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James Frewin

by Carey C. Giudici

In 1819 James Frewin, a naturalized 41-year-old veteran of the British Navy, moved to St. Simons Island after living in Baltimore and Savannah.

Frewin married the former Sarah Dorothy Hay of Sunderland and they settled in the old town of Frederica, where he opened "a little battery tavern and store near the river." He also did some maritime business on the side.

Business must have been good; in 1828 Frewin bought all the property of the Old Fort at Frederica, including a large home. Their adopted daughter Sarah married a Danish shipper named Charles Stevens and the extended Frewin-Stevens family continued to buy property. They eventually owned almost all of that part of the Island. A home they built on the fort's foundations was destroyed in a storm, so they rebuilt farther inland.

Frewin and Stevens continued to succeed in business.

When Confederate troops evacuated St. Simons Island during the Civil War, most of the family moved away to avoid Federal occupation, but not 85-year-old James Frewin. He insisted on staying at home with a friend named Cole. Frewin died soon after that in January 1863 and was buried at Christ Church cemetery.

In the first half of this century the Colonial Dames of America preserved the property--once owned by British-born James Frewin and Danish-born Charles Stevens--until it could be deeded, with adjacent land purchased by the Fort Frederica Association, to the National Parks Service. In 1947 the Fort Frederica National Monument was dedicated.

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