Why Sapelo Island?

In my upcoming historical novel, Sapelo Island is the home of South End, Chocolate, Bourbon, Kenan Fields, High Point, Marsh Landing, and Blackbeard’s Island–all names associated with the fifteen by three-mile barrier island off the Georgia coast as the War Between the States breaks out. The Spalding family’s legacy now rests in what was called the Spalding City of the Dead, a family burial plot near that family’s mainland home, Ashantilly, a short drive above the once thriving port of Darien, Georgia.

Today, much has changed. Darien is no longer the bustling seaport rivaling even Savannah at one time, and Sapelo Island no longer produces cotton, sugarcane, indigo, and rice as it once did. In fact, none of the coastal plantations exist any longer except for historical markers and community namesakes. Yet, Sapelo Island’s and Darien’s history goes back hundreds of long forgotten years.

My wife and I stopped in Darien in the summer of 2019 after a writers’ conference on Saint Simon Island for a bite of lunch. Immediately, I pondered using the quaint time-lost feel of this shrimp boat hub on the Georgia coast as the setting for one of my southern fiction stories. We returned for a week-long stay the following summer to research the town with the notion I could bring my Shiloh Mystery characters to town, but soon found myself entranced by the history of Sapelo Island after we spent a long day traipsing the island from one end to the other (at least as far as we could safely go without getting stuck in the soft sand and mud that made up most of the roads or should I say trails on the island).

I then stumbled upon Buddy Sullivan’s Early Days of the Georgia Tidewater, The Story of McIntosh County& Sapelo. I discovered the rich history of Sapelo and Darien, dating back to Oglethorpe’s founding of New Inverness, later known as Darien–the second oldest town in Georgia. Then I read about the McIntosh clan who settled in the area.

And yes, for my Coweta County friends, the same family whence William McIntosh haled and married Senoia, altering the fate and future generations of Creek Nation lands in Georgia. But that’s another story to be told.

From the McIntosh clan, the Leake clan and Spalding clans emerged up and down the coast in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

By 1800, Thomas Spalding arrived on Sapelo Island with his wife, Sarah Leake Spalding and South End came into being. Of their fifteen children born between 1800 and 1822, only five outlived Thomas (1851) and Sarah (1843). Three daughters married and bore children with the names of Brailsford, Wylly, and Kenan. Of the two sons, Charles, the eldest surviving son, had two wives but no children; only the youngest, Randolph bore three Spalding children. His family’s story is the basis behind my upcoming story…

Why this story? As my editor shared after reading my manuscript: History is not as black and white as we might believe, much grayness exists that we should learn about. The Randolph Spalding Story offers shades of gray that will enhance our understanding of history. His is a tragic story, as is his family’s story, and important to retell.

In the meantime, follow the below link to read another modern account about Sapelo Island today. I will provide periodic insights into Sapelo Island, Darien, and other parts of the Georgia coast, including Savannah, in the coming weeks and months as we all wait for the release of my latest historical novel.

https://ordinary-times.com/2022/04/02/oh-sapelo/

Sapelo Island Storm

Thank you for subscribing and look forward to hearing back from you.

T. M. “Mike” Brown

Writing Randolph Spalding’s Story Began Viewing this Video…

https://youtu.be/f8DBQdbpJrs

This 10-year-old video by Mattie Gladstone spurred my interests in learning more about Randolph Spalding, which led to my current story, The Last Laird of Sapelo.

My wife and I toured the property with permission from Mattie Gladstone’s surviving son and daughter who still live there. With a little imagination, one can visualize the original grand farmstead house and outbuildings built by Randolph Spalding when he moved his family off Sapelo Island in 1857. This video is amazing and has over 58,000 views with nearly 900 likes.

We have loads of pictures allowing me to write details of this antebellum home north of Darien, located in the area called The Ridge. Enjoy… History is not all black and white, they are many shades of gray we should all take time to understand.

Follow the link (it could not be embedded) for this heart-warming description of Randolph Spalding’s circa 1857 farmstead home along the tidal marshes above Darien, GA. Why did he give up living in the grand tabby constructed South End Mansion, aptly named “Big House” by his famous father, Thomas Spalding. Both historic homes play integral parts in The Last Laird of Sapelo: The Randolph Spalding Story.

Watch for more historical tidbits that make up my new novel currently being submitted to agents and publishers.

WHAT IS YOUR FAMILY STORY?

OUR FAMILY ROOTS SHAPE OUR IDENTITY.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO READ AN OUTSTANDING ARTICLE ABOUT DISCOVERING OUR FAMILY’S HISTORY, WHETHER FOR GOD OR BAD. THE PAST LIES IN THE TRUNK AND ROOTS OF OUR FAMIYL TREE.

WHO IS THE KEEPER OF YOUR FAMILY TREE?

Who is the Keeper of the Family Story in your family? This post reminded me of how I accepted little knowledge of my family’s long history until recently and in digging into my ancestry did I discover facts about my family tree I never knew, but explained my love of the South.

