When the Union Army occupied South Carolina’s Sea Islands, including Hilton Head, on November 7, 1861, it freed about 10,000 slaves. Today, historic Mitchelville is preserved as a tourist attraction, while the Gullah Geechee are squeezed onto ever-smaller tracts of land. Although the Island is home to many world-class golf courses and resorts, much of the landscape remains as it was when sighted from William Hilton’s ship more than 300 years ago. There were four Gullah general stores that sold gas, along with a vast assortment of other goods. The structure looks like an art project, as if there are shells stuck all over it. Hilton Head Island Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries, Infographic: How to Enjoy a Shell-icious Raw Oyster, Everything You Need to Know About Hilton Head Island's Sea Turtles, Pet-Friendly Accommodations, Restaurants & Services, Make the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Promise. Hilton Head Island is America’s favorite island®, offering 12 miles of pristine beaches and everything you need for the ultimate retreat. My great-grandfather was a slave,” he said. In what is now called Fish Haul Creek Park on the “heel” of the island, the community of Mitchelville was created. Gradually a plan was formulated for the education, welfare, and employment of the blacks, combining both government and missionary efforts. . I thought that was the coolest thing — a town telling a huge company like Mickey D’s to follow their rules or shove it. Consequently, Hilton Head Island lapsed into obscurity, remaining isolated for over 80 years. Gotta be setbacks and buffers.”. I remember that one well. But long before Hilton Head’s resorts arrived, the island had been home to cotton, indigo and rice plantations that relied on slave labor. Stunning Resorts. 1969. November 11: “Slavery – the Cornerstone of the Plantation Society and the Confederacy,” at the Coastal Discovery Museum, at 3 p.m. John Monkaitis will present a lecture on the role that slavery played as the cornerstone of the Planter Society in the Lowcountry. An Authentic Culture of the Sea Islands Gullah is the West African based system of traditions, customs, beliefs, art forms and family life that have survived centuries of slavery and more than a … Search for activities, restaurants, and attractions, get travel deals, view trip ideas, and create your own personalized itinerary. Hilton Head Tours for Annual Events Important annual events welcome the public to enjoy a showcase of the culture. We use cookies to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. Keep in mind that this was all near the beginning of the Civil War. We’d save the wrapper, suck on it all day, then put it on our windowsill. Negro Universities Press, New York (reprint of 1862 edition). Within two days of the Union victory on Hilton Head, Sea Island blacks began descending on the outpost. Later, in 1989, the Cross Island Parkway was constructed, making Hilton Head even more accessible to the vacationers (many from Ohio, as it’s about the max you’d be able to drive in a day) that now flock here every summer. The Gullah Heritage Tour was a part of our Alternative Spring Break Program while visiting Hilton Head. One plantation was named Spanish Wells for the freshwater wells dug by the first European invaders. Irv’s involved in a project to restore Mitchelville. And indeed, there are: Buildings of this era were made of tabby, which consists of lime, sand and oyster shells. Hilton Head Island Publishing Company, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. His efforts were aided by the construction of a bridge to the mainland the same year. Consequently, Hilton Head Island lapsed into obscurity, remaining isolated for over 80 years. Today, they own less than 1,000, Irv informed us. 1862 - Hilton Head's population swelled to over 40,000, including Union troops, civilian store-keepers, missionaries, prisoners of war, and slaves seeking refuge from their owners. The Hilton Head story is about war and peace and slavery and freedom. In the 1920s to the ’50s, Gullahs would trade fruit, veggies and wild game on the Simmons family’s property in Spanish Wells. “On Hilton Head, we believe in setbacks and buffers. Yet, like the enigmatic rocks of Stonehenge and the carvings of Easter Island, their secrets remain hidden. Hilton Head’s social and cultural history dates back to the early 1700s, and from the beginning, the Gullah people were central to the story. Armed with vision, energy, modern air conditioning and investment dollars, he created a master plan for a resort community. The first of the Hilton Head family resorts—Sea Pines Plantation—became the prototype of the modern resort community, now copied around the world. Many Gullah families purchased acreages, and for nearly a century, they farmed their land. “That’s when families started locking their doors” (which comes out sounding like doe), Irv told us. Brought to the New World and forced to work on the plantations of coastal South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, Gullah/Geechee people have retained many aspects of their African heritage due to the geographic barriers of the … If you’re spending some time on Hilton Head, there’s much more to do than play golf and go to the beach. The chapel was completed in 1788 and the Baynard Mausoleum was built in 1846. Origin of name – Legend says Honey Horn got its