26 July 2014

Daufuskie Island field trip

Ferry to Daufuskie Island, Hilton Head, S.C.
I immediately requested a Friday off when author and Daufuskie Island resident Roger Pinckney offered a tour to members of a local Facebook history group I belong to.  Woohoo, field trip! On further research, although I had never been there before, I could have gone anytime, rented a golf cart to tour and even better, rented a cabin for the night. I did it the very best way, meeting new friends and getting a personal tour but I'll share the info in case anyone else wants to make the trip. Hint: It was really hot. Might be slightly more pleasant in early fall.

The ferry leaves from Hilton Head Island. $64 included round trip ferry ride, lowcountry buffet on arrival and either a guided tour or golf cart rental. Plan your trip here. Dolphins escorted our boat and lunch was waiting for us on arrival. We met our guide Roger Pinckney and driver Eddie, boarded our magical history tour bus.The island is very rustic and peaceful. I had downloaded and reread Pat Conroy's book The Water is Wide about teaching in the little school house for a year. Some of the few old cottages are being restored and the church and school are open for viewing as museums. We stopped at an iron artist and pottery studio and ended back at the dock for deviled crab treats before boarding the ferry. It was a lovely day. Thanks to history lover Josephine Humphreys and Roger Pinckney for putting us all together. More photos here.

Daufuskie Island was occupied by native Indians prior to the arrival of European explorers in the 16th Century.  Islanders sided with the British during the Revolutionary War.  Plantations covered the island prior to the Civil War when they were occupied by Union soldiers.  Freed slaves then occupied the island and grew cotton until fields were ruined by the boll weevil.  Canning for the famous Daufuskie Island Oysters ended when local oyster beds were closed in 1951 due to pollution from the Savannah River.  Electricity came to the island in 1953 and telephones in 1972; however, with few opportunities for work, the population shrank to less than a hundred people, leaving a legacy of rich Gullah history.  In the 1980s, tracts of land facing the Atlantic Ocean were purchased, development began and the island was rediscovered as an historic treasure.