Lower Altamaha Historical Society

Lower Altamaha Historical  Society

P.O. Box 1405
Darien, Georgia

Historical Markers

LAHS has co-sponsored historical markers in McIntosh County. Buddy Sullivan wrote the texts for the six historical markers co-funded by LAHS with the Georgia Historical Society.

For a full list of Georgia markers visit

Darien and its Railroads (Echoes October 1999)
Burning of Darien (Echoes October 2001)
Sapelo Island (Echoes January 2003)
Port of Darien (Echoes January 2003)
Ashantilly 10/25/2009
Enslaved People of Butler Island 2019
John McIntosh Kell Confederate Ship Alabama

Darien and its Railroads - Historical Marker
Click here for an article on
Columbus Square Railroad Depot by Buddy Sullivan

 In December 1999 a historical marker was erected  in Columbus Square, Darien, Georgia by the Georgia Historical Society and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society.

Columbus Square Railroad Depot 

In 1889 the Darien Shortline Railroad was organized to transport yellow pine timber to the Darien sawmills from Georgia’s interior. Originating in Tattnall County and continuing through Liberty County, the Darien & Western line was completed in 1895 to its terminus near this spot where a passenger depot was built, now marked by the gazebo.  In 1906 the line was bought by the Georgia Coast & Piedmont Railroad, which extended the line 18 miles south to Brunswick in 1914.  The train depot was then moved from Columbus Square to the riverfront near the present U.S. Highway 17 bridge.  The depot burned in 1971.

Erected by The Georgia Historical Society and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society

The Burning of Darien   -  Historical Marker

The marker was unveiled on the lawn of Darien City Hall, September 22, 2001. The marker was made possible by The Georgia Historical Society and The Lower Altamaha Historical Society.

The Burning of Darien

 On June 11, 1863 the seaport of Darien was vandalized and burned by Federal forces stationed on nearby St. Simons Island. The town was largely deserted, most of its 500 residents having sought refuge inland. Lost were public buildings, churches, businesses  and most private residences. Conducting the raid were units comprised of among the first African-American troops to serve the Union cause, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers under Col, Robert G. Shaw, and the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers under Col. James Montgomery. The burning of Darien, undefended and of little strategic importance, was one of the most controversial events of the Civil War.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society   Burning of Darien Program  September 22, 2001

Sapelo Island and Port of Darien - 
Historical Markers

Saturday, January 25, 2003; 10:00 a.m. Sapelo Visitors Center — Meridian, Ga.
11:00 a.m. Welcome Center Darien, Ga.

LAHS dedicated two Historical Markers in Darien and McIntosh County on Saturday, January 25. Following the unveiling ceremony for The Port of Darien, a reception was held at the Welcome Center, Darien. These markers are possible through the Historical Marker Program of the Georgia Historical Society. The text for the markers are below:

Sapelo Island

Situated five miles to the east, Sapelo was inhabited by Guale Indians 5,000 years ago and was the site of a 16th century Franciscan mission. During his ownership of Sapelo from 1802-1851, Thomas Spalding was a leading plainer of Sea Island cotton and sugar cane. Slave descendants still live on the island at Hog Hammock. Sapelo was owned by automotive pioneer Howard E. Coffin, 1912-1934, and tobacco heir Richard J. Reynolds, 1934-1964. The University of Georgia Marine Institute opened on Sapelo in 1953. The State of Georgia bought the island in 1969.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society.


The Port of Darien

Situated ten miles from the Atlantic near the mouth of the Altamaha River, Darien attained prominence as a seaport in the 1820s. Rice and upland cotton from Georgia’s interior were shipped from this waterfront. From 1870 to 1900, Darien served as the leading international timber center on the east coast through the milling and shipment of yellow pine and cypress rafted down the Altamaha River. With the decline of the timber trade, Darien turned to the commercial harvest of seafood, and was homeport to one of Georgia's largest shrimp boat fleets by the 1940s.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society.



Year Erected: 2009

Marker Text: Built ca. 1820, Ashantilly was the mainland residence of prominent antebellum planter Thomas Spalding (1774-1851), owner of the nearby Sapelo Island plantation. The house, likely built by Spalding’s slaves, was constructed of tabby, an equal mix of oyster shell, sand, water and lime. Ashantilly was named for Spalding’s ancestral home in County Perth, Scotland. He died at Ashantilly and is interred in the family burial ground adjacent to the property. William G. Haynes, Jr. (1908 – 2001), proprietor of the Ashantilly Press, was the last private owner of Ashantilly. In 1993 the Haynes family donated the property to the Ashantilly Center, Inc.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society.

Dedication Program 10/25/09



Enslaved People of Butler Island

Year Erected: 2019

Marker Text: Hundreds of enslaved Africans produced millions of pounds of rice at Butler Island Plantation during the 19th century. Working under extreme conditions in a difficult environment, the slaves dug canals and irrigation ditches, built tide gates, and cultivated and harvested rice. In March of 1859, 436 men, women, and children were sent to Savannah to be sold in order to pay off debts incurred by plantation owner Pierce M. Butler. This was the largest sale of human beings in U.S. history, known as the “Weeping Time.” After the Civil War, some of the formerly enslaved workers returned to Butler Island as freedmen and resumed rice production—working for wages and, in some cases, purchasing nearby land. Many of their descendants remain in the area to this day.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, The Vanderkloot Fund, and the Lower Altamaha Historical Society




More on Markers

More than 2,000 markers have been erected since the program was launched in 1951 by the now-defunct Georgia Historical Commission and then run by the Department of Natural Resources.  In 1998, the state privatized the program and turned it over to the Georgia Historical Society, which operates it now under a state contract with the Department of Economic Development.  Since then, the Society has approved 150 of the free-standing instantly recognizable markers. 
Today's silver and black, cast aluminum markers bear the GHS seal and are not monuments, commemorative devices, memorials or celebratory plagues.  They are unassailably factual presentations about significant people, events, buildings, and locations in Georgia history.
Each marker costs  about $3,000, split between the Georgia Historical Society and the sponsoring organization............                    Early in its involvement the Georgia Historical Society was able to erect as many as twenty markers annually, a number that since 2004 has declined to just twelve per year due to reduction in state funding.  Only about 30 percent of applications are approved in any given year.
One of the Society's most unique and mission-appropriate programs, the markers reach a broad and diverse audience in ways that none of its many other programs can.  Through the marker program the Society preserves Georgia's history, educates Georgia's citizens and visitors, and ensures a future for Georgia's rich past.
For more information about the Georgia Historical Society's historical marker program,  call
912-651-2125 or visit www.georgiahistory.com.  "