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St. Simons Land Trust - Cannon's Point Ruins

Cannon's Point
Habitat, Wildlife, History

Ecological Merit

Located on the north end of St. Simons Island, Georgia, Cannon’s Point is linked to the lower Altamaha River delta. The Altamaha is recognized as one of the most biologically rich systems and considered by The Nature Conservancy as a coastal area of highest priority, even internationally.

  • The Altamaha was designated as a Bioreserve in 1991 and has been classified by TNC as one of the 75 Last Great Places.
  • The Altamaha delta is a major flyway for many species of migratory birds. It is part of the Western Hemisphere Reserve and has been designated by National Audubon and BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
  • The tract contains approximately 472 acres (~ 76% of the tract) of extremely important mature maritime forest, a diminishing habitat on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
  • Cannon’s Point and Jekyll Island have the largest tract of intact maritime forest on a Georgia barrier island that are publicly accessible by vehicle.

Cannon’s Point is important to the water quality of the area.

  • Cannon’s Point is part of a significant aquifer recharge area making it valuable for surface and subsurface connection to the aquifer.
  • It is considered a higher susceptibility area for groundwater pollution.
  • It appears on the Coastal Regional Commission's Draft Area of Significant Interest maps.

Cannon’s Point is rich in plant and wildlife habitat important to native and migratory species that pass along the Atlantic Flyway twice annually.

  • The rare climbing buckthorn and Florida privet, as well as the painted bunting, a neotropical species of concern, are found there.

Cannon's Point includes over six miles of shoreline adjacent to salt marsh, tidal creeks and rivers.

  • Associated intertidal salt marsh performs invaluable functions and services. It:
    • Reduces the impact of storm surge on adjacent upland;
    • Minimizes erosion and subsidence;
    • Provides essential habitat for fisheries as well as threatened, endangered and protected species

Cultural and Historical Assets

Cannon's Point is steeped in cultural and historical resources.

  • What makes Cannon's Point so culturally important to the people of Georgia is that it contains many components of the region’s history and those components have not been disturbed. According to the archeologists who are currently studying the property, this is a world-class complex of archeological sites that is of tremendous regional importance.
    • Since the late 19th century, various levels of archaeological investigation have occurred at various locations.
    • We have a research laboratory at the Coastal Georgia Historical Society where all artifacts (collected since SSLT's acquisition) from the preserve are curated.
    • Numerous middens exist dating back to 2500 BCE.
    • Native Americans started living on this location almost 5000 years ago.
    • Artifacts have been found from Spanish Mission Period. No evidence of a Spanish Mission.
    • Colonial Period: Daniel Cannon ( a carpenter at Fort Frederica) in the 1730s was given a trustee grant of 350 acres. He and his sons left in 1741. There is no word on Mrs. Daniel Cannon.
    • Daniel Cannon died in 1742 in Charleston. His sons became wealthy business men in the city owning the lumber yard and constructing many of the structures.
    • In 1793 John Couper and James Hamilton purchased Cannon's Point. In 1796 Couper and his wife Rebecca Maxwell Couper moved there with their family. The Coupers had 5 children: James Hamilton Couper, Anne Sarah Couper (Fraser), John Couper Jr., Isabella Hamilton Couper (Bartow), and William Audley Couper.
    • 1796 the Coupers were living in the previous house (assumed to be built by Cannon) while they built their larger house which was connected by veranda and completed by 1804.
    • Cannon's Point was John Coupers sea island (or long staple) cotton plantation. It became renowned as one of the five most important plantations on St. Simons Island, with its owner, John Couper, experimenting with citrus trees, grapes, guaves, figs, peaches, pomegranates, plums, rutabagas, date palms from Persia, sugar cane, and olive trees from France. He tried mulberry trees for silk worms, but that experiment failed.
    • Couper practiced crop rotation and fertilized his fields with marsh muck and shell.
    • A frame dwelling was built in the late 18th century, possibly by Neilson or Mitchell, which measured, 25.3ft by 25.9ft. Couper built an adjacent 35.4ft by 60ft structure, which became the main living space and was connected to the original house by a verandah. The above ground basements were poured tabby (a mixture of equal parts fresh water, shell, lime made from burnt shell, and sand). There was a main floor, an upstairs, and an attic space above with dormer windows.
    • The entire original plantation tract is intact. Ruins of the plantation home and out structures remain. The plantation house was considered a showcase house.
    • The taller chimney is made entirely of tabby brick except for the fire boxes.
    • The house burned down in 1890.
    • The Coupers has several slave settlements. An example accessible for visitors, had 4 duplexes measuring 40ftx20ft, making each home 20ftx20ft. Each home had a sleeping loft. Each duplex shared on privy. Six to eight people lived on each side of the duplex. The duplexes had a shared central chimney with a fireplace opening in each home.
    • The Cannon's Point overseer's house, located north of the southern salve community, was larger and more substantial than most overseer's houses. It measured 34.1ft by 36.1ft, was a story and a half tall, had two chimneys and four fireplaces, a large center hall, 4 main floor rooms and a sleeping loft. The kitchen was detached. The homesite also had a privy and a provision house.
    • Cannon's Point is the ancestral home of many Gullah Geechee who are still living in coastal Georgia.

Other Facts About The St. Simons Land Trust and Cannon's Point

  • On September 28, 2012 the Land Trust acquired Cannon’s Point Preserve (CPP), a 608-acre tract of pristine maritime forest and natural habitat at the northern end of St. Simons Island. The acquisition was the exciting culmination of an 18-month capital campaign which raised $25,000,000 from community members near and far – and it was the largest fund-raising effort to-date in Glynn County.
  • The Cannon’s Point Advisory Council (CPAC) has been formed to act as an advisory body on CPP management questions and will be included in the implementation of the Ecological Management Plan submitted as an accompanying document to the Conservation Easement held by The Nature Conservancy.