See Rock City

See Rock City

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Darien, Georgia

Darien is a city in McIntosh County, Georgia. It lies on Georgia's coast at the mouth of the Altamaha River about 50 miles south of Savannah, and is part of the Brunswick, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of Darien was 1,719 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of McIntosh County. It is the second oldest planned city in Georgia and was originally called New Inverness.
Darien City Hall


Settlement of Darien

Historical markers
Fort King George (Georgia's oldest fort) was built in 1721, near what would become Darien. At the time it was the southern-most outpost of the British Empire in North America. The fort was abandoned in 1727 following attacks from the Spanish.

The town of Darien (originally known as New Inverness) was founded in January 1736 by Scottish Highlanders recruited by James Oglethorpe to act as settler-soldiers protecting the frontiers of Georgia from the Spanish in Florida, the French in the Alabama basin and their Indian allies. On 10 January 1736, 177 emigrants, including women and children, arrived on board the Prince of Wales to establish Darien, which was named after the Darien Scheme, a former Scottish colony in Panama. Among the initial settlers was Lachlan McGillivray, the Indian trader, and Lachlan McIntosh, the revolutionary leader. The Scots originated mainly from around Inverness and consisted of both Jacobite and Hanoverian supporting clans, the majority of whom spoke only Gaelic. When visited by Oglethorpe in February the settlers had already constructed "a battery of four pieces of cannon, built a guardhouse, a storehouse, a chapel, and several huts for particular people". Darien was laid out in accordance with the now-famous Oglethorpe Plan.
Methodist church.
They showed similar progress in the construction of military forts, by March the Scottish settlers had begun work on two forts, Fort St. Andrews on Cumberland Island, and Fort St. George on the St. Johns River 60 miles to the south of the territory claimed by the British government in the charter of the Georgia colony. Fort St. George was later abandoned after agreement with the Spanish in October 1736. In 1736 work was also begun on Fort Frederica, which is on St. Simons Island, a few miles south of Darien, between Darien and Cumberland Island. As the Scots were intended as a military force those settlers whose travel was paid for by the Trustees of the Colony were organized into two companies, the Highland Independent Company of Foot, an infantry force, and the Highland Rangers, a mounted force. By 1737 the constant military activity of the Darien colony was taking its toll and an additional forty-four Highland settlers arrived to expand the town.

Initially the settlers' economy was based on the cultivation of crops; however, after the first year they experienced a succession of poor harvests and concentrated more on the rearing of cattle and the felling of timber for sale in nearby Savannah.
First African Baptist church.
In 1739 eighteen of the most prominent members of the Darien colony signed the first petition against the introduction of slavery into Georgia. This was in response to pleas to Oglethorpe and the Trustees by inhabitants of Savannah to lift their prohibition on slavery. The Highlanders' petition was successful and slavery was not introduced until ten years later in 1749.

A constant state of conflict continued with Spanish and Indian forces during this time. However, it did not grow beyond the level of occasional skirmishes until the onset of the War of Jenkins' Ear in October 1739. In November in response to the death of two Scots garrisoned on Amelia Island from an ambush by Spanish allied Indians the Darien settlers mobilized and together with forces from South Carolina captured the Spanish forts of Fort Picolata, Fort St. Francis de Pupo, Fort San Diego and Fort Mose before attempting to lay siege to St. Augustine. The subsequent Battle of Fort Mose resulted in the death or capture of fifty-one of the Darien settlers.

After the battle a number of the settlers abandoned Darien for South Carolina and by 1741 another shipload of forty-three colonists had arrived. These colonists received land grants from the Trustees which specified that the land was to descend to the male or female descendants of the original recipients, in 'Tail General', this was a unique change as previously, with a few specific exceptions in Darien, all land grants in the American colonies had been granted in 'Tail Male', descending to the male children. The new system caused great discontent among the Highland Settlers as it went against their traditional land holding and inheritance practices. In future the majority of Georgia land grants were made in 'Tail General'.

Civil War and after

Historical marker about destruction.
Ruins of 1863 destruction of the city.
On 11 June 1863, Federal troops stationed on St. Simons Island looted and then destroyed most of the town, including the homes of the black residents/slaves. (This was not part of Sherman's March to the Sea, which occurred more than a year later. Confusion has arisen because the St. Simons Island troops were under the command of another General Sherman, stationed in the South Carolina Sea Islands). The destruction of this undefended city, which was of little strategic importance, was carried out by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers under the command of a reluctant Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (who would later call the raid a "Satanic action") and the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers under the command of Colonel James Montgomery. Colonel Montgomery ordered that the town be looted and then burned. Montgomery's troops broke ranks and looted freely, while Shaw ordered his to take only that which would be useful at camp. The First African Baptist Church (the oldest African-American church in the county) was destroyed along with the rest of the town. It was rebuilt and later some meetings of the Civil rights movement were held there.
After the U.S. Army invaded McIntosh County and destroyed Darien, gunboats were used to blockade the ports. These personnel constantly plundered McIntosh County. The only defense to the plundering that the county had was a group of men too old for military service. On the night of 3 August 1864, the county's elderly defenders had met at the Ebenezer Church, nine miles north of Darien. Federal troops found out about the meeting from local informants. The troops surrounded the church, opened fire, and captured twenty-three old men. These civilians were marched to a landing near Darien and put on ships and taken to prisons in the North.
Marker at Methodist church.
Following the Civil War, Darien was rebuilt, with financial aid coming in small part from the family of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who had been killed during the War but had written of his shame in participating in the destruction.
Postbellum house.
Into the early 1900's, Darien was one of the largest ports for shipping lumber. When the timber was depleted, Darien became a fishing village, primarily for Georgia wild shrimp. It was once famous for its oysters.

There are thirty-two markers of historic sites near Darien and forty-two markers in McIntosh County. (See the external link for a list.)

Darien in the 21st century has once again shown signs of growth as it did in the period prior to the Civil War.

In an effort to change with the time the City has changed its form of government to council/manager and has hired the first City Manager in Darien or McIntosh County. With the formation of the Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95 was constructed and passes approximately a mile west of the city. This in turn caused development near the I-95 interchange with GA-251, where there are now several chain restaurants, gas stations, hotels, as well as a small outlet mall. Downtown Darien has flourished as well and many new businesses have opened due to the proximity to the waterfront.


McIntosh County School District

The McIntosh County School District holds grades pre-school to grade twelve, that consists of two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. The district has 121 full-time teachers and over 1,979 students.
  • Oak Grove Intermediate School
  • Todd Grant Elementary School
  • McIntosh County Middle School
  • McIntosh County Academy

External links

Source: Internet