Walk Our Paths: Jekyll Island
On this page, you will find partial photographs and additional hints to accompany our Jekyll Island scavenger hunt. To view the full collection of complete photos and participate in the scavenger hunt, purchase Walk Our Paths: Jekyll Island here.
Despite the death of his brother Edwin in a freak hunting accident on February 24, 1917, Frank Miller Gould returned to Jekyll Island as an adult and built this cottage in 1928. He possessed fond memories of winter childhoods spent on the island. Valued at $29,000 in the 1929 tax records, this home was named after his young daughter. Built in a Spanish eclectic style, the winter home showcased a red-tiled, gabled roof, arched doorways, and stucco walls.
The steamboat Magnolia suffered a boiler explosion in 1852 and sank in the Frederica River. Fourteen passengers and crew perished in the blast, according to local newspaper accounts. These timbers are likely a section of the ship’s bow. Triggering significant beach erosion on the north end of Jekyll Island, Tropical Storm Fay uncovered a larger portion of the bow in August 2008. Since then, shifting sands are gradually reclaiming the shipwreck remains once again.
Although bicycles were common among the Jekyll Island Club clientele, this small, motorized vehicle known as the “Red Bug” quickly grew in popularity in the late 1910s. The island’s crushed oyster-shell roads were perfect for the gasoline or electric-powered auto which could reach speeds of 25 miles per hour. It was first introduced by the Club’s carpenter, Chris Nielsen.
Because the soil in southeast Georgia contained little to no clay, purchased bricks proved very expensive as a construction material. Many builders turned to tabby, a local “cement” formed by mixing lime, water, sand, and crushed oyster shells. Throughout the Sea Islands, middens or mounds of leftover oyster shells remained from Native American communities. When burned in a super-heated kiln, oyster shells produced lime. Builders mixed this lime with cleaned sand and oyster shells to create tabby cement, perfect for construction of houses, forts, and walls.
A midden is a shell mound usually containing Native American “kitchen waste” perhaps left by the Guale or Timucuan, both early residents of southeast Georgia. Constructed in 1891 by Gordon McKay (who became wealthy during the Civil War when he patented a new method for sewing boots and manufactured the stitching machine for this process), this cottage received its name from the ten-foot high midden in its front yard. Thought to contain bones, the midden actually was filled with oyster shells. This home was purchased by William Rockefeller in 1905.
This is a poignant phrase: “In the dawn of his usefulness.” The history of the Du Bignon family is intimately intertwined with that of Jekyll Island. After the French Revolution began, Christophe Anne Poulain Du Bignon departed Europe and invested in land on Jekyll Island in 1790 as a safe haven for his family. By 1800 he owned the entire island and raised Sea Island cotton. Joseph Du Bignon, his grandson, was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, but died in 1850 at thirty-six, apparently a “useful” age. He is buried in this cemetery alongside his mother-in-law, Marie Felicite Riffault.
Completed in 1904 in the style of an early colonial meetinghouse (with additions of Gothic art), this building was intended to meet the spiritual needs of the Jekyll Island Club winter guests. The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia furnished visiting clergy. One of the stained glass windows is signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, an innovator in American glass art who utilized opalescent glass for stained glass work as opposed to simply painting colors on clear glass, a process which European artists historically preferred. Another stained glass window resting above the east altar, the Adoration of the Christ Child, was created by David Maitland Armstrong and his daughter Helen.
According to historical research, the last documented ship bringing a cargo of slaves from Africa to the United States was the Wanderer. After a six-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean, 409 slaves disembarked onto the southern end of Jekyll Island on November 28, 1858 (a mere three years before the start of the Civil War). At the time, John and Henry DuBignon owned the island. The slaves were shipped to market in Savannah, South Carolina, and Florida. This monument was dedicated on November 25, 2008.
