Gullah Country


Hilton Head Island, Beaufort & Bluffton

Located alongSouth Carolina’s coast and bordered by theAtlantic Ocean, lie three vacation destinations well-worth the trip. Hilton Head’s beaches and world-class golf, Beaufort’s historic landmarks and shopping, Daufuskie Island’s rich African American history, & Bluffton’s eclectic arts community and old town charm are all included in South Carolina’s Treasured Coast.

Famous for its miles of sandy beaches, world class golf courses, historical charm and delectable food, this Treasured Coast holds even more for those interested in the African American and Gullah culture and history.

Explore the areas of South Carolina’s coast to begin your travel experience. Begin planning your trip at Beaufort’s Visitor Center, find out what’s on stage at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island, discover historic tours of Daufuskie Island, or learn about Old Town Bluffton.

By its very definition, heritage is a deeply personal, powerful force within a community. It is a link to those who have come before. A legacy to preserve and promote. A movement with a life of its own that infuses life into every corner of society.

The heritage of South Carolina’s Treasured Coastcan be found in the buildings. Buildings such as the Penn Center that brought hope to those who needed it most, or Heyward House in Bluffton that was one of the few antebellum structures to escape being burned during a Union troop attack in 1863. Or in the way the Gullah people, descendants of African slaves, have kept, and continue to keep alive, a culture that traces back to a different time and continent.

Welcome, or as “Gullah” natives of the Lowcountry would say, “We fa welcome oonah to de Lowcountry”. This simple Gullah greeting begins your journey to the rich African American history ofSouth Carolina’sTreasuredCoast– Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island andDaufuskieIsland. Famous for its miles of sandy beaches, world class golf courses, historical charm and delectable food, this Treasured Coast holds even more for those interested in the African American and Gullah culture and history. The influences of these cultures are reflected throughout the Lowcountry. The historic landmarks – tabby ruins built and used by slaves, cemeteries, churches and markers – give a glimpse of the past. Today’s celebrations of culture, art, food and stories keep alive many aspects of this rich heritage. Gullah crafters still weave the popular sweetgrass baskets and make fishing nets. History lovers and families return here year after year in search of theirSeaIslandroots, spending time with their elders and amidst extensive collections of genealogy records at local libraries. Tours take visitors into some of the areas most hidden and diverse neighborhoods, allowing them to see and experience the lifestyle that’s part of the treasure of the Lowcountry. The summer time is the perfect backdrop to host a family reunion, itineraries can include boat rides, historical tours, cultural entertainment, cook outs, beach outings and more.

October 10, 2012 updated from the Island Packet,     New history for Daufuskie Island

A Daufuskie Island resident paddle-boarding with his wife and several others discovered a rare canoe, thought to be from the 1700s, protruding from the sand on Turtle Island. The canoe, which is now soaking in a tank at Wick Scurry’s restaurant, remains in good condition after an excavation that included Jim Spirek, the state archeologist who was part of the group that found and ultimately raised the Hunley. Spirek calls the canoe an “important find.”

A bit of centuries-old history has been freed from the muck off Daufuskie Island. The dugout canoe, probably hand-hewn in the 18th century, was first found on Turtle Island in May. Daufuskie Island residents and University of South Carolina archaeologists, aided by natural erosion around the craft, were able to break the mud’s grip Oct. 4.

James Spirek, a USC underwater archaeologist, oversaw the dig and says the boat probably was hand-carved from a single log. By whom remains a mystery. “Based on how well this seems to be built, it suggests it was hewn with tools,” said Spirek, who also helped raise the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley from Charleston Harbor in 2000. It may have been “Indians using iron tools. I think more than likely it was … European.” He hopes the canoe can one day undergo radiocarbon dating, which can determine its age within 50 years.

Although the vessel was found along the shore, old maps of Turtle Island suggest the area in which it was discovered was once an inlet or saltwater pond. Spirek said the canoe was probably buried bit by bit over the years. “At least two feet or three feet (of sand) built up over it at some point in time,” he said. “That helped preserve it.” The soil, however, was not airtight. Cracks, fissures and a barnacle on the hull suggest it was exposed to salt water.

In the weeks following the canoe’s discovery, several state archaeologists examined it and created an excavation plan. They also had to find a new home for the vessel, which is owned by the state. Wick Scurry, owner of several businesses, including a ferry between Daufuskie and Hilton Head Island, ultimately provided that home. Although the canoe was found mostly intact, it broke into three large pieces during the excavation. The pieces are submerged in a freshwater solution in a tank inside Scurry’s restaurant, the Old Daufuskie Crab Co. The canoe could remain underwater there for as long as two years, a move that will help preserve it. It also will be treated with a substance that prevents cracking and warping. The goal is simple: put the pieces back together, and with them, a small part of the past.


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