Captain John Loquier Day was born in New York City on April 22, 1838. His parents, Henry G. and Mary A. Day arrived in America from Bristol, England in 1831. The couple had a total of nine children, although, two died in infancy. John began working at the age of 15, serving alongside his father in three branches of the mechanical industry – millwrighting, in the machine shop, and pattern making. When he was 22, he became employed by the government as a journeyman which exempted him from military service. At the age of 24, John began working on his own as a machinist.
Both of John’s parents died relatively young. His mother died of yellow fever in 1854 at the age of 43. His father became manager of a line of steamboats for the Georgia company. In 1858, during a trip from Augusta to Savannah, his father’s vessel caught fire on the Savannah River. According to an 1859 article in The Delaware Gazette, 780 bales of cotton, 40 barrels of flour, and other produce were destroyed in the fire. The passengers and crew were forced to abandon the ship and jump overboard. Unable to swim, Henry was one of twelve to fifteen passengers that drowned.
In 1860, Captain John L. Day married Mary R. Strobar, daughter of Francis and Martha A. (Beasley) Strobar of Savannah. John and his wife had four children. Sadly, one son, John P., died in infancy, and another, Harry G., died in 1884 at the age of 17 after battling a long illness. In 1867, John L. Day changed careers and began steamboating. For the next 12 years, John operated three steamboats that traveled on the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers in connection with railroading lines. He built his own boats and named them after his children.
In 1869, tragedy once again struck the Day family. John’s brother Henry, who he had not seen for 10 years, boarded a train from Richmond headed to Augusta. While on the train, he fell ill, and 10 minutes after reaching his brother in Augusta fell unconscious and within four days died of brain fever at the age of 27. Years later, in 1890, the river claimed another member of the Day family when one of John’s siblings, steamboat captain Thomas G. Day, drowned after his boat crashed while navigating down the river.
Captain John L. Day was one of the leading members of the local Methodist Episcopal Church. Sometime between 1880-1885, Captain Day built this striking Italianate brick home. It is said to be the first brick house ever built in Telfair County, though that has not been confirmed. The cast iron fence, porch rails, and columns were meant to replicate the rails of a steamboat, and considering Captain Day’s machinist background, he may have even designed them himself. Captain John L. Day died on March 9, 1906, at the age of 67. Capt. Day along with the other members of the Day family are buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery North in Savannah.
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