I loved my recent visit to St Simon’s Island and enjoyed the authentic southern history and charm of the place! It truly is like stepping back in time because the island does not allow buildings over four stories, so there are no big name hotels (the Supreme Court ruled that the island could keep their zoning regulations!). No big chain restaurants. Everything is small, authentic, one of a kind. It is very hard to find places like that anymore! Welcome to St Simon’s!
Captain Fendig’s Lighthouse Trolleys and Tours is the best company on the island to get the real scoop and stories. Cap is island born and bred, and he makes sure his tour guides are the real deal.
The Bloody Marsh Battle Site
The end of Spain’s designs on Georgia came on July 7, 1742, when British troops ambushed the Spanish and ended Spanish claims on the colony forever. James Oglethorpe colonized Georgia for Great Britain, but there were many disputes over the Georgia and Florida borders between Spain and Britain. The fight found the Spanish taking cover in the forest….but the outnumbered British caught them by coming across the marsh (swamp) and over 200 Spaniards died. (Want more info? Click on https://www.goldenisles.com/listing/bloody-marsh-battle-site/210/) Cap Fendig took us to the site, and like a true history buff, he had one question for us: what if the Spanish had won? My bet is that everyone would be speaking Spanish on St Simon’s, and probably the whole Eastern seaboard!
St Simon’s Island Lighthouse
There are only five remaining lighthouses in Georgia, and you guessed it, St Simon’s is one of them. It is still in operation, assisting traffic entering St Simon’s Sound. The historic site is beautiful, it houses a fascinating museum, gift shop and yes, you can climb the 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse! For more information go to www.saintsimonslighthouse.org.
Christ’s Church, Frederica
The church was built in 1820 and destroyed by Union soldiers during the Civil War. It is the 3rd oldest Episcopalian Church in the USA. The cemetery was the most fascinating part of the tour…Cap Fendig had a Union Soldier waiting for us at the entrance to the grounds, and the family histories of those buried there were riveting. Many famous Georgians have been laid to rest at Christ Church, including southern novelist Eugenia Price, who wrote the St Simons Trilogy.
One of the most interesting stories is that of Lordy King and Neptune Small. The King family owned Retreat Plantation on St Simon’s Island, and each child of the family had a companion slave with whom to grow up. Henry Lord Page King, called Lordy, had a slave, Neptune, who was only five months younger. They grew up together and all of the children and their companion slaves were taught to read and write by Anna Mathilda Page King, Lordy’s mother. It was not uncommon for slaves to accompany their owners to war, and Neptune went with Lordy when Civil War broke out. Lordy was shot and killed during the Battle of Fredericksburg, VA, in 1862, and Neptune found his body on the battlefield. He enlisted help from the officers to make a simple pine box to carry Lordy’s body, and in Richmond Neptune bought a casket and started home. The story says that Lordy’s siblings met Neptune in Savannah and they buried Lordy in a temporary grave because Union soldiers had taken St Simon’s Island for their headquarters. Neptune then went with Tip King, the youngest brother, when he went to the war, and stayed with him until the surrender. Neptune was free, but he chose to return to Savannah to disinter Lordy and take him home to be buried at Christ Church on St Simons, with his family. The King family gifted a small piece of land on their plantation to Neptune, and he took the name “Small”, apparently because he was a smallish man. He built his house, married, and raised his children there, working for the King family until he died. He was buried in the Retreat Plantation slave graveyard. Now, I am not a person to idealize the antebellum or war time South, and I’m not fond of the display of the Stars and Bars unless it is in a historical context, but I did find the story touching, that a slave who could have been free would have taken his companion home for burial. It speaks to a love or fondness for Lordy on the part of Neptune Small.
Stay tuned for more fascinating stories and blogs about St Simon’s Island and the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort where I stayed in historical and casual splendor! Casual luxury is my favorite kind!
Speaking of casual luxury, be sure and check this out: