwinnett (Gwinnett County’s namesake) who lived in neighboring St. Catherine Island. Lyman and Button became leaders of Georgia’s revolutionary movement and would later become two of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence.
However, Lyman sacrificed everything for his patriotism. In 1780, when British troops occupied Savannah and overran the surrounding areas, George Washington urged Lyman and his family to flee to Connecticut. In doing so, Lyman lost his homes, property, and nearly all his income.
After British troops withdrew from Georgia, Lyman returned and quietly resumed his medical practice in Savannah. He was later elected as the 12th governor of Georgia and insisted that the state grant land for a university – the University of Georgia. Lyman died in 1790.
“Doctor Hall in his person, was tall and well proportioned. In his manners he was easy, and in his deportment dignified and courteous. He was by nature characterized for a warm and enthusiastic disposition, which, however, was under the guidance of a sound discretion. His mind was active and discriminating. Ardent in his own feelings, he possessed the power of exciting others to action.” (Charles Goodrich)
For such a small community, Midway produced an unusually high number of historically significant personalities. A quick glance at the history of Midway reveals two major themes – religion and politics.
From almost the very moment the Puritans arrived, they established a church. The Midway Church and Society would later be formally erected in in a simple log cabin (1756). This church would play a crucial role in the development of the area – and the preservation of Coastal South culture.
The congregation was composed of both slaves and slave owners, and the church even would come to advocate for the religious instruction of slaves. Not only was this a rare exposure to a form of education, but the experience would later serve as a foundation for local slave religion and Gullah-Geechee spirituality in coastal Georgia.
For the white population, the cabin also served as a meetinghouse for political discussions – most importantly, Georgia’s independence from the British crown. Consequentially, it would later be burned by the British during the Revolutionary War. However, the cemetery has survived.
Posts are a combination of my own research, visits, and conversations, plus various information found around the web. I try to provide sources, but if you have specific questions, feel free to ask!