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. But once the bridge that connected the island to mainland was built in 1956, there was an influx of people to the island. We liked him right from the get-go. And indeed, there are: Buildings of this era were made of tabby, which consists of lime, sand and oyster shells. Ants! Armed with vision, energy, modern air conditioning and investment dollars, he created a master plan for a resort community. “They didn’t have any opposition,” he said. Many Gullah families purchased acreages, and for nearly a century, they farmed their land. 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. The Hilton Head story is about war and peace and slavery and freedom. Describes Hilton Head Island’s involvement in the Civil War: its invasion by the Union Army, and the bustling life during the War, with Union encampments and Mitchelville, the first town established for newly-freed slaves. Within two days of the Union victory on Hilton Head, Sea Island blacks began descending on the outpost. 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. 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. When William Hilton landed in the Lowcountry in 1663, he was greeted by Spanish-speaking Indians from the Yemassee tribe, who had migrated north from Florida 100 years prior. 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. Tip: We found a $2 off coupon in one of the free publications, Island Events. Their Gullah culture and language survive today as a living legacy of their strength and perseverance. It was the first self-governing town of formerly enslaved African Americans. We use cookies to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. 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. “When Union troops invaded Hilton Head Island on November 7, 1861, Baynard and other plantation owners fled inland. His efforts were aided by the construction of a bridge to the mainland the same year. Event Details. 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. Gotta be setbacks and buffers.”. The Gullah Heritage Tour was a part of our Alternative Spring Break Program while visiting Hilton Head. 1969. It was the first freedman’s community after the American Civil War. But long before Hilton Head’s resorts arrived, the island had been home to cotton, indigo and rice plantations that relied on slave labor. 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 … Hilton Head Tours for Annual Events Important annual events welcome the public to enjoy a showcase of the culture. I couldn’t get over how small that really is. But travel is so much more than just ticking sites off your itinerary. . The government gave former slaves the material to build small houses and a plot of land to farm on in Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island. Categories: Show on Calendar. Yet, like the enigmatic rocks of Stonehenge and the carvings of Easter Island, their secrets remain hidden. Tickets cost $32 for adults; $15 for kids 12 and under. 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. In Hilton Head, S.C., efforts to change the names of gated communities and resorts are unequivocally about Black people. Elliott, with the help of his neighbor, Will Seabrook, pioneered a new type of fertilizer for the cotton, resulting in record crops and wide acclaim for the Sea Island cotton. If you’re spending some time on Hilton Head, there’s much more to do than play golf and go to the beach. 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. Strict rules remain when it comes to construction projects. And now is the time for you to leave your own footprints in the sand…on Hilton Head Island. It decided upon the novel idea of an “experiment”: Try paying wages to these contrabands (the awful word used to describe slaves freed by Union forces as well as for those who had escaped). 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. I was 18 years old.”. In less than five hours, the Union fleet captured both Fort Beauregard on St. Philips Island and Fort Walker on Hilton Head Island. During the war, the British burned plantations on the Island and captured slaves to sell in the West Indies. These descendents of West African slaves take their name from the Gola or Gula tribe from Liberia and Sierra Leone. Date: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm. My great-grandfather was a slave,” he said. Consider hopping on the bus for an insightful tour of the island’s fascinating Gullah heritage. I remember that one well. “People come to the island and complain they can’t find anything!” Irv said. Perfect for independent travelers, you create a sightseeing itinerary that suits your personal interests. In the 1920s to the ’50s, Gullahs would trade fruit, veggies and wild game on the Simmons family’s property in Spanish Wells. To fully appreciate the places you explore, you should have a better understanding of its history, food, religion, folklore, arts and crafts — and of course the weird and wonderful customs and subcultures found around the world. ©2020 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce & Visitor and Convention Bureau. The word is synonymous with Gullah. The blacks on Hilton Head Island were the very first former slaves to earn wages and actually get paid for their labor. Standing architectural ruins associated with the plantation include portions of the main house, a chimney footing for what may be an overseer’s house, and a slave house associated with slaves working in … After assuming command in September of 1862, General Ormsby Mitchel was upset at the living conditions of the former slaves. The government provided freedmen a quarter of an acre of land and the materials to build a 22-by-18-foot house. Back in the day, the pavilions would have changing rooms, showers and a dance floor, all under one roof. Once the island fell to Union troops, hundreds of ex-slaves flocked to Hilton Head, which is still home to many of whom are descendants of freed slaves known as the Gullah (or Geechee) who have managed to hold on to much of their ethnic and cultural identity. Sure, we cover the basics — where to go, what to see. When Union forces took Hilton Head on November 7, 1861, in the Battle of Port Royal, more than 1,000 Hilton Head Islanders became some of the first freed slaves of the Civil War. And it is a story about the survival of a people against seemingly insurmountable odds. Missionaries, teachers, doctors and ministers came from New York and Pennsylvania to educate and help shape the African-American community. We take deep dives into our subjects, infusing our articles with an always informative, sometimes irreverent, sometimes funny approach. Location – Jarvis Creek (part of the Calibogue Sound), Hilton Head Island, St Helena Parish, Beaufort County Original plantation lands were located off US 278 in the vicinity of Honey Horn Plantation Road. “Many people realized they could move anywhere else,” Irv said. Named to the National Register of Historic Places, the cemetery and mausoleum is owned and maintained by the Heritage Library and the site is open to the public for respectful visits. 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. Search for activities, restaurants, and attractions, get travel deals, view trip ideas, and create your own personalized itinerary. During the American Civil War, Union troops wanted to stop trade in the Confederacy, which led to an attack at Port Royal Sound, off of Hilton Head Island. “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.”. 