For many in the Golden Isles, Cumberland Island seems to be the uninhabited wild child of the Georgia coast, a scarcely seen haven for nature enthusiasts and horses alike.
“When I was growing up, Cumberland was just the land on the horizon,” said Stephen Doster, a St. Simons Island native and author whose new book, “Cumberland Island: Footsteps in Time,” released on July 15.
Doster’s book is a ode to the history of the the island, which is a lot more complicated than most would believe.
“Each historical era is sort of mind-boggling with what went on back then,” he said. “People go for the beauty and charm not even knowing that Ulysses S. Grant visited once, Robert E. Lee visited twice, and John F. Kennedy Jr. snuck there to secretly marry.”
Doster utilized his resources to garner much more information than the authors to write on Cumberland before him. Doster is the editor for Vanderbilt’s Institute of Chemical Biology, so fortunately, he lives about 200 steps from the Vanderbilt Library.
“Surprisingly, they have a complete set of the Georgia colonial records,” he said with a chuckle.
Doster’s interest in writing about the island came about when he was approached by fellow author and Glynn County native Jingle Davis, who pitched him the idea for the book — which he accepted.
Doster’s memories of the many trips to Cumberland during his teens and twenties made him reminiscent of his deep appreciation for the island, and he was interested to learn more about it himself.
Not only has Doster encapsulated the island’s history, but his collaborator and local photographer Benjamin Galland captured the untouched beauty of the island in the photos found throughout the book.
In Doster’s description, “It’s almost like a coffee table book.”
Doster’s choice to capture the island’s landscapes in his new book came from a trip to the Brian Lane archives in Woodbine, when he saw a photo of a lone Cumberland sand dune tracked with footprints.
Doster thought to himself, “How many people have crossed that sand dune?”
Thus was the inspiration for the title “Cumberland Island: Footsteps in Time.”