Daufuskie Island, SC History
Long before Dr. Jack Scurry and his son Wick Scurry built the Island’s first Marina in 1984, Daufuskie was home to many. Ten thousand years ago, Indians inhabited the island up until the 1800s. One tribe in particular were called the Yammacraw. They named the island Daufuskie, which means' point of a feather' or' point of an arrow.' Interesting enough, Daufuskie is shaped like an arrowhead. They were the first surveyors on the island with many more to follow!
The Spanish were on the island by the 1500s when Daufuskie was part of Florida. They left a presence in the form of small horses called 'marsh tackys' which are still in existence today.
The plantations were started in the late 1600s when the English gained ownership of South Carolina.The King of England gave land grants to wealthy English families who, in turn, planted indigo until cotton became king around 1800.
Union forces took over Daufuskie the first year of the Civil War.Many stayed the duration of the war until 1865. The Union forces freed the slaves, leaving the island to these freed slaves. The isolation of the island kept their culture alive.
Gullah was originally a tribe of Africans but has come to mean the descendents of slaves that did not mix with the
rest of the country and adhered to old African traditions.
Daufuskie is only minutes from Hilton Head, but it feels like you are going back 100 years in time. Most of the area remains dirt roads, revealing an island that is rich in history and nature with one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches on the East Coast. Daufuskie is a rare find that can only be visited by private boats or public ferries.
Janie Hamilton School –
Schoolhouse constructed in the early 1900’s. Windows face away from road to reduce distractions to the students. This
was a typical island schoolhouse prior to 1900.
Mary Fields Elementary School – Built in 1930, it is a two-room schoolhouse for grades Kindergarten
through 8th. High school students today ride a boat to the mainland daily to attend school there. Pat Conroy wrote
about his teaching experiences in the Mary Fields School in his book “The Water is Wide” (The movie “Conrack” was based
upon his book and is now available on video.)
First Union African Baptist Church –
Originally built in 1882 and still in use today, the Church features the Original imported English chandeliers,
heart pine floors and hand carved wooden pews. It was restored in 1998. This church was built on the site of the Praise
House that was originally on Mary Fields Plantation.
Silver Dew Winery – It was originally constructed in 1883 to store oil for the lamp in the Island Lighthouse. It was converted to a winery in the mid 1900s by Pappy Burn. The winery closed in 1956.
Beach Nature Walk – Put some sand between your toes and enjoy the solitude of a quiet beach away from Hilton Head. (Carts are not allowed on the beach) If you walk on the beach, turn right and walk to the point, you will be on the site of the “Bloody Point” Indian Massacre in the late 1700s.
Bloody Point Lighthouse – The Lighthouse was originally built on the ocean in 1883 to light the southern end of Daufuskie Island. A team of mules moved the lighthouse by dragging it over timbered logs to its present location to save it from erosion.
Bloody Point – The site of a bloody Indian Massacre during the Revolutionary War.
Mary Dunn Cemetery – The Plantation owners' cemetery. Many of the graves in this cemetery date back to
the 1700s. Most cemeteries during this period were built on the water, presumably for the breeze during services.
(Guests, Please do not enter the gates)
Undertaker’s House/Huge Oak – This was the home of the island undertaker who married the local mid-wife.
She brought them in and he took them out. Pine coffins were sold from a small building in the front yard. A 500-year-old
oak tree still stands in this location, shading one of the original oyster houses (well over 100 years old).
Old School House –
Built in 1900, the island’s white students used it until 1962. Recently restored by local residents, it was used as
Daufuskie Island Fire Department until 1998. This building now serves as Daufuskie Island’s only and 1st library.
Cooper River Cemetery – An early Daufuskie Island Gullah Cemetery, it was built on the river in keeping
with Gullah traditions. It was believed that the soul could enter the water and return home to Africa.
Mt. Carmel Baptist Church / Daufuskie Island Museum – Built in 1942, this was the white church prior to integration.