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Low Country Culture


A neighborhood fish dish that locals of the Carolina Sea Islands have been enjoying for even more years compared to anyone could trace has become a present favorite at some expensive dining establishments in Charleston and also some of the resorts along the Carolina shore. Called Frogmore stew, it is exactly what the locals of the coastline, numerous of whom are shellfish fishermen, consume on the sort of ritual occasion that their inland next-door neighbors could celebrate with a bbq. This folk dish is a highly seasoned stew of such improbably integrated substances as sausage and also shrimp and also crabs plus a few other factors like corn on the cob. The people that make the stew typically boil the substances in draft beer.

The meal acquires its name from a place that has only a post office on one side of the road and also a two-story white country store on the various other. Frogmore is the mailing address (ZIP code 29920) for the residents of St. Helena Island, among the few islands on the South Carolina coastline that are still reasonably unexplored.

Frogmore stew is only one of lots of instances of Gullah life surviving on St. Helena, which is pertained to by anthropologists as well as sociologists as one of the richest databases of Negro society in the United States.

St. Helena is just one of the few areas where you could listen to the Gullah dialect, and for a very long time the island had a worldwide popular witch doctor. People originated from as away as Paris to obtain hexes taken off, and also the man’s better half is said to have actually prepared 15,000 amulets of root, which individuals used to fend off evil spirits.

The trim on windows as well as doors of many residences has for a century or additional been repainted a light blue in the idea that this shade keeps evil spirits out. Although cotton hasn’t been increased on the island for a century, some individuals still follow the aged customized of sticking small bolls in their displays to keep something out, and it isn’t really flies.

Servants were first given St. Helena in the very early part of the 18th century to grow indigo. But when, after the American Revolution, the British withdrew the indigo subsidy, the planters counted on long essential cotton, which came to be called Sea Island cotton, as well as by the 1800’s wonderful wealth was being gathered. Quickly after the Civil War started in 1861, the North took possession of surrounding Hilton Head Island as well as developed a base for its blockade fleet.

In the wake of this penetration by Northern forces, there followed a tiny host of activist guys and gals which were committed to educating the freed servants. The females set up institutions, and several of the men attempted to expand cotton with the help of former slaves, which were paid salaries. The Unitarian minister as well as author Thomas Wentworth Higginson elevated a black routine on St. Helena. The planters took off, never ever to return, as well as their land was split up and also provided or offered to the new freedmen.

In 1862 2 of the abolitionist women started the very first school for blacks. They lowered an upreared schoolhouse from their indigenous Philadelphia and called the institution Penn. They remained on the island for 40 years, till they died, through probably the poorest as well as bleakest phase in the island’s record.

All these tasks were a rehearsal for Reconstruction, which virtually bypassed St. Helena, nevertheless. The island and its people, around 5,000 blacks as well as 100 whites, participated in a duration of isolation, which lasted from 1870 to 1927 when the first bridge was constructed from neighboring Beaufort.

As quickly as the island ended up being reachable a team of sociologists and anthropologists showed up to research black folklore and also record, as well as their findings have come to be classics. Penn School has made it through, as well as throughout the early 1960’s the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and also his leadership staff met at Penn to intend the Selma march of 1965.

St. Helena is in the center of what has come to be a strand of island hotels. It lies north of Hilton Head and also southern of Edisto as well as Kiawah and also rests behind the barrier islands of Hunting Island, Fripp Island as well as Pritchard Island. Because it has no beach, it has actually possibly been saved from the developers of condo complexes. However it is enclosed by among the largest and most gorgeous sweeps of marsh on the Atlantic Seaboard. Tidal rivulets, creeks and streams are for life flowing back and forth with the marsh. Up most of the creeks are shellfish docks, many of them family members enterprises. They happily market to visitors, and the definitely freshest shrimp can be bought in late afternoon when the watercrafts are available in with their catches.

A see to Penn and also its gallery is a good way to start a trip of St. Helena. The excursion can effortlessly be done in a day, including lunch at a tiny fish and shellfish restaurant next to a shrimp dock. To get to Penn, take U.S. 21 in Beaufort and trip south 10 miles to Frogmore. Turn precisely S-7-45 (Lands End Road) to go to Penn, concerning one-half mile by way of a stand of live oak trees.

On the left, just before you reach the Penn campus, is Brick Church, integrateded 1855. The weathered block, the lovely level of the Greek Revival design – all recognize, having usually shown up in Mathew Brady’s photographs. Note the tombs of Penn’s founders, Miss Murray as well as Miss Towne, as well as those of planter households such as Fripp, McTureous as well as Pritchard.

A historic pen a couple of hundred feet from the religion, at the Cope Building, marks the university of exactly what is now called Penn Community Services. The office is in the building nearest the indicator. The personnel there will direct you to the gallery.

The York Bailey Museum at Penn is a modest yet genuine collection of farm devices, pictures and clothes of individuals of St. Helena. You are likewise welcome to go to the sings held at Penn at 7 o’clock every other Sunday evening from September to May. Several of the older locals of St. Helena participate, carrying on the tradition of unplanned spiritual singing. For several months a year, the Peace Corps utilizes the Penn school as a training ground for volunteers who will certainly be going to Africa.

Turn right when you leave Penn as well as drive one-half mile to the damages of the Chapel of Ease, integrateded 1740 for ranch proprietors that were too far to reach the parish religion of St. Helena in Beaufort. Simply part of the brick walls of the church stay, forming a shell in an old burial ground populated with live oaks as well as palmetto trees.

For the following leg of the trip, take Lands End Road six miles to its joint with Seaside Road. Along this stretch is a ghost that manifests itself as” The Light.” Over the years hundreds of teen-agers, who urge they have actually seen the apparition, have sought it in automobiles, yet they have actually never ever captured it.

Seaside Road (S-7-77) passes through the best part of St. Helena. Beginning a few hundred feet from Port Royal Sound (across which lies Hilton Head), it finishes virtually 14 miles away at Coffin Point on St. Helena Sound. There is a region boat ramp off Seaside Road around 2 miles from the crossway. As you drive, with marsh to your left, you will certainly be passing many of the old plantation neighborhoods, consisting of Frogmore Plantation, Ann Fripp, Tombee, Dr. White and also Big House. Today’s locals still collection in these areas, more than 100 years after the death of the ranches. And if you ask a person along the roadway where he lives, he will certainly offer you the name of among the old areas because it is still one of the most purposeful address to him. Driving along, you could view an uncommon type of little equine discharge to pasture in among the many stretches of marsh. This is a Marsh Tackie, somewhat larger than a Shetland pony – but an equine, not a horse. The initial ones are believed to have actually come with the Spanish, who colonized the seaside islands in the 16th century. They are unique to the islands however are quickly lessening in number.

At the intersection of Seaside Road and also U.S. 21, turn right and go 2 miles to the county boat ramp for a sight of Trenchard’s (evident locally Trunkers) Inlet, a stretch of pristine marsh and creeks covering hundreds of acres in between St. Helena and the obstacle islands. Conservation teams in South Carolina have actually targeted Trenchard’s and also hope to keep it in its natural state.

After 11.5 miles Seaside Road crosses U.S. 21. Continue for 2 even more miles northward for a perspective of Coffin Point Plantation. After the very first mile, the pavement finishes and you enter into a milelong tunnel developed by Spanish moss hanging from a method of wonderful live oaks.

Built by Ebenezer Coffin around 1800, the plantation residence stayed in the Coffin household, according to log books discovered there, up until the start of the Civil War. The plantation was the biggest and most prosperous on St. Helena Island. In 1891 it was purchased by James Donald Cameron, then United States Senator from Pennsylvania as well as the son of Lincoln’s very first Secretary of War. Statesman Cameron utilized your home largely as a hunting lodge, and it continued to be in his household till the 1950’s. Our home is still privately had, as well as the inside is closed to the public.

Cameron’s other half, Lizzie, was a figure in Washington culture and also had a long friendship with Henry Adams, who was a guest at Coffin Point. He did watercolors of the house and also discussed it in” The Education of Henry Adams.” Your home has broad, enwrapping verandas as well as repeated columns and a tabby foundation, examples of which are rare today. (Tabby is a cement made of shells as well as sand.) As you clear out, you could desire to quit at the aged slave burial ground, which will be on your left concerning a half-mile along the opportunity of trees. It is still being used by those members of the Coffin Point area who are descendants of the slaves.

Go back to U.S. 21 and also transform left, going a mile to the Gay Fish Company docks and sheds. About a lots shrimp boats use this aged angler’s wharf, which the Gay family has merely fixed up. You could get shrimp right here or you can go back to U.S. 21, cross it and eat shrimp from the dock at the Shrimp Shack, run by the better halves and also little girls of the Gay household. (The men have actually been fishermen for a number of generations.) The Shrimp Shack offers a $4.95 plate of shrimp or clams with red rice and hush puppies. It also usually has shark steak. The eating area is a big evaluated patio neglecting the marsh and Harbor River, a large tidal stream where sundowns are spectacular.

More artifacts from the island’s past might be viewed at Dataw Island, a new domestic development. Go one-half mile north on U.S. 21 from the Frogmore Post Office, turn right and also comply with the indicators. The guard at eviction will certainly route you to a reception desk where you will certainly be assigned an overview which will certainly take you to 12 exhibits filled with artifacts. Two instances include examples of tabby and also graphics showing how tabby was made. The product was accumulated and identified by a group of archeologists and also home chroniclers. Near the major clubhouse are the ruins of the Sam family members plantation. You can view lots of wall surfaces, the total format of a plantation with the main house, the overseer’s house, the milkhouse, the stable, a cookhouse with a huge fireplace, a little chapel and the family members cemetery.

You might eat in the elegant dining room at Dataw, which offers outstanding meals, including Beauford crab soup ($2.95), oysters baked with mushrooms and also Swiss cheese as well as polished with hollandaise sauce ($5.50) as well as a seafood stew called Dataw Tradition ($15). It consists of langoustines, scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels and stumble.

St. Helena’s is not the type of area for restaurants, and also it is not surprising that the only location that has Frogmore stew on the food selection every night is the Steamer on Lady’s Island. You will certainly find the Steamer on U.S. 21 simply past the crossway of State Route 802, about 3 miles from Beaufort. Lots of island locals, including anglers, eat and drink at the Steamer. Frogmore stew is $7.75. When it involves Frogmore stew, every man is his very own ideal cook. But all dishes have hot sausage, corn and shrimp in whatever amounts the cook chooses, and it does not seem to matter to those that eat it. The common denominator of Frogmore stew appears to be:” There’s never any kind of left.”.