Penn Center

St Helena Island’s Historic Treasure

penn school st helena island sc

The Penn School was founded in 1862 as a part of the Port Royal Experiment. It was one of the first schools in the south to educate former slaves. 80 students were enrolled in the first year, and classes were held in the brick church. Just two years later, the school started acquiring more land, and by 1865, a three-room schoolhouse was built. This school building made history as the first schoolhouse built for the instruction of former slaves.

penn center st helena island sc

Between 1865 and 1877 Penn School was supported by a private charity started by Quaker abolitionists in Philadelphia. The school started experiencing financial difficulties and the Hampton Institute of Virginia provided sponsorship from 1901-1917.  The academic school reorganized in 1901 as the Penn Normal, Agricultural and Industrial School.  For eighty-six years the school educated African Americans of St Helena Island.

penn center st helena island sc

The Great Depression sunk the school into further financial hardship and by 1931 enrollment dropped from 600 to 262. By 1948 Penn School closed when the school was removed to the Beaufort County School District. The facility became Penn Community Services, focusing on social justice and the Civil Rights Movement. The center trained midwives, opened the first daycare for African Americans, started a Teen Canteen and developed a community health care clinic.

penn center st helena island sc

Penn Center was a very important retreat during the Civil rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and other human rights advocates spent valuable time here. The center was used for religious and organizational retreats, Peace Corps training and the study of black history and culture during the 1970s.

penn center st helena island sc

The Penn School for Preservation was started in the 1980s with the establishment of the Land Use and Environmental Education Program. This promoted sustainability and economic development. Sierra Leone’s President Joseph Momoh even made a trip to Penn Center in 1988. The following year a group of Gullah community members traveled to his country for a reunion with ancestral families.

penn center st helena island sc
The first classes were held in the Brick Baptist Church.

By 1990 the center was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation “Most Endangered Historic Places” list. The mission of this list was to focus on promoting and preserving Gullah cultural assets. Then in 2006 Congress created The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor along the coastal areas from Florida to North Carolina.

penn center st helena island sc

Many important buildings make up the Penn Center campus. Visit the Courtney P. Siceloff Welcome Center and Gift Shop to purchase your admission to the museum and self-guided walking tour map. The gift shop has Penn Center memorabilia and books such as the Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne, Penn Center: A History Preserved by Orville Vernon Burton and De Nyew Testament (Gullah Bible)

penn center st helena island sc

The York W. Bailey Museum began life as the Cope Industrial Shop. Built in 1912, this facility was used to teach harness-making, wheel-righting, blacksmith, basketry, carpentry and cobbling classes. The building was named after Philadelphia Quaker Francis Cope, who served as a trustee to the school for many years. African American Civil War hero General Robert Smalls spoke at the 1912 dedication. The building was rededicated in 1999 and repurposed as the York W. Bailey Museum. The museum was named for a prominent Penn School graduate who attended Howard University medical school, then returned to St. Helena to bring medical services to his community.

penn center st helena island sc

View the Education for Freedom exhibition in the museum, which interprets the 86-year history of Penn School beginning in 1862, Penn School during the Reconstruction Era, Penn Normal Industrial and Agricultural School, and the Civil Rights Movement at Penn Community Services. The museum also showcases many other temporary and traveling exhibitions. The museum is open Monday – Saturday 9 am – 4 pm.

penn center st helena island sc

Discover and learn how all 25 historic buildings and structures were utilized during the history of Penn School and Penn Center. Enjoy a self-guided walking tour of the 50-acre Penn School National Historic Landmark District. Maps are available in the welcome center. Groups can also enjoy a more engaging experience with a Penn School Guided Walking Tour.

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Harriet Tubman

harriet tubman combahee raid

Anyone who drives Highway 17 from Point South toward Charleston will cross the Combahee River and the Harriet Tubman Bridge.

harriet tubman bridge

Tubman, also know as “Moses”, was a former slave from Maryland who fled to freedom in 1849. After settling in Philadelphia, she spent the next decade returning to Maryland multiple times to bring over 300 enslaved people north to freedom through the Underground Railroad. She even rescued her parents, sister and her sister’s children. She came back for her husband, but he had already remarried. She was quoted as saying, “I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”

harriet tubman

Harriet was born in 1820 along the Maryland coast. She was named Araminta by her enslaved parents Ben and Rit Ross. At the age of 13 she was nearly killed by a blow to the head.  She recovered but was always troubled by the damage.

harriet and john tubman
Image of Harriet and John Tubman from NY Daily News.

She changed her name to Harriet when she married freeman John Tubman in 1844. Five years later Harriet learned she was to be sold. She escaped then vowed to bring others to freedom. She used the stars to find her way north, along with other skills learned in the fields.

harriet tubman

In 1862 she left her home in Philadelphia to work in Union-occupied Hilton Head as a nurse and Union spy. The following year, Colonel James Montgomery asked if she would lead a covert military mission against the Confederates in South Carolina. She and 150 black members of the US Second South Carolina Volunteers travelled into Confederate territory and freed slaves. They also worked to destroy rice plantations and recruit ex-slaves into joining the Union Army.

combahee river

In 1863 Tubman gained vital information about the placement of torpedoes along the Combahee River. Three Union gunboats were able to navigate the river because of the information gained by her covert interactions with slaves along the river.

combahee river raid
Combahee River Raid Marker

She led the gunboats to specific spots along the river where fugitive slaves were awaiting rescue.  The gunboats carried Union soldiers that were unloaded and succeeded in destroying several estates owned by prominent secessionists. As the soldiers were offloaded, slaves boarded the boats. That night, more than 700 slaves were rescued.

harriet tubman

Harriet Tubman is the only woman to have led a military operation during the Civil War. This was known as the Combahee River Raid. 100 of the escaped male slaves joined the Union Army after the raid. This very successful raid dealt a mighty blow to the Confederate Army.

harriet tubman's family
Harriet Tubman is on the far left. Gertie stands beside her and her husband Nelson Davis sits to her left.

