Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Chimneys

Currently, out of twenty five, there are nineteen standing chimneys in various stages of ruin located among large oak trees next to a large field.  The collection of chimneys are the remains of a slave quarter complex of plantation owner Robert Stafford. 

The housing complex deteriorated after the Civil War and legend grew that Stafford had burned down the complex.  Archaeological studies at the site dispelled the legend as there was no evidence of ashes indicating that the houses were not burned.

Since the chimneys are a valuable resource to understanding the African-American experience on Cumberland Island, the park staff has implemented a strategic plan to preserve and stabilize the chimneys. Archaeological investigations were conducted in 1979. The link below will direct you to the details of that research. 

The chimneys were built by using tabby bricks and wood lintels.

The complex comprises of three parallel rows of chimneys that run on a north-south axis. At the north end, there is an intersecting double row that runs east-west.

The location is in an area of a private retained estate and is not accessible to visitors to the island.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Hall

Plum Orchard's entrance hall is most likely the only public room left intact from the original design of the house in 1898. I can not verify it because there are only a handful of architectural plans located on the internet.

Boasting woodwork of oak, the room is designed around two columns and an elegant stairway which is set in the back of the hall.

There are two fluted Ionic columns on pedestals and two pilasters at the walls supporting a detailed entablature spanning across the room which is continued around the walls as the cornice.   

Stair landing above the inglenook

Wallpaper detail

Pilaster capital, cornice, and ceiling stencil design

Details of the ceiling

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gibbs the Pirate

Below is an article that was published in the Southern Reporter newspaper on July 9, 1850 with the claim of treasure having been found on Cumberland Island.  I’ll let you decide whether there is any truth in it or not.

Below is another article about the discovery that was published in the Florida Republican newspaper on July 11, 1850.

Discovery of Treasure

Correspondent of the Savannah Republican
St. Marys, June 27, 1850

Circumstances of a somewhat: singular character having occurred in this vicinity lately, I have concluded to narrate them to you, as they may lead to the detection of some roguery. The circumstances I am about to mention assume a more singular character than they would ordinarily wear, from the widely known confession made by “Gibbs, the Pirate," just before his execution, many years ago of a treasure hid on Cumberland Island beach, the locality of which he particularly described, but which divers and sundry very laborious and industrious diggings, at different times, have never been able to discover. Somewhat over a week ago, a young gentleman coming from Savannah to visit his friends here, made the acquaintance of two gentlemen on board the steamer St. Matthews, who represented (apart) each other to be wealthy. One of them stated that he was from New Hampshire, that he had an interest in a gold mine in Virginia, had come out to visit it, but did not say what had brought him further South. He said he had met at Wilmington the other gentleman, but had never known him before. The other party represented himself to be from Virginia, stating that he knew the father of his friend well, that he was immensely wealthy, &c. The young gentleman from Savannah casually mentioned and pointed out to them the Dungeness place on Cumberland, somewhat famous about here for the beauty of its locality, grounds, &c. They expressed a desire to see the place, in such a manner as an entire stranger would do to see a place of interest. They therefore stopped in St. Mary's, and the three visited Cumberland together. While there on the beach, one of them, saying he would look for shells, left the party and disappeared on the sand hill nearby, where he was gone some time.

His friend shortly went for him, and the two were gone perhaps twenty minutes longer on the same spot, which will shortly be alluded to again. On returning to St. Marys, one of them to the next steamer to Savannah, intending, he said, to telegraph his partners in regard to his gold mine, and also to see or write to Mr. Nightingale to negotiate the purchase of Dungeness. The other man remained here, and shortly after the open boat of a schooner, in Cumberland Sound, came for him. Yesterday some negroes left in charge of the Dungeness place, reported to the collector of this port that a schooner had laid off the place some three days, but was now gone, and they had discovered a complete path, made by tramping backwards and forwards of men's feet, form where the vessel was anchored to this spot on the beach – – where the men first alluded to had disappeared – – and here, on the sand hill, they found a very large hole dug, a very strong oak stick which had been used as a pry, and a broken spade. The collector of the port and a party of gentleman went yesterday to the beach, and found everything as the negroes had represented. There was but one digging, and the party had evidently known exactly in what spot to dig in for whatever it was that they sought. The collector had taken measures to ascertain if the head winds have prevented the schooner from going over the bar at St. Andrews, and if so, will promptly inspect the vessel to ascertain what these singular movements mean. The schooner is the Belknap, Capt. Dexter, of Charleston. The hole dug is some eight or ten feet deep, and thirty feet around the top. They had cut through palmetto roots, in excavating. The negroes represent that they had not worked by day, and that a good road ran parallel through the wood to the path they had made, but they had avoided the road. Hurrah for Mystery, Piracy, and Gold!
Yours, &c.,        St. Marys


Charles Gibbs is the pirate referred to in the above article. For more information on him, click on the links below: