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James Postell

by Carey C. Giudici

In 1853 20-year-old James P. Postell of Savannah. married Anne Armstrong Cater, the daughter of a prominent Island family.

After their wedding James and "Annie" lived at her family's large estate on the southeast part of St. Simons Island, Kelvin Grove. Annie's aunt (and stepmother) Margaret lived with them until her death in 1876.

In a letter, James Postell described their plantation--which included the site of the Battle of Bloody Marsh, and later McKinnon Airport and several residential developments. Kelvin Grove contained "over 1600 acres, about 500 of which are cleared and most of it under cultivation. The remaining lands are of live oak and cedar growth and medor marsh. The dwelling is of tabby, two stories and a basement... It is surrounded on three sides by a plaza 12 feet wide and 150 feet long. The house is beautifully situated open to the ocean... from the balcony on top of the house an extended view of miles around can be had."

Postell, who made a fortune growing long-staple Sea Island cotton, was also a distinguished conchologist and ornithologist. In 1876 he sold a collection of 6,000

rare shells (a collection called "one of the finest on the continent") to Roanoke College. His careful records also help historians recreate details of plantation life.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Postell evacuated his family inland and joined the Confederate Army. When they returned in 1865, their tabby home still stood but was uninhabitable so a new home was built on the site. Among the Island plantations, only Kelvin Grove flourished after the war. The Postells remained active in the local community and St. Simons' growing tourist industry until his death in 1898. Annie passed away in 1911, age 78.

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