Cumberland Island (crs)
First inhabitants were indigenous peoples who settled there as early as 4,000 years ago. Later inhabitants participated in the Savannah archaeological culture and spoke the Timucua language. In the 17th century the island and the adjacent coast were controlled by the Tacatacuru chiefdom.
Spanish settlement: During the 16th and 17th centuries, Cumberland Island was part of the Mocama missionary province of Spanish Florida. When the Spanish arrived in 1566, they named the island San Pedro. They built a garrison and mission, San Pedro de Mocama, near the village of Tacatacuru. Historical records indicate that until 1681, there were approximately 300 natives and several Spanish missionaries living on Cumberland Island. In 1683, French pirates attacked Cumberland Island, looting and burning many of the buildings. An attack in 1684 by the Spanish pirate Thomas Jingle led to the final abandonment of the island.
English settlement: English General James Oglethorpe arrived at the Georgia coast in 1733. The name of Cumberland Island was given by a young Yamacraw named Toonahowi (the nephew of Chief Tomochichi who visited England with Oglethorpe.) He suggested the island be named for William Augustus, the 13-year old Duke of Cumberland. Oglethorpe established a hunting lodge called Dungeness, named after a headland in Kent, England. Forts were built to defend English settlements to the north from the Spanish in Florida. In the 1760s, the island was divided into royal grants but saw little activity. When naturalist William Bartram visited the island in 1774, the island was mostly uninhabited.
The plantation era: Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene purchased land on the island in 1783 to harvest live oaks for ship building. Greene died in 1786. His wife, Catherine, remarried Phineas Miller ten years later, and they built a huge, four-story tabby mansion on top of an Indian shell mound. She named it Dungeness after Oglethorpe's hunting lodge. Dungeness was the site of many special social galas, where statesmen and military leaders enjoyed the Millers' hospitality. The Millers became the first major planters on the Island. They cultivated the valuable and labor-intensive crop of Sea Island cotton. They held a total of 210 slaves to work the plantation. Records show that in 1846, there were 36 white people and 400 enslaved people. With the end of slavery after the Civil War and a changing economy, the plantation was not profitable. Dungeness deteriorated and the family moved away. Dungeness burned down in 1866.
The Carnegies: In the 1880s Thomas M. Carnegie, brother of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and his wife Lucy bought land on Cumberland for a winter retreat. In 1884, they began building a mansion on the site of Dungeness, though Carnegie never lived to see its completion. Lucy and their nine children continued to live on the island, naming their mansion Dungeness after that of Greene. Today, the ruins of the mansion remain on the southern end of the island. The Carnegie family owned 90% of the island. Lucy Carnegie had additional estates built on the island for her children.
|National Park Service|
Identifier: 2072, Last Accessed: 2018-03-22 00:39:51
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Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.