name from the … Storytelling, crafts and music accompany an impressive art exhibit and culinary events. After the war, as the freed slaves on the island attempted to grow Sea Island cotton, the boll weevil proved to be even more devastating. This was because people kept chopped wood underneath so they’d always have some dry wood to cook with and keep them warm. “We’d drive right on the beach. One of the oldest structures on the island, the Queen Chapel, A.M.E. Church is located on Beach City Road. Strict rules remain when it comes to construction projects. “But Mr. William Aiken took his recipes with him when he died,” Irv said. Due to the land’s low elevation and hot summers, the wealthy landowners spent little time on the Island, opting to locate their beautiful townhouses in less tropical environments on the mainland. “My name’s Irvin Campbell — but you can call me Irv,” he said. In the late 1940’s, the Island experienced a sort of re-birth when a group of timbermen recognized great potential in the Island’s tall, straight pines. Commissioned by a group of Barbados planters to find new land on which to plant sugar and indigo, Hilton soon claimed the Island in the name of the British Crown. Mitchelville on Hilton Head was the first self-governing community of freed slaves in the US, established during the Union Army occupation of the Sea Islands. However, Hilton Head Island did not gain worldwide recognition until 1790 when another planter, William Elliott, successfully raised the first crop of long-staple Sea Island cotton. It was the first self-governing town of formerly enslaved African Americans. John Barnwell became Hilton Head Island’s first English settler in 1717 after receiving a grant of 1,000 acres in what is now Hilton Head Plantation. There weren’t proper doctors on Hilton Head, and this father and son handled medical cases — at least the ones the midwives didn’t attend to. Northern businessmen, called carpetbaggers for the soft-sided bags they traveled with, bought the entire island and sold it off. Between Skull Creek and Jarvis Creek He also encountered the native Escamacus Indians, but little is known of the earlier native civilization that inhabited the Island as far back as 4,000 years ago. You could suck that for two days! many of them with no other clothing than gunny-sacks. Other structures were salvaged for building materials. Hilton Head Island’s natural beauty, spectacular seascapes, exceptional ecology and South Carolina historical sites now beckon a new generation of explorers. Shortly after the war, the main house was destroyed by fire. And it is a story about the survival of a people against seemingly insurmountable odds. “This used to be our downtown,” Irv said. Perfect for independent travelers, you create a sightseeing itinerary that suits your personal interests. In 1861, nearly all of Hilton Head Island was covered by plantations worked by slaves, according to maps from The Heritage Library and Beaufort County historians. ——— ©2020 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.) Visit The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.) at www.islandpacket.com. And now is the time for you to leave your own footprints in the sand…on Hilton Head Island. In 1698, the Lord Proprietors granted several islands and some of the Lowcountry’s mainland to John Bayley. It details the steps taken by Hilton to aid in the prevention of modern slavery and human trafficking in any part of its business and supply chains during the Financial Year 2016. Harriet Tubman, famous for her involvement with the Underground Railroad, had to see what the Mitchelville hype was all about, “These industrious new citizens built homes on neatly arranged streets, elected their own officials, developed laws, built an economy and implemented mandatory education for their children,” Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park reports. During the Revolution, the British frequently raided Hilton Head Island and hostilities continued for weeks after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Request a free copy of the Hilton Head Island Vacation Planner and learn about all the attractions, activities, unique history and places to stay on Hilton Head Island. That's not the case any longer, he added. At the time the picture was made, Hilton Head's population had grown to over forty thousand individuals and included Union troops, civilian storekeepers, missionaries, prisoners of war, and slaves seeking refuge from their owners. On November 7, 1861, the Island became the scene of the largest amphibious landing by U.S forces until D-Day, as more than 12,000 Union soldiers landed on the Island. Tickets cost $32 for adults; $15 for kids 12 and under. It was a 45-hour journey — and sometimes the winds weren’t favorable, so they couldn’t make it Savannah, and the perishable goods would be lost. Drayton's negro quarters, Hilton Head, S.C. Summary Photograph shows soldiers and slaves in front of the slave quarters on Drayton's plantation. Popularly called sea pines, the trees produced lumber for a variety of uses. “Many people realized they could move anywhere else,” Irv said. Consider hopping on the bus for an insightful tour of the island’s fascinating Gullah heritage. They survived modestly on small farms and as hunters and fisherman. The Gullahs of Hilton Head Island were descended from African slaves and are a key part of the history of the Civil War and Restoration. Its original inhabitants were known for fishing and shrimping. In less than five hours, the Union fleet captured both Fort Beauregard on St. Philips Island and Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island. In the Chaplin neighborhood, Irv told us about beach pavilions. “People come to the island and complain they can’t find anything!” Irv said. French, Austa M., Slavery in South Carolina and the Ex-slaves; or, The Port Royal Mission. The word is synonymous with Gullah. Venue: Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn. I was 18 years old.”