The Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation held its annual meeting on Tuesday, April 22, with over one hundred members and guests in attendance. After dinner and a short business meeting, the attendees were treated to a talk by Emory Campbell, Executive Director Emeritus of the Penn Center and founder of Gullah Heritage Consulting Services. Dr. Campbell praised the Foundation for its endeavors to preserve the island’s history and its Gullah heritage. His topic was the Gullah-Geechee Corridor and he explained what the Corridor encompassed and its vision, and the fact that more individuals and organizations were recognizing its importance and becoming involved. A poignant moment in his remarks was when he told of hearing African villagers singing a song that was very similar to one sung by his family…a true homecoming for him and others on a memorable trip in search of their West African origins.
On Wednesday, May 7, the entire island was invited to Marshside Mama’s to hear Dr. Rebecca Starr, whose master’s thesis at the U. of SC was “A Place Called Daufuskie: Island Bridge to Georgia 1520-1830”. Dr. Starr worked with Billie Burn when she was researching material for her island history book and was responsible for the application that put Daufuskie on the National Register of Historic Places. A marker was dedicated at the Public Dock last November commemorating this auspicious designation.
Dr. Starr’s email address was discovered in Billie Burn’s papers as they were being processed for the DIHF Archives. An email found Dr. Starr in England where she received her Ph.D. from Oxford University and taught Early American history at the University of Gloucestershire until her retirement in 2006. We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to hear from this scholar who played a significant role in recording Daufuskie’s history.
On the weekend of June 6 -7 Haig Point and the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation will host Joseph McGill, Jr., founder of “The Slave Dwelling Project”. The Project is dedicated to the identification/preservation of former slave quarters and to delivering the message “that the people who lived in these structures were not a footnote in American history”. McGill, a graduate of South Carolina State University, currently works as history consultant for Magnolia Plantation in Charleston. Previously he was employed by the National Trust for Historical Preservation, the Penn Center on St. Helena and the National Park Service, planning, managing and bringing historical interpretation to the public. He participates in Civil War re-enactments and was the founder of “Company 1, 54 Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment”, in Charleston. McGill has taken upon himself to sleep in as many extant former slave dwellings as he is able to identify and as time permits.
His mission to bring preservation to and education about slave dwellings and their inhabitants was featured in an article entitled “Cabin Fever” in “Smithsonian Magazine” in October 2013.
After a dinner for Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation members on Friday evening ($14.95; for reservations call 341-8144), McGill will bed down for the night under the stars in one of the newly restored tabby slave ruins at Haig Point. Joining him will be Yvonne Wilson of Daufuskie Island with members of her family, descendants of Haig Point slaves.
The following day, Saturday, June 7, Haig Point and DIHF invite the public to celebrate the history of the island, and in particular that of Haig Point, with a walking tour of four significant sites in Haig Point: the tabby ruin slave quarters, the Haig Point Lighthouse, the Haig’s Point slave/Gullah cemetery and the Strachan Mansion. Joe McGill will be on site to share stories about the “Slave Dwelling Project”.
Last, but not least, since 1995 the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, the S.C. Department of Archives and History, and the Office of the Governor have recognized exceptional accomplishments in the preservation, rehabilitation, and interpretation of architectural and cultural heritage with a series of state awards. The Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation has been notified that it will be awarded the 2014 Stewardship Award at a June 11th ceremony.
Haig Point and DIHF invites the pubic to celebrate the history of the island Saturday, June 7th. Admission, which includes ferry transportation from Haig Point Embarkation on Hilton Head and lunch, is $60. Daufuskie Island residents may access Haig Point via the Haig Point South Gate with an admission charge of $50 which includes lunch. For reservations, call 1-800-686-3441. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation.