Place:St. Simons, Glynn, Georgia, United States


NameSt. Simons
Alt namesFredericasource: Family History Library Catalog
Saint Simon Islandsource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS13019874
Saint Simonssource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS13019874
Saint Simons Islandsource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Saint Simons Villagesource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS13019874
St. Simons Islandsource: Wikipedia
TypeCensus-designated place
Coordinates31.161°N 81.387°W
Located inGlynn, Georgia, United States
Contained Places
Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

St. Simons Island (or simply St. Simons) is a barrier island and census-designated place (CDP) located on St. Simons Island in Glynn County, Georgia, United States. The names of the community and the island are interchangeable, known simply as "St. Simons Island" or "SSI", or locally as "The Island". St. Simons is part of the Brunswick metropolitan statistical area and according to the 2020 U.S. census, the CDP had a population of 14,982.[1]

Located on the southeast Georgia coast, midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, St. Simons Island is both a seaside resort and residential community. It is the largest of Georgia's renowned Golden Isles (along with Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and privately owned Little St. Simons Island). Visitors are drawn to the Island for its warm climate, beaches, variety of outdoor activities, shops and restaurants, historical sites, and its natural environment.

In addition to its base of permanent residents, the island enjoys an influx of both visitors and part-time residents throughout the year. The 2010 census noted that 26.8% of total housing units were for "seasonal, recreational, or occasional use". The vast majority of commercial and residential development is located on the southern half of the island. Much of the northern half remains marsh or woodland. A large tract of land in the northeast has been converted to a nature preserve containing trails, historical ruins, and undisturbed maritime forest. The tract, Cannon's Point Preserve, is open to the public on specified days and hours.

Originally inhabited by tribes of the Creek Nation, the area of South Georgia that includes St. Simons Island was contested by the Spaniards, English and French. After securing the Georgia colony, the English cultivated the land for rice and cotton plantations worked by large numbers of African slaves, who created the unique Gullah culture that survives to this day.

The primary mode of travel to the island is by automobile via F.J. Torras Causeway. Malcolm McKinnon Airport (IATA: SSI) serves general aviation on the island.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Pre-European contact

Just north of the village on St. Simons Island off Mallery Street is a park of oak trees named St. Simons Park. On the southern edge of the oaks, along a narrow lane, is a low earthen mound where 30 Timucuan Native Americans are buried. The men, women and children interred there lived in a settlement on the site two centuries before the first European contact.

Cannon's Point, on the north end of St. Simon's Island, is an archaeological site that includes a Late Archaic shell ring. The Cannon's Point site has yielded evidence of occupation by Native Americans since at least as early as the appearance of ceramics in the southeastern United States. Milanich lists the succession of periods at Cannon's Point as: Sapelo Period (2500–1000 BC); ceramics related to those of the Stallings culture of the Savannah River valley and Orange period of northern Florida; Refuge Period (1000–500 BC); Deptford Periods (500 BC to AD 700); Wilmington Period (700–1000); St. Catherine's Period (1000–1250); Savannah Periods (1250–1540); Pine Harbor Period (1540–1625), where European artifacts appear in the archaeological record in this period; and Sutherland Bluff Period (1625–1680), where Native American occupation of Cannon's Point seems to have ended during this period.

Many scholars in the early 20th century identified the people of St. Simons Island as Guale. Hann cites evidence that the people of St. Simons at least as early as 1580 were part of the Mocama people. Ashley, et al. suggest that St. Simons may have been occupied by the Guale people when Europeans arrived in southeastern Georgia in the 16th century, and that the original Guale population on St. Simons was displaced from at least the southern part of the island after the Guale rebellion of 1597, and replaced by Timucua speaking Mocama people.

Spanish mission of San Buenaventura de Guadalquini

The mission of San Buenaventura de Guadalquini was established on the southern end of St. Simons sometime between 1597 and 1609 (probably near the present-day St. Simons Island Light), and was the northernmost mission in the Mocama area. The Timucua language name for St. Simon's Island was Guadalquini. The Spanish called it Isla de Ballenas (Isle of Whales). Some Spanish documents called the island .

Raiders from the Chichimecos (the Spanish name for Westos), Uchise (the Spanish name for Muscogee), and Chiluque (a name the Spanish used for a faction of the Mocamo and for Yamassee) and possibly other nations, aided and supported by the English in the Province of Carolina, attacked Colon (also called San Simon) a village of un-Christianized Yamasee to the north of San Buenaventura on St. Simon Island, in 1680. A force of Spanish soldiers and Native Americans from San Buenaventura went to the aid of Colon, forcing the raiders to withdraw.

In 1683, St. Augustine was attacked by a pirate fleet and in 1684 missions along what is now the Georgia coast were attacked by Native American allies of the English. The mission of San Buenaventura was ordered to move south and merge with the mission of San Juan del Puerto on the St. Johns River. Before the mission could be moved, pirates returned to the area in the second half of 1684. On hearing of the presence of the pirates, Lorenzo de Santiago, chief of San Buenaventura, moved the people of his village, along with most of their property and stored maize, to the mainland. When the pirates landed at San Buenaventura, they found only ten men under a sub-chief who had been left to guard the village. The San Buenaventura men withdrew to the woods, and the pirates burned the village and mission. After the pirates burned the mission, the people of Guadalquini moved to a site about one league west of San Juan del Puerto on the St. Johns River, where a new mission named Santa Cruz de Guadalquini was established.

Fort Frederica

Fort Frederica, now Fort Frederica National Monument, was built beginning in 1736 as the military headquarters of the Province of Georgia during the early English colonial period. It served as a buffer against Spanish incursion from Florida.

Nearby is the site of the Battle of Gully Hole Creek and Battle of Bloody Marsh, where on July 7, 1742, the British ambushed Spanish troops marching single file through the marsh and routed them from the island. This marked the end of the Spanish efforts to invade Georgia during the War of Jenkins' Ear.[2]

It has been preserved in the 20th century and identified as a national historic site largely by the efforts of Margaret Davis Cates, a local resident who contributed much to historic preservation. She helped raise more than $100,000 in 1941 to buy the site of the fort and conduct stabilization and some preservation. It was designated as a National Monument in 1947.

Wesley brothers

In the 1730s St. Simons served as a sometime home to John Wesley, the young minister of the colony at Savannah. He later returned to England, where in 1738 he founded the evangelical movement of Methodism within the Anglican Church. Wesley performed missionary work at St. Simons while he was still in the Anglican Church, but he was despondent about failing to bring about conversions. (He wrote that the local inhabitants had more tortures from their environment than he could describe for Hell). In the 1730s John Wesley's brother Charles Wesley also did missionary work on St. Simons. In the late eighteenth century, Methodist preachers traveled throughout Georgia as part of the Great Awakening, a religious revival movement led by Methodists and Baptists. A major impact of the revival was to convert enslaved African-Americans in Georgia (as well as those in the rest of the Thirteen Colonies) to Christianity.

On April 5, 1987, fifty-five members from St. Simons United Methodist Church were commissioned, with Bishop Frank Robertson as first pastor, to begin a new church on the north end of St. Simons Island. This was where John and Charles Wesley had preached and ministered to the people at Fort Frederica. The new church was named Wesley United Methodist Church at Frederica.

American Revolution

In 1778 Colonel Samuel Elbert was in command of Georgia's Continental Army and Navy. On 15 April he learned that four British vessels (the naval vessels and HMS Hinchinbrook, and the hired vessels Rebecca, and Hatter) from East Florida were sailing in St. Simons Sound. Elbert commanded about 360 troops from the Georgia Continental Battalions at Fort Howe to march to Darien, Georgia. There they boarded three Georgia Navy galleys: Washington, commanded by Captain John Hardy; Lee, commanded by Captain John Cutler Braddock; and Bulloch, commanded by Captain Archibald Hatcher.

