As you discover more, take a moment to step off the beaten path and dive into the intriguing stories and places that have shaped Jekyll Island into the enchanting destination it is today. History is hidden everywhere. Learn more about Jekyll Island’s hidden history below.
After Major Horton’s death in 1749, the island went through a series of owners before finally being purchased by Christophe Poulain DuBignon in 1792. The DuBignons enjoyed a successful business raising Sea Island Cotton on their plantation for nearly a century. Following the Civil War, Christophe’s great-grandson, John Eugene DuBignon, marketed Jekyll Island as the perfect site for a hunting club.
Gravestones of DuBignon family members Ann Amelia DuBignon, Joseph DuBignon, and Marie Felicite Riffault were found on the island and relocated to the DuBignon Cemetery located across from Horton House. The tombstones were placed within the walls of the cemetery along with two other headstones belonging to Jekyll Island Club hotel employees Hector DeLiyannis andGeorge Harvey, who drowned in the nearby river on March 12, 1912. Experts believe the bodies of the family members and staff are somewhere nearby, but their exact locations are unknown.
Wanderer Memory Trail
The Wanderer Memory Trail is a new educational experience on Jekyll Island that tells the story of one of America’s last known slave ships, the Wanderer. The trail is located along the banks of the Jekyll River where the ship illegally came ashore 160 years ago with more than 400 enslaved Africans. Made up of individual exhibits, the trail walks visitors through the story of Umwalla, a young African boy brought to America on the ship. Visitors of all ages will follow Umwalla’s journey from capture through freedom told through interactive exhibits along the trail.
The Wanderer Memory Trail has received a UNESCO Slave Route Project “Site of Memory” designation of the Middle Passage arrival on Jekyll Island. For more information, visit middlepassageproject.org.
Historic St. Andrews Beach Pavilion
In 1955, a Beach House located on the South End of Jekyll Island became available to African Americans on a segregated basis. The Beach Pavilion opened on September 25, 1955, to great fanfare, as St. Andrews Beach became the first public beach in Georgia to welcome African Americans. This hidden history site is now home to a state-of-the-art youth and learning center, Camp Jekyll.
Gould Auditorium was built in 1913 by Edwin Gould as a casino for members and guests of the Jekyll Island Club. In 1957, the structure was remodeled and converted into the Gould Auditorium. It served as the island’s first convention center. It also played host to high school dances and even a performance from the Allman Brothers Band in 1970.
Read more about the Allman Brothers Band performance in Volume 5 Number 1 of 31•81, the Magazine of Jekyll Island »
Jekyll Club-Era Dairy Silo
The 20-foot-tall dairy silo is constructed of tabby (a cement-like material made of oyster shells) and was built around the turn of the 20th century. Located a mile or so north of the National Historic Landmark District along Riverview Drive. There’s no information posted, which adds to the feeling of hidden history.
Drawings Inside Hollybourne Cottage
The drawings, in graphite pencil, are two silhouettes signed by 14-year-old Emily Maurice and her presumed friend Alice Stickney, dated February 15, 1902. The outline of a shoe and a delicate hand also adorn the plaster wall, along with the lyrics of an 18th-century French folk song, Au Clair de la Lune, handwritten in French.
You can take a tour of Hollybourne Cottage and experience all the curious details of this one-of-a-kind residence. Book A Bridge to the Past: Hollybourne Cottage »
Trek through the maritime forest to find two cast-iron Civil War–era gun mounts installed during the Spanish-American War at the end of the nineteenth century. The gun mounts are tucked in the woods about a half mile from St. Andrews Beach near Macy Lane.