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Capt. James Gascoigne

by Carey C. Giudici

When James Ogelthorpe--the founder of Georgia--left England on December 10, 1735, he brought two shiploads of Scottish Highlander, German and Moravian settlers (and John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church) to establish the thirteenth colony's first settlement. The third ship in this convoy, His Majesty's sloop, Hawk, accompanied the Symond and the London Merchant to protect the 227 souls during the voyage and the first phases of colonization.

Hawk's commander, Captain James Gascoigne, played a small but critical role in the new colony. In 1737 Gascoigne brought news of Spanish troop movement on nearby Amelia Island, which suggested an imminent attack on the British settlement. A unit of Ogelthorpe's Highland troops quickly closed that door to the Spaniards. And later Captain Gascoigne would open his ship's stores to avert an attack by Darien's hungry settlers on the Trustees' storehouse in Savannah.

The Captain bought some property on the southwest corner of the island--"Gascoigne's Bluff," which is now the first spot on the island seen by anyone driving over the Causeway from Brunswick. As the site for Ogelthorpe's ships to dock and get repaired, it has also been called "Georgia's first naval base."

In 1742 Spanish troops landed here for an unsuccessful invasion of Georgia that came to be called "the War of Jenkins' Ear." In 1797 many of the tall and very durable oak trees from Cannon's Point and other island locations that would help earn the U.S.S. Constitution earn its nickname of Old Ironsides were loaded on Gascoigne's Bluff.

And after the Civil War, with the local economy in a shambles, lumber mills of Anson Green Phelps Dodge and other business pioneers were key to the area's financial recovery.

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