On 18 April they entered Frederica River and anchored about from Fort Frederica. The next day the galleys attacked the British vessels. The Colonial ships were armed with heavier cannon than the British and the galleys also had a shallow draft and could be rowed. When the wind died down, the British ships had difficulty maneuvering in the restricted waters of the river and sound. Two of the British ships ran aground and the crews escaped to their other ships. The battle showed how effective the galleys could be in restricted waters over ships designed for the open sea. The victory in the Frederica Naval Action boosted the morale of the colonials in Georgia.

Cotton production

During the plantation era, Saint Simons became a center of cotton production, known for its long-fiber Sea Island Cotton. Nearly the entire island was cleared of trees to make way for several large cotton plantations worked by purchased labor - Geechee slaves and their descendants. The plantations of this and other Sea Islands were large, and often the owners stayed on the mainland in Darien and other towns, especially during the summers, because the Island was considered swamp lands; but the Geechee slaves lived on the Island and weren't allowed to come to the mainland unless accompanied by a slave master. This season was considered bad for diseases of the lowlands. These slaves were held in smaller groups and interacted more with whites. They were also confused with the Gullah tribe from South Carolina. An original slave cabin still stands at the intersection of Demere Rd. and Frederica Rd. at the roundabout.

American Civil War and its aftermath

During the early stages of the war, Confederate troops occupied St. Simons Island to protect its strategic location at the entrance to Brunswick harbor. However, in 1862, General Robert E. Lee ordered an evacuation of the island in order to relocate the soldiers for the defense of Savannah. Before departing, they destroyed the lighthouse to prevent its use as a navigation aid by Union naval forces. Most property owners and their former slaves then retreated inland, and the Union army occupied the island for the remainder of the war.

Postwar, the island plantations were in ruins, and landowners found it financially unfeasible to cultivate cotton or rice. Most moved inland to pursue other occupations, and the island's economy remained dormant for several years. Former slaves established a community in the center of the island known as Harrington.

Since Reconstruction

Saint Simons' first exports of lumber occurred after the Naval Act of 1794, when timber harvested from two thousand Southern live oak trees from Gascoigne Bluff was used to build the USS Constitution and five other frigates (see six original United States frigates). The USS Constitution is known as "Old Ironsides", as cannonballs bounced off its hard live oak planking.

The second phase of lumber production on the island began in the late 1870s, when mills were constructed in the area surrounding Gascoigne Bluff. The mills supported a vibrant community that lasted until just after the turn of the twentieth century. During this time, lumber from St. Simons was shipped to New York City for use in construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In contrast to the post-Civil War era, the decline of lumber did not open a new period of economic hardship; for a new industry was taking hold on St. Simons Island. From as early as the 1870s, summer cottages were being constructed on the south end of the island, and a small village was forming to serve them. Construction of the pier in 1887 brought visitors by boat from Brunswick and south Georgia. The Hotel St. Simons, on the present site of Massengale Park, opened in 1888. About a decade later, two hotels were built near the pier. The arrival of the automobile and the opening of the Torras Causeway in 1924 insured the continued growth of tourism on St. Simons, the only one of the Golden Isles not privately held. New hotels were built. Roads were constructed, and tourism became the dominant force in the Island's economy.

On April 8, 1942, World War II became a reality to residents of St. Simons Island, when a German U-boat sank two oil tankers in the middle of the night. The blasts shattered windows as far away as Brunswick, and unsubstantiated rumors spread about German soldiers landing on the beaches. Security measures were tightened after the sinkings, and anti-submarine patrols from Glynco Naval Air Station in Brunswick ultimately ended the U-boat threat. During the war, McKinnon Airport became Naval Air Station St. Simons, home to the Navy Radar Training School. The King and Prince Hotel, built in 1941, was used as a training facility and radar station. It was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

President Jimmy Carter visited the island with his brother Billy Carter in 1977, arriving by Marine One.

During the postwar years, as resort and vacation travel increased, permanent residential development began to take place on St. Simons Island as well as surrounding mainland communities. The island's population grew from 1,706 in 1950 to 13,381 by 2000.

Research Tips

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