KELVIN GROVE PLANTATION
(sometimes spelled Kelvyn Grove), which included the site of
the Battle of Bloody Marsh, belonged to the Caters and to
the Postells of the wellknown Huguenot family of South
Carolina. The big house burned in the early twentieth
century, and the property was owned for years by Mrs.
Maxfield Parrish, who spent more than a score of winters in
a cottage on the plantation. Intensely interested in the
history and earl customs of the coast, Lydia Parrish worked
indefatigably to revive the old shouts and chanteys
described in her Slave Songs of the Georgia Coast. She
organized a group of singers among descendants of the
slaves, and visitors to the island looked forward each
winter to the weekly sings" in an old cabin on the
plantation grounds. After Lydia Parrish's death the site of
the Bloody Marsh Battlefield was bought by the Fort
Frederica Association to be added to the .National Parks
Some of the St. Simons plantations saw the third and fourth
generations of their original owners grow up on the island,
with marriages between descendants of the planters resulting
in kinships that have developed through the years into
intricate family relationships of double-second-cousins and
third-cousins-twice removed so often found in the South.
Although a few of the old places have been restored as
private estates, others have been divided and sold as
building lots, and some are still lying in ruins.
Kelvin Grove, which
included most of the southeast part of the island, was the
plantation of the Cater-Postell family. The property was
made up of various tracts, the first one bought by Thomas
Cater in the 1790s.
At Thomas Cater's death, the plantation was inherited by his
young son, Benjamin Franklin Cater. The boy's guardian,
Major William Page of Retreat. saw to the management of
Kelvin Grove until young Cater was of age.
Benjamin F. Cater married Ann Armstrong, niece of Mrs.
Alexander Wylly of the Village. Their daughter, Ann
Armstrong Cater, was married to James Postcll of the
well-known Huguenot family of South Carolina. James and Ann
Cater Postell made their home at Kelvin Grove, and his
record hooks, still in existence, give a description of the
property as well as an idea of the operation of one of the
large sea island cotton plantations.
Kelvin Grove contained more than 1,600 acres of cleared and
cultivated land, timberland, meadow marsh, and beach
property. The three-storied house of pink tabby. set in a
grove of live oak, cedar. magnolia, and mulberry trees, was
surrounded on three sides by a wide piazza and was
surmounted by a balcony, or widow's walk, which gave a view
of the ocean and of the island for miles around. On the
grounds grew orange, lemon, and olive trees, and "figs in
abundance." In the broad fields grew sea island cotton.
Records of the duties of the field-hands in the cotton
fields included plowing. planting, chopping, picking,
ginning. "fanning," cleaning, and packing the cotton into
big row bags to be sent to market. The work of the
plantation also included raising com, potatoes, peas.
turnips, and other food crops, as well as clearing new
ground, cleaning ditches. caning hay. splitting clapboards,
cutting posts. fencing, hauling shell for roads, fishing,
gathering oysters, tending the boats, and "carrying the
mail." Important work for the younger hands was "minding the
ﬁelds" or "minding the birds." that is, driving off the
flocks of birds until grain, peas, etc. could be harvested.
Listed separately from the ﬁeld-hands were the "jobhers"-
carpenter, gardener. houseboy, nurse, cook. seamstress. and
James Postell's hobby was gathering collections of
seashells, butterflies. and birds' eggs. He corresponded and
exchanged shells with other collectors. and his books on
conchology. ornithologh and lepidoptera are still in the
possession of his descendants.
The Postells were among the few St. Simons families who
returned to the island soon after the War Between the
States. They found their twelve-room house, which was
occupied by twelve families of freedmen, in such
uninhabitable condition that it had to be razed and
The extensive plantation, eventually divided among the
children of James and Ann Cater Postell. included the site
of the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the present residential
area known by the old name, Kelvin Grove. This part of the
property was sold in the early 1900s to Mrs. Maxwell
Parrish, who spent each winter in a cottage near the battle
site. Intensely interested in the history and antebellum
customs of coastal Georgia, Lydia Parrish worked
indefatigably to revive the old shouts and chanteys
described in her Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands
(1942). In the years following Mrs. Parrish's death, the
property passed to other ownership: the Kelvin Grove
subdivision was developed, and the Bloody Marsh battle site
was added to the National Parks System.
Also formerly part of the Cater-Postell plantation are the
areas occupied today by the residential developments of the
Meadows, Wesley Oaks. Oglethorpe Park East Beach. and
Highland Acres. The Malcolm McKinnon Airport is also on land
that was once part of the Kelvin Grove Plantation.
In 1935, when the tract sold to the county by Clifford
Postell was being cleared for the airport, laborers
uncovered Indian relics of such importance that work was
delayed until representatives from the Smithsonian
Institution could examine the site. Excavations made in 1936
disclosed evidence of an ancient Indian village and burial
ground that provided links in the knowledge of the
prehistoric inhabitants of the coastal area. A number of the
many artifacts unearthed in the excavations, as well as a
large stone ax head found on the property previously by Mr.
Postell, are in the Smithsonian. Others are in the museum at
Fort Frederica National Monument.