In late August 1894 Caroline Mary Stites Hallowes arrived at the Sweetwater Park Hotel to rest, relax, and take the curative waters, but she ended up enthralling the staff and guests with tales from the three most important men in her life -- father, brother, and husband.
No matter where the 82-year-old found herself she was pressed to discuss events from her life. Simply said Mrs. Hallowes was well connected to several of the great families of the South and knew their business intimately even though she was born in New Jersey.
Mrs. Hallowes was the daughter of General Abimael Youngs Nicoll (1766-1835), a New Yorker who was a graduate of Princeton and attended the Medical College of the University of New York. He was also active in the U.S. Army during the earliest days of our nation serving as Adjutant General and later as an acting Inspector General.
John Cochran Nicoll, Mrs. Hallowe's brother, was born in Savannah and served as a representative in the Georgia House and mayor of Savannah. He was also a judge with Savannah's city court, sat on the Georgia Superior Court, and was later appointed to the U.S. District Court of Georgia by President Martin Van Buren.
Some of Mrs. Hallowes more interesting stories, in my opinion, had to be concerning her husband, Colonel Miller Hallowes, a soldier of fortune and innovative plantation owner.
Colonel Hallowes was a British subject having been born in Great Britain in 1799. Around 1817, he received a commission in the Irish Legion and went to South America where he worked alongside the likes of Simon Bolivar, the "George Washington" of South America. He spent most of the 1820s there taking part in various battles for independence, and family tradition attests he was at one time attached to Bolivar's staff.
Coinciding with Bolivar's death in 1830, Colonel Hallowes went to Florida where he had been called to help manage his mother's share of his grandfather's estate known as Little Switzerland, a ten thousand acre plantation with twelve miles of river frontage along the St. Johns River. The grandfather, Francis Philip Fatio, was a Swiss native who is a fairly interesting character of history in his own right.
It was at Little Switzerland in 1834 that Colonel and Mrs. Hallowes met for the first time, and after a whirlwind courtship of just six weeks they were married. It was also at Little Switzerland where Colonel Hallowes had an "encounter" with a band of thirty Seminole Indians during the outbreak of the Second Seminole War.
During the summer of 1836 Colonel Hallowes was made aware of the approaching Indians. Having about fifteen minutes to prepare to fight, Colonel Hallowes was standing in the hallway of his home when he was shot on the side of the head. The bullet lodged in his cheek and was never removed causing him great pain the rest of his life. Colonel Hallowes made his escape with a few slaves in a small boat under a hail of bullets. No other injuries were received except for a few shots to the hull of the boat, and one of the poles used to push the boat was broken.
The Indians invaded the home feasting and drinking on everything in sight. It was reported later they set a fire that destroyed the entire residence and most of the plantation's buildings.
In 1840, Colonel and Mrs. Hallowes then moved north a bit to Georgia's Camden County along the St. Marys River where they purchased the New Canaan plantation and sugar works which had been owned by John Houston McIntosh. The Hallowes renamed the place Bolingbrook, and the Colonel educated himself on ways to process and use arrowroot. He took the sugar works McIntosh had built and used the building to process the arrowroot. The tabby walls of the sugar/arrowroot works still stands today. Various Georgia newspapers in the 1840s and 1850s carried weekly ads for the arrowroot powder processed at Bolingbrook.
Though he had sons who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, Colonel Hallowes, who maintained his British citizenship, managed to keep Union soldiers away from his property by raising the Union Jack. Following the war in 1870, the Hallowes returned to the New Switzerland property and built a home they called Claremont, where Colonel Hallowed died in September 1877. Today, the area along the river is referred to as Hallowes Cove, and many of the Fatio and Hallowes descendants remain in the area.
Yes, I'd have to say during her 1894 visit to the Sweetwater Park Hotel, Mrs. Hallowes most certainly had a few stories to tell!
Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can find her new book "Every Now and Then: The Amazing Stories of Douglas County" online at Amazon, print and Kindle versions. Locally, her books can be found at the Douglas County Museum of History and Art, The Farmer's Table and Lithia Springs Pharmacy.