St. Simon's Island and Christ Church|
The Spanish moss drips almost to the ground from the branches of the giant live oak trees. Oak trees like the kind that came from here to help build that wonderful ship "OLD IRONSIDES", The U.S.S. Constitution. We have come to St. Simon's Island in search of Anson Green Phelps Dodge II, and in the process we have stepped back in time. It is easy to imagine that we hear the whir of the lumber mills that used to be here; that we see the ships arriving from England, Maine, and South America; is that one of the rafts out there piled high with lumber from the back country? In the evening light, the plantations along the Fredericka River almost take shape. We imagine that we can hear the lighthouse sending out its warning as the waves crash upon the shore.
At Fort Frederica, the canon acts as a sentinel pointing out over the river. The moat, the remnants of old walls, the signs depicting what buildings stood on their various spots; all this gives a sense going back, back in time. It is so quiet. What are those ghostly shapes marching along the parade grounds? Could they be English soldiers? As we gaze at Bloody Marsh, we hear in the distance, the piper playing as the battle is waged.
We drive along Fredericka road that runs the length of the island, and picture Anson Green Phelps Dodge holding the reins of a horse drawn carriage, on his way to the church that he had resurrected from certain oblivion.
We pass by the oak lined drive of RETREAT, which stands today as a great monument to the plantations of the past. The enormous live oak tress that line each side of what was once a long carriage drive carry us back to the past, and we can envision the horse drawn carriages arriving for an evenings get together.
We arrive at Christ Church and immediately feel the presence of Anson Greene Phelps Dodge II. Although it has been rebuilt yet again since Anson rebuilt it, the integrity of the design has been kept the same, and we see it as he saw it.
We gaze at the stained glass windows in the entryway, one picturing Anson Green Phelps Dodge and the other in his honor picturing the original Christ Church.. We look at the marble bust of Anson as a child of five, and wonder what went on in his little boy mind.. Carved in Italy while the family was on a visit there, the bust was a gift of Anson's mother after his death at the early age of thirty-nine.
At the front left of the sanctuary, we see the beautiful window depicting the Good Samaritan and dedicated to the memory of William Earl Dodge, grandfather of Anson Green Phelps Dodge, and we remember the many things he did for human kind while he was alive. We realize that such was the legacy handed down to Anson. It is no wonder then, that as Anson gazed on the ruined church for the first time, his heart was moved to rebuild and then to study and become a minister so that he might preach there himself.
Anson is buried with both of his wives and his small son in the picturesque cemetery which surrounds the church building. The live oak trees hung with Spanish moss whisper in the breeze.