Georgia Pioneers


Colonial Savannah

Oglethorpe laid out Savannah in large squares which complimented the natural flora of sprawling live-oak trees and huge magnolias. The square nearest to the bluff leading to the Savannah River was Johnson Square, named after Governor Johnson of South Carolina. It as a public facility for the settlers and was a fenced pasture of water troughs for horses. The first log cabin jail was contained inside one of these squares and the first woman hanged in the colony was an Irishwoman accused of murder. Alice Wyly was drawn up into a live-oak tree, hung higher than the male criminals that day to prevent public scorn. The log cabin jail was across the street from the old court house building (same building used by Rev. John Wesley) and during the worst of times, the drought of 1738, many persons found their heads displayed in public stocks.

Salter's Island
Salter's Island Thomas Salter arrived in Georgia in 1733 when he was appointed Constable. Salter's Island was located near Savannah. A brickmaker, he first received a land grant on Hutchinson Island in 1738, 500 acres, which he called "Salter's Ialand". This site was located about 3 miles from Savannah; another 500 acres on Augustine Creek was granted him in 1742, near Thomas Causton's Ockstead and others. He married Hannah Coles, the widow of Joseph Coles, milliner. The oldest homes in Savannah were constructed with Salter's brick. However, in 1847, he discovered that the clay on Hutchinson's Island (the present-day site of Fort Jackson) was superior, and abandoned his island to remove there. He was known to be a diligent worker, however illiterate. However, upon taking a 7-year lease on Hutchinson's Island like modern day mortgages, his industry caused him prosperity. He was married to Anne, the widow of Joseph Coles, in 1736.
Today, when one walks the brick sidewalks of Savannah and observes numerous brick homes , it is curious to wonder if these are Salter's bricks. General Lachlan McIntosh shot and killed Button Gwinnett in downtown Savannah. Could it be that Gwinnett fell to his death upon Salter's bricks?
Ockstead Plantation
Causton's Bluff Ockstead Plantation was located on St. Augustine Creek, overlooking Causton's Bluff, near Savannah. Thomas Causton was one of the first settlers to come with Oglethorpe to Georgia. In 1733, he petitioned for a tract of land which lay approximately six miles east of the town of Savannah. He built a home and plantation on 260 acres St. Augustine Creek. He became an unpopular powerful figure in Savannah politics, being made keeper of the store in Savannah, which deals continuously came under question by other settlers. In May of 1737, Oglethorpe gave him 50 pounds to begin the settlement of his land. Ockstead's mulberry orchards were known to be one of the four largest in the colony. He also planted a large garden, and in during a bad year of drought (1738) planted grape orchards. For many years the plantation prospered, but had to put Ockstead up for security when ordered arrested by Oglethorpe (for defalcation of the stores) and had to take up residence in Savannah until the case was settled in court. In the meanwhile, England's war with Spain was ongoing, and Oglethorpe was fight the Spanish in the Georgia colony. When Causton's case went unsettled, in 1744, he left for England to take up his case with the trustees. From 1745 to 1750 the plantation was operated by the trustees at their own expense. On a return voyage in 1745, Causton died onboard the Judith, and William Williamson (his nephew-in-law) became administrator of his estate. But Williamson was not given title to the plantation until 1764. Ockstead began to lose its appeal when rice planters began making huge profits along the Georgia coast. Williamson resided in South Carolina, and used an overseer to run the affairs, until he sold it in 1792.

A Duel in Savannah

Find your Ancestor's Georgia Wills Online

Button Gwinnett

Chatham County Records, digital images of wills and other documents

For More Information about Georgia's First Settlers
Savannah's People
The Gibbons Families Extensive Holdings in Savannah and Liberty County
Wormsloe, the plantation of Noble Jones
Bonaventure Plantation, the home of Josiah Tattnall
Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah
Chatham County Wills and Estates (Digital Images)

Savannah was settled by James Edward Oglethorpe in the Spring of 1733, having transported 112 persons on "The Ann" from Gravesend, England, a port near London. One infant died on the voyage. A variety of craftsmen were selected by the trustees to establish the first town in the new colony of Georgia. Their purpose was to raise mulberry trees to harvest for silk worms raised in the trustee's garden and thus assist in establishing a lucrative silk industry. Most of the first voyagers paid their own passage and some indentured themselves. Oglethorpe's idea was to take poor persons off the streets of London and change them into industrious sorts. The early struggle served to weed out the weak.

Sorrell-Weed House

Weed-Sorrell House

Shandy Hall. St. Julian Street, Savannah, Georgia Hampton Lillibridge House in Savannah, Georgia. When you visit Savannah and go on the ghost tour, you will be regailed with stories of the house. One is that a sailor huung himself in one of the upstairs bedrooms. The house was later purchased by Jim Williams during the 1960's who removed the house to St. Julian Street. Ironically, Williams was tried three times for the murder of an associate and was written about in the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Shandy Hall

Thomas Lillibridge was born 1662 in Cheldon, North Devonshire, England and died 8/29/1724 in Richmond, Washington County, Rhode Island, buried in the family plot. He was married to Sarah Lewis (1676-1/22/1761). Their children were: Sarah, Robert, Mary, Esther, John, Edward, Patience, Thomas and Benjamin. Robert Lillibridge was born 1706 in Richmond, Rhode Island and married on 5/26/1761 in Bristol, Rhode Island to Sarah Dunbar. Children: James, Hampton and Robert.