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Oatlands

St. Simons Island GA 31522

Oatlands was the summer home of the family of Dr. Robert Grant, who owned and operated three Altamaha River plantations - Grantley, Evelyn and Elizafield. The last named was the real home plantation for the family, the vast acreage of Grantley and Evelyn was planted in rice, cotton and cane, and only the "hands" lived upon them.

Dr. Robert Grant, a native of Leith, Scotland, had made his home in South Carolina for several years before coming to Georgia. He bought the Altamaha tracts, which had been sold after the Revolution as confiscated estates, in the 1790s, and he and his wife, the former Sarah Foxworth, came to live there soon afterward. Soon he began the clearing and cultivation of his lands, and the beginning of what was to become one of the most extensive and successful rice, cane and cotton plantation operations in the South.

The "big house" at Elizafield stood at the end of a long avenue shaded by large trees. Facing the east, it was set back from the river on the bank of Six Mile Creek. A substantial frame structure, built on foundations of tabby, its double flight of buttressed steps leading to an open portico flanked by large squared columns was impressive. Several hundred yards to the west were the slave "quarters", and on the other side of the creek were the sugar works, reached by "a sort of causeway through the swamp about a quarter of a mile to the south." The lawns and gardens surrounding the house were fenced, and there was an orchard and an orange grove.

Inside the house the furnishings were luxurious, some of them imported peices from Europe. The Grants lived well. Here, for all but the summer months, when the dread malaria was rampant, lived Dr. Robert Grant.

It was at Elizafield that Dr. Grant built and operated the tabby sugar works so famous in his own day - the ruins of which were to confound historians during the early 20th century.

Dr. Grant's agricultural operations were not confined entirely to sugar. Rice, as well as cane, was raised extensively on his river plantations, and his ingenious system of canals for the transportation of the grain to the mill was almost as famous in agricultural journals as his sugar operations.

The ruins of his tabby sugar works, mistakenly thought to be ruins of Spanish missions, caused great confusion and much discussion during the first half of the 1900s.

Oatlands, on St. Simons, for many years the summer home of the Grants, became the permanent residence of Dr. Robert Grant and his wife, Sarah, about 1834, after the marriage of their son, Hugh Fraser Grant, to Mary Fraser. At this time, Dr. Grant gave Elizafield to his son, and for more than twenty-five years that plantation was the home of the Hugh Fraser Grant family.

Dr. Robert Grant and his wife lived on at Oatlands, going to Christ Church on Sundays - he was one of the wardens of that church when it was organized in 1808 - and enjoying the social life of the island. He died at the age of 81, and his wife returned to Elizafield, there to live out her remaining years with the Hugh Fraser Grants.

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