I suggest reading the poem by Abram Ryan, “A Land Without Ruins” at the end of the article. “A land without ruins is a land without memories—a land without memories is a land without history.”

We all have a family history, a family tree that has shaped us and gives us our identity. We had no say, nor any opinion of its creation, but we are a branch sprouted from our family tree. The branch with our name on it could not exist apart from our family roots. The good, the bad, and the ugly, the right and wrong, the just and unjust of our family’s past shape, but not define who we are. We can only make a difference for future generations.

What will your legacy add to your family tree?

A LESSON LEARNED FROM MY NEW HISTORICAL NOVEL

My longtime editor summed up The Last Laird of Sapelo this way: “Set at the beginning of the Civil War, this historical fiction novel stands out because it tells a perspective most people likely have not heard. It helped me see the Civil War more in shades of gray rather than in black and white (I mean this metaphorically as well as literally).” Interesting enough, Kari Scare is from Michigan. With all the diverse, divisive issues today, we need to address more of the grayness in history to learn from it.

Sapelo Lighthouse, circa 1860

The Last Laird of Sapelo: BETA Time

The Last Laird of Sapelo: The Randolph Spalding Story finished. Worked up the query letter and synopsis. Submissions and queries to agents & publishers begin in April after BETA readers finish.

Are you a BETA reader?

BETA readers:

A person who reads a work of fiction before it is published in order to mark errors and suggest improvements, typically without receiving payment (But, can earn a complimentary advance copy of the published book.)

Do you enjoy historical novels?

Historical fiction is set in the past and pays attention to the manners, social conditions and other details of the depicted period. Authors also explore notable historical figures in these settings, allowing readers to better understand how these individuals might have responded to their environments.

 ” …the author is writing from research rather than personal experience.”

My Invitation to BETA Readers…

While visiting Darien, Georgia, two years ago, seeking a unique setting for my fourth Shiloh series novel, a day-long trip to nearby Sapelo Island altered the direction of my next novel. My tour guide, a descendant of Geechee slaves, piqued my historical curiosity with his tales of the island’s storied past. 

I pondered why after the Civil War ended, Sapelo’s freed slaves traveled over two-hundred miles to return to the island? The answer required hours upon hours of in-depth research, as well as revisiting Darien, Brunswick, Savannah, and Beaufort, as my first historical novel evolved.

The Last Laird of Sapelo: The Randolph Spalding Story is a fact-based novel about the enigmatic, youngest and most successful son of the famous Thomas Spalding. By 1861, family and friends knew Randolph as an ambitious planter who parlayed his father’s fame and generosity; a popular socialite, hobnobbing from Charleston to Savannah to Milledgeville; a high-stakes gambler and sportsman; and popular politician. But when the Civil War threatens the Georgia coast, he is called upon to face a storm of life-changing events threatening his family’s legacy, livelihood, and lands. Following his untimely tragic death in March 1862, newspapers honored him as “a pure patriot and high-toned chivalrous gentlemen, doing good service in the army of the Confederate States… His funeral procession included a large military escort and a long procession of citizens.” 

History records that Randolph Spalding’s freed slaves returned to Sapelo Island in the months following the Civil War and lived and worked alongside Randolph’s family, who moved back in 1868. For the remaining decades of the Nineteenth Century, the Spalding family coexisted on Sapelo Island with their former slaves.

Writing this story made it became abundantly clear to me history requires the seeking of obverse facts and truths from our past to best comprehend the diverse issues we face today. A host of folks I have talked with about this story agree, and I hope you do as well. 

The completed novel is 86,200 words and is ready to be sent at your request.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my work. I look forward to hearing from you. Please email me of your interest in receiving either a printed 320 page copy or a digital PDF copy downloadable on your device at home.

Mike, aka T. M. Brown

2022 Bringing Big News & Changes

The Last Laird of Sapelo: The Randolph Spalding Story began in Darien, GA 2 years ago

2022 Big News Coming Soon

My latest novel, a historical tale about Randolph Spalding, the youngest son of Thomas Spalding, the original Laird of Sapelo, is finally nearing completion. His story has consumed my attention and focus ever since Purgatory’s launch on May 26, 2020. I did not think I could take my focus off my Shiloh fictional characters, but since before last summer began, my attention has been on writing while researching Randolph Spalding and his family. My wife and I have made two trips to the Georgia coast and sailed to Sapelo Island, listened to stories, sat with and read books by renowned historians, scoured the internet, and cluttered my computer with images and documents to validate the story I have written. Though it is a novel, I based it upon his history, cut short by his untimely death in March 1862. More will come in the weeks and months ahead as I seek to find the right publisher for this gripping story.

Shiloh Mystery Series approaching its Fifth Anniversary of Sanctuary, the story began the series.

Watch for exciting news of new editions to this award-winning series.

A brand new Hometown Novel Nights and HNN Writers Group website coming soon… HometownNovel.com