Jekyll Island

Posted in Georgia's Barrier Islands

Jekyll Island, the smallest of Georgia’s major barrier islands, is 10 miles long and one and one-half miles wide at its widest point. It has 5,700 total acres, 4,400 of which are uplands. It has eight miles of beach. Jekyll was first used as hunting and fishing grounds by the Creek Indians who called the island “Ospo.” In 1562, the island was claimed by the French Huguenots and the name was changed to "Ile de la Somme." In 1566 Spanish Jesuit priests established a mission there. In 1736, after claiming the island for Britain, General James Oglethorpe established an outpost and renamed it Jekyll after his friend Sir Joseph Jekyll. In 1738, Oglethorpe placed the island in the care of his aide Captain William Horton. In 1742, after the defeat of the Spanish, Jekyll was held as a military reservation until it was added to the Parish of St. James by the Georgia legislature in 1765. In 1766, the island was granted to Clement Martin, who sold it to Richard Leake in 1784. In the early 1790’s the island was purchased by Christopher Poulain duBignon. The island remained in the duBignon family for nearly a century and was used to grow sea island cotton. In 1886, Jekyll was purchased by a group of northern millionaires including the Rockefeller, Morgan, Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, Gould, McCormick, Goodyear, Aston, Baker, Biddle, Whitney, Armour, Crane, Macy and Bliss families for use as a winter resort. In 1947, the state of Jekyll was first used as hunting and fishing grounds by the Creek Indians who called the island “Ospo.” In 1562, the island was claimed by the French Huguenots and the name was changed to “Ile de la Somme.” In 1566 Spanish Jesuit priests established a mission there. In 1736, after claiming the island for Britain, General James Oglethorpe established an outpost and renamed it Jekyll after his friend Sir Joseph Jekyll. In 1738, Oglethorpe placed the island in the care of his aide Captain William Horton. In 1742, after the defeat of the Spanish, Jekyll was held as a military reservation until it was added to the Parish of St. James by the Georgia legislature in 1765. In 1766, the island was granted to Clement Martin, who sold it to Richard Leake in 1784. In the early 1790’s the island was purchased by Christopher Poulain duBignon. The island remained in the duBignon family for nearly a century and was used to grow sea island cotton. In 1886, Jekyll was purchased by a group of northern millionaires including the Rockefeller, Morgan, Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, Gould, McCormick, Goodyear, Aston, Baker, Biddle, Whitney, Armour, Crane, Macy and Bliss families for use as a winter resort. In 1947, the state of Georgia bought Jekyll for use as state park. The causeway and bridge were built in 1954, allowing easy access for the general public to enjoy yearround recreational activities.

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The Coastal Resources Division of Georgia DNR is the state agency entrusted to manage Georgia’s marshes, beaches, Marine waters and marine fisheries for the benefit of present and future generations.

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