After the fall of Savannah and Charleston and under Field Order 15, St. Catherines Island came under the control of the Freedman’s Bureau. The Bureau’s agent was Tunis Campbell. He established two schools and formed a teaching government in order to teach formerly enslaved people how our national government functions. Tunis Campbell was removed by federal troops after Congress repealed Field Order 15 in the Fall of 1865.

On July 9, 1800 Jacob Waldburg (also spelled Walburg)acquired the northern half of the island.  There were other owners of other portions of St. Catherines Island at that time.  By 1852 the Waldburgs  had acquired all of the land once included in Mary Musgrove Bosomworth’s King’s Grant. During or after the Civil War, the Waldburgs sold the island to the Rodriguez family.

The following is an account told by members of the Rodriguez family during a visit to St. Catherines Island (SCI) during the late 1980s.

Their ancestor, who they called “the Captain,” purchased SCI sometime in the mid-1860s. They said that the deed was not recorded at the time of sale due to the Civil War. They also said that Rodriguez’s 15-year-old daughter died on SCI in 1863, and that the Captain buried her in the family plot in Brooklyn, NY a couple of weeks later. When asked how he managed get his boat and daughter through the naval blockade, they replied he was a gun smuggler and a blockade-runner. According to the Rodriguez family, at some point after the Civil War he used his two steam freighters to transport sugar to New York from Cuba. He would then stop by SCI to take on a shipment of guns to be smuggled into Cuba.

The Captain’s widow Anna Rodriguez sold the island to Jacob Rauers on January 26, 1876 (Thomas, et al, 1978:235).

The Rauers family used the old south end Waldburg mansion while in residence on St. Catherines. A storm surge during the 1893 hurricane swept the old house off its foundation. They then built a large Victorian style home in the North End settlement. Photographs of this home can be found in:

The Anthropology of St. Catherines Island, 1: Natural and Cultural History by Thomas, Jones, Durham and Larsen. This book is an Anthropological Paper of the American Museum of Natural History (1978: Volume 55: [2]

The Rauers family used the island as a farm and retreat.

In March of 1925, author Charles Jenkins visited St. Catherines Island as he conducted research for his biography of Button Gwinnett. Jenkins was the first person to ever suggest to the Rauers family that the old house they considered the Waldburg overseer’s house might be the home of Button Gwinnett.