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Thomas Butler King

by Carey C. Giudici

The master of Retreat Plantation Thomas Butler King (born in Massachusetts in 1800) was so full of energy as a boy, his teacher in England wrote to his father:

"Tommy is perfectly [well]; and by this Time pretty quiet, under the Poppies of Morpheus, and so is the house too, in no small Proportion, when his Liveliness is retired to his Pillow."

Whileayoung Philadelphia attorney, Kingvisitedhis brother on St. Simons Island and fell in love witha prominentlandowner'sdaughter.A few yearsafter Thomas married Ann Matilda Page her parents died,and the couple inherited their huge Retreat plantationon the southeast shore of the island.

Young Matilda put what she'd learned aboutplantationmanagementto good use during King's long absences, andmadethe estate efficient and profitable.The mother often childrenalso became well known for her largegarden with 100 varieties of rosesand many other beautiful flowers.

For sixteen years Thomas was U.S. Congressman for Georgia's First Congressional District,whichincludedGlynn County and the cities of Brunswick and Savannah. He promoted

the Brunswick and Altamaha Canal Company, the Brunswick Land Company, and the Brunswick and Florida Railroad Company; but lostafortune when the railroad failed.

In the early 1850s he wasthe first collector of the port of San Francisco.

Then in 1859the familylosttheeldest son Butler and then Matilda.

Early in the Civil War King visited many European monarchs to gain support for the Confederate cause. When his son Lord was shot from his horse during the Battle of Fredericksburg, a loyal manservant named Neptune Small brought his bodyand horse homebefore returning to the battlefield with Lord's brother Cuyler. Neptune Park on the island's waterfront is named in Small's honor.

Thomas Butler Kingdiedin 1864 after a full and distinguished life.

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