Jacob Weed Saw Vision of Logging Town on St. Marys

By John H. Christian (Former) Librarian of the Bryan-Lang Library.

In 1785, the Revolution was over.  Settlers came to the coasts of Camden County looking for suitable land on which to plant their roots.  One such settler was Jabcob Weed and his wife Sarah.

As they made shore on Point Peter, they saw the marshland and hammock land with its tremendous growth of pine and hardwood.  He must have exclaimed, "What a place for a sawmill or a cotton plantation."

A new law had passed the Georgia Legislature in this year that made it easier to get a land grant.  This law made land free to each head of a household.  It granted each head of a house 200 acres and 50 for his wife, 50 for each child, and 50 for each slave.

The maximum was to be 1,000 acres.  This limitation was not enforced, for we find many men receiving several grants of more than this amount throughout the land grant area of Georgia.  From 1786-1788, Weed received 34 grants in Camden County totaling over 80,000 acres.

Weed developed a cotton plantation on Point Peter called New Town.  The records show that he was granted this land in 1787, but he was already on Point Peter before this time.

The Colonial Records of Georgia show him entering into a contract with Henry Osborne on March 21, 1786, agreeing to be equally "concerned and interested in the purchase of land warrants and surveys, building of sawmills and other necessary things to carry on a mill business in Glynn and Camden counties, and agreeing to share equally in all the I expenses and profits and agreeing that either one may sell off land, materials, etc., by rendering an account of same to the other."

This contract was signed by both parties on Point Peter.

Weed was held in high regard by his fellow Camden Countians.  He was chairman of the Land Court that sat from 1787-1789 to grant lands in Camden County to settlers.

Serving on the court with him were A.J. John Webb, Nathaniel Ashley and Langley Bryant.

It did not take long for Weed's land grants to begin to pay dividends.  In just a few months after he was granted land — before the ink was hardly dry — he began to sell it: tie sold half of a 200-acre tract on March 23, 1787, to a John Pearce of New York.  He had been granted this land on Feb. 2.  In a deed dated Dec. 7, 1787, we find him selling a large tract of land to his friend Henry Osborne.  Let us quote from the deed found in the courthouse at Woodbine:

    "Conveys:  7,900 acres on Great Satilla River surveyed June 26, 1787, for grantor; also one-third part of 6,625 acres on Buffalo Creek surveyed the same date for him; one-third part of 8,460 acres on south side of Great Satilla River surveyed June 26, 1787, for him; one-third part of 8,650 acres on south side same river surveyed same date for him; also one-third part of 6,500 acres in the fork of Buffalo Creek surveyed for him; also one-third part of 3,650 acres on south side of Satilla River; also third part of 7,200 acres on Buffalo Greek; and third part of 719 acres on Crooked River surveyed May 28, 1787, for him; and one-third part of 350 acres on Crooked River surveyed same date for him."

The deed records do not reveal the amount of money he received for these lands.  But we do know from other sources the value of land in Camden County in those days.

In a deed book in Glynn County for 1801 concerning the selling of land in Camden County that had been granted to Jacob Weed is this statement:  "It is agreed that any part of said lands that may be lost by litigation for superior title, is to be deducted out at 75 cents per acre."

Weed was a visionary.  He saw the need of a town near the St. Marys River.  He had the perfect site in mind; it was just across North River from Point Peter.

The bluff would make a per, feet place for a port.  Here ships could dock and unload needed goods from England and other lands.  Also, these ships could load goods for export.

Among the goods that were abundant in Camden County were lumber, naval stores, and farm products.  This port would be the southernmost port of the United States, for just across the St. Marys River was Spanish Florida.

He sold his idea of a town to a number of his friends.  Then, on Nov. 20, 1787, they entered into an agreement to establish a town.  In the Camden County Courthouse is the record of Jacob Weed making a deed to the 20 men who signed this agreement.

Weed was a man who stood by his friends.  He was a surety for his friend Nathaniel Ashley, who was the tax collector for Camden County in 1787.

That year, execution was issued by William Gibbons, state treasurer of Georgia, against Ashley for 691 pounds, 11 shillings, 8 pence, being the balance due the state by said Ashley for taxes collected for the year 1787 by him as tax collector of Camden County.

Weed had an interest in politics in Camden County.  In 1788, he was a successful delegate to the state convention.  He was one of 58 men who took part in this political race as voters.

In the early days of settlement in Camden County, there were many confrontations with the Indians.

We find Col. Weed on Cumberland Island writing a letter to Gov. Telfair:  "Frontier here attacked by Indians — one body from West Florida carrying off horses.  Is there Indian war?  Swarms of refugees will come from West Florida to help Indians."

Weed was not one to miss out on an opportunity.

He saw the potential all along the South Georgia coast.  He got a land grant of 950 acres in Glynn County in 1787, and saw the possibilities of a newly developing town called Brunswick.

In 1789, he purchased five lots there.  But tragedy struck him from ever getting to develop his property and business interests there.

It was in the spring of 1791, while on a trip up the St. Marys River dealing with the Indian problem, that he met a tragic death at the hands of a violent storm.  Let the April 2, 1791, issue of Augusta Chronicle tell us about it:  "Col. Jacob Weed, Messers Cartmell and Holmes from Charleston, Mr. Morrell, four white laborers and two soldiers and a negro were in a boat coming down the St. Marys River when it was overturned by a strong wind, and all were drowned except Holmes, Morrell and the two soldiers."

Although his untimely death took him from the activity of Camden County, his influence is still with us today.

And he will be forever remembered as the founder of the historic city of St. Marys as people read his name on the marker that identifies the; street, just two blocks from the waterfront, that bears his name.

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