I was born and raised in Liberty County. My father also was born and raised in Liberty County, as was his father. Yet, in the past month of my employment at the Liberty County Convention and Visitors Bureau, I have learned a tremendous amount about this area’s history.
Did you know that Liberty County is considered a hub of African-American history? Or that Dorchester Academy was a safe place for Martin Luther King Jr. and others to retreat to during the civil-rights movement? And were you aware that Sunbury once was the second-largest port-of-entry in colonial Georgia?
St. Catherine’s Island, one of our barrier islands, was home to Spanish missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. Archeological digs have found artifacts — which probably belonged to the Guale Indians — that date back 4,000 years. The same island was used as a facility to house hundreds of animals from New York City’s Bronx Zoo.
These historical facts are what draw tourists to our area. They are enthralled by our long history, prior to even that of the 13 colonies. Tourists visit our historic sites, stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants because they are interested in the place we call home.
If the residents of Liberty County believe “there is nothing to do here” or “Liberty County didn’t exist before Fort Stewart,” why do tourists care to see our sites? Because we have an interesting history and are in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
To us, pine trees are just trees. However, people from desert areas and the Midwest are amazed at the sheer number of trees we have. Then they see the live oaks. Have you driven down Martin Road in historic Midway? It’s breathtaking. Live oaks line the small street and cover it in a canopy of dense, entangled branches.
One column cannot change the mindset of most people, but maybe it will cause you to stop and think. Look at your surroundings and read up on the history of Liberty County. Pay attention to the table tents at area restaurants and businesses, which feature lists of community events. Go visit our community sites, such as the Midway Museum, Cay Creek Wetlands Interpretive Center or the Fort Stewart Museum.
Please feel free to contact me directly at 368-3580 or through Facebook and Twitter with questions or comments. Our website, www.discoverlibertyga.com, lists the historic sites with their contact information.