Harriet became a lifelong humanitarian and civil rights activist. She became friends with very influential people. She knew Frederick Douglas and John Brown. She was close with suffragists Lucretia Coffin Mott, Martha Coffin Wright and Susan B Anthony. She also spent time with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

harriet tubman home for the aged
The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged stood less than 100 yards from her home.

She also set up the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged. She was admitted to the facility which stood less than 100 yards from her house in 1911. She lived there until her death in 1913, at the age of 90. She was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery.

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African American Heritage Sites

Take a trip across the Lowcountry to visit these historically significant spots.

Today’s Green Book of South Carolina pays homage to the original Green Book by highlighting African American heritage sites across the state. The original Green Book was published in 1936. It played a critical role in protecting African American travelers by providing information on safe travel and welcoming establishments across the United States. This guide was instrumental in helping black motorists navigate the dangers of racial segregation. It included gas stations, restaurants and lodging that were safe for African American travelers.

Calvin Ramsey has revived the Green Book as a guide to historically significant sites. The South Carolina Lowcountry counties of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper are very fortunate to have 36 sites memorialized in the Green Book of South Carolina. The following sites were shared from  https://greenbookofsc.com/.

African American Heritage Sites

BEAUFORT
“Freedom Along the Combahee”: Combahee Ferry Raid

Hwy 17 at Combahee River, Beaufort County
A Union force consisting of nearly 300 members of the 3rd Rhode Island Artillery and the 2nd S.C. Volunteer Infantry, an African American unit, raided several plantations along the Confederate-held Combahee River on June 1-2, 1863.  Col. James Montgomery led the expedition.  The famed Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman also participated.  More than 700 enslaved men, women, and children were freed.  Some of the freedmen enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Berean Presbyterian Church
Photo by Terry Kearns

Berean Presbyterian Church / J.I. Washington Branch Library
602 Carteret St. Beaufort
Samuel J. Bampfield, an influential African American political figure during Reconstruction, was the founder of Berean Presbyterian Church. He served as postmaster, clerk of the Beaufort County court, and a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.  The congregation purchased this lot in 1892 and built a Gothic Revival style church.  Solomon P. Hood, a future U.S. Minister to Liberia, was appointed as its first pastor.
The Beaufort Township Library purchased the building in 1931 and used it as a segregated library for African Americans.  After the desegregation of the Township Library, the segregated branch closed.  Later, the Neighborhood Youth Corps used the building as its headquarters. USC-Beaufort purchased the site in 1993 for use as an art studio.

Camp Saxton

Camp Saxton
Ribaut Rd. on the US Naval Hospital Grounds, Port Royal
The Camp Saxton Site is nationally significant as an intact portion of the camp occupied from early November 1862 to late January 1863 by the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, the first black regiment mustered into regular service in the United States Army during the Civil War, and as the site of the elaborate ceremonies held here on New Year’s Day 1863 which formally announced and celebrated the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in areas then “in rebellion” against the United States. This area is preserved as part of Reconstruction Era National Historical Park. However, it is located on the campus of the Beaufort Naval Hospital, an active duty military installation. As a result, this area is not currently open to public access.

Detreville House

Detreville House
701 Green St. Beaufort
Rev. James Graham built this house c. 1785. It became known as “the Mission” during Reconstruction, when Mrs. Rachel C. Mather of Boston occupied the house. She and other Baptist missionaries built Mather School in Beaufort to educate African Americans. The house is included in the Beaufort Historic District.

First African Baptist Church Beaufort

First African Baptist Church, Beaufort
601 New St. Beaufort
This church, founded in 1865, grew out of an antebellum praise house for black members of the Baptist Church of Beaufort. During the Civil War, after the Federal occupation of the town, it hosted a school for Freedmen. Rev. Arthur Waddell (1821-1895), organized the church with two fellow black ministers in 1867. Robert Smalls (1839-1915), Civil War hero, state legislator, and U.S. Congressman, was its most prominent member.

Grand Army of the Republic Hall
Image found on the Green Book of SC website.

Grand Army of the Republic Hall
706 Newcastle St. Beaufort
Although Beaufort’s black military companies remained active after the Civil War, statewide the “Negro militia” rapidly declined during the 19th century. By 1903, the only units left were two companies in Beaufort. Many black Union veterans lived in the community, and after the war they formed the David Hunter Post #9 of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for veterans of the Union Army. Built in 1896, this meeting hall for the post is believed to be the only surviving building in South Carolina associated with the Grand Army of the Republic. It is included in the Beaufort Historic District.

Mather Museum and Interpretive Center

Mather Museum and Interpretive Center
921 Ribaut Road, building #1, Beaufort
This interpretive center chronicles the history of Mather School in Beaufort, a boarding school for freed African American females.  The institution was founded in 1868 by Boston schoolteacher Rachel Crane Mather, and is one of many post-Civil War developments that sought to educate recently emancipated African Americans.  It first served elementary school-age girls. In 1910, high school grades were added, and in the 1950s, it became a junior college.  Today, the museum is housed in the historic school’s former library, and the campus is the site of the Technical College of the Lowcountry.  Moor Hall (pictured below,) one of the campus’ original historic buildings, housed classrooms, served as an administration building, a science laboratory, a library and a bookstore.  The school of cosmetology training was housed in the basement.

