Do you remember where John Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Bessette were married?
Answer: Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast. A national treasure, Cumberland Island is the most accessible of Georgia’s “wild” barrier islands, and offers an unforgettable adventure for anyone who makes the journey.
If you have the time to spend 3 days on a national treasure full of historic ruins, wild horses, deserted beaches, and stay at the Greyfield Inn, (a wonderful top tier bed and breakfast inn), then add it to your bucket list
When the island was briefly occupied during the War of 1812, the British used Dungeness as their headquarters. Here a British captain named John Fraser met and eventually married a southern belle named Ann Couper, who was a member of the family that owned Cannon’s Point plantation on St. Simons.
It is believed that the wild horses came to the island during the British occupation. Currently there are about 150 horses on the island.
The plantation economy was dealt a deathblow with the Civil War, and Dungeness deteriorated and the family moved away. Slaves were rounded up by the Union Army and moved to Amelia Island, but some returned to Halfmoon Bluff on the northern end in an area known as The Settlement. Freed slaves may have been the cause of the fire of 1866 that destroyed the historic mansion, and another legend tells the story of Cumberland plantation owner Robert Stafford burning the quarters of his former slaves after they refused to work for him after gaining their freedom.
The island remained abandoned until the 1880s, when Pittsburgh millionaire Thomas Carnegie, brother of Andrew, acquired the Dungeness property for use as a winter retreat. On the foundations of the Greene-Miller-Shaw Dungeness, the Carnegies built an even grander mansion in 1884. The third Dungeness, at its peak, was a 59-room turreted Scottish castle, with a pool house, squash court, and golf course, and 40 other buildings that accommodated a staff of 200. Thomas died around the time the mansion was finished, but his widow, Lucy, and their nine children continued to develop Cumberland. Lucy purchased 90 percent of the island and she and her heirs built Cumberland’s most famous buildings, including Greyfield, Stafford, and Plum Orchard. Dungeness remained occupied off and on until 1959, when it tragically burned. Greyfield is a private inn and Plum Orchard, an 1898 Georgian-revival mansion, is administered by the National Park Service. The bill was signed by President Richard Nixon on October 23, 1972. The Carnegie family sold the island to the federal government. With donations from the Mellon Foundation, Cumberland Island became a national park.
The only way you can get to Cumberland Island is by boat. There is a ferry service from Amelia Island to Cumberland Island or from St. Marys in Georgia. The ferry ride from Amelia was only 40 minutes long and very nice.
Upon arriving at the dock we were met by folks from the Greyfield Inn who took our luggage and we walked to the inn. No cars allowed except for service vehicles from the inn or the National park service.
We got checked in, grabbed a boxed lunch already prepared for us and took off on bikes to explore the island.
|Mitty and Mary Ferguson|
The Fergusons and Mitty’s sister Gogo, a jewelry designer , still live on the island. They live in a house with a wraparound porch, which can be seen from the Greyfield veranda. Gogo’s house and attached jewelry shop is next to the Greyfield barn. Several other Carnegie homes are nearby.
|Dungeness prior to the fire in 1959|