n 1804, Scottish-born plantation ownerJohn Couper sold four acres of land for $1 to thenew United States government to build the firstSt. Simons Light Station.James Gould was hiredto design and build
the lighthouse andkeeper's dwelling in 1807. It was constructed oftabby
- a mixture of oyster shells, lime, sand, and water. It was first lit in 1811.
The first lighthouse was 75' tall, octagonal, 25' at the base and tapered to 10' at the top. The 10' iron lantern room had oil lamps suspended by chains
as the illuminant. James Gould was also appointed head lighthouse keeper from 1811-1837.
In the summer of 1861, 1500 Confederate troopswere stationed on this site at Fort Brown. In 1862,Confederate troops destroyed the first lighthousebefore evacuating the island so that FederalForces could not use it as a navigational aid.
The occupying troops were the African AmericanUnion soldiers known as the 1st South CarolinaVolunteers. The Plantation Era T
he Plantation Era began in the late 1700'sand thrived on the growing of long staple cotton,known as "sea island cotton" and other crops suchas indigo and rice. Cotton grew bigger and moreplentifully here on the Georgia sea islands, and soon plantations were located from one tip ofSt. Simons to the other. Although slavery was outlawed in early Colonial days, it became legalby 1757 in Georgia.
There is a strong connection between the Coastalsea islands and the Windward Coast of WestAfrica due to the slave trade that played such an important role in the success of area plantations.Slaves from West Africa were highly prized fortheir ability to cultivate rice, and then cotton. The War Between the States brought on the virtual demise of this era. The loss of slave labormade cotton growing and harvesting unproductiveand not profitable. What remains is a culturallinkage between the "Gullah/Geechee"descendants of slaves of the sea islands and thecountries of their ancestors.
A few tabby ruins remain of this era at Hampton Point, Cannon's Point and Retreat Plantation.Most of the old plantation lands have beencovered by growth or converted to residentialor commercial properties.