by Amy Hedrick
In all the historical accounts, stories, books, etc., ever written, the main focus on local history has been famous people, places, and things. Most written accounts focus on the city of Brunswick or one of the islands. And they are usually about well to do families. But there is more to history than just that. There are the folks who lived in the country, the people who provided food, lumber, and many other staples that helped these city folks make their way through life. They too, were a part of Glynn County.
The Brookman Community has been seriously overlooked in most history books. If it is mentioned, it's just to describe it's location. For those of you who don't know where Brookman is, it is on Hwy. 82 west from Exit 29 off of I-95. All those country stores, and mobile homes, and a few homes, make up Brookman Community.
But what you don't see from the highway, are the many roads, paths, and trails that weave an intricate history of Glynn County's African-American history.
This community is mostly comprised of slave descendants from the plantations that existed during that time period. Places like Laurel Grove, Bonaventure, Spring Hill, Reedy Branch, Magnolia were just a few of the plantations. Many more had just the family name like Myers, Palmer, Emanuel, Ratcliff, Pyles.
Most of the families written in local histories, actually had country homes, like the Scarletts, Livingstons, Ratcliffs, and Blues. The slaves from these, and many more plantations, settled the Brookman Community after their freedom was gained.
Some of these land owners sold, or even gave, lands to their people. The Myers people received about 20 acres each. The Blue people bought their land for mere pennies per acre. Times were tough for everyone, and many of these families considered their slaves family, most tried to do right by them by giving them land if they could, others sold it for a minute amount per acre.
Just like any community, there were old family homes, general stores, and even schools. There are numerous family and slave cemeteries dotting the country side. Many of the roads are named after ancestors.
One such road, that most people do not realize, is Myers Hill. Most folks think this road was named after Myers Hill Plantation. Well it was Myers Plantation, and the road was named after Myers Hill, an actual person! Myers and many of his siblings, relatives, and descendants worked on Jekyll Island during its heyday. You can find some photos of them in the Jekyll Island Club book published by Arcadia publishers and compiled by Tyler Bagwell and the Jekyll Island Museum.
The next time you travel that way, read the street signs, pay attention to the homes, many of these homes are over a hundred years old, some were even school houses. Behind the New Hope Methodist Church on Hwy. 82, is the New Hope Methodist Church for African-Americans, that was built in the late 1800s by Aaron Hill [Myers' father] and a few other folks. This building won't be standing for long.
Magnolia Church was founded in 1854 to instruct the slaves on religion, the church was solely built for them, and a modern structure still stands today, maintained by descendants of the first congregation. This church was on property originally called Magnolia.
While traveling down Galilee Road, you will find, off to your right a ways down, a non-descript house, this house was one of the first public schools for African-Americans in the area, it is the only one, of about four, still standing.
On Myers Hill Road, off in the woods, just off of the west side of the road, is an abandoned house. This house was originally a boys' home, sort of an early version of the modern day after school program.
Everywhere you look, is a piece of the old south, a relic of the past, that you would not find, had you not gotten off of the beaten path.
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