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Freedmen's Bureau Records ~ Reading the Descriptive Pamphlet Can Lead You to Treasures

Related Records Screen Capture

Perhaps the most significant event in African American genealogy in South Carolina in 2013 came at year's end, when FamilySearch digitized all 106 reels of microfilm of the NARA micropublication Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872 (NARA Micropublication M1910).

We dare say that there is scarcely a collection more significant for breaking through the 1870 brick wall than Freedmen's Bureau records. The records in this collection were made at the dawn of freedom, and can help you locate your SC ancestors in the period between 1865 and 1870 (the first year that the US Census recorded African American ancestors by name).

Before you dive into the new collection "South Carolina, Freedmen's Bureau Records, 1865-1872," taking a few minutes to read the descriptive pamphlet (reel guide) would be time well-spent. A close reading of the descriptive pamphlet can point you towards records you might miss by simply reading the titles of the reels in the new collection.

After you have identified and combed the richest records in this new record set, you may feel that you have exhausted the research possibilities. At that point in your research, the descriptive pamphlet could well become your best friend in your quest to leave no stone unturned.

Why? Because there are hidden treasures in this enormous body of records. And you can find them by reading the descriptive pamphlet closely.

Accessing the Descriptive Pamphlet for This Collection

There are two ways to access the descriptive pamphlet online. Within the collection at FamilySearch, the descriptive pamphlet is the first reel listed in the collection. There, you can browse the guide page by page.

If you wish to have the descriptive pamphlet open in another window, download the pamphlet for offline use or search the pamphlet, you can access the pdf version available here on Lowcountry Africana, in our Research Library.

Information in the Descriptive Pamphlet

Let's take a closer look at the descriptive pamphlet to see how it is organized, and what information it contains.

First Thing First: History of Freedmen's Bureau Operations in South Carolina

The first portion of the descriptive pamphlet outlines the history of Freedmen's Bureau operations in South Carolina. Here you can learn about the duties of the bureau and how these duties were divided among the various departments within the bureau.

Knowing which branches of the bureau generated records, and for what purpose, can not only help you identify records of interest within the collection, but can also help you identify related record sets and next steps if you find a record of interest.

Example: Property Dispute

For example, let's say you found a record in the new collection concerning a dispute between an ancestor and a former slaveholder over ownership of an item of personal property, and you would like to know where to look for more information about the settlement of the dispute.

From the descriptive pamphlet we learn that between May and September of 1865, Assistant Commissioners of the Freedmen's Bureau adjudicated cases between African Americans themselves, and between African Americans and whites.

In September 1865, military courts were given responsibility over all cases involving African Americans, and state courts were to handle cases involving whites. After the South Carolina Legislature adopted a measure in October 1866 recognizing freedmen’s rights and making African Americans' testimony admissible in state courts, all cases involving freedmen were turned over to state courts.

This background information can help us infer that if a dispute between an African American ancestor and a former slaveholder was settled before October 1866, records of the settlement may be in Freedmen's Bureau records. If the case was not settled before October of 1866, further records concerning the dispute may appear in records of the South Carolina state courts rather than in Freedmen's Bureau records. Knowing the history of the bureau's operations in South Carolina has in this instance opened a window to next steps and new research possibilities.

Records Description

Now we have some background on the bureau, so what's in this record set exactly? Here's where you find out.

Here we learn that the records consist of volumes and unbound records, and there follows a description of which records are contained in each. We also learn that some of the records for South Carolina created in 1862-1864 are included in this series. An important research tip in this section of the pamphlet is:

Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers in that period. On roll 32, for example, the Register of Letters Received, Vol. 1 (95), also contains a register of complaints. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these records.

Related Records

Pay close attention to this section of the pamphlet, for here are your research "next steps."

Related Records Screen Capture

In this section of the reel guide, we learn about related record sets available from the National Archives that supplement the records in this collection.

Table of Contents

Now that you have a solid background on the historical context, ready to dig into the records? This section of the descriptive pamphlet is where you can do just that, to identify which reels you would like to view. The Table of Contents lists in detail what is on each reel of the collection.

