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St. Simons natives to share marvels, history of Georgia island

6/28/2013, 6 a.m.

St. Simons natives Jingle Davis and Benjamin Galland will discuss the marvels and history of their coastal island home at an author talk and signing of their informative new book, “Island Time: An Illustrated History of St. Simons Island, Georgia,” on July 8 at the Decatur Library.

Davis is a retired journalist who worked for decades with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Galland, an expert photographer, works out of Brunswick.

Davis often covered South Georgia and the coast for the AJC, and Galland is a partner with the h2o Creative Group.

The talk starts at 7:15 p.m.

“Island Time,” published by the University of Georgia Press, features more than 200 contemporary photographs, historical images and maps.

It explores St. Simons’ amazing history going back to prehistoric times and bringing its story through the antebellum days of slavery and into recent decades of growth and popularity.

The island is about 80 miles south of Savannah.

Prehistoric people established some of North America’s first permanent settlements on St. Simons, leaving three giant shell rings as evidence of their occupation. People from other diverse cultures also left their mark: Mocama and Guale Indians, Spanish friars, pirates and privateers, British soldiers and settlers, German religious refugees, and aristocratic antebellum planters.

Enslaved Africans and their descendants forged the unique Gullah Geechee culture that survives today.

Davis provides a comprehensive history of St. Simons, connecting its stories to broader historical moments.

Timbers for Old Ironsides were hewn from its live oaks during the Revolutionary War. Aaron Burr fled to St. Simons after killing Alexander Hamilton. Susie Baker King Taylor became the first black person to teach openly in a freedmen’s school during her stay on the island. Rachel Carson spent time on St. Simons, which she wrote about in “The Edge of the Sea.”

The island became a popular tourist destination in the 1800s, with visitors arriving on ferries until a causeway opened in 1924.

Davis describes the challenges faced by the community with modern growth and explains how St. Simons, with its 20,000 year-round residents, has retained the unique charm and strong sense of community that it is known for today.

The Decatur Library is at 215 Sycamore St. in downtown Decatur. For more information, call 404-370-3070.