Settlement of Darien
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.
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.
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
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.
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 DistrictThe 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
- Official website of the City of Darien, Georgia
- Georgia's Coast in photographs and more
- sherpa guide Midway/Darien
- Sherpa Guide, Darien
- Fort King George
- Videos of Fort King George "Debatable Lands" Encampment & Battle Reenactment
- Historical markers in MacIntosh County
- The burning of Darien
- 23 old men
- Georgia Magazine
- McIntosh County Academy
- McIntosh County School District
- Battle of Fort Mose
- Fort San Diego
- Fort St. Francis de Pupo
- Fort Picolata
- Amelia Island
- War of Jenkins' Ear
- Highland Independent Company of Foot
- Highland Rangers
- St. Johns River
- Cumberland Island