The beautiful old oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss, provide some dappled patches but it's still hot and humid -- the expected Southern summer weather. South of Savannah we stopped to examine a muddy creek where there weren't any visible alligators but there were hundreds and hundreds of small crabs. It was a favorite fishing place apparently judging from the empty beer cartons and the fishing lures thrown across the electric wires. Nobody was Georgia scene fishing this morning however -- we think we know why.
Near Darien, Georgia, the Georgia State Park system has recreated Fort King George, one of the first British settlements on this part of the Atlantic seaboard. Originally an Indian settlement - the same confederacy as Ocmulgee farther north - this area was occupied by British troops making a stand defending English land claims against the Spanish and the French. The British built a sturdy blockhouse and subsidiary buildings, surrounded them with a strong fence of wooden stakes, and installed cannons. The soldiers were an Invalid Regiment; that is, they were mostly older or wounded veterans of earlier English campaigns, considered adequate to defend this fort but not desired for front-line duty.
Unfortunately for the British, the leadership was poor. Alcohol, boredom and disease quickly diminished the morale of the troops. The blockhouse mysteriously burned down and was rebuilt with poorer materials and workmanship. Finally, after the Yamasee uprising (eerily similar to King Philip's War in the Northeast) the post was deserted and fell into ruin where it was eventually re-located and reconstructed starting in the 1950s. Reconstructed Fort King George
Much of the 17th and 18th century history seems rather murky. Scottish soldiers were brought in and fought bravely. Spaniards advanced and retreated. The French trappers passed through the area as they passed through most of the Southeast. As the Park Ranger implied, there's a lot more work to be done before this history can be presented with any coherence. But diaries and logs and letters continue to turn up. One of the exciting developments is the recent discovery of a Spanish mission which the State Park rangers hope will be excavated in the near future.
Leaving Darien, we passed through Kingsland ("The Town of Royal Treatment") where everybody in the county must have been gathered, judging by the parked cars and strolling families: it was the Kingsland Labor Day Catfish Fry and was clearly a roaring success.
Finally, at the outskirts of Jacksonville, Florida, we found a botanical wonder -- a cement pine tree. Some enterprising folks had managed to insert pine branches into the top quarter of a cement power pole -- just for fun!
Anybody traveling near Deland, Florida, should consider lunch at The Original Holiday House. It's a buffet. You get a generous serving of meat (turkey, baked chicken, chicken livers, ham, or rare, medium or well-done roast beef) and all the vegetables and salad you want. Friendly waitresses carry Cement pine tree?? your salad plate to your table while you make your main course selection. We didn't even look at the desserts, which occupied a long counter all by themselves. This being Florida, most of the customers were older than we are, moving slowly but quite capable of filling a plate.
One of the great pleasures of driving the secondary roads is that people are just out and about near their homes, doing their hometown things. At a traffic light in Deland we watched the local policeman (white) stop to escort a blind woman (black) across the street. Then he turned and continued on his own errand, a trip to the bank.
As we prepare for the next four days of genealogy meetings, we note that genealogists and librarians share the same rather rumpled but friendly-grinning appearance. We're looking forward to learning stuff and meeting folks. We've already been through the programs, selected five or six one-hour talks to attend each day, as well as luncheons with speakers, and more than a hundred exhibitors; we'll probably buy some CD-ROMs!