Beaufort’s Hero Robert Smalls and Tabernacle Baptist Church

Robert grew up behind this house on Beaufort’s Prince Street.
Image from Wikimedia.

Robert Smalls was born into slavery on April 5, 1839. Robert and his mother lived in a two-room shack behind 511 Prince Street in Beaufort. Robert was treated very well by his owners, Henry and Jane McKee, for it was rumored that Mr. McKee was Robert’s father.

Picture of a young Robert Smalls
Young Robert Smalls
Image from navymemorial.org.

Early Years

At the request of his mother, twelve-year-old Robert was sent to Charleston and hired out as a laborer. Most of his earnings were returned to his owner, but he could keep $1 per week for himself. He first worked in a hotel and as a lamplighter. His love of the ocean led him to find work on the docks. He began as a longshoreman and worked his way up to wheelman. His experience gave him great knowledge of ships and the Charleston harbor. Robert married Hannah Jones in 1856 and started a family. He was only 17. After a time, his goal was to purchase their freedom, but the price was very steep for someone of his circumstance.

Photo of Robert Smalls as pilot of the Steamboat Planter
Robert Smalls, Pilot of the Steamboat Planter
Image from US Naval History and Heritage Command.

During the Civil War

The Civil War began with the Battle of Fort Sumter in April of 1861. The well-respected Robert was assigned to steer the CCS Planter, a Confederate military transport.

He piloted the Planter along the coast from South Carolina to Florida. Robert and the slave labor crew of the Planter were aware of the Federal blockade line just past the Charleston harbor.

In April of 1862, Robert began planning an escape. The following month, the Planter picked up four large guns that were bound for the Charleston harbor. They also took on 200 pounds of ammunition. The families of the crew were stationed nearby.

On the evening of May 12th, Robert and the rest of the crew were left unattended on the Planter. Smalls and seven of the eight slave crewmen escaped to the Union blockade. Smalls put on the captain’s uniform and straw hat. He sailed the Planter past the Southern Wharf and proceeded to pick up his wife, children and the families of other crewmen.

Robert guided the Planter past the Charleston harbor and Fort Sumter. He and his crew expertly headed straight for the Union Navy fleet. They replaced the Rebel flags with a white bedsheet. He surrendered the Planter and her cargo to the US Navy. Robert was just 23 years old.

Picture of a news article about Smalls
Robert Smalls, captain of the gunboat Planter, which was run out of Charleston in May 1862. Photograph from Library of Congress.

He quickly became known for his heroic actions. He joined the US Navy and earned much fame as a pilot. Word of his exploits was published throughout the north. He was then promoted and made the captain of the Planter.

Drawing of Robert Smalls and his boat
Image from socialstudiesforkids.com.

In 1864 Robert was voted an unofficial delegate to the Republican National Convention. He also spent time in Philadelphia. While there he learned to read and write and became a supporter of the Port Royal Experiment.

This was an effort to raise money to support the education of former slaves. It brought doctors and teachers to assist the former slaves into a new way of life. It also led to the founding of the Penn School.

Later picture of Robert Smalls
Yours truly Robert Smalls
Image from National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institute.

In December of 1864, Robert and the Planter made their way to Savannah while Sherman Marched to the Sea. In 1865 Robert sailed the Planter to the Charleston harbor where the American flag was returned to Fort Sumter.

After this ceremonial act, Robert retired from military life. He continued to pilot the Planter, but his missions turned humanitarian. He took food and supplies to freedmen as a member of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

Exterior view of Robert Smalls house
Robert Smalls House 511 Prince Street
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Back in Beaufort

Upon his return to Beaufort, Robert purchased the house where he was formerly a slave. One day, his previous owner Jane McKee, suffering from dementia, walked back to the house she had loved on Prince Street. Robert greeted her, brought her inside, cared for her and allowed her to remain there until her death.

Picture of Robert Smalls as a politician
Image from historymugs.us.

Robert went on to become a successful businessman and politician. He had a distinguished career of public service including serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and four terms in the United States House of Representatives. Smalls also served as a major general in the state militia and later served as Port Collector for Beaufort.

Image of an older Robert Smalls
Image found on owlcation.com from public domain.

In 1915, at the age of 75, Robert died of malaria and diabetes. He was buried in the Tabernacle Baptist Churchyard in downtown Beaufort. A monument to Robert proudly stands beside the church. It is inscribed: “My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.” He made this statement to the South Carolina legislature in 1895.

