Cumberland Island National Seashore | SLAVERY ON CUMBERLAND ISLAND

Slave Quarters tour stop at Cumberland Island National Seashore

Slave Quarters tour stop at Cumberland Island National Seashore

The third stop on the Cell Phone Audio Tour of the Dungeness historical area at Cumberland Island National Seashore is at the corner of Coleman Road and Grand Avenue, .3 mile from the Dungeness dock. Like the previous two stops, this is a general information stop where you can learn about slavery on Cumberland Island. A slave cabin supposedly once stood nearby.

Slavery in Georgia became legal in 1751, and the early settlers to Cumberland Island took advantage of the free labor for growing rice, indigo, and Sea Island cotton. There were a number of plantations on the island by the early 1800s, with the largest belonging to Robert Stafford (he actually had two plantations on the island). Stafford took good care of his slaves. If caught up on their work, they could hire themselves out to the other plantation owners so they could earn their own money. However, when the Civil War started and Cumberland Island was taken over by the Union army, all of Stafford’s slaves left him—to his great surprise.

After the Civil War, many of the former slaves returned to Cumberland Island because they had grown up there. Having learned how to make and manage money while working as slaves for Stafford, in the early 1890s they were able to purchase land that had been offered to them by Martin Burbank, a businessman who was now operating a hotel on the northern end of the island. Burbanks’s angle was to get the black families to move up there so he and the other hoteliers would have a readily available supply of labor. Those who didn’t work at the hotels found jobs in the timber industry or as servants for wealthy residents. The community that was formed is called the The Settlement, and while no longer in existence, two original buildings still stand and are open to the public.

Once done at Stop #3, follow the sign to Dungeness, the Carnegie mansion ruins.


NEXT STOP: Dungeness Mansion | PREVIOUS STOP: The Maritime Forest


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Last updated on April 13, 2022
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