Old Screven House at Sunbury
Standing as a lone survivor of Sunbury’s former glory, this old Screven house, built about 1815, surveys a scene of quiet beauty where once the bustle of trade and commerce held sway; for Sunbury was the port for prosperous Midway District which, in the 1770’s, possessed nearly one third the wealth of Georgia.
In 1758 Capt. Mark Carr, one of Oglethorpe’s officers and Brunswick’s first settlers, gave the land for the town of Sunbury. Located on a bluff overlooking the waters of Midway River and across the Sound from the Islands of Ossabaw and St. Catherine, Sunbury soon became a place of importance.
A small earthwork, Fort Morris, situated just below Sunbury, was built for the protection of its inhabitants. In 1778 this fort was commanded by Col. John McIntosh, who successfully defended it against an attack by the British. To their demand for its surrender he replied “Come and take it!” Fort Morris fell the following year, being the last spot in the State to surrender when Georgia was overrun by the British.
Dr. Lyman Hall, one of Georgia’s Signers of the Declaration of Independence, made his home in Sunbury and was the medical doctor for the community, though his plantation was located on the Post Road. (now Hwy 17) a few miles north of Midway Church. It was from this port of Sunbury that he carried 160 barrels of rice and sixty pounds sterling, as a contribution from its citizens to relieve the condition of the patriots at Boston.
Button Gwinnett, Georgia’s other Signer from Midway District, had his plantation home on St. Catherine’s Island, within sight of Sunbury where he transacted business and moved among its citizens as one of them.
Sadly there is nothing left from this thriving town that had a population of about a thousand just before the Revolutionary War, and was considered a rival of Savannah in commercial importance.