Beaufort & Beyond...

Our weather today was iffy at best so we jumped in the car and headed south to the darling town of Beaufort, SC.

Our first stop was at the Visitor's Center where we were helpfully told what not to miss. The history of Beaufort is one of the most comprehensive and diverse of any community of its size in the United States.  The area had been subject to numerous European explorations and several aborted attempts at colonization before the British successfully founded the city in 1711, the second-oldest in South Carolina (behind Charleston). The city initially grew slowly, subject to numerous attacks from Native Americans before flourishing as a regional center for the Lowcountry plantation economy up through the Civil War. The community rebounded in the later half of the 20th century and is today recognized as one of the most livable small towns in the country. Beaufort has retained much of its historic character through its renowned architecture and historic preservation efforts.

We strolled through neighborhoods and meandered down various streets.

We 'met' Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 – February 23, 1915), an enslaved African American born in here who, during and after the American Civil War, became a ship's pilot, sea captain, and politician. He freed himself, his crew and their families from slavery on May 13, 1862, by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, and sailing it from Confederate controlled waters to the U.S. blockade. His example and persuasion helped convince President Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Army and the Navy.  As a politician, Smalls authored state legislation creating the first free and compulsory public school system in South Carolina. This man was great and this brief introduction doesn't do him justice.
St. Helena Church (1724) was our stop for a graveyard tour. 
Another cemetery first on this trip were these covered graves.
Among the headstones stood this single stone which denotes the burial site of two officers of the British Army (c.1779). This burial site may be the only two identifiable gravesites, by name and location, of the estimated 47,000 British and Hessian soldiers who died fighting the Patriot army in the American Revolution. History is truly found in a cemetery.
Got to love the flowers in this town!

Our history lesson continued on St. Helena Island, at the Penn Center - the site of the former Penn School, one of the country's first schools for freed slaves. Started just one year after the Civil War began, it is today the only African American landmark district in the nation.

For more than 150 years, it has been at the epicenter of African American education, historic preservation and social justice for tens of thousands of descendants of formerly enslaved West Africans living in the Sea Islands, known as the Gullah Geechee people. The Gullah people have continued to survive to today and represent the most tangible living example of one of the outcomes of the Port Royal Experiment, a plan by the federal government to “test the capabilities of the Negro for freedom and self-support” during the Civil War.
Later, in the 1960s, the Penn Center took up the mantle of social justice by ushering in the Civil Rights Movement and serving as the only location in South Carolina where interracial groups, such as Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Peace Corps, could have safe sanctuary in an era of mandated de jure segregation. I'm standing on the porch of the home in which Dr. King stayed on his many visits here.
Our final stop seemed to be the perfect last place to pause for the day. Prince William Parish Church, also known as Old Sheldon Church, was magical and historical all at the same time (almost surreal actually).
The church was built in the Greek Revival style between 1745 and 1753. Prince William was burned by the British in 1779 during the Revolutionary War and rebuilt in 1826.
Bishop Thomas wrote, “Exactly as it happened a hundred years before in 1779, when General Prevost, marching from Savannah into South Carolina burned the Church, so now in February 1865, General Sherman marching from Georgia into South Carolina, burned it a second time.” It was never rebuilt and this exquisite reminder remains. History is found in the most amazing of places. The lessons continue!
“The farther backward you can look,
the farther forward you are likely to see.” 
― Winston S. Churchill

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2 comments:

Cyndy Brown said...

You two are having way too much fun!

Karen Booth said...

Oh, I want to go paint some manhole covers!

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