Gerald O’Hara was onto something when he told his daughter Scarlett, “It will come to you, this love of the land.” Like good humor, good fiction must be rooted in the truth. Mr. O’Hara understood what it was like to leave everything behind and start over in a new place. A place to build and plant, living on the fruit of the land.
My great great grandfather, John Wiggins was such a man as Gerald O’Hara. Along with his wife Sarah and their young children, he left his home in Burke County, Georgia in 1849 to clear a spot in the piney woods of northern Emanuel County, the next county due south of Burke. The Wiggins family sustained their life on the land, the fields, the pines and the water in the area that would first become known as Wiggins Station and, today, as Blun Community. That way of life would be turned upside down by the arrival of Sherman’s Army in November of 1864.
To Preserve Family and Farm is the historical account of the encounter between the Army of Major General William T. Sherman and the Wiggins family during the “March to the Sea” which occurred in November 1864 and the continued adventures of the Wiggins family that lasted until November of the following year. Originally, this story was handed down for decades in our family via the oral retelling. However, in 2002, I discovered an official record detailing some of these events in Sarah Wiggins’ claim before the Southern Claims Commission which included a shocking statement by Sarah Wiggins that she was a Union loyalist and willingly assisted Sherman’s Army. I label this news as shocking because the story handed down in our family had never mentioned such a scenario.
As the direct descendant of John and Sarah Wiggins, the main characters in this story, I felt convicted at a young age to research and capture in writing as much of this story as could be known. Over the course of the last 40-plus years, I have done just that. This blog in the accumulation of my research with some analysis thrown in for good measure. I have made every attempt to be as historically accurate as possible and provide supporting citations where available. However, many of the events and circumstances of this story continue to be clouded by over 150 years of retelling.
There are currently 16 chapters (located under “The Story” tab at the left) that I continue to update on a regular basis as more information becomes available. For ease of reading, I recommend you start with the Introduction before heading for Chapter 1. Also, new information about the Wiggins family and related characters is posted under the “Recent Posts” tab at the left.
I always welcome any comments or information you can provide about any of the events or characters in this account. While I’m happy to share this info with anyone, I would ask that you obtain permission prior to reprinting any of my original work in this blog. Please feel free to contact me and enjoy the adventure of the Wiggins family as they encounter the blue wave of the Union Army!