Colonels Island was at first referred to as Bermuda Island, because so many immigrants from Bermuda resided there. Many of their number died of malaria or yellow fever. The remainder left the island fearing for their lives.
By the time of the Revolutionary War, so many colonels, both real and imagined, had built plantations on the island that it became known as Colonels Island. Almost all of the plantation owners maintained town houses in Sunbury, and thus enjoyed country living with urban conveniences.
Joseph Law, a native of Scotland, migrated from South Carolina to the Midway District in 1754 and established Woodville, for some time the only major plantation on Colonels Island. As Sunbury grew, however, plantations proliferated on the island.
Colonel Alexander Herron’s plantation on Colonels Island was called “Herron’s Point.” His son later established a plantation near Savannah, Georgia, he called “Wild Herron.” Colonel Audley Maxwell’s plantation was called “Maxwell Point.” A Suligree family established a plantation on the island they called simply “Suligree.”
Reverend Charles C. Jones had a plantation and summer home on Colonels Island called “Maybank.” It was once the home of Andrew Maybank. There was another plantation on the island during this time period called “Black Rock.” Maxwell eventually bought “Suligree” and “Black Rock.”
Maxwell’s daughter, Julia Rebecca Maxwell, married Roswell King Jr., son of the gentleman who established Roswell, Georgia. Their son, James Audley Maxwell King, built a plantation and home he called “Maxwelton.” It became the property of his daughter, Julia King, who never married, and remained her property until she sold it in 1936 to George Brown, who also bought “Maybank,” once the plantation and home of Andrew Maybank.
Colonel Joseph Law, a direct descendant of the first plantation owner on the island, established a summer home on Colonels Island at Half Moon Bluff. When his daughters married they resided in Florida. His only son resided first in Ohio and then in Chicago, Illinois. It was never called anything but “Laws.” The main house stood on five acres which were eventually bought by Roswell King Jr.
There were two small islands near Half Moon Bluff called “Dunham Hammocks.” The “Corduroy Road” connected them with Colonels Island. Reuben King, younger brother of Roswell King Sr., and Joseph Austin, owned the two islands. Reuben King married Abigail Austin, daughter of Joseph Austin.
Joseph Austin owned “Melon Bluff’ west of Half Moon Bluff. “Melon Bluff’ was so called because so many large watermelons were once raised there. King and Austin sold the two islands to Thomas Dunham, who had a plantation called “Cedar Point” on Colonels Island, and another plantation, “The Dunham Place,” on the adjoining mainland.
There was an area of Colonels Island called “Hickory Hill” famous for its pine and hardwood. Many a handle for hatchets and axes came from hickory trees in the area. Another area known as “The Hammocks” was covered with a fine growth of cedar trees, valuable for fence posts. Oysters from Colonels Island were said to be the finest along the Georgia coast. The hard marsh was excellent for raising cattle, horses, and hogs.