Tabernacle Baptist Church

Tabernacle Baptist Church
907 Craven St. Beaufort
The Tabernacle, a meeting house and lecture room, was built by Beaufort Baptist Church in the 1840s. In 1863, Tabernacle Baptist Church was organized by Solomon Peck of Boston with most of the 500 African American members of the congregation coming from Beaufort Baptist Church. The new congregation acquired this building for their worship services. The church was rebuilt after it was damaged by the hurricane of 1893. A bust of Civil War Hero Robert Smalls is on the church grounds. Tabernacle Baptist Church is included in the Beaufort Historic District.

Wesley Methodist Church Beaufort

Wesley Methodist Church, Beaufort
701 West St. Beaufort
This church, established in 1833, was the first Methodist church in Beaufort and was founded as a mission to slaves and free blacks here and on the neighboring sea islands. The congregation had both black and white members but many more black members in the antebellum era. This church, first built in the “meeting house” form common to the Methodist church, was dedicated in 1849. In 1861, after the Federal occupation of Beaufort and the sea islands, this church hosted a school for Freedmen. Its first black minister was appointed in 1873 during Reconstruction.

Coffin Point Plantation
Image from SC Historic Properties Record.

BEAUFORT SEA ISLANDS
Coffin Point Plantation

Seaside Rd. St. Helena Island
Coffin Point Plantation, a prosperous sea island cotton plantation, became a hub of activity when St. Helena Island was captured by Union troops in 1861. With the Union occupation of the island, the Coffin family fled, and 260 slaves were left behind. The United States government developed a plan to train and educate the newly released slaves to prove their effectiveness as free laborers. This effort became known as the Port Royal Experiment.

Dr. York Bailey House

Dr. York Bailey House
US Hwy. 21 St. Helena Island
This house was built c. 1915 for Dr. York Bailey, St. Helena Island’s first African American doctor and its only physician for more than 50 years. Bailey ordered the parts for the house from a mail-order catalog and they were shipped to Beaufort, then brought across to the island by boat. The house is a good example of the vernacular American Foursquare house form. Bailey, born on St. Helena in 1881, graduated from Penn School and Hampton Institute and studied medicine at Howard University. He returned to the island in 1906 to practice medicine.

Eddings Point Praise House
Image found on Green Book of SC website.

Eddings Point Praise House
On Eddings Point Drive, .1 miles north of junction with Secondary Road 74 St. Helena Island
The small wood frame building, c. 1900, is a rare example of a praise house. Praise houses were first established on plantations as places to meet and worship. Since there were few formal church buildings on St. Helena Island, most islanders could only walk or ride to the main church on Sunday mornings. For other meetings or services, they used praise houses, holding services on Sunday night and some weeknights. There were as many as 25 praise houses on St. Helena Island as recently as 1932, but only four remain today.

Emmanuel Alston House

Emanuel Alston House
Sec. Rd. 161, .25 mi. N of jct. with US 21 Frogmore/St Helena Island
This house is an intact and significant example of a one-story hipped roof house, an early 20th century vernacular architectural form common to St. Helena Island. It was built c. 1915 by Tecumseh Alston, a carpenter, for his brother Emanuel. Emanuel “Mannie” Alston, born 1900, lived here until his death in 1985. He served for many years as an elder at Ebenezer Baptist Church and took a prominent part in the services there.

Knights of Wise Men Lodge Hall

Knights of Wise Men Lodge Hall
14 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. St. Helena Island
The Knights of Wise Men was organized in 1870 to provide financial and farming assistance to the families of its members.  The Knights purchased this property at the rear of “The Green” in 1889 for $8.00 and built a two-story wood frame building, which burned in 1940.  The current concrete building was constructed shortly thereafter by local masons.  It is similar in fashion to the earlier building.  At its height in the 1920s, the Knights of Wise Men had some 350 members.  The lodge is still used during times of celebration.

Mary Jenkins Community Praise House

Mary Jenkins Community Praise House
355 Eddings Point Rd. St. Helena Island
Mary Jenkins Community Praise House is one of only four praise houses remaining on St. Helena Island.  The small wood frame building, which was built c. 1900, represents a vernacular architectural form that has survived since the plantation era.  Paris Capers, born in 1863, was one of the early elders.  As a place of religious worship as well as community meetings, this praise house is an important reminder of St. Helena Island’s African American heritage.

Penn Center Historic District / Reconstruction Era National Monument

Penn Center Historic District / Reconstruction Era National Monument
16 Penn Center Cir. E. St. Helena Island
Penn School was founded in 1862 by northern missionaries and abolitionists who came to South Carolina after the capture of the Sea Islands by Union troops.  The site and its collection of historic buildings were venues for education, the preservation and interpretation of sea island culture, and a strategy meeting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. before his March on Washington in 1963.  In January 2017, Penn Center and other historic sites in Beaufort County were declared the nation’s first Reconstruction Era National Monument by President Barack Obama.  In 2019, the monument was officially recognized as a National Park.

Robert Simmons House
Image found on the Green Book of SC website.

Robert Simmons House
On unpaved road .5 mile south of US HWY. 21 St. Helena Island
This house was built c. 1910 by Robert Simmons, an African American farmer. The house is a rare surviving example of a double pen house, a vernacular architectural form once common on St. Helena Island. Double pen houses had two rooms side-by-side, each usually measuring approximately 16×16 feet. The house has been enlarged, but the original core is still distinguishable.

