Document Type


Publication Date



Prepared for Tybee MLK Human Rights Organization and the Lazaretto Coalition

Note: This document presents a sample of ongoing research into documentation about this topic. Four figures are included for reference purposes. No locational information about archaeological sites is included in this summary; that information is protected by state and Federal laws for cultural resources.

Historical documentation indicates that the western end of Tybee Island was used as a location for a “lazaretto” quarantine station for enslaved Africans en route to Savannah. Lazaretto is the Italian word for “pest house” (Bell 2010:161). Records show that hundreds of enslaved Africans contracted smallpox during the Middle Passage. Construction of the lazaretto was planned in 1767, and the lazaretto was completed in January 1768. The Tybee lazaretto was no longer in use after 1785, by presentment of the Chatham County Grand Jury (October 1785). Today, this area is along Lazaretto Creek, which empties into the south channel of the Savannah River, opposite Cockspur Island. The creek was once called “Tybee Creek.” A special history study was recently prepared for Fort Pulaski National Monument, and an entire section of their report provides an overview of the Tybee lazaretto and the slave trade (de Chantal et al. 2022:28-33). The unmarked cemetery associated with the Tybee lazaretto is in an area that is actively threatened by coastal erosion, development, and sea level rise. The precise location of this site is not publicly known. Georgia Historical Society erected a marker in the vicinity in 1958, shortly before the bridge across Lazaretto Creek was replaced.1 At the invitation of the Georgia Department of Transportation, Tybee MLK Human Rights Organization has requested to become a consulting party for cultural resources as part of the Section 106 process for one pending highway construction project in the vicinity of this site.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.