The owner of this cottage since 1896, William Struthers arrived Christmas 1900 ready for another winter season at the Jekyll Island Club. With him he brought his newest “toy” – an automobile. This car was the first to have its engine heard on Jekyll Island, and the executive leadership, reluctant to adopt this new piece of technology, requested he ship it back to Philadelphia from whence he came. Struthers politely agreed.
Several years ago, a local shrimp boat, the Mary Ann, ran aground on the southern end of Jekyll Island where a very shallow channel exists. Over time the natural flow of sand and water has buried this entire boat some thirty to forty feet below the surface of the beach until only a portion of the mast and rigging remain above ground. This photo was taken at sunset during early summer when massive wildfires raged to the west throughout the Okefenokee Swamp. The residual smoke and high humidity in the atmosphere resulted in a noticeable ring around the circumference of the setting sun.
This cottage was one of the earliest winter homes constructed as part of the Jekyll Island Club. By the time the state of Georgia took control of this property in the mid-1940s, the cottage had been demolished. Nathaniel Kellogg Fairbank controlled a midwestern industry that manufactured soap and other animal by-products in conjunction with the great stockyards of Chicago, Illinois. One of his ancestors, Jonathan Fairebanke, arrived in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1633. He built what today has proven to be the oldest surviving wood-framed building in the United States. Nathaniel Fairbank completed his cottage in 1890 with the Jekyll Island clubhouse on one side and Sans Souci on the other.
“Lights, camera, action!” These words rang across the sand dunes once producers of the 1989 military drama Glory constructed this boardwalk on the southern end of Jekyll Island’s beaches. Although the battle for Fort Wagner during the Civil War actually occurred in South Carolina, the Hollywood version of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was fought here. Major actors included Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick, who played Robert Gould Shaw, the historical leader of this regiment.
The builder of this house was an English aide to General James Oglethorpe, leader of the Georgia colony. Although he worked with Oglethorpe on St. Simons Island, he constructed a two-story house on the northern end of Jekyll Island. He chose an abandoned Native American site for building. On July 12, 1739, Spanish troops retreating from a loss to English colonial forces on neighboring St. Simons Island burned his home to the ground. He rebuilt in 1743 at the same location, this time using tabby for construction.
Completed in 1896, this building close to the Jekyll Island Clubhouse housed six apartments for Jekyll Club members including William Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan.
“If you have to consider the cost, you have no business with a yacht.” (J.P. Morgan) Without the causeway or a bridge, Jekyll Club members usually arrived in luxurious yachts or by ferry from the train depot in Brunswick. The most famous yacht was Corsair II, owned by J.P. Morgan, so large it was forced to anchor in the channel. The booming of cannon announced his arrival.
“Ostentatious!” one club member complained after watching construction of this Italian Renaissance cottage. Richard Teller Crane, owner of a company that produced plumbing supplies, steam engines, and elevators, appeared not to care. The second wealthiest man in Chicago, he and his wife had recently returned from a trip to Italy. Already an owner of property on Jekyll Island, he purchased the large lot close to the clubhouse on which the burned-out hull of the cottage Solterra stood (the fire occurred on March 4, 1914). Completed in 1917, construction of this cottage cost approximately $100,000. Reflecting the architecture of Italy, the winter retreat boasted twenty bedrooms and seventeen baths, an enclosed courtyard, reflecting pool, and sunken garden landscaping.
Edwin Gould christened this cottage Chichota, supposedly the name of a Creek Native American chief, after purchasing it in December 1900. David H. King, the original builder, had placed the cottage on the market not long after a strong hurricane struck Jekyll in October 1898 and caused significant damage. Edwin was the second son of financial mogul Jay Gould. He soon added a bowling alley and covered tennis court to Chichota. Tragedy struck, however, in 1917, when his son Edwin Gould Jr. was killed when he accidentally shot himself while hunting on a island in Jekyll Creek. Although never selling his property, Gould seldom returned to Jekyll. Only two stone lions and an abandoned pool remain of Chichota.