According to Captain McCall’s History of Georgia, during the 1870’s, Sunbury, Liberty County, was “Thought by many, in point of commercial importance, to rival Savannah.” With a seaport more accessible than Savannah it had a significant advantage of becoming Georgia’s leading port.
However, Sunbury was vulnerable to the destructive forces of storms sweeping in from the Atlantic whereas the town of Savannah being 18 miles up the Savannah River did not receive the full force of those storms coming ashore.
Sunbury declined in population when the County Seat moved to Riceboro in 1792 but a hurricane in 1804 demonstrated the damage an Atlantic storm can inflict.
The SAVANNAH ADVERTISER for September 15, 1804 said, “The bluff resembles a perfect beach, almost every chimney is level with the ground, houses blown down, some of them quite new and lately erected. Every boat on the plantation opposite Sunbury is lost except two.
“Several plantations suffered in the loss of all their cotton houses, corn houses, stables and slave houses. Mr. Cubbedge lost five slaves and all the horses, some cattle and all the stores and necessary articles for living.”
Savannah also had a great property loss and flood waters covered Hutchinson Island to a depth of 6 to 8 feet. A number of lives were lost on the island.
Then in 1824 another hurricane struck Sunbury and the citizens realized it would not be feasible to attempt to rebuild. The once thriving town of Sunbury soon became a corn field.
Today the only reminder of the past is the cemetery and many of the original grave markers are now missing.
SOURCE: Midway Museum