Ossabaw Island, an unspoiled place that’s home to hundreds of animal and plant species, has a little-known, 4,000 year history of human residents and visitors, as well. Ossabaw’s cultural heritage is rich in ethnic and racial diversity and in the ways these many cultures made Ossabaw Island their home.
Small seasonal hunting and gathering establishments of indigenous people (Native Americans.) Larger, permanent farming villages. Settlements of Guale natives, part of a network of Georgia communities. Spanish missionaries visiting from nearby settlements.
English landowners, harvesting the island’s timber and dividing the island into four working plantations. Enslaved Africans and their freedmen descendents who worked the plantations, growing crops and operating hunting and fishing areas for the white landowners.
White industrialists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the Northeast United States, who acquired Ossabaw for wintertime sport hunting and family recreation. Environmental preservationists. Writers, artists, scientists, and musicians who lived on Ossabaw for short periods of reflection, research, and creativity in the mid-to-late 20th century. College students living in a cooperative, semi-sustainable community.
Today, non-profit foundation and state employees, and the last private owner of Ossabaw, live and work on the island, collaborating to maintain its unique, undeveloped and unspoiled condition, accessible to current and future generations for scientific, cultural and educational study and research.
Ossabaw Island’s Cultural Past