The Jekyll Island
The Jekyll Island – State Park Authority
During a scouting expedition to St. Augustine in 1736, General James Oglethorpe stopped to investigate the island that was identified on Spanish maps as Whale Island. Jekyll Island, as he named it, is the smallest of Georgia's coastal islands and is located in Glynn County, just southeast of the city of Brunswick. The first colonial structures on the island were quarters for military guards, but Oglethorpe’s second–in–command Major William Horton constructed a residence on the island that was destroyed by Spanish soldiers in 1742 and rebuilt; tabby (shell concrete) ruins of that residence still stand. In 1791 the island passed into the hands of Christophe Poulain du Bignon, a former captain in the French Navy and Revolutionary War figure. The tabby home was repaired and built onto over the years, and cotton production prospered. During the Civil War almost all occupants left the island, and a one-gun battery was mounted and rifle pits were dug at a point where the channel runs closest to the shore.
Because of the expenses related to paid labor, cotton production became a commercial failure in the Sea Islands after the Civil War. The du Bignon family sold Jekyll in 1886 to fifteen men from New York to use as a winter resort and shooting preserve incorporated as the Jekyll Island Club. This wealthy group built an enormous clubhouse and winter cottages.
State Government Involvement
In 1942, events related to World War II forced the Jekyll Island Club to close. Melvin E. Thompson (then state revenue commissioner) wanted to purchase one of Georgia’s barrier islands and open it to the public as a state park, and on October 7, 1947, the state purchased the entirety of Jekyll Island through a condemnation order for $675,000.
The island became the Jekyll Island State Park, with maintenance and operations conducted through a state-sponsored authority. The Jekyll Island State Park Authority was chartered for ninety–nine years (beginning in 1950) to manage the island on behalf of the state. The board of the authority is appointed by the governor. The authority has been charged with the creation of a master plan for the management, preservation, protection, and development of Jekyll Island A Citizens Resource Council was created in 1995 to improve, foster, and encourage communication and the exchange of thoughts and ideas between the authority and the community of persons interested in Jekyll Island.
In 1972 the Jekyll Island Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1978 it was elevated to National Historic Landmark status. Archaeologists, funded in part by a National Park Service Save America’s Treasures grant, began excavating the Horton House site in 2002 and discovered artifacts and evidence of other structures.
1765. Islands annexed to the province and subject to its law. Jekyl (as it was then spelled) designated a part of St. James Parish. Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia compiled by Robert & George Watkins, p. 114.
1796. An Act to relieve the heirs of Francis Maria Loys Dumousay de la Vave, the heirs of Hyacinth de Chapadelane and Christopher Poulain Dubignon. Provides for the recording of certain deeds lost at sea. This act helps establish the title to land on the island and explains why the early deeds are missing. Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia compiled by Robert & George Watkins, p. 592.
1929. Corrects spelling of Jekyll and reiterates island was named for Sir Joseph Jekyll, a friend of General Oglethorpe. Ga. L. 1929, p. 1505 (Resolution No. 4)
1950. Jekyll Island State Park Authority Act. Defines the powers and responsibilities of the Authority. Ga. L. 1950, p. 152 (Act 630)
1951.Jekyll Island State Park Authority. Provides for Authority to sell and dispose of junk, salvage, obsolete, unused or surplus materials, machinery and equipment now or in the future located upon its leasehold and to apply to proceeds thereof to permanent improvements; to provide for and increase the term of said authority's lease, powers, rights and existence to a term of ninety-nine (99) years. Ga. Laws, 1951, p. 782 (Act No. 490)
1952. Jekyll State Park Authority – Amendments. Authority may improve not more than one–half of the highland portion of
1953. Jekyll Island State Park Authority Act Amended. Authority granted 99 year lease; Authority may improve and lease not more than one–half the land area of
1956. Temporary Jekyll Island Legislative Study Committee created to determine whether it is advisable to make any changes in the present method of operation and report to General Assembly on or before January 15, 1957. Ga. L. 1956, p. 819 (Resolution No. 152). See What happened to the 1957 Report of the Jekyll Island Legislative Study Committee? below.
1957. Jekyll Island State Park Authority Act Amended. Provides for new and different members of Authority and provides for the Authority to sell and lease certain lots. Ga. L. 1957, p. 608 (Act No. 464)
1959. Authority to Convey Easement to Property in Glynn County. Authorizes Governor to execute to U.S. government spoil disposal easement. Ga. L. 1959, p. 101. (Resolution No. 4)
1960. Jekyll Island State Authority Act – Amended. Revises the Revenue Anticipation Certificate and Bond provisions. Ga. L. 1960, p. 89 (Act No. 447)
1963. Recognizes Governor Thompson for purchase of Jekyll Island and states that “Jekyll Island has become the best and soundest investment which the State has ever made….” Ga. L. 1963, p. 324 (Resolution No. 40)
1963. Jekyll Island State Park Authority Act Amended. States in part that income arising out of the operation of the Park “shall be used by the Authority for the sole purpose of beautifying, improving, developing, enlarging, maintaining, administering, managing and promoting Jekyll Island State Park at the lowest rates reasonable and possible for the benefit of the ordinary people of the State of Georgia.” Ga. L. 1963, p. 391 (Act No. 330)
1971. Jekyll Island State Park Authority Act Amended. Reduces the maximum amount of land area of Jekyll Island that the Authority is empowered to survey. Ga. L. 1971, p. 452 (Act No. 427)
1972.Executive Reorganization Act of 1972. Assigns Authority to the Department of Natural Resources for administrative purposes only. Ga. L. 1972, p. 1015 (Act No. 1489) (Not available online.)
1976. Jekyll Island – State Park Authority Act Amended – Franchises Provided. Provides for granting of franchises to utility companies and liberal construction. Ga. L. 1976, p. 1560 (Act No. 1403)
1981. Jekyll Island – State Park Authority Act Amended. Provides for adopting and enforcing ordinances and resolutions of the Authority. Ga. L. 1981, p. 1436 (Act No. 769)
1983. Authorizes any fire department operated by the Authority to have the powers of a fire department of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision. Ga. L. 1983, p. 643 (Act No. 268)
1983. Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority – Jekyll Island – State Park Authority – Power to Contract One with the Other, etc. Ga. L. 1983, p. 4057 (Act No. 169)
1984. Conservation and Natural Resources – Membership of Jekyll Island – State Park Authority Changed.The most recent of many acts that specify membership in Authority and terms. Ga. L. 1984, p. 430 (Act No. 823)
1985.Commissioner of Natural Resources – Powers, Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee. Allows the Commissioner of Natural Resources to delegate his authority and power. Ga. L. 1985, p. 1465 (Act No. 739)
1987. Jekyll Island – State Park Authority – Ordinance Violations; Prosecutions: Glynn County; Magistrate, State and Superior Courts, Jurisdiction. Provides the Authority with legislative power to adopt ordinances and resolutions relating to the property, affairs, and government of Jekyll Island. Ga. L. 1987, p. 1117 (Act No. 736)
1990. Authorities – Membership of Secretary of State. Removes Secretary of State from Authority. Ga. L. 1990, p. 872 (Act No. 1220)
1993. Directs the Authority to evaluate the feasibility of involving private contractors in “the development, construction, operation and management” of projects. Ga. L. 1993, p. 1781 (Act No. 600)
1993. Transfers certain functions to the “Office of Treasury and Fiscal Services” as it relates to the lease of Jekyll Island. Ga. L. 1993, p. 1402 (Act No. 546)
1995. Provides for a Citizens Resource Council for the authority on matters concerning Jekyll Island and to provide for a master plan of Jekyll Island. Ga. L. 1995, p. 105 (Act No. 10)
What happened to the 1957 Report of the Jekyll Island Legislative Study Committee?
1956 House Resolution 260 provides for the creation of a committee to “make a study of Jekyll Island; and for other purposes.” The resolution states that the committee shall make a report of its study and recommendations to the 1957 Session of the General Assembly on or before January 15, 1957, and that this committee shall stand abolished as of that date.
According to research conducted by state archives staff, the resolution was approved on February 17, 1956, which was also the last day of the legislative session for that year.
In 1957, the session began on January 14th. The report should have been submitted by the 15th, but no reference to the report is found in the index to the House and Senate Journals. A review of each entry for January 14th and 15th finds no mention of the report.
That same year, Gov. Griffin said during his State of the State address:
Was the report ever produced? The Archives would welcome any copy that can be found.
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