Below is an example of a page within the descriptive pamphlet (please click on the image to view larger). At the top of the page is the information for reels 62 and 63, Berkeley District. The pamphlet describes the contents of each reel and how the records are arranged, then follows detailed information about specific record types.

Reel Guide Screen Shot

The order the records are listed in is the order in which they appear on the microfilm.

We recommend reading every word of the descriptive pamphlet, to make the most of these records!

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FamilySearch Digitizes Freedmen's Bureau Records for SC

3 Generations of Doctor Family in Letter to Freedmen's Bureau M1910 Reel 89 Taget 1

FamilySearch this week digitized all 106 rolls of the microfilm series Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872 (NARA Micropublication M1910). This new collection of 118,737 images is one of the most significant for tracing formerly enslaved ancestors in South Carolina. The 106 rolls of microfilm span the date range of 1865 to 1872.

Freedmen's Bureau records are an invaluable resource for learning where your ancestors were prior to 1870 and can often provide clues for discovering an ancestor's final slaveholder. Among these records are labor contracts, rations lists, land warrants, military bounty claims, letters received and sent, applications for restoration of property to former slaveholders, transportation requests, hospital records and more.

When used in conjunction with the 1869 South Carolina state census, 1868 voter registrations and 1869 militia enrollments, these records can help you learn a lot about where ancestors were, and what they were doing, prior to 1870.

You can access this free collection here. We will be developing a series of blog posts about this new collection. Topics will include navigating the records, types of records and the information each contains, and how to use these records to corroborate family oral history and break through the 1870 brick wall.

The records are also a valuable source of primary documents for educators to use in the classroom.

We're very excited about this collection being digitized. It is not yet indexed but you can access all 106 rolls of microfilm from home. We look forward to exploring these records with you! If you find a treasure, please share it here in the comments. We would love to hear how your research in these records is going.

You can view the reel guide for this collection here in our research library. The guides provide an in-depth look at what each microfilm contains, to help you select which films you would like to view.

Happy Ancestor Hunting from the Crew at Lowcountry Africana!

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Hidden in Plain View ~ Slave Dwelling Project Overnights at Two Urban Slave Quarters

College of Charleston
Joseph McGill Visits Former Slave Dwelling at 16 1/2 Glebe Street
Joseph McGill in Doorway of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
16 1/2 Glebe Street, Former Slave Dwelling
Property Now A Guest House
Interior of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
Interior of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
Modern Amenities in Former Slave Dwelling
Interior of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
Interior of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
Interior of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
16 1/2 Glebe Street
16 1/2 Glebe Street
16 1/2 Glebe Street
Slave Shackles
Interior of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
Terry James
Glebe Street, Charleston, SC
Terry James in Doorway of 16 1/2 Glebe Street
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The weekend of August 30 – 31, 2013 was intense for the Slave Dwelling Project for I would find myself spending the night in two different slave dwellings in two nights. Both locations, 16 ½ Glebe Street and 25 Longitude Lane are located in the city limits of Charleston, SC.

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Before the first stay, I had to take a detour to Randall Hall on the campus of the College of Charleston to be one of three panelists to speak on the subject titled “Charleston: Holy City and/or Slavery Central?” Also on the panel were Professor Joe Kelly of the College's Department of English whose book America's Longest Siege: Charleston, Slavery, and the Slow March toward Civil War has just been published, and Mark Berry, of the College Publications team, whose article on College of Charleston alum Colonel John C. Fremont appeared in the College of Charleston Magazine last year. The panel addressed one of the most important paradoxes in American political history—how a nation founded on the universal principle that all men have the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could have remained a slave-holding nation for nearly a century after the Declaration of Independence, until the end of the Civil War.

16 ½ Glebe Street

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Three years into the Slave Dwelling Project and until Friday, August 30, 2013 I had only spent the night in a former slave dwelling on the campus of one institution of higher learning. That institution was Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia. 16 ½ Glebe Street located on the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina would be my second on a college or university campus. The dwelling is currently used as a guest house by the college so surprisingly prior to the stay, I talked to at least two people who had stayed in the dwelling before with no knowledge that it was a former slave dwelling and I am willing to wager that 95% of the people who have stayed there did not know that the dwelling once housed slaves.

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When I saw the dwelling, it was obvious to me that it indeed once housed slaves. The location alone (behind a “big house”) was enough for me to make that determination. I also concluded that despite the dwelling not presently having a chimney, it served as a kitchen / living quarters for slaves. The dwelling was well adapted to its current use as a guest house, fully equipped kitchen, living room and half bath downstairs and bedroom and full bathroom upstairs. With forty six stays in former slave dwellings prior to this one, I had stayed in some that had been adaptively reused in similar fashion but none could compare to this one. A flat screen TV and wifi made for an environment where I could get caught up on some work and communicate with followers of the project but before any of that happened, I could not help but take a walk through the streets of Charleston.

My destination was Wild Wings restaurant on Market Street which turned out to be farther away than I thought but the walk, meal and adult beverage were well worth it. During the walk, I could not help thinking about the slave labor involved in all of the antebellum buildings along the route that I took, making the bricks and erecting the buildings requiring slave tags in order to carry out those tasks.

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When I got back to the dwelling, I finally started to enjoy the amenities. The adornment of the structure made it difficult to imagine the lives of the slaves who once lived there. Were they there to service the house located in front or were they part of the population of enslaved people who serviced the College of Charleston. Paul Garbarini who is an avid researcher who experienced a night stay in the slave dwelling with me at Heyward – Washington House in Charleston is doing that research.

Having wifi provided a unique impromptu opportunity. After broadcasting photographs of the dwelling on my facebook page, the comments started to come in hot and heavy. Wifi and a laptop made it possible to respond to the comments immediately. I had tried this concept before (minus the pictures) with some success and some failure but those experiences were forecasted therefore the audience anticipated the interaction. This spur of the moment experience gave the participants one of the best opportunities yet to interact in real time with the project.

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As promised, Terry James showed up for the stay. Like me, he marveled over the amenities in the dwelling. Terry’s last two stays were the Old City Jail which had concrete floors and the cabin in Simpsonville, SC which had a dirt floor. After directing Terry to the bathroom upstairs, he then discovered that there was a half bathroom down stairs neatly tuck under the steps that led upstairs. That night Terry would take the couch downstairs and I would take the bed upstairs. Like clockwork he would again sleep in the slave shackles.

The next morning, when Terry and I stepped outside so that Terry could apply his skill of photography. Terry impressed me because he now has a discerning eye for former slave dwellings. We both noticed that 16 ½ Glebe Street was the only slave dwelling left of the many that were once behind all of the houses that fronted Glebe Street. It was evident that the footprint of a huge commercial building belonging to the College of Charleston would not let the slave dwellings coexist, but my limited knowledge of the situation cannot allow me to say that the building was the demise of the dwellings because they could have been demolished long before the commercial building was placed there.

We left 16 ½ Glebe Street, but little did Terry know that the slave dwelling that we would stay in that night would be just as luxurious.

25 Longitude Lane

Susan E. Heape, Owner of Former Slave Dwelling, 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
25 Longitude Lane, Former Slave Dwelling
25 Longitude Lane
25 Longitude Lane
25 Longitude Lane
Interior of 25 Longitude Lane, Now A Private Residence
Old Hearth in Former Slave Dwelling
Terry James and Susan E. Heape
Mary Ellen Morehouse
Hospitality ~ Susan Prepared a Delicious Stew
Terry James Customarily Sleeps In Slave Shackles on Overnight Stays
Interior of 25 Longitude Lane
Interior of 25 Longitude Lane
Interior of 25 Longitude Lane
Interior of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
Courtyard of 25 Longitude Lane
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#FFCC00fadetrue

I gave a Slave Dwelling Project lecture before my stay at the Heyward – Washington House in Charleston, SC,. In the audience was Susan Heape, the owner of the former slave dwelling at 25 Longitude Lane. The next week when I was in Jacksonville, Florida Susan called me with a major concern. It appeared that in my presentation, I did not address the category of owners of former slave dwellings of which she is a part. Susan bought the dwelling for the purpose of using it as her primary residence. She insisted that I come over for a visit.

The visit proved to be quite worthy. I awed at the meticulous work that she personally put into making the dwelling what it was. She excitingly expressed all that she did to ensure that she maintained as much of the historical integrity of the dwelling as she possibly could. Knowing that this was her personal space, I still had to ask that question, “When can I spend the night.” To my surprise, the answer was anytime. As time passed, we collectively decided that doing the stay on the same weekend as the College of Charleston stay was highly appropriate because it would be my opportunity to highlight those dwellings that are hidden in plain view.

 

Hours before the stay, Terry James and I gathered on the Battery in Charleston in our Civil War uniform. As you would guess, the conversations and interactions there were quite interesting. It got more interesting when we would explain to the inquirers that we would be spending the night in a former slave dwelling in walking distance from the Battery. We further explained that there were several extant slave dwellings within the vicinity of where we were.

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On the walk from the Battery to 25 Longitude Lane, Terry again used his discerning eye to spot all of the former slave dwellings that were visible from the side walk. A tour guide in a horse drawn carriage slowed his tour enough to inquire of our purpose, when we responded that we would be sleeping in a former slave dwelling on Longitude Lane, he seemed a bit surprised. When we got to the dwelling, Susan greeted us both with big hugs, she had forewarned me that she had assembled an outfit specifically for the occasion. Her special stew was on the stove in the last stages of preparation. As she gave Terry a tour of the dwelling, I went outside to start taking my pictures for I have learned in this project to start taking pictures immediately so that I would not have to be rushed the next morning or take the chance that it might rain.

The three of us headed back to the Battery. Susan had salvaged some flyers from the lecture that was given the previous day at Randolph Hall on the campus of the College of Charleston. On the walk to the Battery, Susan enthusiastically engaged all of whom she came into contact by giving them a flyer and starting the conversation about the Slave Dwelling Project. Terry and I took it from there. Unfortunately we had to break up the team because Susan had to head back home to meet a guest that she was expecting.

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When Terry and I got back to Susan’s place her guest Mary Ellen Millhouse had arrived. She attended the lecture the previous day and had asked the interesting question about how many slaves stayed around after they were freed. Mary, armed with her camera, expressed that she regretted not being able to go to the Battery with us and hoped that we would go back but Susan had already changed into more comfortable clothing and was now concentrating on serving the meal. It turned out that Mary owns a house in Beaufort, SC that once housed slaves. This was interesting, because since I started the project, I had been trying to identify extant slave dwellings in Beaufort, to no avail. It was as if Beaufort was in denial of its slave holding past. The result of the conversation with Mary was that a stay at the property will occur but we have to determine the right date in order to maximize its effectiveness.

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The conversation would continue over Susan’s specially prepared tasty stew. When Susan was convinced that she might lose sleep because of Terry, me or both snoring and that our interest was waning from the subject of extant slave dwellings to that of a football game, she made a firm decision to relinquish the space to Terry and me. She went to her second home on Edisto Island to spend the night. Terry and I were both satisfied with the outcome of the football game although Terry only saw portions between bouts of sleep.

For sleeping, I took the couch while Terry spread his sleeping bag on the kitchen floor. Terry again donning the slave shackles before going to sleep. The next morning, Terry mentioned that his sleeping experience was not comfortable. I jokingly speculated that it was because he slept over the cellar but neither of us believed that for a moment. Terry was still in awe of the intricate work that Susan put into the dwelling. He was also impressed that she would trustingly leave the space in our possession. I told Terry that what Susan did was not a first and it was the power of the Slave Dwelling Project that warrants such acts.

After a session of Terry taking intricate pictures, we both went our separate ways. Terry going home to Florence, SC and me, to toil at my place of employment, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on Labor Day, the irony.

Before I Met Joe McGill: A Slave Dwelling Project of My Own

By Susan E. Heape

"So, you might ask, 'How can you love a slave house? How can you live there, knowing that enslaved people once were forced to live and work there?' The answer is that I see myself as a steward of this property, with the duty and honor of preserving and maintaining that which someone else might destroy or deny."

Susan E. HeapeOwner, 25 Longitude Lane

In 2004, a terrible thing was about to happen: my seven cousins and siblings all agreed that it was time to sell Grand Daddy’s farm. I was the only one of this small group of heirs with any real connection, love, familiarity, use, or desire to preserve a tract of land that had been in my family for many generations. All of them, even though raised in the South Carolina Lowcountry, had turned into city slickers or plain old mercenaries or folks with a disdain for all things Southern! The thought of a pile of money was far more attractive to them than grand oaks, sandy trails through palmetto swamps, and gently rolling acres of sweet-smelling pines. Even the McKewn Branch, a flowing creek which once helped supply Charleston with drinking water, was not enough to warrant preservation.

Meanwhile, I had turned into a regular woods-child, with a 4x4 pickup and a 27 speed off-road bicycle, both designed to take me anywhere I wanted to go on this property. If you get the idea that this place was close to heaven for me, you are correct. I found a peaceful sense of being home, knowing that many generations of my family had lived here, grown their own food, cut this timber to build homes, and hunted these woods for deer and other wild game. I held out for over a year, trying to convince family members that it was a sacrilege to sell this land. They thought I was silly. Then they thought I was crazy. Finally, they thought I was just plain annoying, and decided to sue me so that the developers could have their way with our property! Having heard horror stories regarding the way courts dispose of heirs property (typically devaluing the land and depriving the resistant family member of equal restitution), I had to capitulate to the sale. The developers were ruthless in requiring all of the property, or not buying any at all. After months of negotiating, the deal was concluded in early 2006. I was literally, physically sick from this experience! Not only was the property gone, but also family relationships. I had become “the outcast who almost prevented the sale; the troublemaker; the tree-hugger.”

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I resolved to use my proceeds to buy another treasure in the Lowcountry. I decided that having a special place here would be an ideal way to stay connected to my origins, and give me a sense of using my resources for a good purpose. I began shopping online as well as with a local realtor, with the goal of finding a historic property that was in need of love and restoration. From the first moment that I saw pictures of my house, I knew it was the one for me. Even though it was evident that a lot of work was needed, I could see the potential in these stout brick walls. I have known of this house my entire life, and can even recall what it looked like when I was a young girl---rather dreary with dark shutters, overgrown vines, and messy mulberry trees in the rear entry way!

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After submitting numerous offers to the seller, and being turned down, we finally were able to come to acceptable terms in April 2006. I was absolutely determined to buy this house, because it needed me and I needed it! When I say “it needed me,” I mean that there had been ongoing attempts by previous owners to transform this house into something modern, slick, and inauthentic to its slave dwelling origins. My mission, right from the start, was to acknowledge the truth about this structure and to honor that truth by restoring and preserving it, not hiding it. Over the years, I have removed modern plastic light fixtures, revealed interior brick walls once covered by gloss paint, installed heart pine floors identical to the few remaining original ones, and utilized historically accurate colors and fabrics throughout. I have also researched, designed, and installed a traditional African-American folk art garden. There are heirloom plants, natural elements such as seashells, and antique farming tools such as would have been used in bygone times. It has been strictly a labor of love, and I have personally done most of the work myself--- except for that beyond my abilities, such as plumbing and electrical. I love this place, and feel very protective of it.

So, you might ask, “How can you love a slave house? How can you live there, knowing that enslaved people once were forced to live and work there?” The answer is that I see myself as a steward of this property, with the duty and honor of preserving and maintaining that which someone else might destroy or deny. While it has not been easy or inexpensive to own and restore this structure, I am so glad that I have been able to do so. These walls speak to me, and I hope to others, about a time in our shared history. While many lessons about the Civil War have been recognized and learned, there are so many other facts about this era that are yet to be acknowledged and explored. Hopefully, the identification and recognition of all historic structures, not just large or ornate ones, will serve as inspiration for ongoing discussions, discoveries, and understanding.

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Slave Dwelling Project ~ 150th Battery Wagner Commemoration, Two Nights in Jail

150th Anniversary Commemoration, Assault on Battery Wagner

By Joseph McGill

"Approximately 200,000 African American men served in the Union Army and Navy during the American Civil War. For this particular stay, it was not much of a stretch for the Slave Dwelling Project and my Civil War reenacting to come together."

Joseph McGillFounder, Slave Dwelling Project
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#FFCC00fadetrue

For the followers of the Slave Dwelling Project, you have become accustomed to the blog that I write after every time that I spend the night in a slave dwelling. You may also be aware that I am a Civil War reenactor so making history relevant is what I love. Our reenactment group is Company I, 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment. Historically, the group was the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Approximately 200,000 African American men served in the Union Army and Navy during the American Civil War. For this particular stay, it was not much of a stretch for the Slave Dwelling Project and my Civil War reenacting to come together.

The Assault on Battery Wagner occurred on July, 18, 1863. This was the battle portrayed in the 1989 award winning movie Glory featuring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington. Although other Black regiments preceded and followed the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, because of this movie, this group is best known. For the past 10 years, Company I has been going to Morris Island, SC, the site of that battle to commemorate the men who fought, died and were captured there. This year would be different. Since this was the sesquicentennial or the 150th anniversary of that battle, we had to do more and do more we did.

On Sunday, July14 members of the local Civil War reenactment group worshipped at Mt. Zion AME Church in Charleston, SC. It is documented that historically, men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry worshipped at this church. After the service, the members proceeded to the Friendly Society Cemetery to place a wreath on the grave of Lt. Steven Swails who was one of only three Black officers commissioned in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. This is important because at the onset of the war one could count the number of Black officers in the Union army and navy on one hand. After the Civil War, Lt Swails who was originally from Cooperstown, NY, stayed in South Carolina and became a State Senator, lawyer and the Mayor of my hometown of Kingstree, SC.

Fort Moultrie 1

On Monday night a small contingency of the local Civil War reenactment group gathered at the Seashore Farmers Lodge to view the movie Glory. The lodge was built about 1915 by local black farmers. Their organization provided insurance, advice, and burial assistance to members. The newly restored building fell into disrepair and was almost lost to demolition by neglect before concerned community organizers stepped in and saved it. Unfortunately, technical difficulties would not allow us to show the movie on a large screen. Fate would have it that only about five people showed up so we wound up showing the film on a computer screen which worked out just fine.

The next day we would find ourselves back at the Seashore Farmers Lodge for a day of living history. It was on this day, July 16, 1863 that that the 54th Massachusetts got its baptism of fire. The historical marker at the lodge states “During the Civil War (1861-1865) Sol Legare Island was the site of several camps, artillery positions and battles. On this date, one of America's first African American Army Regiments, organized in the North and led by Union General Alfred Terry; bravely gave their lives to win the freedom of enslaved Africans who were held in bondage here and on plantations throughout the south. 5,200 Federal Troops occupied this Island. The 54th waged a gallant battle but lost 14 men, 17 were wounded and 12 missing. It is with great pride and humble gratitude that we honor their unwavering courage and sacrifice for a moral cause. The lodge is located on the grounds of where Union forces camped before they engaged in the Battle of Sol Legare Island.” The day was filled with living history demonstrations and storytelling with a good mixture of community, state and national visitors.

