Surprising Suburbs: Sunbury

Sunbury shares history and pleasure in new ways.

Sure, Savannah is a grand Georgia destination, but the Georgia Coast has many other communities to explore just a short drive away. Head south on Interstate 95 and embrace a new notion in Sunbury, where people passionate about the woods, waters, gardens, marshes and trails protect the ecosystem in their family since 1755.

Sunrise at Dunham Farms

Sunrise at Dunham Farms

It is rarely possible to overnight in a home on land given to a family as a king’s grant before America was America, but you can at Dunham Farms, where Laura and Meredith Devendorf are the mother-daughter proprietors. This nine-guest-bedroom home is actually a barn! Try to figure out how because the renovation is elegant, the linens exquisite and the furnishings, antiques and reproductions fill the home with immense charm. The meals are gourmet, and attention to detail is abundant through the Dunham Farms 9,400 acres. Kayaking, even by moonlight, hiking 35 miles of trails winding through oaks, pines, wetlands and marsh banks, birding and dreamy relaxing define reason enough for a holiday.

The Devendorfs seem to be protecting these fragile ecosystems in ways to safely share them abundantly. Melon Bluff was the name of 2,300 acres of theirs, which they donated to the Springfield Legacy Foundation for research, education and outreach.  Look for 82 of their acres closest to the Interstate, donated in 2013 to become a replica of the Santa Clara Mission, which we should be able to experience next year.   That will be a suburb within a suburb, spanning centuries.

Soldier at Fort Morris

Soldier at Fort Morris

Dunham Farms is the continuing site for significant archeological research ever since a coin dated 1526 was found there. Over the next eight years, we might see archeologists at work in test sites throughout the farm, each plot identified first with GIS locators. Send the grandchildren when they’re grown up for a Dunham Farms holiday, because the Devendorfs expect the full archeology might take 75 years! While visiting Sunbury, watch the documentary at Fort Morris, the state historical site, explaining the early days of the community. Fort Morris played a role in the War of 1812 and the Civil War; a visit includes the museum and theater, blacksmith shop and earthworks.

Seabrook Village

Seabrook Village

Also nearby is Seabrook Village, a real community from 1865 -1930, that today is an authentic living history village, with restored and furnished buildings, abounding with cultural artifacts from the families living here. These are stories of slavery and Sherman’s scorched earth, early freedom and land ownership. Consider a three-hour guided tour, with a picnic and entertainment if you like. Self-guided visit? Allow at least an hour.

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at

Civil War Wednesday: The Navy


Montauk (Photo Credit: The Soldier in Our Civil War: A Pictorial History of the Conflict, 1861-1865, Illustrating the Valor of the Soldier as Displayed on the Battle-field. New York: J. H. Brown publishing company, 1884-85).

Two vessels and their crews carried much history into a February 28 confrontation off Georgia’s coast near Confederate-held Fort McAllister. John L. Worden, former commander of the USS Monitor in the epic encounter with the CSS Virginia in the March 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads, now captained the ironclad USS Montauk. Although the Federals had battled Fort McAllister’s defenders, Worden ignored shelling from the Confederate bastion as he approached a vessel, which had run aground nearby.


The Rattlesnake (Photo Credit: Harper’s Weekly, March 28, 1863).

Slowly, the turret of the Montauk rotated toward the Rattlesnake, once known as the Confederate privateer Nashville. Soon, the remains of the sleek craft, which had once plagued Northern shipping, lay smoldering in the Ogeechee River’s murky waters. The Montauk received her only damage when striking a torpedo (floating mine) as she steamed away from the area.


John L. Worden (Photo Credit: The Library of Congress).

Michael Shaffer

Michael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center. He is a Civil War historian, author, and newspaper columnist, and a member of the Society of Civil War Historians. He serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and assists the Friends of Camp McDonald as a Civil War consultant.

The Civil War Center