Gallop Little-Known Founder of St. Marys

By Dr. John H. Christian

Some men like notoriety and do many things to get their names before other people, while some men like to remain m the background and receive little public acclaim.

One such man of the latter type was Prentiss Gallop, a signer of the Articles of Agreement that began the town of St. Marys in 1787.

Prentiss did not like public acclaim.  He is very illusive when it comes to public records. He did little during his period of residence in Camden County to call attention to himself.

Yet for his desire for anonymity, his is a well-known name because of his taking part in the founding of St. Marys.  He is remembered by all the residents of St. Marys and many who come here as tourists, for his name is affixed to one of the streets of the city.

This street is parallel with the railroad tracks from Osborne Street near Gilman Paper Mill west for six blocks to Margaret Street.  So for a many who desired anonymity, his name is on display and is well known by many people.

We do not know anything about the past life of Prentiss Gallop before he came to Camden County.  We do not know where he came from or how long he stayed in the county, or if he died here or left before that time.  His desire for anonymity keeps all these facts from us.

One of the first businesses to be established in St. Marys was a trading firm known as Gallop and Wheeler.  This was a joint partnership of Prentiss Gallop and Isaac Wheeler.  Both these men were signers of the Articles of Agreement.

During those early days on the frontier, money was scarce.  Businesses often traded one article for another with the hope of making a fair profit.  As a result, a large inventory could be built up without a cash flow to pay creditors and suppliers.

The Gallop and Wheeler Trading Firm of St. Marys ran into this situation.  The public records of Camden County reveal that in 1788 William Payne of Charleston, S.C., appointed Thomas Norris, also of Charleston but soon to remove to Camden as his power of attorney "to recover all sums of money due him by Prentiss Gallop and Isaac Wheeler trading as the firm of Gallop and Wheeler in St. Marys, Ga.

The last time that Gallop appeared in public records of the county is on Aug. 25, 1789, where he deeded four lots in St. Marys to James Finley, another founder of St. Marys.

After a two-year sojourn here in Camden County, Gallop slipped into oblivion without leaving any tracks of his whereabouts.

But as long as history remains, we will always remember him as the founder of a town that has endeared itself to the hearts of thousands of people across two centuries of time and will continue to do so in the years ahead, especially with the coming of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.

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