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Bulloch History with Roger Allen

The legacy of George Sibbald

    Many recognize the name George Sibbald (or Siebald) as that of the man who donated the 200 acres of land for the construction of the “Judicial Center.” What is not known is that he is also the man who created “The Georgia Asylum Company” back in 1801.
    His “Plan of an Association for the Purpose of Encouraging the Immediate Settlement of the Pine Lands of Georgia, and to Promote the Same by Emigrations from Europe, and it’s Northern States” called for an area 523,574 acres to bet set aside to hold all these new residents, most of it in Bulloch County.
    The majority of this territory came from the original Charles and Joseph Ryan grants, which were the first two Royal Grants of land given in what was then newly-formed Effingham County. Charles Ryan had been given 212,469 acres, and Joseph had been given 107,405 acres.
    To this, Sibbald proposed adding two grants in old Washington County (now in Montgomery County) given to Frances Tennelle, one of which was 112,700 acres and the other 60,000 acres. He further proposed adding the James Dawson grant in Montgomery, which contained 31,000 acres. He owned all this land.
    He directed that the association was to hire a special agent. His primary job would be to acquire the services of a ship of at least 200 tons burthen. This vessel would travel from Europe to the Asylum lands, beginning in 1802 and continuing yearly until 1810, arriving between October and December of each year.
    The General Superintendent of the Association lands was to have built every year at least 50 log houses, each of which was to be surrounded by 20 acres of cleared land.  If the settlers lived on the land for 5 years, and built a house at least 16 by 20 feet in diameter, and planted at least 200 peach and apple trees, Sibbald would arrange to sell them the land.
    If they had had arrived between 1802 and 1804, the price of each acre would cost them only 50 cents. However, if they arrived between 1804 and 1806, it would cost 75 cents an acre, between 1806 and 1808, $1 per acre, and between 1808 and 1810, it would cost $2 an acre.
    If they couldn’t pay in cash, Sibbald established other terms. Each person over the age of 14 would agree to four years of indentured servitude. The farmers would agree to plant four acres of cotton for each family member, and deliver to the agent some 1,000 pounds of cotton for each family member each year..
    Families that arrived capable of providing for themselves would simply buy the land and be under no further obligations to the Association. This plan for the Association passed through the Georgia Senate in 1801 and was signed by then Governor Josiah Tattnall on December 1st 1801.
    So, what happened? Not much. About the only thing that did get accomplished as part of the Asylum Plan, was that Bulloch County did indeed get the 200 acres promised for its Judicial Center. That’s right, that’s why Sibbald gave the Georgia Legislature the land in Bulloch County, so that they would pass his plan. In 1803, the Legislature formally created the town of “Statesborough”.
    After all of his planning, Sibbald went bankrupt, most of his lands were seized, and he ended up a pauper. History records his gift, but never explains why he did what he did. This, then,  is the rest of, and the end of, Siebald’s story.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger dodger53@hotmail.com

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