The three Habersham brothers – James, Joseph, and John – rest beside their father, the elder James Habersham, in Colonial Park Cemetery at Savannah, Georgia. Though their father supported the Crown, the brothers were devoted patriots in the American Revolution. And afterwards, prominent in public positions for the United States and the state of Georgia.
The left panel on the vault front is devoted to second son, Joseph Habersham (1751-1815), and his wife, Isabella Rae. Accomplishments of Joseph listed here are the following: Lieutenant Colonel in the Continental Army, Postmaster General under George Washington, Member of the Continental Congress, Speaker of the General Assembly, and Member of the Society Cincinnati in Georgia. Joseph was also Mayor of Savannah, 1792-1793. Furthermore, three years after his death, a county in Georgia was named for Mr. Habersham. Here is an obituary from the Savannah Advertiser by way of the 5 December 1815 edition of Virginia's Norfolk Gazette and Publick Ledger (page 2, original viewable at GenealogyBank):
The melancholy task devolves upon us, of recording the decease of the venerable Col. JOSEPH HABERSHAM, in the 65th year of his age. On the 18th instant, the sun of his terrestrial existence set, -- to rise no more!
In the fist stages of the revolutionary war, he embarked in the services of his country, and was successively continued in public employments, until advanced age called upon him to retire. -- He was among the oldest native inhabitants of Savannah, and was one of the first and most zealous patriots, who stepped forth to obtain freedom and independence in his country. He commanded one of the parties, by whom a large stock of powder was taken from the British in 1775; he commanded the party by whom the British governor Wright was taken prisoner in February, 1776; he commanded a rifle corps of volunteers in defense of Savannah, when it was attacked by majors Maitland and Grant, in the succeeding month; and he was appointed a major in the first continental battalion which was raised in Georgia, and was soon after, promoted to the rank of lieut. colonel. It is believed, that out of thirty five officers appointed in that battalion, general John McIntosh and colonel John Milton, are now the only survivors. Colonel Habersham was twice appointed a member of congress; several times a member of the state legislature; and in two instances selected by that body to fill the chair as speaker. After the adoption of the federal constitution, president Washington (who was always mindful of the soldier's merits) appointed him post-master general of the United States. When he retired from that office, he was appointed president of the Branch bank of the United States in Savannah, and continued in that office until the expiration of the charter. In all these appointments, as well as in the duties of a private citizen, he preserved the character of a pious honest man.
To his venerable partner, the remains of life will be a species of solitude, when compared with the happy scenes of the past. To his immediate descendants, as well as his other young relatives, all of whom have long looked up to him, and received from him, the care of an affectionate father, the privation will be afflictive indeed: but under this dispensation of the great disposer of events, it will afford some consolation, that the memory and merits of their departed relative, will live in the history of his country. Savannah Advr.
James Habersham (father and son)
The largest panel, in the middle, is for James Habersham – both the elder and the junior – and their wives. James Habersham, Jr. was married to Esther Wylly.
Sacred to the Memory of
The ancestor of the family of that name.
He was born at Beverly, Yorkshire, England in January, 1712
and died at Brunswick, New Jersey, 28th of August, 1775.
Aged 62 years.
He was an eminent Christian and a highly useful man in the then Colony of Georgia, and held many important offices, among them, those of President of his Britannic Majesty's Council and acting Governor of Georgia during the absence of Governor Wright. He was also in connection with Whitfield one of the founders of Bethesda, and for a long time a co-laborer in that good and great work.
Also to the Memory of
His most beloved Wife
who died the 4th day of January 1763,
and was also buried in this vault.
