Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christ Church, Frederica Saint Simons Island

Our last stop on St.Simons Island was Christ Episcopal Church. I knew of this church because of the trilogy of historical fiction books written by Eugenia Price, which I read many years ago and recently re-read because I knew that we would be touring St.Simons Island. The island is the primary location where the events of the novels took place. James Gould, the main character in Price's book  Lighthouse, built the first lighthouse on the island, and also owned a cotton plantation there. The second son, Horace, is featured in the book New Moon Rising. He worked for awhile in Savannah, but returned and worked on  his father's plantation until the Union Army took the plantation from him during the Civil War. There are still descendants of this family on the island today. Below is a picture of the Gould family plot which is located in the cemetery at Christ Church. The oldest gravestone discovered in the cemetery dates from 1803.
Land from the town of Frederica was "GIVEN,GRANTED AND SECURED TO AND FOR THE USE AND BENEFIT OF THE SAID EPISCOPAL CHURCH"  by act of the state legislature of Georgia in 1808. The first church on the present location was built in 1820 and the congregation worshiped in it until the outbreak of the civil war. During the war the Union Army stayed in the church and destroyed much of its furnishings. Rev. Anson Green Phelps Dodge, the main character in the third novel in the trilogy, Beloved Invader, rebuilt Christ Church in 1886. The Dodge family plot can also be found in the cemetery.
We had a tour guide for the church and the grounds. The graveyard is fairly large and surrounds the church. Our guide helped us to locate the grave of Eugenia Price. Only members of the church, " in good standing", can be buried in the church cemetery. Eugenia Price was not a member but her friendship with the Gould family made her burial there possible.The trilogy was written in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They will probably always be timeless because they contain an important piece of our country's early history. I enjoyed reading the series a second time, they certainly made my tour of historic Georgia very meaningful.

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