Just after the Civil War in 1868, a girl was born on Cockspur Island in the former quarters of the engineer officers. The child was named Florence Martus, the daughter of an ordnance sergeant at Fort Pulaski.
From the old stone pier on the north shore of Cockspur Island young Florence first saw the passing ships going with cargoes to the farthest corners of the globe. The small child was fascinated by these ships and waved her handkerchief as they passed by. Sailors on the ships often waved back.
A few years later Florence went to live with her brother, a light keeper, in a small cottage close by the riverbank, about five miles up river from Fort Pulaski. From this time on she waved at every ship that passed—a table cloth or towel by day, a lantern by night. For more than 44 years she never missed a ship, and each ship, as it passed, returned her salute with three blasts of the whistle. Many stories were told of this small girl, who finally grew to be a white-haired old lady. Florence martus passed away in 1943, but her efforts live on in the stories and legends of the Waving Girl of Savannah.
Georgia Historical Society
Did You Know?
The present Cockspur Lighthouse dates from 1856. The lighthouse survived the Civil War despite being in direct line of fire during the battle for Fort Pulaski in 1862. Finally extingushed in 1909, the lighthouse was relit in 2007. Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia