Biography of Margaret
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
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
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
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.