Exterior view of Tabernacle Baptist Church
Tabernacle Baptist Church
Image by Carmen Pinckney.

Robert Smalls’ Legacy

Built in 1840, the Tabernacle Baptist Church was originally used as a meetinghouse and lecture room. In 1863, a 500 member African American congregation acquired the building and turned it into the church that is still in use today. This historic church and the Robert Smalls memorial statue are located at 901 Craven Street in historic downtown Beaufort.

Memorial statue of Robert Smalls
This bust of Robert Smalls is positioned proudly beside the Tabernacle Baptist Church in downtown Beaufort.
Image by Carmen Pinckney.

The astonishing true story of Robert Smalls’ journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately United States Congressman can be found in the book Be Free or Die. If you would like a copy, the Frampton Plantation gift shop keeps it in stock.

View of cover of book detailing Robert Smalls' life
Be Free or Die tells the amazing story of Robert Smalls’ escape from slavery to union hero.

For more information on Beaufort and her attractions visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-port-royal-area/ .

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The Lowcountry & Resort Islands Region of South Carolina includes the four, southern-most counties in the state, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton, which are bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.

simplysoutherncottage keeps us in awe with each her projects. This bed swing refresh is one of our favorites!
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Beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry
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Headed down the road....Edisto Island.  #edisto #sclowcountry #trees #endofday  #beauty #islandsofsc
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The shore gently recedes beneath the stunning Pawleys Island Pier. The unique island town, located about 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 70 miles north of Charleston, exudes laid-back, beachy vibes. Locals have definitely adopted an island state of mind and encourage visitors to as well. When you go, make sure to relax on the beach, explore the famous sand dunes, or fish in one of the many adjacent creeks.⏰ Best time of the day to visit: We guarantee that you’re going to want to spend a whole day here. We recommend getting to the beach at around 10am.🗓️ Best time of the year: Pawleys Island has the best weather during the spring and early summer months.🏖️ Things to do while there: Pawleys Island Nature Park, Pawleys Island Chapel, Hopsewee Plantation.🐠 Things to visit in the area: Brookgreen Gardens (brookgreen_gardens), take a walking ghost tour, Myrtle Beach (mymyrtlebeach), Harborwalk Marina, South Carolina Maritime Museum (southcarolinamaritimemuseum).🏨 Where to stay: The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn (oceanfrontlitchfieldinn), Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort (litchfieldbeachandgolf), Sea View Inn (seaviewinn), 620 Prince (620prince).Photo by qcphotographer
At the beach…lock.latch#lockandlatch #lockandlatchinstalls #windowinstallation #doorinstallation #customhome #newbuild #southcarolina #sclowcountry #architecture #craftmanshipdetail
Built in 1790, The Cuthbert House is a historic mansion turned Bed and Breakfast with stunning water views  in Beaufort, SC
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Lowcountry EgretAnalog collage on 5x7 inch watercolor paperI'm back. I enjoyed my winter vacation at the beach on Isle of Palms, SC. It was great spending some quality time with my husband relaxing, reading and walking on the beach. Taking time off from social media was nice, too. I didn't spend much time making art, but did create this collage.Unfortunately, my creative mojo seems to have taken an extended vacation. I have struggled with my art making for the past 4 or 5 days. To those of you who are exchanging art with me, I haven't forgotten, I'm just in a creative dry spell. I hope to get collages made and on their way to you before too much longer.While stuck in this creative mire, I'm switching gears and focusing on some other things. For example, I'm working on my first Studio newsletter - welcoming my email subscribers and sharing news of some of the creative challenges and collaborations I'm planning for 2023. If you want to get all the news sent directly to your inbox, sign up with the link in my bio. Studio News is coming at the end of January.
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#greategret #sclowcountry #isleofpalms #wilderness #beachtherapy #analogcollage  #gluetogether #collage #cutandpasteart #paperart #collageaddict #paperscissorsglue #pariscollagecollective #brooklyncollagecollective #edinburghcollagecollective #redcollagevenezuela #arizonacollagecollective #loveanalogcollage1 #worldcollagecommunity #contemporarycollagemagazine #kolajmagazine #nationalcollagesociety #internationalcollageguild #collageartist #collagist #multidisciplinaryartist #creativereusegoddess #communitybuilder #bigjuicycreativelife #outsidetheboxstudio
My favorite sunrise ever......no filter.... #cottoncandysky #cottoncandysunrise #cottoncandycolors #sunrise #softpastels #lowcountrysunrise #lowcountry #hammockcoast #waves #naturespallet #art #seafoam #beachwalks #morningmotivation #getupandshowup #pawleysisland #locallife #shoplocal #supportlocalbusiness #onlyleavefootprints #bestofthepalmettostate #yes_busa #yeshammockcoast #sclowcountry
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
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How we love a Beaufort sunset!
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Fort Fremont was built in 1899 by the Army Corps of Engineers using local labor on condemned private property on St. Helena Island, across the Beaufort River from the Naval Station. It was designed to play a vital role in the protection of the strategic dry dock and coaling station which remained critical to the Atlantic Fleet during the Spanish American War period. For more information on this and other Beaufort attractions visit  https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-port-royal-area/
📸 Carmen Pinckney
#thatsmylowcountry #naturallyamazing #sclowcountry
"The Beach in Winter Is Still the Beach"
-Melinda MorgensternAt the bottom of this post are the top 6 reasons why we love the beach in winter.*My husband and I love a winter beach getaway! We both needed this time away to press pause and to unwind from the last twelve months and to prepare for a major home project that we have coming up.
We boarded our kitty and drove from central North Carolina to our favorite getaway spot in the lowcountry of South Carolina, at Isle of Palms. We are staying in Wild Dunes (at IOP) for five nights to rest and rejuvenate. Yay!Starting tomorrow (Saturday) until we return on Thursday, we are unplugging and unwinding. No working, no business and no social media. I may even delete my social media apps from my phone so I won't be tempted. When I return home, I will ease back into things and be more mindful of my time and how I use it (in all areas of my life). I hope this time away will help me recenter and come home refreshed and ready for the next steps in my personal art practice and for the new collaborative things I'm planning to share with the collage community at large. I plan to send out my first Studio News email to my subscribers near the end of January. If you would like to receive occasional updates directly in your inbox, and you are not already a subscriber, you can signup with the link in my bio.*Why we love getting away to the beach in winter:
1. There are no crowds anywhere
2. It is so much quieter (and more romantic)
3. You almost have the beach to yourself (which is great for long walks or sitting and reading as you listen to the waves)
4. The local year-round restaurants and shops are uncrowded, so you can mingle with the locals who are more relaxed and friendlier in the off-season
5. It feels way more relaxing
6. The rates for accommodations are WAY less expensive than during the peak summer season (so you can spring for a much nicer place located even closer to the beach).Ten-four. Signing off...
Sunrays in the sky at Blue Hour on 1/20/23...such a beautiful sight!
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Seed Bed​​​​​​​​
18x24​​​​​​​​
Acrylic on canvas​​​​​​​​
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Available graymangallery in Pawleys Island ​​​​​​​​
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Discover at your own leisure at the coastaldiscoverymuseum 🌳  From century-old buildings with storied pasts, to wooden boardwalks that stretch into the Jarvis Creek salt marsh, there's always something to explore!
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Quietly, peacefully...sunrise creeps into the inlet!
#murrellsinlet #murrellsinletsc #SC #southcarolina #palmettotrees #SClowcountry #morselanding #sunrisesofinstagram #waterview #marshview #waterreflections #water #bestofthepalmettostate #southcarolinasbest #discover_carolinas #yeshammockcoast #park #naturephotography #ilovesouthcarolina #ilovemurrellsinlet
The Boynton House (12"x12" in oil on canvas) in the Donnelley Wildlife Management area in the ACE (Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto) Basin in South Carolina.... not to be confused with the Boynton house in Rochester,New York, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright !!The Boynton house in Donnelley is a Victorian style home, built in the beginning of the twentieth century by the Boyntons who raised cattle on their property.#boyntonhouse #donnelleywma #acebasin #plantation #southcarolina #sclowcountry #oilpainting #acebasinnationalwildliferefuge #bearisland #tranquility #silence #atmosphere #rustic #andywesselspaintings #luckydutchart #naturephotography #olieverfschilderij #andywesselsphotography #charlestonartistguild #charlestonartistguildgallery

The South Carolina Lowcountry Guidebook is filled with many things to see and do in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina. Please fill out the information and we will send you a FREE GUIDE BOOK.

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