SEARCH FOR THE BURIAL SITE 
OF
CAPTAIN JOHN CUTLER BRADDOCK
 

J. G. Jerry Braddock Sr.

 

 

The subject of where Captain John Cutler Braddock was buried came up during preparation of  my  presentation to the Marshes of Glynn SAR chapter at St. Simons in April 2004 on John and his part in the Revolutionary War. No one knew. As there is no marked grave for him in any cemeteries in the Brunswick area, it is a safe assumption that , like many who lived before modern times, he was interred on the property on which he resided at the time of his death. Historical records known of John at the time of the presentation showed he owned property in several locations at different times in the Brunswick area. None of the records identified  exact locations. The first record was a grant in Camden County on the Satilla River he received December 20, 1785 for his military service. The top portion of this grant, which is in the Georgia Archives,  is shown below.

 

 

Following is the official surveyor's plat for the Camden County grant. It is impossible to tell from the plat where the grant is located along the 40 miles Satilla River flows through Camden County as it meanders a crooked path from the Atlantic almost to Fitzgerald. Although the grant says 500 acres, the plat says 550. The Georgia Archives, where the plat and grant are located, could not determine why the acreage on the two documents differ but are certain the grant and plat go together. 

 

 

 

On May 19,1789, he received a grant for one hundred acres in Glynn County. Its exact location is not specified other than Glynn County. The grant. which is in the Georgia Archives, is shown below.

 

 

Following is the official surveyor's plat for the Glynn County grant. The plat is in the Georgia Archives.

 

 

The plat indicates the grant is 100 acres of marshland between Jekyll and Jointer Islands and the three islets encompassed within it  Each islet has "humk," the abbreviation for hummock-- a tract of forested land that rises above an adjacent marsh--written in it. The plat shows a creek by the middle islet, making it accessible by water. The grant can be generally located using modern maps. As seen on the map below, Jointer Island, consisting mostly of marsh, is off to the right of the road to Jekyll Island after turning onto it from US17. As can be seen in an aerial photo further below, numerous islets dot the marshes between Jointer and Jekyll Islands, the roadway to Jekyll going through some of them. There's no way of telling which three John Cutler Braddock owned. Who knows, his descendants may be driving over his grave on our way to an outing on Jekyll.

 

 

 

Another location, this one on Jekyll Island, was mentioned in an advertisement appearing in the October 8 and 19, 1786 issues of the Gazette of the State of Georgia, for a proposed map of the area “between the Rivers Altamaha and Saint Mary’s.” The advertisement lists “Major John Braddock, at Jekyll” as taking subscriptions. The above grant of May 19, 1789 could have been for the property on Jekyll Island.

 

His name appearing on a list of tax “Defaulters of St. Simon’s District” published in the July 10, 1788 issue of the State of Georgia Gazette, and his being recommended as one of the commissioners for making a public road from the north end of St. Simons to the south end in the July 29, 1790 issue of the State of Georgia Gazette reveals another location at which he had property. The above grant of May 1, 1789 could have been for the property on St. Simons.

 

Several months after writing the above about the possibility of John's grant of May 1, 1789 being on St. Simons, I happened to read a footnote about John Braddock at the bottom of a page of Gordon Smith's book about the Georgia Militia that said, "His residence is shown on a map of the area around the mouth of the Altamaha River made about 1786 as Col. Braddck." Map found at Call No. 658.751.1786?:G293argSmall, American Philosophical Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I ordered a digital image of the map from the Library for $15. The map, which is of St. Simons and surrounding areas as far north as the north side of the Alatamaha and as far west as about where I-95 is located, is large and highly legible. John's house is clearly marked on it, as can be seen on the following segment excerpted from the map. Only excepts of the map can be shown without violating the purchase agreement I signed, nor may I make copies of it.

 

 

The approximate location of his house is shown below as a yellow dot on a recent aerial view of part of Little Saint Simons Island.  

 

 

As an aid in preparing for the presentation I made to the St. Simons SAR in 2004, Bill Ramsaur, president of the chapter provided me with a map of Glynn County dated "Circa 1780" for the purpose of mapping the routes the Georgia galleys and the British men-of-war took that led them to their renowned encounter of April 19, 1778. The map came from the Peter Force Collection in the Library of Congress. After some time of studying the myriad of waterways in the vicinity of St. Simons for possible routes, I happened to see a familiar name up the Altamaha (which comes from Alta Maja, the Indian name for crooked snake). A short distance below Fort Howe, where Elbert and his troops were preparing for another expedition against East Florida when word was received of the nearness of the British ships, and across the  river at a place labeled "Reids Bluff" was written "Col. Braddock's" followed by a picture of a house. The previously mentioned grant of May 19, 1789 could have been for this property.

As John Cutler Braddock was not promoted to the rank of lieutenant. colonel until September 1790, the date of "Circa 1780," which was applied to the map in modern times, cannot be correct..

 

The location of John's house at Reids Bluff was a good one for living on the Altamaha. The river was still deep enough at this point for him to operate his boat down to Darien and other coastal towns.  The post road from Savannah southward crossed there. As can be seen on the map, the “Road to Savannah”  forks just north of the Altamaha, one fork going to Reid’s Bluff and the other to Fort Howe/Barrington, and merges again south of the river. The probable reason is that when the water was too low for the Barrington ferry, which was established in 1768, to operate near the fort, its operation was moved down to deeper water at Reid’s Bluff. A unit of the Glynn County Militia was stationed a very few miles upriver at Sansavilla during John's tenure in the militia. Writings of two Revolutionary War officers indicate that at least one house existed at Reids Bluff a few years earlier during the Revolution. In a letter to Georgia Governor John Martin April 17, 1782 describing a military action on the Altamaha River, Major General Anthony Wayne wrote: "Major Francis Moore being on his return to repass the Alatamaha, on Wednesday the10th instant, with Captain Lyons and sixteen men, left half of them in his rear, whilst he with the other eight went up to a house where a Mr. Jones lived, at Read’s Bluff, on the bank of the river, to procure a boat, but upon his arrival at the door he found the house full of Indians and Tories, which circumstance rendering a retreat impracticable and being out-numbered, he attempted to pass upon them for the Enemy, until the remainder of his little party under Lyons came up."  John Faucheraud Grimke, an officer under Elbert at Fort Howe in 1778, in writing in his journal about the feasibility of troops crossing the Altamaha at Reid's Bluff on their way southward to make another attempt at invading East Florida, said: "There is a good house on this Encampment which will serve as an Hospital to Our Numerous Sick."

 

The subject of John's burial location came up again at the second annual Georgia Patriots Day in April 2006 with considerable discussion about the possibility of the burial site being at the Reids Bluff location shown on the old map. Clark Allen, one of John's descendants said he would like to try to locate the property and the burial site. Descendant Lewis Davis quickly volunteered to take part in the search

 

The search was made March 17, 2007. Following is a detailed report Clark Allen prepared of the search.