St. George Island History
St. George’s Island boasts of an interesting and colourful past. From pirates and hidden treasures to shipwrecks, this picturesque location has experienced a rich history. In fact St. George’s Island has a past that is nothing short of a fairytale. If your heart is set on a Florida vacation then St. George Island is a perfect choice as you’re sure to experience many nice surprises along the way!
Early European Influences
Europeans first visited St. George Island way back in 1528. The expedition of Panfilo de Navarez was recorded by Cabeza de Vaca, a crew survivor. Later in the 17th century Spanish invaders conquered the Gulf portion. This is probably one reason why you’ll find several homes in St. George Island marked by a definite Spanish influence especially around the Gulf areas.
The Philandering Pirates
At St. Vincent Island you will see many remains of shipwrecks that date back to the 17th century. While you’re here, stay a couple of days in a St. George Island lodging so you can explore the island in all its beauty and mystery. You can trace the path the pirates took as their robbed Spanish traders of their gold.
A Treasure Trove of Riches
You may have heard of William Augustus Bowles, a European ship’s captain, who buried all his accumulated treasure towards the western part of St. George’s Island. He wanted to avoid being captured by Spanish invaders. Another pirate Billy Bowlegs Rogers is also known to have buried a lot of wealth here during the 1800s. It’s no wonder that properties around St. George Island have an aura and mystery about them.
When you visit the homes of locals in St. George Island don’t be surprised to see interesting artefacts such as antique pottery, tools and arrowheads. During low tide, the water washes up bottles that have travelled the high seas for several centuries. Most locals collect these antiques, some of which date back to the nineteenth century!
The History of the Lighthouse
With a past of almost 150 years, the Cape St. George lighthouse certainly has a history of its own. It has witnessed many things, including the recent spate of rentals. It all began in 1823 when John Lee Williams sought refuge on the beautiful island of St. George. With a shortage of food supplies, the crew depended on the island’s ample store of oysters and crabs. Very soon the island experienced a surge in trading activities especially along the banks of the Apalachicola River. This led to the construction of the lighthouse in 1833. It was used in those times as a navigational tool for incoming ships. If you have been on a vacation to St. George Island prior to 2005 you may have seen this historic lighthouse. However, in 2005 a storm led to its destruction, much to the chagrin of native islanders.
The Oyster Business
It was towards the end of 1910 and 1920 that William Lee Popham tried to develop St. George’s Island. The abundance of oysters helped ignite the entrepreneurial streak in Popham. He started his own oyster processing business and also sold real estate. He got a boardwalk built from the Bay region to the Gulf so there was easy conveyance for buyers of pearls. This boardwalk still exists so be sure to take a look while vacation in St. George Island!