Submitted by FHMaster on Sun, 03/28/2021 - 14:51

Perhaps evidenced by site 38BU24 and 38BU62

General Information - Location – on the banks of Skull Creek

Owners -

  • Henry Talbird, received from Crown as partial payment for supplying bricks.

  • John Talbird inherited

  • Henry (Yorktown) Talbird

Buildings - Plantation house burned by loyalist unit in 1782; rebuilt after the Revolution

Bibliography -

 Peeples, An Index to Hilton Head Island Names

Additional Information:


Hilton Head Plantation

This property was given to John Talbot by his father, Henry, at the time of his marriage to one of the Ladson sisters.  The deed recorded in London misspelled the name Talbird which was adopted by the family. He had two sons, John and Thomas.  The meadows along the road to Seabrook Landing are still referred to as "Talbot Field" .

During the Revolutionary War the plantation house was burned by the British.  The officer in charge was John's brother, Thomas.  John was a patriot prisoner of the British in Charleston.  Thomas did allow the servants to remove all the household belongings before the house was burned.  

A son, Henry, was born October, 19, 1781.

A new home was built on Skull Creek after the war. Some of the land was sold in 1784 but the family lived on the property until after the turn of the century. In 1810 a grandson, also Henry, was born.

  • Holmgren, Hilton Head, A Sea Island Chronicle, p. 54-57

The site of a possible freedman's house.

Site also indicates evidence of several discrete shell middens of the Middle to Late Woodland St. Catherine's sites. Recommended for National Register of Historic Places.

  • Chicora Research Series 13, Archaeological Testing of Six Sites on Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina, p. 54, 70 (Source materials listed in survey)

"Over on Skull Creek John Talbird and his wife, Mary Ann Ladson, had a pre-Revolutionary War plantation which was given to him by his grandfather, Henry Talbird.   This land had been granted Henry Talbird in part payment for his supplying the bricks and building the first Tybee Island Lighthouse. Mary Ann Ladson Talbird added to this her inheritance from her grandfather Conyers of his adjoining plantation. Their daughter, Ann, married Dr. Samuel Fyler...After Dr. Fyler died on 11 October 1821 and was buried in Zion Churchyard, his widow sold her island lands...During the Revolutionary War the British burned every plantation home in the Skull Creek area, including that of Lt. John Talbird, and carried off every slave they could catch for resale in the West Indies."

  • Peeples, Robert, Tales of Ante Bellum Hilton Head Island Families, p. 7



Builders, Planters, and Patriots

The achievements of the Talbird family are recorded in the history of Beaufort County and found in several 18th and 19th Century structures extant today. For the most part, they are recognized for their contributions as brick makers and builders, but they were also successful planters, patriots, and politicians. Unique among family names, Talbird is a corruption of the name Talbot having been misspelled on some legal papers and later adopted by the family. Although the name of Talbird has disappeared as a last name in the Beaufort area, there are a number of descendants living there today.  

The first of the family in South Carolina was Henry Talbot (Talbird), who was a native of Ireland. According to family tradition, Henry was the son of Sir John Talbot, Lord Mayor of Dublin, and was separated from his family at a very young age, whereupon he was taken in by a sea captain and his wife who settled in South Carolina. Henry returned to Ireland to reconnect with family and legally prove his identity in order to claim his inheritance. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so and returned to South Carolina and settled in the Beaufort area. While this story makes for good reading and may have some basis in fact; it is not supported by documentation. According to a list of Mayors and Sheriffs of Dublin from 1649 to 1823, there is no mention of Sir John Talbot. While the parentage of Henry Talbot (Talbird) may be uncertain, the name of Talbot is a noble and distinguished one in Ireland with origin in Norman France. 

Henry Talbot (hereafter Talbird) was likely born prior to 1700 and lived to almost ninety years of age. No early record exists on him until March 1744/45 when he is married to Mary Hannon by the Reverend William Hutson of Stony Creek Church (Prince William Parish). It is said that Henry received a royal contract to build lighthouses in Georgia and South Carolina including one on Tybee Island and referred to as Talbot Light. Tradition has it that Talbird received grants of land as payment for this work including land on Hilton Head Island that he gave to his younger son, John, when he married in 1778. It is more plausible that the Hilton Head Island property was purchased, perhaps with the money earned from construction of the lighthouse(s). Sometime prior to 1750, Talbird established Whale Branch Plantation (now part of Clarendon) on Port Royal Island and “opened a brickyard, which grew to be quite profitable … and had several of his men [slaves] instructed in the trade of brick making.” Whale Branch Plantation was selected by Talbird for his residence and brickyard operation because it is a rare area where clay is found close to the surface and has water access. Apparently, Talbird’s brickyard was producing large quantities of brick as he was contracted to build parsonage houses for the Trustees of the Willtown Presbyterian Church requiring him to make and deliver 100,000 brick for the construction. In 1769, Talbird was contracted to construct a new building for St. Helena’s Church using 175,250 bricks by the time it was finished (this church was taken down and rebuilt in 1842, with the original Talbird brick recycled in the replacement structure). By 1771, Henry purchased a new sloop named Delight, a Port Royal-built vessel that he kept at his landing, considered one of the best in the vicinity. 

Henry’s first wife must have died as he was remarried in 1750 to Mary Ann Doharty, a widow with two children. This marriage produced seven children, two of whom followed their father in the building trade (Thomas and Richard). By the outbreak of the American Revolution, in addition to his Whale Branch Plantation, Henry Talbird had acquired significant properties in the Beaufort area, Hilton Head Island, and on the Ogeechee River in Georgia. Before Henry died he constructed a home in Beaufort on Hancock Street in 1786, known today as the Talbird-Sams House. The house is still owned by descendants of both families through a marriage between a daughter and son of the two families.

