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Liberty lore: The many owners of Colonels Island
Margie Love
Margie Love
Colonels Island is as popular a place today as it was many years ago. I found a letter that was written Aug. 24, 1950, from Julia King of Merriott’s Island, Fla:

“I was glad to hear from you. It is hard to realize all the changes that have taken place in the 14 years since I left Georgia in 1936 and to think of you, married and living on Colonel’s Island, and sending your children to school in Hinesville!
“‘Sulligree’ was so called, because people named Sulligree once lived there: they were great fishing people, and that place was always famous for fishing. The place where Mr. George Brown built a house was called Sulligree and the place adjoining it was always called Black Rock.
“My great grandfather, Col. Audley Maxwell, had a ‘Grant of Land’ on Colonel’s island, and he bought a great deal of land on Colonel’s Island. He bought Sulligree from Shadrach Butler of South Carolina. He bought Yellow Bluff from the Bacons and he bought ever so many different tracts of land from Colonel White and others. I do not know who he bought Black Rock from.
“Sulligree changed ownership a great many times. Mr. Brown bought Sulligree from Judge Paul Seabrook of South Carolina who bought it from the heirs of Rev. Charles Colcock Jones, who had come into possession of Sulligree and also into possession of Maybank on Colonel’s Island. Mr. Brown also bought Maybank from the heirs of Rev. Charles Colcock Jones. Mrs. Brown told me she did not like the name Maybank and intended changing it. The place is usually called ‘Jones’ and ‘Jones Place.’
“Personally, I think ‘Maybank’ is a beautiful name for a country place, and as it got its name from having been the summer home of Major Andrew Maybank that makes it distinctive and I think it would be nice to keep the name for that reason. Also, it is suggestive of springtime and a bank of flowers and grass. The road that divides Sulligree from Black Rock was a part of Black Rock. The King family (descendants and heirs of Col. Audley Maxwell) had a road cut on the edge of Black Rock in order that people could get to the river to fish. They had the road closed every seven years to keep possession of it, as a part of Black Rock.
“Mr. Brown bought Sulligree from the Jones heirs and Black Rock from the Kings along with a great deal more land adjoining the road. The Kings gave for the rural route about two miles running along our fence on the edge of Maxwelton.
My father (James Audley Maxwell King) gave me the land south of Colonel’s Island Causeway, lying on both sides of the public road, called King’s Road, and the hard marsh, high marsh, oyster beds and Hammocks. Mr. Zorn, Liberty county surveyor at the time, came to Maxwelton and made a map of King’s land (the land at the Causeway) in my name, showing I owned to low water marsh on the far side of the Hammocks. This place was famous for producing fine pine timber and hardwood and there was a place on that tract of land called Hickory Hill. I was told that if anyone wanted a handle for a hatchet or ax, they went to Hickory Hill and cut down one of my hickory trees!
“The hard marsh was very valuable for raising cattle and horses and hogs and for snipe shooting. The oysters were said to be the finest in the country and the Hammocks were covered with a fine growth of cedar, valuable for fence posts.
“I had a great many good offers for King’s land and one man would have paid any price to get possession. But, I steadfastly refused all offers. It was a very beautiful place, in a very beautiful situation and I had a great love for the place and was proud to own it.
“Mr. Brown and Raymond Robeson (half brother of Mr. Howard) got together to try and make me sell the place to them. They had a plan to build a town there and sell lots to people in Atlanta and they were very angry that I absolutely refused to listen to them. And if I had been able to protect the place, no amount of money could ever have bought it!
“After coming to Florida, three different lumber companies wanted to buy it and other people. The cedar on my Hammocks had all been stolen and I could not do anything for the place, except pay taxes, so I sold it to Mr. George Brown. He wrote that he was not in the oyster business and was not interested in raising stock, and he thought that I ought to ‘throw the oysters and Hammocks and hard marsh in.’ He offered me one thousand dollars for the high land, and I accepted his check and sent him my map. No doubt his heirs have the map.
“I am telling you all this, as it may help you. I heard your husband was interested with John Stevens in selling lots and had bought Mr. Brown’s holdings on Colonel’s Island. I often wondered if you were selling lots on King’s Land, my place south of Colonel’s Island Causeway. It certainly would be a lovely place for a little town.
“Col. Joseph Law had a summer home on Half Moon Bluff not far from our ‘Bird Refuge.’ His daughters all married and went to Florida to live and his son went to Ohio and later to Chicago. My grandfather Roswell King, who married Julia Maxwell, daughter of Col. Audley Maxwell, bought the Law place on Half Moon Bluff from the heir of Col. Joseph Law. The Law place was called ‘Laws’ and never anything else. I have seen it written Laws on sheep’s skin map (parchment).
“Laws contained about five acres so my grandfather Roswell King bought into lands north and east to make a larger place. My grandmother’s father, Col. A. Maxwell gave them land south and east to make quite a place. I never saw the Law house, but my father told me it was on the bluff very close to the river and the land upon which it stood had long since caved into the river.
“My grandfather built a big beautiful house — said to have been an unusually fine house — at quite a distance from the river and named it Woodville and the King Place. It grew into a very beautiful place and was known far and wide for its beauty and hospitality. Roses, flowering shrubs, trees, fruit trees of every kind and grape arbors abounded. The place was celebrated for fine fishing and hunting. There were great oaks, gigantic cedars, wide grassy lawns and a green house.
“The approach to the house was very beautiful. An immensely wide avenue bordered on each side with great glorious red oak trees — all gone, all forgotten, passed away into oblivion. Storms and hurricanes and forest fires and time have all done their worst! The last time I went to Woodville it was a pathless wilderness.
“I was very fond of your mother. She was very proud of you and fond of your husband. I knew your husband’s father when he was a little boy in Sunbury and I was pleased to hear he was highly thought of in Savannah and married a Dancy. I used to see the Dancy home at White Bluff near Savannah when I went there to see my mother’s cousins who had a summer home called Avon Hall.
“Dr. Eve had an artesian well put down at Sunbury. It was the first artesian well in that part of the country and it set a great fashion. Everybody wanted an artesian well. The one at our Bird Refuge was a 6-inch well and it had a strong flow that for years it made a great roaring noise like distant thunder. At Maxwelton we had five artesian wells and five miles of waterfront.
“I don’t know how many people lived on the two little islands near Half Moon Bluff called the Dunham Hammocks but it is a fact that people did live there and there was a Corduroy Road connecting them with Colonel’s Island. They have always been considered a part of Colonel’s island. Reuben King and Joseph Austin owned the two islands in an undivided interest. Reubin King was a younger brother of Roswell King, who married Catherine Barrington who was General Oglethorpe’s cousin. Reubin King owned Mallow on the Sapelo River in McIntosh County. His old home there is now called Pine Harbor and is a very popular resort. Reubin married Abigail Austin, daughter of Joseph Austin whose plantation is called Melon Bluff because of the big melons raised there. It is west of Half Moon. King and Austin sold the two little islands to Thomas Dunham whose plantation was called Cedar Point. The two little islands are called the Dunham Hammocks.
“A corduroy road used to go out through the marsh to one of my little hammocks southwest of the causeway. I often rode horseback over it. A corduroy road is built of logs laid down in the marsh or mud and held down by “stobs” of wood to keep the tide from lifting them. In among trees in one of my little hammocks were springs of water forming a little lake or pond where cows and horses and hogs could rest and drink fresh water when feeding on the hard marsh. That was one reason why King’s Land at the causeway was so valuable.
“When I left Georgia over 14 years ago, there was a fine growth of pine timber and people said the reason Mr. Brown was so anxious to buy it was, ‘he wanted the timber,’ but he told me he couldn’t bear the idea of the lovely trees being cut away, as he had to ride through the place to get to the causeway whenever he went off the island. After I sold the place to him, he wrote me he was glad to have it and as long as he lived, the trees would never be cut! I don’t know how it looks now, but it used to be a very lovely place and I can see it now in my mind’s eye.
I hope you and your husband and children will be very happy and prosperous on Colonel’s Island. Audley was fond of you, too, and he used to say, “Evalan is such a pretty child.”
Love and best wishes,
Julia King
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