Brief History of Creighton Island
Island Information

For Hunting Parties

For Plein Air Painters

Group Availability
Contact Information
Island Necessities
Island Photos

Home Page


Creighton Island is a privately-owned, inner barrier island in McIntosh County, along Georgia's coast.  It was formed by aeons of rising and falling ocean levels combined with ever-changing deposits of sand ridges.  The roughly 1,100 acres of high ground on Creighton date mainly from the Pleistocene era (40,000 B.C.), but are still being shaped afresh by wind, waves, tides and storms.  Today, the island is roughly 2 1/2 miles long and a mile wide.

Creighton bears testimony to human activities during at least the last 3,500-4000 years.  Archaeologist Clarence B. Moore uncovered important funerary materials - urns, stone and copper chisels, hatchets…- on Creighton's north end in 1896-97.  It is said that the Guale Indians considered the north end of the Island as a very sacred burial ground.  Later, it is possible that the first European colony on the eastern seaboard of North America, "San Miguel de Gualdape", took brief root on Creighton in 1526 when Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon tried to establish 600 Spanish and African settlers on this coast.  By 1756, Daniel Demetre had acquired "John Smith's Island", as Creighton was then designated. In the 1770s, William DeBrahm, Surveyor General to King George III, noted the existence of unexplainable entrenchments and ruins on the Island.  The mysteries DeBrahm created about Creighton have lingered to this day.

The Island acquired its present name from its 1778 owner, Alexander Creighton, a Savannah businessman.  Timbering and farming (especially cotton, sugar cane and corn) were important activities, despite occasional devastating hurricanes.  Famed plantation- era Thomas Spalding worked with his son-in-law, William Cooke, owner of Creighton after 1838, and during that period, tabby dwellings were built at the north end.  Their vestiges remain today.  Freed slaves, based at the north end, remained on the Island after the Civil War.  The north end was also a focus of important timber-loading facilities for large ships at the "Sapelo port" in 1880-98, complete with US post office and telegraph lines connecting Creighton to Darien. The 1898 hurricane destroyed these port facilities; they were rebuilt but by 1910, the timber boom era in McIntosh County had finally ended.  In 1947, Creighton Island was acquired by the present owners. 


  Timber and cattle have continued to be important economic activities, while the Island's natural vegetation has reasserted itself in many parts. Dense canopies of live oak, red cedar, yaupon, red bay, hickory and palmettos alternate with stands of pine, wax myrtle or saw palmetto.  Fresh water lies seasonally in island sloughs, providing habitat and sustenance for innumerable bird species, raccoons, deer, opossums, alligators…

The Island's long, diverse history combines with great natural beauty to represent a unique microcosm of Georgia's coast.  Today's owners deeply respect the environmental importance of their island sanctuary.  In the spirit of "treading lightly on the planet", they allow selected artists to visit their Island.  The art created on Creighton will testify to its natural beauties and rich, mysterious history.

History provided by Jeannine Cook

Photo by Carly Clements

Other Historical Information