Though the traditions are ancient and rooted in Africa, sweetgrass baskets are a fairly recent development in our Sea Islander communities. Selling the crafted baskets to tourists only dates back to the 1930s. Read more about this craft and its history in the Lowcountry.
Tag: African Americans
According to the National Historic Register documentation for St. Helena Island, "One of the most significant influences on slave life here was religion, which was illustrated by the development and use of praise houses on the plantation. Praise houses were generally small frame houses, often an elder slave's cabin, in which the slaves held meetings, … Continue reading Praise Houses in Gullah Religion and Social Practices
Harriet Tubman, 1821 - 1913, sought first her own freedom and then facilitated the freedom of others through the Underground Railroad. She came to Beaufort District, South Carolina during the Civil War as a scout, nurse and spy helping bring freedom to hundreds of enslaved African Americans living along the Combahee River in June 1863. This list of links and materials will help you learn more about this American heroine.
Mitchelville, an historic site on Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina, is considered by many to be the first post-Civil War settlement for freed slaves with a government structure led by and administered by former slaves. The settlement was built under orders issued by Major General Ormsby Mitchel in 1862. It lasted almost … Continue reading Mitchelville: The First Freedman’s Village, A List of Materials & Links
The Great Sea Island Hurricane devastated the coastal islands of South Carolina, killing thousands, and destroying the economic base of the area for years to come. Records are incomplete though we know a few names of the dead are from surviving Beaufort County Coroner’s Inquisition Records. BDC staff have indexed the August and September 1893 inquests to assist family historians.
Beaufort's native son, Robert Smalls, was born into slavery in 1839. On the night of May 12,1862, he made a daring dash across Charleston Harbor piloting The Planter, a steamship contracted to the Confederate government. He surrendered it to Union forces thereby becoming the first African-American hero of the Civil War. When peace returned, he came home to Beaufort County, SC, embracing the rough-and-tumble daily life of the Reconstruction era. He actively participated in politics at local, state, and federal levels until the end of his life. Some called him the "King of Beaufort."
Approximately 200,000 men of color would serve in the Union Army or Union Navy during the Civil War. Some of the men were free black men from Northern states; some were former enslaved men from the states which seceded from the United States of America. Because the area around Port Royal and St. Helena Sounds was occupied by the Federal government so early in the Civil War, three of the four regiments of USCT soldiers raised in South Carolina were organized here. Latest revision: 14 June 2017.
Traditional West African folk medicine and magic were adapted by African American healers and conjurers on the plantation to fill a void of health care and to supplement Western religious practices. Root workers, sometimes called conjurers or witch doctors, used herbs, roots, spells, religious rites, and potions to influence outcomes. Often the root workers took a pseudonym when they became practitioners of hoodoo, voodoo, or conjuring. A variety of terms are used to connote rootwork: mojo, juju, conjure, black magic, hoodoo, and vodou among others. Learn more about Dr. Buzzard, (aka Stepheney Robinson, Stepany Robinson, Stephney Robinson), a root doctor from St. Helena Island, SC. Latest update: July 25, 2018.
The purpose of the Beaufort District Collection is to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history of our area. The Port Royal Experiment is a critical part of that history. Prepared by staff of the Beaufort District Collection. Posted: 21 February 2011
Penn School was one of the first schools set up to educate the newly freed enslaved. In 1901, it adopted an industrial arts curriculum. Penn School closed in 1948 but by the 1960s, Penn Community Services was the only location in South Carolina where interracial groups could meet and discuss civil disobedience activities in peace. During the 1970s, Penn Community Services evolved into Penn Center, an organization dedicated "to promote and preserve the history and culture of the Sea Islands."