Tag Archives: Black history

Horace King-The Master Bridge Builder

Horace King, 1807-1885, was considered the preeminent bridge builder in the South. It is believed he built over 100 bridges, most of them being in Alabama and Georgia. King was born into slavery in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. His enslaver, John Godwin, earned a bid to build a bridge over the Chattahoochee River. King moved with Godwin to Girard, Alabama, to begin the project.

In 1846, Godwin decided to no longer hold King in bondage. I have also read that King purchased his freedom. At this point, King’s services were in high demand to build bridges. He moved freely throughout the South. He is credited with building bridges at many points over the Chattahoochee River and other rivers. Outside of bridges, he built homes and warehouses. He also built the freestanding spiral staircase in the Alabama State Capitol.

Spiral staircase at Alabama State Capitol. (Photo credit- Library of Congress, HABS)

In 1839, he married free woman, Frances Gould Thomas. They had four boys and one girl. For whatever reason, the grave markers for the four boys have the birthdate of 1844. Based on census records, which can be incorrect, I believe Washington King was born in 1840, Marshall in 1842, John in 1846, and George in 1850. All of the children were involved in the construction company that they called the King Brothers Bridge Company.

The long approach of the Red Oak Covered Bridge is located outside of Woodbury, Georgia in the community of Imlac. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The graves of Horace and Marshall King in the Mulberry Street Cemetery complex is located in LaGrange, Georgia. The city of LaGrange has been restoring this part of town and recently added a covered bridge to honor King.
Johnson Mill Bridge in Harris County, Georgia (courtesy Digital Library of Georgia

Shiloh Baptist Church-Painter, Virginia

Shiloh Baptist Church is the oldest Black church in Accomack County, Virginia. The congregation was founded in 1875 after members decided to break away from the white church, Hollies Baptist Church. This is the third building for the church after the first two were lost to fire. This one was built in 1907.

I believe the building on the right is a lodge based on its two floors and shape.

Mount Nebo Baptist Church, School, and Cemetery-Accomack County, Virginia

The church was built in 1891 to serve the spiritual needs of the Black community on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. At the moment, I am unable to find any other information on the history of the church and school.

The schoolhouse with a new addition
Some of the graves with concrete ledgers

Pleasant Plains School-Pleasant Plains, North Carolina

Located a few miles north of Ahoskie, North Carolina, the Pleasant Plains School is an atypical Rosenwald School built in 1920. The three classroom school was built more in the tradition of the many rural schools that could found in this area of North Carolina. Many of these schools were built from plans that the state of North Carolina provided to communities in the early 1900s.

The school replaced an earlier school building that was built by the Pleasant Plains Baptist Church, an early congregation for free People of Color to worship that started prior to the Civil War. That school was built in 1866. The school provided education for Black and Native American children of the area until 1950.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.