The end of the Civil War came as swiftly and dramatically as the beginning. In a matter of days, the troops were packed up and shipped off to their homes. The island was suddenly left alone. In the wake of the Civil War, Hilton Head was a population consisting primarily of freed slaves, many of whom were granted 30 acres and a mule. A few of the confiscated plantations were sold off for $1 per acre, some redeemed by their owners as payment of back taxes. During the subsequent quiet period, the Gullah culture flourished and blossomed into a Freedmen’s lifestyle.
Native islanders (former slaves) took up subsistence farming and fishing while building neighborhoods, churches, and schools. Their language came to be known as “Gullah,” a language that survives today. In this culture, storytellers emerged, and legends as well as superstitions were taught.
This was an era of relative isolation and peace on the island. Their African heritage cast a long shadow on these islanders and all they did. In 1879, a now-famous journalist with the Atlanta Constitution started writing a column of folk tales he learned while living in the Lowcountry and working for the Savannah newspapers. He collected these tales under the title Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings. The journalist was, of course, Joel Chandler Harris. The stories became world famous and carried the spirit and wisdom of the Gullah people to the world.
ABOVE: A GATHERING OF THE FIRST GENERATION FREEDMEN DURING AN EARLY HUNTING EXCURSION
HONEY HORN PLANTATION, CIRCA 1950