ExploreSouthernHistory.com -St. George Island State Park, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - St. George Island State Park, Florida
|St. George Island State Park
A stunning stretch of natural Florida beach and
coastal environment, the park preserves miles of
St. George Island.
St. George Island State Park
The park is rich in scenic
beauty as well as natural and
Dunes of Sugar Hill Area
Towering white sand dunes
can be seen throughout the
park, especially in the Sugar
Oyster Harvesting Display
A boat and other tools of the
Apalachicola oyster industry
are on display at the East
Slough boat ramp.
St. George Island State Park - St. George Island, Florida
Where Bowles Was Cast Away
Shells on the Beach
The beaches at St. George
Island State Park sparkle with
a beautiful array of natural
|Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Preserving a beautiful stretch of Florida's Gulf
Coast, St. George Island State Park (officially
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State
Park) is one of the most spectacular natural
areas in the South.
The park preserves 2,023 acres of pristine
barrier island environment, including miles of
undeveloped white sand beach. It is a beach
lover's paradise and a major ecotourism
St. George Island State Park also preserves
locations of significant Florida and national
historic significance. As a historical marker
just inside the main entrance notes, this was
where the ship carrying the infamous pirate
and adventurer William Augustus Bowles
wrecked while bringing him back to Florida in
Bowles, a former British soldier who had
been thrown out of the service in Pensacola
for insubordination, had married into the
family of the Lower Creek/Seminole chief
Thomas Perryman. After returning to assist
the British during the Battle of Pensacola of
the American Revolution, he had set about
trying to establish a Native American empire
Bowles had subsequently been captured by
the Spanish, who then claimed Florida, but
had escaped and made his way to England.
With help from the English, he was returned
to Florida aboard the warship H.M.S. Fox. As
the Fox neared the east end of St. George
Island, however, it ran aground and was
shattered. Fox Point on the island still bears
U.S. Commissioner of Limits Andrew Ellicott
was then engaged in surveying the boundary
line between Spanish Florida and the United
States and as his schooner came down the
Apalachicola River into Apalachicola Bay, he
unexpectedly received the following from Lt.
James Wooldridge, captain of the Fox:
...As there is no possibility of saving the
schooner, I trust sir, your humanity will induce
you to stop here, and devise with me, some
means of removing these unfortunate men,
who have nothing more than some
provisions saved from the wreck to exist on;
the island producing nothing; on the contrary,
for two days, during the late gale, the sea
made a breach over it, so that for those two
days, we were with nearly two feet water on
The letter was delivered by two of Ellicott's
sailors who had been sent into the bay in a
small boat. They also brought a letter from
William Augustus Bowles, requesting an
audience with the U.S. commissioner.
Ellicott went immediately to the relief of the
castaways. After informing them that he could
not violate U.S. neutrality by providing them
more than humanitarian assistance, he
delivered up supplies of food to the stranded
men and held numerous discussions with
both Lt. Wooldridge and Bowles himself.
The latter individual, he noted, "behaved on
all occasions whilst with me in a polite and
friendly manner, and generously furnished
me with the necessary charts and directions,
for sailing round Cape Florida, a matter of
great importance to me."
Bowles, of course, did soon return to shore
where he resumed his efforts to established
his "State of Muskogee." He went so far as to
commission a flotilla of privateer (pirate)
ships to prey on Spanish shipping in the Gulf
of Mexico. He is the individual celebrated in
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, as the pirate "Billy
Bowlegs." (Not to be confused with the Indian
chiefs of the same name).
The east end of St. George Island still looks
much as it did when William Augustus
Bowles was stranded there in 1799 and is
preserved as sensitive environmental area.
Other historical exhibits in the park include a
display on Apalachicola oyster fishing at the
East Slough boat ramp. Visitors can inspect
a boat and other tools used in harvesting
St. George Island State Park is open daily
from 8 a.m. until sunset. The entrance fee is
$6 per vehicle ($4 if only one person is in the
car) and $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The park is located at 1900 E. Gulf Beach
Drive on St. George Island.
In addition to its beautiful beaches, dunes
and bayfront marshes, the park features
camping, picnicking and nature trails.
Please click here to visit the official website
for more information.
William Augustus Bowles
Sand dunes frame the
historical marker for William
Augustus Bowles at St.
George Island State Park.