The onset of the Revolutionary War found the Talbirds at the forefront of support for the American cause. Henry was too old to bear arms in the conflict but did his part by providing material assistance. His children, including his stepson, Captain James Doharty, were active participants in the defense of their homeland. After the fall of Savannah to the British in 1778, the Granville County Militia was reorganized with a company commanded by Captain Thomas Talbird along with his younger brother, John Talbird, serving as lieutenant. By March 1779, they joined their older half-brother, Captain James Doharty, commander of Fort Lyttleton on the Beaufort River. Doharty had been a member of the first local Committee of Correspondence for the Revolutionary Party in the Beaufort District, commander of Fort Lyttleton from March to June of 1779, and served with William Harden’s partisans in 1781.  With the British advance in the Battle of Port Royal in 1779, these patriots joined with General Moultrie’s army in forcing the British retreat to Savannah. Richard Talbird, the youngest son of Henry and brother of John and Thomas, was among the eight Americans who lost their lives in this campaign. In early 1782, Captains Thomas Talbird and John Doharty, along with two of the latter’s nephews were ambushed at Doharty’s home on Bear Island by a party of British loyalists. Talbird and one of the nephews escaped while Doharty was killed and brought to Whale Branch Plantation for burial.    

Lieutenant John Talbird was living on Hilton Head Island during the Revolution. He was captured by the British during the siege of Charleston and carried off to a prison ship anchored in Charleston Harbor. He was soon paroled and returned home only to be pressed to join the British in fighting his countrymen. Unwilling to do so, he escaped to rejoin the Patriot forces. Again, he was captured. Meanwhile, his wife was at their home on Hilton Head Island tending to their plantation and awaiting the birth of their second child when a British raiding party arrived on their doorstep. The officer in charge of this detachment was acquainted with the sisters of Mrs. Talbird and although under orders to burn all Patriot homes between Beaufort and Savannah, he spared the furniture but did torch the home. Shortly thereafter, John Talbird returned home to Hilton Head Island to resume planting. The area where John Talbird lived is today known as Talbird Field and is located along Scull Creek in Hilton Head Plantation. A marker has been placed at the site of Talbird Oak near the Old Fort Pub.  John Talbird also owned Talbird Island, formerly John’s Island, and today known as Jenkins’ Island (home of Windmill Harbor development). He was elected by the voters of St. Luke Parish to the State House of Representatives in 1796, but declined to serve. Locally, however, he served as a commissioner for clearing Walls Cut (1784) and as a justice of the peace for Beaufort District in 1795. Upon his death in 1825, John Talbird was buried at the family cemetery at Whale Branch Plantation.

Captain (later Colonel) Thomas Talbird (born 1755) followed his father in the building trade but was known more for his “tabby” work, not brick. This may have been because of no evidence of brick production at Whale Branch following the death of Henry Talbird and the fact that the plantation was inherited by Thomas’ sister, Mary Talbird Rhodes. Thomas constructed the Habersham House on Bay Street (now home of Hearth restaurant) for Mary and her husband, John Rhodes, and also worked on several public buildings including the original Beaufort Arsenal in 1795. In 1800, he built a substantial tabby wall around St. Helena’s churchyard followed by a new parsonage the next year. In 1802 he received the contract to construct the original Beaufort College building on the corner of Church and Bay Streets. St. Helena Parish voters elected him to the House for the Fifth General Assembly in 1783-1784, and he continued service for his home parish in the Eighth (1789-1790), Tenth (1792-1794), and Eleventh (1794-1795) General Assemblies. He was elected to the State Senate for the Fourteenth General Assembly (1800-1801) and was chosen as a delegate from St. Helena Parish to the state constitutional convention in 1790 but declined. Local service included commissioner for dividing Beaufort District into counties (1783); commissioner for the clearing of Walls Cut (1784); commissioner for the inspection and exportation of tobacco at Beaufort (1784); commissioner for Port Royal (Port Republic) ferry (1800); and vestryman for St. Helena Church (1801-1804). A major in the Twentieth Regiment of the state militia, he was promoted in 1799 to lieutenant colonel. Thomas Talbird was deceased by September 1806. 

Colonel Talbird’s nephew as well as son-in-law, Thomas Talbird, Sr. (1784-1843), also took up the building trade and constructed his family’s brick home on Hancock Street (later burned in Fire of 1907). He served in the War of 1812 with Youngblood’s Regiment, South Carolina Militia, as Quartermaster Sergeant.  His son, Franklin Talbird, became the fourth generation of Talbirds to become a builder and architect. Franklin was very active in the 1850’s constructing the wall around St. Peter’s Catholic Church and a number of brick buildings including the Hamilton House (The Oaks), the Edward Means House, the John Johnson House, and the Brick Church on St. Helena Island. An entrepreneur, he and an associate bought Chick Springs, an antebellum spa resort near Greenville, South Carolina in 1857. During the War Between the States, Franklin served as a private in the Beaufort Artillery.    

Franklin Talbird’s son, Thomas (1855-1928), became a well-known attorney and judge in Beaufort. He held several positions of trust in the county having been state representative to the Democratic Convention. At his death he was accorded military honors by the local National Guard of which, as the old Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, he was at one time captain.

In closing, it is appropriate that this family called Talbird be recognized for the contributions that several generations have made as builders not only of structures for which they are prominently identified but, also as builders of this community and state through their patriotic service and civic duty. 

Researched and written by Philip Cromer, Beaufort, SC


Hilton Head Island, South Carolina