Last week was pretty amazing. We did more sightseeing than usual. Beaufort County (bewfort vs boafort) is rich with the history of plantation life, revolutionary and civil war history, and reconstruction history.
It is distinctly American
It’s the kind of place that makes you want to read a Pat Conroy novel and watch a John Grisham movie, despite the fact that JG’s stories are mostly from the Gulf states. The Spanish moss on the trees is thick, dripping down to my face and loaded with chiggers! It was warm, still in the 80’s and far more humid than we’re used to, though nothing like we’ve been told their summers are. The Live Oak trees are amazing. Several hundred years old, they spread their branches out like the tentacles of an octopus. Their leaves have a waxy sheen that never changes color.
Gators and snakes love it here
We kept looking for a gator in the wild but never found one. We did come across a dead rattlesnake though…
I checked the picnic table every time I sat at it.
We visited Savannah for a day. We’d been before, but only for a morning. The day trip was fabulous. On/Off trolley ride is highly recommended. The architecture is stunning, shopping is huge, and the history, both revolutionary and civil war, is significant. General Sherman presented Savannah to President Lincoln as a Christmas gift, rather than burn it down as he did other cities in the south.
We re-watched the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, when we came home. It’s the true story of a man, who shot and killed another man and was tried 4 times before receiving a not guilty verdict. It captures some of the flavor of Savannah in ways that other stories can’t begin to. Hard to believe it really happened.
Another beautiful piece of architecture is the Basicilica
There is also a Jewish synagog, Congregation Mickve Israel, founded in 1735. We were visiting on Sabbath and it was closed. The mostly, Sephardic Jewish people from Eastern Europe settled here and contributed greatly to Savannah history.
Below is the First African Baptist Church, built in 1773. Built by both enslaved and free Africans and attended by both. It became a place of significance during the Civil Rights era, with Dr. MLK and leaders in the NAACP speaking in it. It is one of the continuous, longest running African American churches in America.
Beaufort is a miniature version of Charleston SC, another place we love. Again, the history and architecture are fabulous. We took the horse carriage tour, a must do for any of these spots. They can go where cars cannot and the tour guides are fabulous fonts of quirky details.
Just about every house has some kind of historical marker on it. Originally all were forms of plantations with 1 acre lots. Homes have been added and they’ve tightened up the streets. One former slave quarter remained and was being used as a workshop.
African American history is rich in this area. We are in the heart of Gullah country, which extends north from the Cape Fear River to St. Augustine FL. The enslaved Africans who were brought here from West Africa developed their own language and identity aboard ship, and called it, Gullah. The progression was, Angola=Angullah=Gullah.
We visited the Penn Center, the first school for freed, enslaved children. It’s right here on St Helena Island. Mornings were for academics, afternoons for industrial skills. The goal being to create a self sustaining African American community that could become land and business owners. Heavy emphasis on owning land! It was/is thought that land ownership is a path to having power and independence.
Churches abound in the south, and Beaufort County SC is no exception. On the road to our campground are 5 or 6, all within 2-3 miles of each other. The names of these churches are unique, at least a few of them are.
Ebenezer Baptist Church (100+yrs old)
Brick Baptist Church (100+ yrs old)
Oaks True Holiness Church
Faith Memorial Baptist Church
Bethesda Christian Fellowship
and lets’ not leave out…
New Life Deliverance Temple
As we drove by these houses of worship on Sunday, at about 11:30 am, the parking lots were full. We speculated that most of the services were only 1/2 over. All had begun at 10 am. When we came back at 1pm, only one church still had a full parking lot…Oaks True Holiness Church. Bruce felt they were an End Times Church, so they were staying till Jesus returned…
The snark is strong in him
I think I’m still absorbing all of the sights, especially the history. I am so glad we made this trip and explored this part of the country. While I’d definitely vacation in Hatteras or Myrtle Beach, not too sure I’d come back to this part for recreation. But it’s a definite must see for history and sights.
Maybe if you go you’ll find one of those gators in the wild…