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. The first of the Hilton Head family resorts—Sea Pines Plantation—became the prototype of the modern resort community, now copied around the world. Enjoy easy days relaxing in the sun, sand and surf on some of the best beaches in the country. The Civil War and the subsequent abolition of slavery altered the prosperous and patrician lifestyle of the plantation owners forever. 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. 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. “In fact, the reports of the success of Mitchelville were so glowing, that the famous Underground Railroad freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman, was sent to Hilton Head to see this bustling town, so she could share the story of Mitchelville’s self-governed success with future freedmen towns.”. 1959. 9 Insider Tips on How To Do a Golf Trip on Hilton Head Island, Free Download: Beginner's Guide to Golf on Hilton Head Island, Splurge on Hilton Head Island’s Most Storied Courses, Hilton Head’s Most Special and Secret Spots. There were four Gullah general stores that sold gas, along with a vast assortment of other goods. Drayton's negro quarters, Hilton Head, S.C. Summary Photograph shows soldiers and slaves in front of the slave quarters on Drayton's plantation. Yet much of the Island remains as it was when sighted from William Hilton’s ship more than 350 years ago. Click here for more information. Consequently, Hilton Head Island lapsed into obscurity, remaining isolated for over 80 years. During the Revolution, the British frequently raided Hilton Head Island and hostilities continued for weeks after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Venue: Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn. Hilton Head Island Recognized As One of the “Best Bicycling Communities” in the United States! After the war, the Island made a healthy recovery. Between Skull Creek and Jarvis Creek After the Civil War, more than 1,200 freed slaves remained. Today, historic Mitchelville is preserved as a tourist attraction, while the Gullah Geechee are squeezed onto ever-smaller tracts of land. In 1860, fourteen prominent families and their slaves lived on Hilton Head and most spent their time off the island. “The Gullah people are the descendants of the slaves who worked on the rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia,” said historian Joseph Opala. Gullah tends to be used more often to describe those living in South Carolina, and Geechee for those in Georgia. In what is now called Fish Haul Creek Park on the “heel” of the island, the community of Mitchelville was created. Slaves - 100 slaves per Federal census of 1800. The Civil War changed the lives of both planters and slaves on Hilton Head Island. In 1698, the Lord Proprietors granted several islands and some of the Lowcountry’s mainland to John Bayley. 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. Location – Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County In Sea Pines Plantation, a present-day real estate development, 84 Baynard Park Road at Plantation Drive. the famous Underground Railroad freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman. Its original inhabitants were known for fishing and shrimping. The Confederate Army and the white plantation owners hightailed it out of there, and the Union Army found itself in possession of a region famous for growing cotton. 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. My mom had suggested we take the Gullah Heritage Tour, a two-hour bus ride around Hilton Head Island, South Carolina that highlights a vibrant African-American community. Maps - Hack, "Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, before 1861" Bibliography - Peeples, An Index to Hilton Head Island Names before 1861 Additional Information: 38BU871. Negro Universities Press, New York (reprint of 1862 edition). By 1860, 24 plantations were in operation on Hilton Head Island. 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. “You could buy all-day jawbreakers there. THE BIRTH OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND. It's the law on Hilton Head that nothing can be built to the curb. 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. Finally, the main house ruins are the only tabby mansion built on Hilton Head Island. Beaufort County, which includes the island of Hilton Head, was founded in 1711. You could suck that for two days! 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. Incorporated as a town in 1983, Hilton Head Island is home to more than 40,000 residents who live year-round in our renowned environmentally planned resort and residential communities. Basic Information. Welcome to Gullah Heritage Hilton Head Island, S.C. An Authentic Culture of the Sea Islands. “On Hilton Head, we believe in setbacks and buffers. 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. Hilton is publishing this statement in compliance with the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. Hilton Head Island in the Civil War by Robert Carse | $20. The Gullah/Geechee people are descendants of enslaved Africans from various ethnic groups of west and central Africa. Northern businessmen, called carpetbaggers for the soft-sided bags they traveled with, bought the entire island and sold it off. Gradually a plan was formulated for the education, welfare, and employment of the blacks, combining both government and missionary efforts. One of the oldest structures on the island, the Queen Chapel, A.M.E. Church is located on Beach City Road. The Island fell into the hands of Federal troops, forcing Island families to evacuate their plantation homes. “This used to be our downtown,” Irv said. Irv’s involved in a project to restore Mitchelville. Squire Pope is the largest Gullah neighborhood on the island. Origin of name – Named for Captain David Cutler Braddock, commander of the colonial half-galley Beaufort in 1742.. Other names – Braddock Cove, Calibogue Point, Stoney-Baynard Hall Although the main crop was cotton, indigo, sugar cane, rice, and other crops also were cultivated. 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. Hilton Head Island Publishing Company, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The chapel was completed in 1788 and the Baynard Mausoleum was built in 1846. We passed a small cemetery, which Irv points out is atypical, as it’s situated inland. Popularly called sea pines, the trees produced lumber for a variety of uses. They settled on the 100 Sea Islands in the Hilton Head area. Other structures were salvaged for building materials. “We called it the Tar Road,” Irv said. I had a hard time imagining even one person having room to lie down to sleep in a space of that size — especially if there was a stove or table or any other piece of furniture, never mind if an extended family lived together. 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. They founded the town of Mitchelville, the first freedmen's town in America. Origin of name – Legend says Honey Horn got its name from the … When the Union Army occupied South Carolina’s Sea Islands, including Hilton Head, on November 7, 1861, it freed about 10,000 slaves. In the Gullah communities that developed on Hilton Head, everything was shared, and everyone knew each other. During this period, the Island maintained a small population of mostly the descendants of former slaves. 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. When I first came to the island as a kid, I learned that McDonald’s had to build a brick restaurant to fit in with the Hilton Head aesthetic, and that they weren’t allowed to put up their trademark golden arches. 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