Campbell AME Church

BLUFFTON
Campbell AME Church

23 Boundary Street Bluffton
White Methodists built Campbell Chapel AME Church in 1853.  Nine African American freedmen, who were likely once enslaved by members of the white congregation, purchased the 19th-century Greek Revival structure in 1874.  Members of the new African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church congregation immediately altered the building and expanded the site as the church thrived.  They likely installed the cast-iron bell that is currently visible in the cupola.  The church retains historic fabric that is both original and reflective of the change in ownership. Campbell Chapel AME continues to provide a space where congregants can educate youth, worship freely, and participate in outreach ministries. This historic church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 2019.

Cherry Hill School
Image by Lloyd Wainscott.

HILTON HEAD
Cherry Hill School

210 Dillon Rd. Hilton Head Island
This one-room frame school, built ca. 1937, was the first separate school building constructed for African American students on Hilton Head Island. It replaced an earlier Cherry Hill School, which had held its classes in the parsonage of St. James Baptist Church. After the black community on the island raised funds to buy this tract, Beaufort County agreed to build this school. This was an elementary school with one teacher, with an average of about 30 students. It served grades 1-5 when it opened in 1937, adding grade 6 the next school year.

First African Baptist Church Hilton Head Island

First African Baptist Church, Hilton Head Island
70 Beach City Rd. Hilton Head Island
This church, founded in 1862, was originally the church in the town of Mitchelville, a Freedmen’s village established on Hilton Head by the United States Army. Rev. Abraham Murchinson, its first minister, was a former slave and the church had about 120 members when it was organized in August 1862. The church moved to the Chaplin community after the Civil War and was renamed Goodwill Baptist Church. It moved to this site by 1898 and was renamed Cross Roads Baptist Church before retaking its original name. The present church was built in 1966.

Former Home of William Simmons: Gullah Museum of Hilton Head

Former Home of William Simmons: Gullah Museum of Hilton Head
187 Gumtree Rd. Hilton Head Island
This house, built in 1930, is typical in materials and methods of construction of those built on the sea islands from the end of the Civil War to the mid-20th century. It was built on land bought by William Simmons (c. 1835-1922), who was born a slave and served in the 21st U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War. His granddaughter Georgianna Jones Bryan built this house in 1930 for her brother. It illustrates everyday life and the persistence of Gullah culture in an African American farm community. It was renovated in 2010-11 as the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island.

Fort Howell

Fort Howell
160 Beach City Rd. Hilton Head Island
This Civil War fort, named for Gen. Joshua Blackwood Howell (1806-1864,) was built by the U.S. Army’s 32nd Colored Infantry and the 144th N.Y. Infantry to defend Hilton Head and the nearby freedmen’s village of Mitchelville from potential Confederate raids or expeditions. That village, just east of the fort, had been established by Gen. Ormsby M. Mitchel in the fall of 1862 and was named for him after his death. The fort was an enclosed pentagonal earthwork with a 23-foot high parapet and emplacements for up to 27 guns. Though Fort Howell never saw action, it is significant for its design and its structural integrity.

Mitchelville Site
The Mitchelville site is preserved as the Mitchelville Freedom Park, complete with a walking trail.

Mitchelville Site
Beach City Rd. Hilton Head Island
After Hilton Head’s fall to Union forces in 1861, this town was planned for the area’s former slaves and named for General Ormsby M. Mitchel.  It was developed into neatly arranged streets and Ľ-acre lots.  The town had elected officials, a church, laws, taxes and a school for children, and was home to about 1,500 residents in 1865.  The village continued relatively intact until the 1870s and was abandoned by 1890.

Queen Chapel AME Church

Queen Chapel AME Church
114 Beach City Rd. Hilton Head
The AME denomination experienced rapid growth after the Civil War and Queen Chapel was among the early churches founded. In 1865, Charleston born AME Bishop D.A. Payne returned to S.C. and brought a group of missionaries to Hilton Head Island. They met with Rev. James Lynch, who had come to S.C. in 1863 to perform missionary work among the freedmen of Mitchelville.

St. James Baptist Church

St. James Baptist Church
209 Dillon Rd. Hilton Head Island
This church, founded in 1886 by former members of First African Baptist Church, is one of the oldest surviving institutions remaining from the town of Mitchelville, a Freedmen’s village established here by the United States Army in 1862. The present brick sanctuary, covered in stucco, is the third to serve this congregation. It was built in 1972 and renovated in 2005.

Daufuskie Island Historic District

Daufuskie Island Historic District
18 Simmons Rd. Daufuskie Island – Accessible only by ferry.
The cotton trade spurred the growth of the slave population on Daufuskie Island from 1805-1842, and ruins of slave houses and archaeological sites remain from this period. The island was largely abandoned during the Civil War, but many former slaves returned during Reconstruction, reoccupying slave houses and building churches, schools, and meeting places. In the early 20th century, the population swelled to almost 1000, with oysters, logging, and trucking providing jobs. By the 1940s and 1950s, outside competition had caused many to leave the island and search for jobs elsewhere, leaving the population in 1980 at fewer than 75 people.

Edisto Island Baptist Church

EDISTO ISLAND
Edisto Island Baptist Church
1813 SC Highway 174 Edisto Island
The original core of Edisto Island Baptist Church was built in 1818 to serve the island’s white planters. Enslaved African Americans attended the church with their owners, and the original slave gallery still lines both sides of the sanctuary. After Edisto Island was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War, most of the white plantation families left the island. In 1865 the trustees of the church turned it over to the black members. Edisto Island Baptist Church has operated as an African American church since that time.