Per the 4 September 1775 New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (page 3, viewable at GenealogyBank, s typed as f as was done in original article):
On Monday laft died at Brunfwick, in the 63d Year of his Age, on his Way to this City, the Hon. James Haberfham, Efq; Prefident of his Majefty's Council of Georgia.----He was a Man of great Probity, Integrity and Honour,---an able Counfellor, an affectionate and tender Parent, and well acquainted with the Delicacies of true Friendfhip: In his Life he was greatly beloved, efteemed and honoured by all his Friends,---and his Death is equally regretted by all who had the Honour of his Acquaintance. His Remains were on Thurfday Evening interred in the Family Vault of Nathaniel Marfton, Efq; in Trinity Church-Yard.
James Habersham came to the colony of Georgia in 1738 and became a leading merchant and public servant. He also became one of Georgia's largest planters. The historical marker at his grave says this: "Though he disapproved Parliament's oppressive acts, Habersham remained firmly loyal to the Crown…his last days darkened by the shadow of the impending Revolutionary struggle which arrayed, in his words and in how own case, 'father against son, and son against father.'"
James Habersham, Jr. was more of a political and financial supporter of the American Revolution, leaving the military service to his brothers. James also served on the Board of Trustees created to establish the University of Georgia. Though the epitaph etched below his father's provides for James the incorrect death year of 1808, the historical marker nearby rectifies with the proper year of 1799.
Obituary from the Philadelphia Gazette (Pennsylvania), dated 1 August 1799 [s typed as f as was done in original article, viewable at GenealogyBank]:
Died, on Tuefday, 2d inft. at Savannah, (of which city he was a native) in the 54th year of his age, James Habersham, Efq. a man, whole benevolence of mind and fuavity of manners, will long live in the memory of thofe who had the pleafure of his acquaintance, and whofe conduct through life was marked with unfufpected integrity.
He was the eldeft fon of the Honorable James Haberfham, Efq. who was one of the firft fettlers of the province of Georgia; and who fuftained, with reputation, in the courfe of a ufeful life, the firft offices under the royal government. This gentleman dying previous to the revolution, the one now the object of our atention [sic] and regret, took a part with his countrymen in the new courfe of things; and through the whole of a conteft fo conflicting and doubtful, he fteadily perfevered, and calmly purfued the great object of the change. The peace of 1783, having confirmed our hopes, and ratified our independence, he devoted his fervices in the legiflature, in which he was fpeaker, to the improving and perfecting the fyftem of our new government. Retiring, afterwards within the pale of domeftic life, he was feen as hufband, parent, mafter and friend, a diftinguifhed ornament: difcharging moreover, with ufeful effect, the focial duties of magiftrate and citizen.
John Habersham (1754-1799)
The third son of James and Mary Bolton Habersham is memorialized on the right panel. John Habersham's list of accomplishments include the following: Maj. Continental Army, Member of the Continental Congress, Member of the Society Cincinnati in Georgia, Collector of the Port of Savannah, and One of the Trustees of the University of Georgia. He was married to Sarah Camber.
John was twice captured while serving during the American Revolution: at the fall of Savannah, and at the fall of Charleston, South Carolina. Both times he was exchanged in active service.
John's death occurred almost five months after that of his brother James. John's obituary can be found in the 22 November 1799 edition of the Columbian Museum (Savannah, Georgia – page 3, s typed as f as was done in original):
DIED] On the 19th inft. Major JOHN HABERSHAM, aged 45 years. In the late Revolution he early defended the rights of his country, and was promoted to the rank of Major in the firft Continental regiment of this ftate. Since the Peace he ferved feveral years in the former Congrefs, and on the organization of the Federal Government he was appointed Collector of this Port, in which office he continued till his death. The eafe, affability, and obligingnefs of difpofition with which he executed his public functions, and the amiable and endearing manner in which he conducted himfelf in his private relations, will long render his death a fubject of general regret in this community, and of embittering recollection to thofe whofe intercourfes of life were fweetened by an intimate acquaintance with him. He bore a long and painful illnefs with the equanimity which was peculiarly characteriftic of him, and paffed through the laft trying fcene with a correfpondent compofure. – Thus have we loft, in the fpace of a few months, two brothers, of difpofitions the moft angelic with which Heaven is pleafed to blefs mankind.