Name: Henry Obediah "C. S. A." BARBER
Birth: 25 JUL 1825 in Bryan County, Georgia
Death: 28 DEC 1909 in Ware County, Georgia
Burial: 29 DEC 1909 Kettle Creek Congregational Methodist Church Cemetery, Waycross, Ware County, Georgia
Census: 1900 Waycross, Ware, Georgia; Roll: 227; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 91; FHL microfilm: 1240227
Military Service: Private in the 24th Battalion, Georgia Calvary, during the Civil War. In 1862 his service was with Capt. T.S. Hopkin's Company of Mounted Partisans Rangers (Mercer's Partisans) at Camp Fort, Georgia.
Reference Number: IND25201
Obediah's Okefenok began in 1989 after the restoration of the 127 year o ld cabin built by swamp legend, Henry Obediah Barber. Named Obediah's Okef enok by the property owner, to simply imply that Obediah would have call ed his home "Okefenok" ('ok fi' nok) instead of "Okefenokee", because swam pers often left out extra syllables as they spoke the territorial slang.
The log home is the oldest swamp settler's home to remain in and around t he swamp, constructed by the hands of a renowned farmer, hunter and explor er. Obediah lived on the northwestern rim of the Okefenokee, and was a lar ger-than-life character at 6 1/2 feet tall. He served as guide for surveyi ng parties exploring and mapping the swamp in 1857, 1875 and 1890. By t he 1890's his reputation and knowledge had made him a living legend. A cen terpiece of this historical park now known as Obediah's Okefenok, the cab in is located 7 1/2 miles south from downtown Waycross, Georgia, on Swa mp Road.
THE LIFE, - THE LEGEND, - THE KING
Henry "Obediah" Barber was born in Bryan County, Georgia on July 25, 182 5. He was the son of Isaac and Frances Barber and a Grandson of Moses Barb er. He married Nancy Stephens of Tattnall County, Georgia, and by 1854 t he Barbers had two children. The young family moved to the northeastern ed ge of the Okefenokee Swamp north of Cowhouse Island on the Blackshear Ro ad in 1854. They bought a 490 acre lot. Nine more children were born whi le he lived on this farm.
From 1857 until 1870, Barber served as a Justice of the Peace, the fir st in Ware County, and then in Pierce County when his district was made pa rt of Pierce County in 1859.
He also served as a Private in the 24th Battalion, Georgia Calvary, duri ng the Civil War. In 1862 his service was with Capt. T.S. Hopkin's Compa ny of Mounted Partisans Rangers (Mercer's Partisans) at Camp Fort, Georgia .
In 1870, he sold his farm, resigned his public office, and move with his f amily six miles across the prairies of the northern Okefenokee to a new fa rm (a 490-acre land lot) on the northwestern edge of the swamp in Ware Cou nty. Here he built a log home, a large herd of cattle and hogs, and a repu tation as a brave bear hunter. At that time the location was about seven m iles due south of the tiny village of Tebeauville on the Savannah and Gu lf Railroad (S&G R/R). Just north of Tebeauville where the Brunswick and W estern Railroad crossed paths with the S&G R/R, a new town was developin g. The year was 1874, the town is now known as Waycross.
Barber's first wife, Nancy, died in 1874. He then married Matilda Tat um in 1875. Between 1875 and 1893, they had nine children. Which now total ed 20. With approximately 40 years between the first and last child's birt hdate, Obediah became a father for the last time at age 66. By the 1880 's he was a prosperous country squire. In 1880 Obediah owned 1,520 acre s, three horses, and four working oxen. He reported 40 acres of improved l and. He had owned 76 head of cattle, 150 hogs and 34 chickens. He devot ed four acres of his farm to rice growing, producing 3,875 lbs. of ri ce in 1879. Corn was grown on 24 acres, four acres were devoted to oats, t wo acres to sugar cane, and sweet potatoes were grown on two acres. His be es produced 110 lbs. of honey and 12 lbs. of wax in 1879. He estimated th at he sold $300.00 worth of farm products in 1879.
Matilda died in 1898. In December 1898, at the age of 73, Barber married f or the third time, to 26 year old Martha Ann Kight. Barber suffered a stro ke in 1903. A divorce was acquired in 1907. In 1908 Obediah was list ed as a contestant in a Fiddling contest, held in Waycross. Barber's heal th declined in 1907, during the next two years E.O. and J.I. Barber serv ed as guardians. Barber died on December 28, 1909. Ironically, there w as no obituary. He was buried in Kettle Creek Cemetery, about 10 miles nor thwest of his home.
Although Obediah saw the beginning of the end of the wilderness and the fr ontier tradition in the Okefenokee Swamp, he was valued as a source of w it and wisdom. The great Swamp that Barber explored was designated as t he Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and a Georgia State Forest, the lar gest in the state, and later as a National Natural Landmark, and a Wetla nd of International Importance.
The Log Cabin of Obediah Barber is no architectural masterpiece. It is typ ical of log homes in and around the Okefenokee Swamp that were described a nd sometimes photographed by surveyors, writers, and scientists between 18 75 and 1915. Because of its rustic character, the cabin was used for a mov ie set for the film "Swamp Girl" in the early 1970's. Today, the hou se is the material core for a historical park that interprets life in a nd around the Okefenokee during the period 1850-1910.
This information and more is now on file with the United States Departme nt of Interior, National Parks Service, and has listed the Obediah Barb er Homestead on the National Register of Historic Places as of the date, J une 20th, 1995. A bronze marker has been placed in front of the cabin to c ommemorate this listing. Placed, March 23, 1996.
Nancy STEPHENS b: 19 FEB 1829 in Tattnall County, Georgia
1 FEB 1849
in Tattnall County, Georgia
in Obediah BARBER and Nancy STEPHENS
in Publication: Tattnall County, Georgia Marriages 1801-1850 by Huxford Gen. Society
- Laura Emily BARBER b: 20 JAN 1855 in Waycross, Ware County, Georgia
- Mary Margaret BARBER b: 22 MAR 1860 in Waycross, Ware County, Georgia
- Ella BARBER b: 4 MAR 1864 in Waycross, Ware County, Georgia
- Edward Obediah BARBER b: 1869 in Waycross, Ware County, Georgia
Matilda TATUM b: 9 SEP 1848 in Ruskin, Ware County, Georgia
in Ware County, Georgia
- Lucinda "Lou" BARBER b: 1875 in Ware County, Georgia
- Rosa Verbie BARBER b: 15 AUG 1877 in Ware County, Georgia
- Jennie BARBER b: 8 JUN 1879 in Ware County, Georgia
- Charles F. BARBER b: 24 APR 1884 in Ware County, Georgia
- George Cleveland BARBER , Sr. b: 1 NOV 1885 in Ware County, Georgia
- Henry Lee BARBER b: SEP 1887 in Ware County, Georgia
- Samuel Jackson BARBER b: 20 MAY 1888 in Ware County, Georgia
- John H. BARBER b: 1 JAN 1893 in Ware County, Georgia
Martha Ann KIGHT b: MAY 1872 in Wrightsville, Johnson County, Georgia
16 DEC 1898
in Ware County, Georgia
in Ware County, Georgia
in Publication: Ware Co, GA Marriages 1874-1943 by Jessie Paulk (2008), Huxford Society
in Obediah BARBER and Martha Ann KNIGHT
- Marriage License:
in Ware County, Georgia Book D, Page 40