Hutchinson House
7666 Point of Pines Rd. Edisto Island
Built by Henry Hutchinson around the time of his marriage to Rosa Swinton in 1885, the Hutchinson House is the oldest intact house identified with the African American community on Edisto Island after the Civil War. Hutchinson was born enslaved in 1860, and according to local tradition, he built and operated the first cotton gin owned by an African American on the island from about 1900-1920. Hutchinson lived here until his death in 1940.

29 Seaside School
Image found on the Green Book of SC website.

29 Seaside School
1097 SC Hwy. 174 Edisto Island
This Seaside School, which was built c. 1931 as its second building, is reported to be the oldest African American school remaining on Edisto Island. From 1931 until the construction of a consolidated school in 1954, black residents of Edisto Island received their primary education in this building, a one-story, two-room rectangular frame. In 1930, the Edisto Island school district had planned to merge Seaside with Central African American school, but the community, affected by the Great Depression, could not raise enough money for the lot and school supplies. This smaller structure was built instead.

Episcopal Church of Atonement Walterboro

WALTERBORO
Episcopal Church of the Atonement

207 Chaplin St. Walterboro
This African American congregation was formed in 1892 as a mission of St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, a white congregation. The rector of St. Jude’s supplied services for the Church of the Atonement. This distinctive Gothic Revival church was built in 1896. The wood frame building features a steep gable roof. A tower on the front, which contains the Gothic-arched entrance, is decorated with fish-scale shingles and topped with an open belfry. The Church of the Atonement is included in the Walterboro Historic District.

St. James the Greater Catholic Mission

St. James the Greater Catholic Mission
3087 Ritter Rd. Walterboro vicinity
St. James the Greater Catholic Mission is an extremely rare example of a rural, southern, black Roman Catholic parish in continuous existence from its antebellum origins to today. The site includes a sanctuary, a school, and a cemetery. The sanctuary, built around 1935 in the late Gothic Revival style and entirely clad in wooden shingles, is on the same site as two previous churches built in 1833 and 1894. The schoolhouse, constructed in 1901, is rare example of a turn-of-the-twentieth-century I-house built specifically as a school for African Americans. It provided private education for local students, regardless of religious affiliation, until 1960.

St. Peter's AME Church

St. Peter’s AME Church
302 Fishburne St. Walterboro
St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in 1867 under the leadership of Rev. James Nesbitt. This building, a Gothic Revival wood frame structure, was constructed around 1870. It features Gothic windows and a tower with an open belfry. It is part of the Walterboro Historic District.

Training the Tuskegee Airmen

Training the Tuskegee Airmen
Tuskegee Airmen Dr. Walterboro Airport
During World War II, the first African Americans in the U.S. Army Air Corps graduated from the Tuskegee Army Flying School in Alabama. From May 1944 to October 1945, some of them took further combat training here, at Walterboro Army Airfield. Several of the earliest “Tuskegee Airmen,” who had already won fame in missions in Europe and North Africa, were assigned as combat flight instructors. Trainees here flew the P-39, P-47, and P-40 fighter planes and the B-25 bomber. Officers’ quarters and enlisted men’s barracks stood just east and just west of this spot, respectively.

Hampton Colored School

HAMPTON
Hampton Colored School
Holly St., between Lightsey St. & Hoover St. Hampton
This two-room school was built under the leadership of Ervin Johnson, a local African American carpenter in 1929. It served students in grades one through eight. At first funds were so scarce it was only open from October to March. Eventually however, donations from the black community allowed it to operate for a full school year. Later, high school courses were offered. This remained the only black school in town until the Hampton Colored High School was built in 1947. Then it was converted into the lunchroom for the high school. Marker erected by Hampton County Historical Society, 1989.

Huspah Baptist Church and School
Image found on the Green Book of SC website.

Huspah Baptist Church and School
729 Magnolia St. W. Hampton
Organized c. 1873, the congregation first met in the homes of church members before erecting a permanent sanctuary. It also began operating a school for African American students around 1890. The first school burned in 1895 (arson was suspected, but never proven). It re-opened the following year. Elizabeth Evelyn Wright and Jessie Dorsey were the first teachers at the new school. Wright would go on to found Voorhees College in 1897. The school at Huspah remained in service until the County built a new school for African American students in 1927. Marker sponsored by Huspah Baptist Church, 2015.

St. Matthew Baptist Church

TILLMAN
St. Matthew Baptist Church

1454 Tillman Rd. Tillman
This church was founded in 1870 with Rev. Plenty Pinckney as its first minister and worshipped in a “bush tent” nearby until a log church was built a few years later. A new frame church was built on this site in the 1890s during the pastorate of Rev. C.L. Lawton. The present sanctuary was built in 1960 during the tenure of Rev. R.M. Youmans, who served here for more than 35 years. Marker erected by the Congregation, 2002.

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Garvin Garvey Freedman’s Cottage

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Garvin House is located in the heart of Old Town Bluffton. The 1870 cottage is a great example of late 19th century Carolina Lowcountry architecture. The house was constructed during the Reconstruction Era of hand-hewn timbers and other materials found in the area.

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

According to their website, “The Garvin House is believed to be one of the earliest known freedmen owned houses still extant on the May River. The residence remained in the Garvin family for three generations until 1961. The structure remained in private hands until 2001, when the Beaufort County Land Trust acquired the house and property. In 2004, Beaufort County and the Town of Bluffton entered into a partnership to share the responsibility of maintaining the Oyster Factory Park, which includes the Garvin House. The house has the potential to become a centerpiece of interpretation for the park due to its extreme rarity as a home constructed and owned by African-Americans in Bluffton during the Reconstruction Era.”

