This cemetery is located on Jekyll Island. When you
pass the tollbooth, make a left u-turn like you are going to leave the island.
Get in the far right lane though and go towards the historic district. You
will make the first right turn onto Stable Road. Drive about 3.6 miles and
the cemetery will be on your left off of the road. It is across from the
Horton House ruins. There is an historic sign with the duBignon story on
it on the side of the road before you turn into the cemetery. There are
five graves in this cemetery: Joseph DuBignon, Ann Amelia
duBignon, Marie Felicite Riffault, Hector DeLiyannis, and
George F. Harvey.
An interesting side note, no one is buried in this cemetery!
According to historian John Hunter on Jekyll Island, when preservationists
became interested in this little burial ground, all they found were a bunch of
stones lying about. So what to do? We will just make a cemetery.
A surveyor was later hired to plot out how many graves are located within in the
wall, and imagine everyone's surprise when they said, no one is buried there.
Apparently the cemetery is in that area, but from time and the elements the stones toppled over
and got shifted about. The actual graves are outside of the cemetery
The duBignon family is descended from an old noble family
from Brittany; the family name was Poulain, but in America it soon became known
as duBignon from it’s American founder, Christophe-Anne Poulain du Bignon.
Captain Christophe-Anne Poulain du Bignon, Officier des
vaisseaux de la Compagnie des Indes, Chevalier de l’Orde Royal et Militaire du
St-Louis, Seigneur de la Grande Ville-Herve, was born at Lamballe, Brittany (now
Cotes-du-Nord, France) on 1 July 1739 and spent his early life as an officer in
the French East India Company. He married at Vannes, France on 29 August
1778 to Marguerite-Anne Lossieux, daughter of Guillaume Lossieux Sieur de
Fontenay and Dame Thomasse Vincent des Marets. Marguerite was born in
Saint-Malo, Brittany the 7 April 1748 and was the widow of Jean
Paschal de Boisquesnay, who died in 1774 while they were living on the island of
Mauritius (then called Ile de France) in the Indian Ocean. Her father was
a captain with the French East India Company and he and his wife are both buried
on the island of Mauritius.
Christophe and his family fled France and the Revolution in
1792. Sailing from Saint-Malo on his own ship “Le Sappello”, departing about 5
March 1792 and arriving in Savannah, Georgia on 28 June 1792.
Previously, Christophe and four other French men had
purchased Sapelo Island off the coast of Georgia for their future home.
Late in 1790, Christophe and his son Joseph sailed from Saint-Malo on “Le
Silvain” for Savannah. On the ship’s master book he is listed as a
passenger and as a citizen of the United States (so he would not be
detained in France). He returned to France and gathered up his family and
came back to Savannah in 1792. The plan for a home on the south end of
Sapelo Island did not materialize and we find Christophe and his family settling
on Jekyl Island. By 1800 Christophe was the sole owner of Jekyl Island and
here he established his plantation, growing mainly Sea Island cotton.
Surviving a British raid on the island during the War of 1812
(in which many of his valuables were stolen by
the British crew from HMS Lacedemonian) Christophe spent his last days in peace
and quiet. Christophe died “on his Island of Jekyl” on 15 September 1825
and was buried in an unmarked grave close to an old oak tree by duBignon’s
Creek. His wife, Marguerite, died 29 December 1825 and was buried close to
her husband. Their graves are probably located in the vicinity of the
present day duBignon Cemetery.
Christophe and Marguerite’s second son, Henry
(Charles Henry) Poulain du Bignon, was born at Ville-Herve, Planguenoual,
Brittany on 3 August 1787. He married in Georgia, by contract on 30 April
1807, Ann Amelia Nicolau who was born in France in 1787 and a member of a family
from Bordeaux, France who settled in Glynn County, Georgia and made their home
at Marengo. As Ann Amelia was an orphan, her brother Bernard
as her guardian. Later, on 18 January 1808 Father Charles, Priest and
Rector of the Roman Catholic Church of Savannah, married Henry and Ann
a religious ceremony. Ann died on 4 May 1850. Henry married a
second time on 23 November 1852 to Mary Aust of Brunswick, Georgia. He
died at his estate near Ellis Point on 7 December 1866.
Ann Amelia was a sickly woman, she had given birth to at
least nine children with no more than a year between each birth. Because
of this they hire a woman to help take care of the children and the household
chores. Sarah Ann (Maccaw) Aust was recently widowed by George
Butler Aust and she had three children to care for: Mary Delora,
Paul, and Fredonia Aust. Therefore the position in the
duBignon home was a benefit to her situation. However, what wasn't a
benefit to Ann Amelia is that her husband developed a fondness for
Sarah and over the course of her employment three children were born to her
by Henry. Sarah, thinking her position as the next
Mrs. duBignon was secure was horrified to find out that her eldest
daughter, Mary Delora, was pregnant, and further horrified to find out
that her paramour Henry was the father! I like to think that
Sarah graciously stepped aside so that her daughter's reputation would
not be tarnished, and let her marry the man she had loved for well over a
decade. Of course Sarah was not happy at all about the situation
and to further show her dissatisfaction she changed her children's name from
duBignon to Turner, a family name, according to legend.
However, no documentation has been found to prove that she changed the surname
of her children. Many years ago a document from the 1870's was reportedly
found in our courthouse where Leonidas (son of Sarah and Henry)
was legally changing his name to Turner suggesting that it was he and not
his mother that changed his surname. Unfortunately today, this document
can not be located in our courthouse.
Joseph duBignon was born on Jekyll Island in 1814, the fifth
child of Henry Charles Poulain du Bignon and Ann Amelia Nicolau. On
22 January 1839 he married Felicite Elizabeth Riffault.
Elizabeth was the
daughter of Charles Pierre Riffault, formerly of Paris, France and a refugee
from the French Revolution. Her mother was Marie Anne Felicite Grand Dutreuilh a refugee from Saint-Domingue.
Elizabeth was born in Savannah, Georgia
in 1812 and died in Brunswick, Georgia on 16 October 1865. She is buried
in Oak Grove Cemetery in Brunswick, GA. Joseph was a 1st
lieutenant with the Glynn County volunteers, 1839; a member of the Georgia House
of Representatives for Glynn County, 1845; a justice of the Inferior Court Glynn
duBignon Cottage was originally built in 1884 as a replacement for the old manor
that was burnt during the Civil War. It later became the Club Cottage and
housed the Superintendent and after 1899 it housed guests at $15 a day and if it
was needed for more than two months, the rent was reduced to $10 a day.
On 10 August 1892, the duBignon Cottage was moved from its
original location to build the first condominiums, Sans Souci. The
duBignon Cottage is still located adjacent to the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
Hector DeLiyannis was an employee of the Jekyll Island Club
Hotel who drowned in the river and was buried in this cemetery; he
was known as “Hector the Greek”. He is no relation to the
George F. Harvey was also an employee of the Jekyll Island
Club Hotel who drowned on the same day as Hector; he is not a relative of
the duBignons either.
The following are transcriptions of the stones verbatim.
Ann’s gravestone is badly broken and some of the pieces are missing, I have
found the original transcription in the book: "Our Todays and Yesterdays, A
Story of Brunswick and the Coastal Islands" by Margaret Davis Cate. I
also have an extensive family history that I received from Gretchen Greminger at
the Jekyll Island Authority, thank you Gretchen. Also, the history of the
duBignon Cottage was obtained from the book: “The Jekyll Island Club Southern
Haven for America’s Millionaires” by William Barton McCash and June Hall McCash.
Cemetery transcribed by Amy Hedrick summer of 2001.
Click on name to see photo of gravestone!