. I couldn’t get over how small that really is. You’ll see stacks of bricks propping up the buildings. Hilton Head Island in the Civil War by Robert Carse | $20. “We’d catch enough fish to feed those families who didn’t have a boat. But once the bridge that connected the island to mainland was built in 1956, there was an influx of people to the island. Former slaves from Hilton Head and the surrounding plantations made their way to the encampment where many found employment. . “We called it the Tar Road,” Irv said. This was a fantastic experience and provided excellent background history of Hilton Head. After the Civil War, more than 1,200 freed slaves remained. “It’s so spirits can take the waters back to West Africa.”. “They didn’t have any opposition,” he said. The Port Royal Experiment involved paying freed slaves for the first time — right near the start of the Civil War. We stopped at Driessen Beach Park and headed down the boardwalk to take photos by the water. Over the centuries, Hilton Head Island’s natural beauty, spectacular seascapes, exceptional ecology and South Carolina historical sites have beckoned generations of explorers—with Native Americans, English, Spanish, French colonists, pirates, African-Americans and soldiers all leaving their footprints on the sands of South Carolina’s Treasured Coast. It was the first self-governing town of formerly enslaved African Americans. In the Gullah communities that developed on Hilton Head, everything was shared, and everyone knew each other. “They still live in rural communities in the coastal region and on the Sea Islands of those two states, and they still retain many elements of African language and culture.”. After assuming command in September of 1862, General Ormsby Mitchel was upset at the living conditions of the former slaves. He confiscated some land on Confederate General Thomas Fenwick Drayton’s Fish Haul Plantation, laid put streets and lots, and provided lumber for the former slaves to build their homes in a town that would be called Mitchelville. Then Irv regaled us with a tale from his childhood. Click here for more information. Categories: Show on Calendar. One Union soldier stationed on Hilton Head at the time recounted: negro slaves came flocking into our camp by the hundreds, escaping from their masters when they knew of the landing of "Linkum sojers," as they called us . Next day, what would it be covered with? Missionaries, teachers, doctors and ministers came from New York and Pennsylvania to educate and help shape the African-American community. THE BIRTH OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND. And there are strict tree laws. Gullah tends to be used more often to describe those living in South Carolina, and Geechee for those in Georgia. Mitchelville lasted from 1862 to 1877, when it finally dissolved. A Mitchelville family poses with a Union soldier. There used to be just one paved thoroughfare on the entire island. Thing is, only the whites were affected; because South Carolina has a similar semitropical environment to Africa, and the Gullahs had sickle cell immunity, slaves didn’t get sick, Irv told us. Event Details. Ants! In 1956, Charles Fraser, son of one of the families that owned most of the Island, realized that Hilton Head Island had more to offer than just timber. Squire Pope is the largest Gullah neighborhood on the island. Most noteworthy, the Gullah Celebration is scheduled throughout Hilton Head and Bluffton each February for Black History Month. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information. “They used to bring in Motown singers, from 1957 to ’70,” Irv reminisced. During the war, the British burned plantations on the Island and captured slaves to sell in the West Indies. Originally from Pinckney Island, he moved to Hilton Head and was listed as a resident of the town of Historic Mitchelville, the first self-governed town run by freed slaves where Matthew went on to marry Teena Middleton and through a lot of hard work was able to raise enough money to eventually buy 27 acres of Stoney/Squire Pope land for $225. Date: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm. The antebellum Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery and Baynard Mausoleum, situated among ancient moss draped oaks and facing the waters of Broad Creek, is the burial place of several of Hilton Head Island’s original colonial families. November 11: “Slavery – the Cornerstone of the Plantation Society and the Confederacy,” at the Coastal Discovery Museum, at 3 p.m. John Monkaitis will present a lecture on the role that slavery played as the cornerstone of the Planter Society in the Lowcountry. The 100 Sea Islands in the sand…on Hilton Head Island from the Confederacy during the Battle Port. 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