The home in the accompanying photograph was built by Solomon Exley, oldest son of John Michael Exley, first of the clan to be born in the Parish of Saint Matthew in the province of Georgia.
Solomon Exley, born Feb. 8, 1795, married first Sarah Backley on June 25, 1818, at the age of 23. Therefore it is believed that this log or “pole” house was built just prior to his marriage as it is known that all of his children were born here. The children were: James Jonathan Exley and Mary Elizabeth Exley (Nungazer) by his first marriage; Charles William Exley and Ann Salome Exley (both died with no issue); and Frances Sheck “Frank” Exley by Solomon’s second marriage to Maria Caroline Rahn. The house stood on what is now Berryville Road, a short distance from Highway 119 North in Effingham County.
Solomon Exley married third Hannah Elizabeth Reiser on Nov. 12, 1840. They had no children, but Hannah lived here for 31 years until her death on Dec. 2, 1871.
From this house, Solomon’s youngest son, Frances Sheck Exley, marched away to join the Confederate Army, returning safely after the fall of the Confederacy. Frances Sheck very shortly thereafter on April 18, 1866, brought into this home his bride Sophie Naomi Rahn. Before his death in January of 1879, Solomon Exley had the joy of seeing five of his grandchildren born in this house. (The youngest child of Frances Sheck Exley, Hattie Sophie Exley, was born in the house on Sept. 27, 1880, after her grandfather’s death.)
The youngest son of “Frank” Exley, Abner Lovick Exley born July 22, 1875, became the third owner of the “Solomon Exley House.” By then the house had changed somewhat in appearance. The logs had been covered in weatherboarding just prior to his marriage to Myra Pace on Nov. 1, 1908. Abner had added an extra room between the old house and the kitchen. All eight of the children of the couple were born in the house.
About 1945, the house having sheltered four generations of the Exley clan, having welcomed five brides as mistresses and having watched over the birth of 19 in its 128 years of existence, was replaced by a more modern frame dwelling built by Abner. Abner and Myra’s grandson Derrick was the last to reside in the house. The modern house was relocated by some of Abner’s children to a location several miles away on a site with a large pond, a little closer to Clyo on the other side of Highway 119. In the last few years, the house and pond property that the Abner Exley clan enjoyed as a vacation home for family gatherings was sold. It now belongs to Kerry Edwards, a descendant of James Jonathan Exley and James A. Augustus Exley.
James A. Augustus “Gus” and Ora Walton Rahn Exley’s family holds an annual reunion on July 4. This year Leon Exley’s family is hosting the gathering at Laurel Hill Lutheran Church. A basket dinner will be shared at 12:30 p.m. Descendants are asked to bring churned ice cream to be eaten in the afternoon. Paper goods and drinks will be provided. A good time will be had by all in attendance. For further information contact Stuart Exley at 754-3402.
This was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos or historical information to share contact her at 754-6681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org