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The house was built by Cyrus Garvin on the bluff of the May River. Garvin purchased the 54-acre property in 1878 for $239.70. The land formerly belonged to Joseph Baynard. Garvin was a freedman who was likely once a slave on this property. This home is the only example of the freedmen’s cottages that sprang up around the May River as slaves staked their claims to land they’d been born into while in bondage. Joseph Baynard sold Garvey the land and employed Garvey to run the Baynard farm. Garvey also passed on his good fortune to the community. He helped purchase land to build St. Matthew’s Church.

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Recent documentation indicates the Garvin family hosted social events at their house during the early 20th century.  This information shows the importance of the Garvin family in Bluffton society.

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Cyrus Garvin died in 1891. The property passed to his son Isaac. He lived here with his wife Jenny and their son Paul. After Isaac’s death, Jenny continued to live in the house until her death in the 1950’s.

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Restoration photo found on the Garvin-Garvey website.

The house then passed through several hands including the Bluffton Oyster Company. In 2001 Beaufort County Land Trust acquired the badly dilapidated house and the surrounding land to create Oyster Factory Park. Beaufort County and the Town of Bluffton then began stabilizing the Garvin House. The restoration was completed in 2017.

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Restoration photo found on the Garvin-Garvey website.

The Garvin House stands today as a fine example of an architectural style that is often overlooked.  It gives a clear insight into building methods that were used during this important time in American history. It is a testament to the freedmen and what they could accomplish.

garvin garvey house bluffton, sc
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Garvin House is now open to the public for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am – 4 pm. It is located at the intersection of Bridge and Wharf Streets in Old Town Bluffton. For more information call (843) 757-6293 or visit https://www.townofbluffton.sc.gov/324/Garvin-Garvey-House.

For information on this and other attractions in the Bluffton area visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/bluffton-area/.

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The Beaufort Arsenal Museum

Standing watch over Beaufort.
beaufort sc arsenal
Photo by Vadim M.

The Beaufort Arsenal stands sentinel in downtown Beaufort. This massive brick and tabby structure was constructed over four years, from 1795-1799. Stationed in the facility, the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery was organized in April 1775 and is the fifth oldest military unit in the United States.

beaufort sc arsenal museum
Image found at beauforthistorymuseum.wildapricot.org.

The Beaufort Arsenal was the home of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, which traced its formation to an earlier company organized in 1776 and served in the Revolutionary War. The BVA was stationed at Fort Beauregard during the Battle of Port Royal on November 7, 1861. They were instrumental in driving the British away from Port Royal.

beaufort sc arsenal museum
Image from beaufortonline.com.

The building had deteriorated substantially by 1852, when the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery Company rebuilt the complex, “on the foundation of the old Arsenal a building capable of accommodating a garrison of 250 men and a battery of six guns.”

beaufort sc arsenal museum
Photo by Frank Hodges.

The 225-year-old Beaufort Arsenal has been involved in every war fought by this nation, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. It then became the home of the National Guard.

beaufort sc arsenal museum
Photo found on Beaufort History Museum website.

The Beaufort History Museum now calls the arsenal home. A Visitors Center also shares the space. It is also used for parties, events and living history. The museum showcases over 450 years of Lowcountry history and culture. Exhibits of Native Americans, European settlers, Antebellum era and Civil War can be seen.

beaufort sc arsenal museum
Photo by Kendokken 3.

Make a visit to the Beaufort Arsenal your first stop in Beaufort. Pop into the Visitors Center and pick up information on local attractions. Visit with the friendly staff and experience the local charm. You will be glad you did.

beaufort sc arsenal museum
Photo by Paul Giampa.

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

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The Parish Church of St. Helena

Beaufort’s towering glory

st helenas beaufort, sc
The St Helena steeple towers over Beaufort. Photo Credit: Robert Gecy

With a steeple that towers over the town of Beaufort, SC, the Parish Church of St. Helena is one of the oldest churches in North America. Established in 1712 as a colonial parish of the Church of England, this church still serves the community it surrounds. The original church was almost completely demolished in 1824 to allow for an expansive rebuild.

st helenas beaufort, sc
Photo Credit: Denise Berry

The church and grounds were used by the Union Army as a hospital during their occupation of Beaufort during the Civil War. It is rumored that they even used slabs from the graveyard as operating tables.

st helenas beaufort, sc
The cemetery and back view of the church.
Photo Credit Luciano Periera do Souza

Luckily the church was spared from ruin, and after the war services resumed. The church was preserved, and its steeple tower was extended in 1942. The historic church boasts white pillared columns on its stately exterior

st helenas beaufort, sc
Cemetery image by Matt Zeigler.

The neighboring churchyard is just as historically significant as the church itself. Many founding fathers of Beaufort are buried here. One of the first church members laid to rest here was Colonel John Barnwell, also known as Tuscarora Jack. He was an important officer during the Tuscarora (1712) and Yemassee Wars (1715). Two British officers killed during the Battle of Port Royal are buried here as well. It is also the resting place of two Confederate officers. Lt General Richard H Anderson and Brigadier General Stephen Elliott.

st helenas beaufort, sc
Grave stone image by Becca Brashear.

While visiting Beaufort stroll over and explore the church and its graveyard. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the beautiful church exterior and gravestones dating back to the 1700s. Your visit will give you a look back in time to the beginnings of this great and historic city.

st helenas beaufort, sc
Steeple view by Michael Miller.

