Blog

Robert Smalls' Large Lowcountry Legacy

Kelly Graham - Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Born in Beaufort to an enslaved mother and white father, Robert Smalls was only 23 years old when he created his daring plan to escape with his family from slavery to freedom. The War between the States was barely a year old, and South Carolina had been the first state to secede from the Union, as well as the first to fire shots of aggression in Charleston harbor at Fort Sumter. Union commanders had devised a plan to blockade the entire Southern seaboard, focusing on the critical shipping ports of Charleston and Savannah. Their "Anaconda Plan" involved stopping all sea-going freight, in order to strangle the lifeblood of the south's vital agricultural export trade of rice, cotton, and indigo with Europe.  Read More

South Carolina's 'Back River' of Rice

Kelly Graham - Tuesday, October 09, 2018

As you approach the Savannah River's Talmadge Bridge from the South Carolina side, the wide vistas of golden marshland that make up today's Savannah Wildlife Refuge seem as if they have always looked this way; but before the Civil War, these vistas contained more than 40 large rice plantations. The illustrated map from 1851 shows the carefully divided plantations, each owned by a wealthy southern planter, who visited only occasionally, leaving the overseeing to the appointed "drivers", who were trusted and rewarded for keeping the enslaved workforce on task. The great Savannah River that flows past the port city has two little sisters, the middle and back rivers, which fork and meander through the South Carolina marshes, creating a virtual shipping highway for the commerce of these perfectly positioned rice plantations.  Read More

The Heyward Legacy in Bluffton

Kelly Graham - Friday, September 07, 2018

George Cuthbert Heyward's horse arrived in Bluffton that evening without its mount. Retracing the path back toward the plantation where George had ridden earlier that day, with the cash payroll for his overseers and staff, they found his body beside the road and found that he had been shot. The immediate chaos that the incident threw the Heyward family into was devastating, and the older sons stepped in to help care for their mother and keep the home. The mystery surrounding his murder and the theft of the payroll would not be solved until many years later, when on his deathbed, a former subordinate in the military confessed to the crime, admitting his revenge taken after being passed over for a promotion in rank.  Read More

Carolina Gold From West African Knowledge

Kelly Graham - Monday, August 13, 2018
South Carolina has a history closely linked to agriculture and the bounty of our rich and fertile soil. Cotton and tobacco were always principal inland crops, but during the mid-1800s rice was king in the South Carolina Lowcountry. It is not clear when rice first came to the SC coast, but one story has a British merchant vessel in need of repair putting into Charleston harbor and paying for the work with a bag of Madagascar rice seed. Seeds need a skilled hand to grow, and no colonial southern planter had the knowledge or experience to grow rice.  Read More

Freedman, Cyrus Garvey, Built His Home on the May

Kelly Graham - Wednesday, July 11, 2018
In 1870, the Civil War had been over for several years, and most of Bluffton lay in ruin, having been burned and ransacked by Union troops seven years earlier. On the May Rivers high bluff, where a fine home had once stood, Cyrus Garvey obtained permission from his employer to build his own home.  Read More

They Retreated To Bluffton

Kelly Graham - Tuesday, June 05, 2018

When the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, the move for South Carolina to secede from the Union had already been simmering for many years. As early as 1844, sixteen years before the start of the war, the seeds of discord were being sown by the SC “fire-eaters” who spoke loudly of secession from the United States. That early defeat at Fort Sumter, when confederates retook the harbor fort, had stung the Union badly, and a retaliatory move was soon made. Read More

The Heart of the Story

Kelly Graham - Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Listening to a good story is something we can all relate to. We remember stories and storytellers long after the end of the tale. Especially when the storyteller involves our imagination and relates on a level that makes the story real.  Read More


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