Biography of Margaret Davis Cate
by Amy Hedrick

Born on 24 November 1888 to John Benston Davis I and Ida Rebecca Stafford, Margaret Davis was a lifelong resident of Glynn County.  It is through her mother's family that many of the records located at this site, were donated.

A graduate of Glynn Academy and the University of Tennessee, MDC became one of Glynn County's foremost historians, writing books, articles, and compiling family histories for researchers, and genealogists alike.  On 16 August 1917, Margaret became the second wife of Dr. Gustavus Vassa Cate, Sr., son of William Pleasant Cate and Mary Jane Long.

She was a teacher and principal in the Glynn County school systems, a successful business woman, a public servant with the County and City Commissions of Public Welfare, and Zoning and Planning from 1929-1946, postmistress of Sea Island from 1943-1958, plus a member of many local community organizations.  In 1956 she received an honorary degree from the Oglethorpe University, she also served on the Board of Curators and as second Vice President of the Georgia Historical Society off and on between 1952 and 1961.

Ms. Cate had many passions as a researcher of Glynn County, personal family histories, plantation life, slave ancestry, but none foremost than the British settlement at Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island.  While studying each aspect of her research, MDC collected a vast "library" of resources to document her findings.  Maps, manuscripts, photos, and a basic knowledge of where important records concerning this area could be located.

Through her studies, she became fluent in Coastal Georgia's history, and worked hard to maintain the public's awareness of and preservation of historical landmarks.  She worked tirelessly to have Fort Frederica preserved and declared a National Monument, and in 1941, she had created the Fort Frederica Association, 6 years later, the monument was officially listed as a National Monument.  By 1958 the Fort Frederica National Monument was dedicated.  MDC had compiled stories and histories of the families that lived there, and information on where many of the original buildings had stood on the compound.  Upon the dedication day she arranged for all the descendants of these former residents to be present.

Not only did she write articles and books, such as "Our Todays and Yesterdays" 1926; "Early Days of Coastal Georgia" with Dr. Orrin S. Wightman, 1955; "Fort Frederica Color Book" with Albert C. Manucy, 1957; she was also the author of many of the historical markers you see around Glynn County.

On 29 November 1961, Margaret Davis Cate, passed away; she was buried in Palmetto Cemetery next to her husband who passed away over 30 years previous.  Upon her death, Ms. Cate's vast collection of records was donated to the Fort Frederica National Monument, and the Margaret Davis Cate Memorial Library was erected in her honor and to store this documentation.  As of 2009, this collection is housed at the Brunswick Public Library on Gloucester Street.

The majority of her collection is viewable on microfilm at the Brunswick Public Library, and at the State Archives.  However, the local collection only consists of her vertical files.  The photo-stats, maps, and other documents were not received by the library.

 

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