The church is located along Church Street, just a few blocks away from the Beaufort River waterfront and Bay Street.
Old Churchyard Cemetery Brief History & Map

For more information on this and other Beaufort treasures visit southcarolinalowcountry.com/beaufort-port-royal-area.

 

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Spanish Moss Trail Part 2

Northbound from Robert Smalls Parkway to Clarendon Rd.

spanish moss trail
Today’s journey started at Beaufort Plaza on Robert Smalls Pkwy. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Spanish Moss Trail is an expanding rails-to-trail greenway running from Clarendon Road in northern Beaufort County to Port Royal along the historic Magnolia Line Railroad, which once connected Yemassee to Port Royal. This was an active railroad line from 1870-2003.  This 10-mile greenway has become a must-experience activity for locals and tourists alike. The 12-foot-wide paved trail is a great space for walking, running, biking, skating, scooting, strolling or even fishing. The trail is handicap accessible, and parking lots are provided.

spanish moss trail
Lowcountry river views are spectacular along the Spanish Moss Trail. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Spanish Moss Trail offers spectacular views of Lowcountry marshes, waterways, coastal wildlife and historic points of interest. Points of interest are well marked along the trail. Pets on a leash are welcome on the trail.

spanish moss trail pick pocket plantation
Pick Pocket Plantation. Photo found on Pick Pocket Facebook page. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Heading west, from Robert Smalls Parkway passes along Pick Pocket Plantation. A historic marker tells the history of this mid-19th century plantation with the funny name. According to the marker, little is known of the original owners, or how it got its name. The property changed hands many times before George W. Trask bought the farmhouse and its 214 acres. From this location, Trask and his sons ran the most prosperous truck farming businesses in Beaufort County. The property stayed in the Trask family until 2006. The house and 15 acres of the property sold to John H. Keith. He restored the dilapidated farmhouse and moved eight other historic buildings to the site.

spanish moss trail
A tunnel is a rarity in Beaufort. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The trail travels along Highway 21 for a while. Lowcountry natives like this stretch because it includes a hill. The trail dips beneath a driveway and under a tunnel. Hills are a rarity in this part of the state. Biking down a hill is a real treat!

spanish moss trail
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The trail pulls away from the highway and over a trestle that has lovely views of Albergotti Creek.

spanish moss trail boardwalk
A boardwalk leads toward the Marine Corps Air Station.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Roseida Road Trailhead is next. It has ample parking spaces and a trail map. Handicap spots are available. There is also a Parker’s Gas Station at this access point that has public bathrooms. The trail next heads over a wetland area and accessed by a beautiful boardwalk. This leads directly in front of the Marine Corps Air Station entrance. Cross at the light and head further up the trail.

spanish moss trail albergotti creek
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

This area was also the site for the Battle of Port Royal Island. This battle was one of 250 military engagements fought in South Carolina. Under the direction of General William Moultrie, 300 SC militiamen defeated the British in this area in 1779. This American success gave a needed boost to our troops after the fall of Savannah the previous year. On a side note – two signers of the Declaration of Independence fought in this battle: Captain Edward Rutledge and Captain Thomas Heyward, Jr.

spanish moss trail hwy 21 drive-in
The Hwy 21 Drive-In entrance can be seen from the trail.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Another historic site located along this path is Beaufort’s famous Hwy 21 Drive-in. This family fun attraction has been around since 1978. It closed briefly from 2003-2004, then reopened with much fanfare. It now has two screens and is one of only three drive-ins in South Carolina. The 80-ft tall screens have a digital format and show movies year-round. This is an attraction enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

spanish moss trail
The pavement ends and the “road less traveled” begins.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

As you travel further along the trail the pavement ends and a dirt and gravel section begins. This will be paved in the future. Pavement begins again as you near the Clarendon Road access point. This is the spot of Clarendon Plantation. In 1928 H.W. Corning bought 5,000 acres overlooking the Whale Branch River which he called Clarendon Plantation. This estate contains the remains of SC governor Paul Hamilton, who also served as Secretary of State during the War of 1812. Due to its proximity to the Magnolia Line Railroad, the property has been used as a sawmill, turpentine production, timber, cattle ranching, quail hunting, hay and other crops. It has also seen its share of fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities.

spanish moss trail clarendon road trailhead
The Clarendon Trailhead has ample parking.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Clarendon trailhead is the end of the journey – for now. It has a great parking area and for anyone wishing to complete the entire trail in one day, it’s a great place to park and start. The plans call for additional pathway to be added that will lead through and end at the river. The master plan map also shows additional path at the opposite end leading into Port Royal, and a path into downtown Beaufort.

spanish moss trail map
Future extensions can be seen on the map. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

These additions will be a great asset for what is already a wonderful Beaufort attraction. Plan on spending at least two hours to bike the northern side of the Spanish Moss Trail. Give yourself more time if you’re walking. Be sure to pack supplies for your journey. Make sure to stop along the way to read historic markers and enjoy views from the trestles. If you get tired just take a break on one of the many benches provided. Stay tuned for a future post on additions to the trail.

butterflies along the spanish moss trail
Butterflies flock to wildflowers along the Spanish Moss Trail.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The south bound portion of the Spanish Moss Trail can be saved for another day. For more information on Beaufort attractions visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/. Other Lowcountry nature trails and wildlife preserves can be found at https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/wildlife-preserves-and-nature-trails/ .

