Tag Archives: Chester County

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.

He also built homes. There is at least one surviving example in Opelika.

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 are 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

Pickett-Fischel House-Chester, South Carolina

Built in 1858 by George and Joseph Pickett, this property is a contributing property to the Chester Historic District. Notes about the house on the South Carolina Department of Archives and History state the Fischel family owned it for six generations starting in 1960. I believe this to be a typo because the Fischel family was living at the address in 1900.

1986 photo courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History

Wachtel House-Chester, South Carolina

This Queen Anne Victorian was built in the mid-1880s. Meyer Wachtel was a dry goods merchant who moved to the United States from Germany. His son, Manning, stayed in Chester after his parents passed away and became a dry goods merchant. I was not able to confirm if he took over a family business.

1980 photo courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History