History of Brunswick and Glynn County Georgia

Having been sovereign to five flags (Spain, France, Britain, the Southern Confederacy, and the U.S.), Glynn County is a history buff’s heaven.

Brunswick Georgia Colonial History

Brunswick Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce

The logo of the Brunswick Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce illustrates the many flags that once flew over Brunswick Georgia.

At the time of the arrival of James Oglethorpe and the first Georgia colonists in 1733, the land south of the Savannah River was part of the Lower Creek Nation. On May 21, 1733, Creek leaders signed the Treaty of Savannah, which allowed Oglethorpe’s colonists to settle on “all those lands which our nation hath not occasion to use.” Because the Altamaha River formed Georgia’s southern boundary, the treaty presumably did not apply to Creek lands south of that river.
In 1736, Chief Tomochichi gave Oglethorpe oral permission to settle English colonists on any of his lands–an area he claimed extended south to the St. Johns River. Oglethorpe proceeded with the settlement of St. Simons Island in 1736.

The American Revolution

With the outbreak of the American Revolution, Whig forces took control of government in Georgia. On Feb. 5, 1777, they adopted the state’s first constitution, which transformed existing colonial parishes into seven counties. Glynn County was seventh on the list and thus is considered Georgia’s seventh county. It was named for John Glynn, a member of the British House of Commons who supported the rights of the American colonies.

Frederica on St. Simons Island served as Glynn County’s initial county seat. In an act of Feb. 10, 1787, the Georgia legislature provided that Glynn County’s courthouse and jail be erected and that county elections be held in Brunswick–which made it the de facto county seat. Ten years later the legislature formally designated Brunswick the county seat of Glynn County.

Brunswick was originally laid out in 1771 and named to honor the German ancestral home of the Hanoverian kings of Great Britain–King George I, II, and III.

World War II

During World War II, Brunswick Georgia came alive with activity.  The Liberty Ships that were built to deliver supplies to the Allie’s war effort were constructed in the downtown Brunswick area.  German U-Boats were common in the coastal water ways as they monitored the construction of the Liberty Ships.  Once the Liberty Ships were constructed and loaded with supplies the submarines would sink them.

To help combat the threat of the German U-Boats a Navy Base constructed (currently being used as the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport) to launch blimps that would patrol the waters for submarine activity.  The King & Prince Hotel on St Simons Island was retrofitted to be used as a radar school to track submarine movement in the area.

Brunswick Georgia Historical Sites and Organizations

Brunswick and the Golden Isles take pride in their fascinating past. Some of the many locations that might intrigue you include:

• Bloody Marsh Battle Site – Site of the 1742 battle where British troops ambushed and defeated a Spanish column, halting an attack on Fort Frederica.
• Christ Church – Built in 1820, this structure is the site of the beginning of Methodism by John and Charles Wesley. St. Simons Island.
• Coastal Georgia Historical Society–Preserving the past for the future.
• Faith Chapel–This 1904 cedar chapel features Gothic architecture and famed stained glass windows; attended by members of the Jekyll Island Club during their visits at the turn of the last century. Jekyll Island.
• Fort Frederica National Monument – Built by General Oglethorpe in 1736, this historic site offers informative talks by park rangers and historical exhibits. St. Simons Island.
• Historic Downtown Brunswick -This charming Historic District includes shops, restaurants, The Ritz Theatre, and historic buildings.
• Horton House Ruins -The 1742 ruins is one of the oldest standing tabby structures in the state. Located nearby is the state’s first brewery, constructed by an aide to Gen. Oglethorpe, Georgia’s founder.
• Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation – A 1,268-acre rice plantation with original antebellum home furnished with family antiques. Brunswick.
• Jekyll Island, Georgia’s Jewel – Once the playground for wealthy industrialists, now a state park with beautiful coastal scenery, countless cultural events, naturalist site and an Historic District.
• Maritime Center at the Old Coast Guard Station – Tells a story of the U.S. Coast Guard and includes natural history about the barrier islands and the environment. St. Simons Island.
• Old Town National Register District – Old Town Brunswick’s Historic District is the second largest small town urban district in Georgia, with streets and squares lined with Victorian-era homes, the campus of Glynn Academy (est. 1788), and an eclectic mix of architecture.
• Overlook Park & Lanier Oak – Scenic roadside park overlooking the famed marshes of Glynn which inspired poet Sidney Lanier, and the live oak named in his honor.
• St. Simons Island Lighthouse Museum – Built in 1872, the lighthouse is open year round to the public and maintained by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society.