Carmen Pinckney Lowcountry Tourism Commission
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Spanish Moss Trail Part 1

Southbound from Robert Smalls Parkway to Port Royal

Spanish Moss Trail
Spanish Moss entrance from Beaufort Plaza.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Spanish Moss Trail is an expanding rails-to-trail greenway running from northern Beaufort County to Port Royal along the historic Magnolia Line Railroad. This 10-mile greenway has become a must-experience activity for locals and tourists alike. The 12-foot-wide paved trail is a great space for walking, running, biking, skating, scooting, strolling or even fishing. The trail is handicap accessible, and parking is provided.

Spanish Moss Trail
Views from a trestle bridge are spectacular.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

The Spanish Moss Trail offers spectacular views of Lowcountry marshes, waterways, coastal wildlife and historic points of interest. Points of interest are well marked along the trail. Pets on a leash are welcome on the trail.  Doggie bag stations are available as well. There’s even a place to pump up your tires at the Depot Road access point. You can also find recreational fishing spots on various trestles along the trail.

Spanish Moss Trail
All access points have maps that mark the trail and its facilities.
Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Bringing a bottle of water is a good idea. You can refill it at any of the trailheads. There are also two restroom/port-a-potty facilities at the Broome Lane and Depot Road Trailheads. The Westvine Trailhead has equipment for push-ups and pull-ups.

Spanish Moss Trail
Wood Storks keep an eye on the water from their perch along Battery Creek. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

From one of the trestles it was easy to spot a family of wood storks taking an afternoon nap. These wading birds are rather humble looking when at rest but are beautiful in flight. Also visible along the way are butterflies, king fishers and many other wading birds.

Spanish Moss Trail
Fishing is a great activity on the Spanish Moss Trail. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Fishing is great fun on the Spanish Moss Trail. Bring your supplies but remember to take your refuse with you when you leave.

Spanish Moss Trail
The Seacoast Packing Company stands as a reminder of a once busy trail depot area. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Along the way visitors encounter the remains of the Seacoast Packing Company. This building began life as a meat packing plant, with hopes of encouraging farmers to raise livestock. This venture failed almost immediately. It later went on to be used as a grocery warehouse, a tomato canning plant and eventually a pickle packing plant. This building was once surrounded by other structures important to the railroad. Today it is the only remaining reminder of the once busy railroad area.

Spanish Moss Trail
Visitors can travel through the Charles E. Danner Warehouse along the way. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

Another reminder of days gone by is the Charles E. Danner & Co. Grocery Warehouse. This remaining brick building was once surrounded by other warehouses at the Port Royal Railroad Depot. Located outside visitors will find a map showing the locations of other businesses that used to grace the depot area.

Plan on spending at least two hours to bike the southern side of the Spanish Moss Trail. Give yourself more time if you’re walking. Be sure to pack supplies for your journey. Make sure to stop along the way to read historic markers and enjoy views from the trestles. If you get tired just take a break on one of the many benches provided. Travels to the other side of Beaufort’s Spanish Moss Trail can be saved for another day.

Spanish Moss Trail
Battery Creek views along the trail are beautiful. Photo by Carmen Pinckney. Photo by Carmen Pinckney.

For more information on Beaufort attractions visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/. Other Lowcountry nature trails and wildlife preserves can be found at https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/wildlife-preserves-and-nature-trails/ .

 

 

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Charter Fishing in the Lowcountry

Spending a day on the water with Captain Fuzzy Davis

South Carolina Redfish
Redfish are plentiful in the waters of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Spending the day on the water in the South Carolina Lowcountry is always a good idea. Booking a charter fishing trip with Hilton Head’s nationally acclaimed Silva Dolla Fishing Charters with Fuzzy Davis is brilliant! Davis has been fishing the waters around Hilton Head for over 40 years.

He has been featured in magazines and television shows. Not to brag, but he has held the SC State Tarpon Record since 1986, and Saltwater Sportsman Magazine ranked him in the “Top 50 Boat Captains in the US”.

Captain Fuzzy Davis
Captain Fuzzy Davis

Davis’ skill on the water and great personality make him a favorite for locals and tourists alike. He’s the boat captain my family calls on for a day of fishing.

The day begins bright and early at the Boathouse dock. Davis is ready and waiting. His boat is loaded with ice, bait, tackle, fishing license, bottled water and all the fishing trivia you can handle.

After loading up, you will head off in pursuit of fish in the saltwater creeks, rivers, sounds or offshore. Inshore excursions focus on redfish and sea trout. Nearshore trips target Tarpon, shark, redfish, trout, and cobia.

sc lowcountry bonnethead shark
The first catch was a bonnethead shark.

The first catch of the day is always exciting. Per dad’s request, the group started fishing for sharks. It didn’t take long to start pulling in some beauties. This bonnethead shark put up quite the fight before being hauled on board. Bonnetheads live in subtropical waters from North Carolina to the Caribbean. They typically grow between two and five feet long.

sc lowcountry charter fishing
Dad gets in on the action.
sc lowcountry charter fishing
Reeling in a shark is exhilarating.
sc lowcountry bonnethead
The proud catch.

The last catch of the day brought out the competition in the girls. They came out even though because one redfish weighs more while the other is longer.

redfish
Catching redfish brings out friendly competition.

After four hours of reeling in sharks, stingrays, and redfish, the fishing party was amply satisfied and exhausted. Great memories were made, and bonds were strengthened. The next morning plans were made for the next fishing excursion with Fuzzy.

sc lowcountry charter fishing
The team heads home after a day of fishing.

For more information on charter fishing in the South Carolina Lowcountry visit https://southcarolinalowcountry.com/charters/ .

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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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SOUTH CAROLINA LOWCOUNTRY

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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.

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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