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Derenne Boundary Monuments
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9/8/2020 at 6:17:50 PM GMT
Posts: 40
Derenne Boundary Monuments

          I would like to describe one of several surveying incidents that have particularly peeved me.  First, the background.  Noble Jones came to Georgia with the very first group of colonists in 1733 and was appointed the public surveyor for the colony.  He prospered and was soon recognized as one of the leading persons in Georgia.  He acquired, through grants and purchases, several tracts of land throughout the colony.  Among the tracts he acquired were the following, all adjoining and within the Savannah Township:


Farm Lots 1, 5, and 7, Third Tything, Anson Ward;

Farm Lots 1-5, 7, 8, Portion of 9, Western Farm Trust Lot, and Eastern Farm Trust Lot, Fourth Tything, Anson Ward;

Farm Lots 8, 9, and 10, Wilmington Tything, Darby Ward;

Portion of one of the 500-acre tracts.


          He named the whole “Poplar Grove Plantation”.  Today it is bounded, generally, on the west by Montgomery Street, and on the east by Waters Avenue.  Attached is a copy of a portion of the 1875 map and a portion of the 1906 map of Chatham County on which John Brannen of the city of Savannah drew the outlines of Poplar Grove.

          The property passed, intact, down through Noble Jones’s family.  In 1890 John R. Tebeau resurveyed the tract for the estate of George Wymberley Jones Derenne, great grandson of Noble Jones.  Tebeau’s survey shows the tract containing 805 ½ acres.  There is no natural stone in coastal Georgia.  The family had rough-squared slate stones custom-cut in New England, inscribed “DER”, shipped down for Tebeau to set at the corners.  Tebeau’s plat, recorded in Map Book 1, page 107, with a redrawing in Map Book 2, page 166, in the Chatham County clerk’s office, shows each corner (there are twelve of them) marked by these stones.  The stones measure about 4 inches by 8 inches in width and thickness and stand about 20 inches above the ground.

          Several years ago we were hired to survey a tract of land on Abercorn Street that adjoined Poplar Grove.  The area was undergoing intense commercial development.  The tract we were surveying, and the adjoining tract, were both to be developed.  When we initially went on the property, one of the Derenne boundary stones, which marked a common corner of our tract and the adjoining tract, was intact and undisturbed.  The surveyor who had just surveyed the adjoining tract set an iron pin about six feet from the Derenne stone, called that the corner, and labeled the Derenne stone “Tombstone.”  When we went back on the property a few days later, the Derenne stone was gone.  The hole where it had been had been carefully filled with dirt and the area where it had stood had been deliberately covered over with leaves and pine straw to hide the fact that it had been there.  We could get no explanation as to who removed the stone, but it is only logical to conclude that the adjoining landowner, seeing a “Tombstone” on his land and taking the surveyor’s word that a cemetery was there, clandestinely removed it so it could not potentially interfere with his development.

          The surveyor is to blame for causing the removal of such an ancient and important landmark.  Based on the description of the property he put in the title block on his plat, he had no idea he was surveying part of a Farm Lot of Savannah Township and had no idea it was part of Poplar Grove Plantation.  He obviously did not research the property in the courthouse.  If he had, he would have had the Tebeau plat, and if he did not know otherwise, would have readily perceived from the Tebeau plat that the stone was not a tombstone but a property corner.  We were surveying a tract that adjoined Poplar Grove; but, we researched Poplar Grove and the other adjoining tracts, used the Teabeau plat and the deeds for these other adjoining tracts in ascertaining the boundaries of the property we were surveying, and the Derenne stone was (should have been) one of the corners of our tract.


Farris Cadle

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Last edited Wednesday, September 9, 2020
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