Coastal Georgia History



Sunbury - A Georgia Ghost Town! http://southernhistory.blogspot.com/

An original street runs along Church Square in Sunbury
I have a fascination with ghost towns because I love to walk their former streets and wonder what they looked like and what life was like in them.

Perhaps my favorite of all Southern ghost towns is Sunbury, once a booming port town that rivaled Savannah in commerce. Today, all that remains are a few old roads, the earthworks at Fort Morris State Historic Site and a cemetery.

Founded in 1758 as part of the Congregationalist movement from Dorchester, South Carolina, to what is now Liberty County, Georgia, Sunbury grew dramatically in the years before the American Revolution. By 1773, for example, it had over 1,000 residents. The town was visited that year by the famed naturalist William Bartram:

Markers tell the story of the "Dead Town"
There are about one hundred houses in the town neatly built of wood frame having pleasant Piasas [i.e. piazzas] around them. The inhabitants are genteel and wealthy, either Merchants or Planters from the Country who resort here in the Summer and Autumn, to partake of the Salubrious Sea Breeze, Bathing & sporting on the Sea Islands.

The people of Sunbury were fierce supporters of the cause of American Independence and they paid dearly for it. The British occupied their town in both 1778 and 1779, even using it as a place to hold American prisoners of war. Residents fled the British occupation and by the end of the Revolution, Sunbury was but a shell of its former self.

The town continued its decline after the war until eventually it was gone.  Union troops even burned the Baptist church during Sherman's March to the Sea.  Not a building still stands and even the vast majority of the graves in the cemetery are no longer marked. Sunbury is a true ghost town of the Georgia coast.