Lost Southern History: The Pink Chapel of St. Simons Island
This structure is long shrouded in the mysterious lore of St. Simons Island.
Some natives say it was the source of devil worship, and that its pink color came from the blood of slaves whipped into submission.
The actual story is surrounded by the lives of one family, two brothers, on St. Simons Island.
Back when the Spanish Moss of the island draped over Antebellum Plantations, two brothers purchased plantations on the northern end of the island.
The first was West Point, purchased by Col. William Hazzard, in 1818 while the second was Pike’s Bluff, purchased by Dr. Thomas Hazzard, in 1827.
This point in the history of St. Simons Island has plenty of ghost stories and legends of voodoo magic, and those stories can send a chill through your spine as you wander around the island. But the roots of this story are more simple.
Many blog posts will tell you that there was a dispute between one of the Hazzard brothers and a Mr. John Wylly, whose plantation The Village bordered theirs. One post states the dispute between Col. William and Wylly, but most sources state it was between Dr. Thomas and Wylly.
At any rate, there was a heated dispute between the two men over their property lines. When digging deeper into more sources, it shows that the two men were called to Brunswick to settle the matter over a duel. A footnote found online states that, specifically, they were called to Oglethorpe House in Brunswick and even states the newspaper that reported it– however I haven’t found the archives for that paper yet. The same footnote states that another island resident, Henri DuBignon, served as witness to the duel.
The end result would be the death of John Wylly, and Dr. Thomas Hazzard escaping punishment.
The families on the island, for the most part, all attended one church: Christ Church. The tension after the duel would become so great that families would use separate entrances to attempt to avoid one another.
Eventually, the Hazzards would build their own church, on their own property to attend. What would become the Pink Chapel, with its color resulting from lichen and the tabby used to construct it.
And a piece of St. Simons lore would grow out of the conflict, and the need to find solace.
Love to all y’all,
*Header photo and additional photo used from April Hawks’s post, which provides further thoughts on how today many of us are putting up our own “pink chapels” in our hearts when we isolate ourselves. I, for one, appreciated the insight.
Molly McWilliams Wilkins
Molly McWilliams Wilkins is a Southern culture commentator, web producer, and social media marketing maven. She is also a freelance writer who has worked with a variety of publications and online magazines including Bourbon & Boots, Paste Magazine, Macon Magazine, the 11th Hour, Macon Food & Culture Magazine, and as the Digital Content Editor for The Southern Weekend. Mommy first, fashionista, social media maven, writer, artist, dreamer and poet. Hangs on to her Oxford Commas by force. Addicted to shoes and purses- and lots of coffee. Coffee coffee coffee.