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Morton Rouse 1736
While I was at ge %outhwarb I hab the pleasure to see
flaTor Morton's improvements bn the Islanb of
ehkgll. lHe has a uerg large Sarnfull of Varleg not
inferior to ge ?8arleg in Englanb about 20 ton of Haug
in one Stack, a Spacious Mouse anb fine (6arben, a
plow going with Eight horses, anb aboue all J sam
Eight Acres of Inbigo of which le has maybe a goob
()uantitg anb Moo ien are now at Work (a Opantarb
anb EnglishiMan) theg tolb me the Inbigo was as
goob as that maybe in the Spanish Wlest Inbia's..."
The Georgia Colony, established early in 1735 under the leadership of
James Edward Oglethorpe, had three main purposes.
First, to act as a buffer zone for the prosperous South Carolina Colony,
and the Spanish in Florida. Second, to produce and export indigo, tobacco,
and silk. And thirdly to relieve the overcrowding of England's debtor's
Although most colonists to the new Georgia settlement were from the
other end of the social order, for he knew he would need to rely on them
in clashes with the Spanish forces.
William Horton came from a rural farming district, Hereford, England.
It was reported he served as under-sheriff, a high social and political position
in the 18th century.
Horton paid his passage to the new world, as well as that of twelve
indentured servants. The Trustees of the Georgia Colony granted him 500
acres of land. He chose the northern end of Jekyll Island as the location for
his land grant.
Horton was a trusted and loyal officer of Oglethorpe's, and soon was
placed second in command. Colonial records show Oglethorpe seemed to put
Horton in charge whenever the General himself was not present.
During the first weeks of settlement in South Georgia, Oglethorpe,
aided by Horton, directed construction of the earthen works and shelters at
Ft. Frederica, on nearby St. Simons Island.
Sometime in that first year Horton managed to clear land on Jekyll,
build a sawmill, quarters for the military guard and a pilot house. He also
built accommodations for himself and his servants. At the end of the year
Horton ordered 50 Z worth of cattle (a sizeable sum in those days).
Horton and his servants were industrious in the early years of settlement,
for in a letter dated January 28, 1738 he refers to his "improvements. . in
houses and 20 acres of cleared land." Later the same year drought, combined
with inexperience, caused hardships for the settlers, yet Horton prospered. He
was able to contribute beef and corn to the population of Frederica for
two years. Oglethorpe wrote of him "the people might have starved or
abandoned the place had not Mr. Horton given them his own cattle and corn
The first structure built on this site was a wooden dwelling. During
the Battle of Bloody Marsh, fought on St. Simons in 1742, retreating
Spanish forces stopped to burn and pillage Mr. Horton's property. Within
the same year this tabby structure was erected, utilizing the brick chimneys of
the first home.
Tabby is a mortar made of sand, lime, oyster shells and water mixed in
equal proportions. Tabby is poured into wooden frames approximately 20 inches
high one layer at a time.
Excavations have shown that Horton was a man of means. There is
evidence of wainscotting (carved wood panelling) and a white clay floor.
Many Chinese export items as well as silver and pewter artifacts were
found. Although his home was rebuilt and his fields were cultivated, early
in 1748 he petitioned the Trustees for a new plot of ground for his son
Thomas. It is unknown why Horton decided to leave Jekyll but by June
of 1748 he was living 80 miles north of Jekyll on the Ogeechee River.
After this new land grant was made Horton became more active in the
government of the Colony. Horton died in February of 1749 of unknown
From June 1749 until 1765 Captain Raymond Demere commanded a
small outpost on Jekyll. Demere remodeled Horton's home and petitioned
the crown in 1765 for Horton's land.
Demere died in 1766 and Clement Martin was deeded the land,
2,450 acres at the north end of Jekyll. It is unknown what became of
Thomas Horton after the American Revolution. Jekyll Island was confiscated
due to the Martin family's sympathy for the crown.
Jekyll was sold in 1784 to Richard Leake. Leake began a successful
cotton plantation but sold it to 4 French loyalists.
By 1800 one of the Frenchmen, Christophe Poulain DuBignon, became
the sole owner of Jekyll and lived until the Civil War in Mr. Horton's tabby
During the era of Jekyll Club ownership of Jekyll Island, one of the
club members, Mrs. Charles Stewart Maurice, endeavored to save the Horton
house by putting a mixture of Portland cement and oyster shells on the
crumbling tabby walls.
Without the Jekyll Island Club's fortification of the structure, nothing
would remain today of this historic landmark.
Further preservation efforts of the JISPA enabled the stability of the
structure evidenced today.