Wednesday, July 17th would find us at Trident Technical College. By then, the Civil War reenactors from out of town began to show up. The guys from Company A in Boston were there. These were the guys who allowed me to fall in with them at the last two inaugural parades of President Barack Obama. The guys from Company B out of Washington, DC were there. Company K out of Atlanta showed up. Others representing Civil War United States Colored Troops (USCT) showed up from New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina. The evening event had a sparse turnout and we got all of the activities in before the rain started. We then went to the world renown Gullah Cuisine Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant where the famous chef Charlotte Jenkins did not disappoint with a spread of baked chicken, collard greens, okra stew, rice, yams, bread pudding and a side salad. A formal introduction was given to the group by me with a question and answer period that followed. Bringing all of these groups together was a little contentious but nothing that could not be easily overcome. It was revealed that in the room we had a descendant of one of the drummers of the 54th, a descendant of William Carney the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from the 54th, and several men who acted in the movie Glory.

54th Mass Company I Fort Moultrie

Thursday, July 18th found us at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, SC. The history of the fort spans the Revolutionary through World War II. It was from this fort on the night of December 26, 1860, under the cover of darkness, Major Robert Anderson would spike the guns and proceed to Fort Sumter. He would hold his position at Fort Sumter until after a 34 hour battle which started on April 12, 1861. As typical with the National Park Service, the rules were strict but we gave the public a great show that included lectures, storytelling and musket firing demonstrations. Putting all the guys in one formation was not as problematic as I anticipated. We even had a contingency of Confederates who participated in the Fort Moultrie event.

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#FFCC00fadetrue

Above: 150th Commemoration, Photos by Herb Frazier

At 2:30 pm we began to board the boats that would take us over to Morris Island. The transport to the island was completed without a hitch although I was receiving calls for a seat on the boats up until the time we left the dock. The event on the island was carried out flawlessly. My only regrets were that high tide did not allow much beach to conduct the activities and we did not have enough time at the end of the program for people to reflect. We proceeded back to Fort Moultrie where we were fed and the activities continued. The evening culminated with a presentation by Lt. Governor Glen McConnell who is himself a Civil War reenactor. We ended the event by lighting luminaries that represented each man killed during the Assault on Battery Wagner.

Casualty List of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment from the Assault on Fort WagnercroppedAbove: List of USCT Soldiers Missing After the Assault on Battery Wagner. With Kind Permission of Fold3.

My Trip to South Carolina

By Kharson McKay, Age 11, Descendant of David Miles Moore, 54th Mass. USCT

"Everyone slid out of the boat and we stepped out onto the sand. It took my breath away. This was the Island where my ancestor David Miles Moore stepped into history!"

Kharson McKay, Age 11Descendant of David Miles Moore, 54th Mass. USCT
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Above: Kharson McKay (Left). Photo by Herb Frazier

My name is Kharson McKay. I am 11 years old from Austin, TX. I love the Civil War. When my dad Bob McKay told me I had been invited to participate in a civil war re-­‐ enactment, I was so excited to do it. My mom made me a costume (that apparently wasn’t very authentic) but it was still a great costume and I love it. Here’s the story of my trip to South Carolina. On Sunday, July 14 my dad and I drove 9 hours to my Sister’s house in New Orleans to pick up my 9 year old Nephew, Quinn McKay. We stayed for a while but we had to get back on the road. From there we drove to Olustee, FL to see the battlefield where my ancestor David Miles Moore, The drummer boy for the 54th Mass Company H. fought his final battle before he mustered out of the civil war in 1865.

It had closed just a minute before we got there at 5:01 so we went over the gate and took a couple of photos and videos and got out quick. After that we drove to Jacksonville, checked into a hotel right by the beach and swam in the ocean for a while. We tried swimming against the waves, but every time the tide came in it threw us back to the shore! Soon it got dark and we had to go back to the hotel. The next day we stayed for a while longer at the beach then had to get back on the road. We finally got to South Carolina and checked into our hotel. We heard there was a meeting at a university, and that got switched around but we finally got to the park where we saw everyone in uniform talking to each other and shaking hands. A few of the other re-­‐enactors greeted us and we met a lot of the local people. A couple of the men and women spoke about where they were from and how they got here, then they did an amazing living history skit.

Soon it started to rain and we all went to dinner at a restaurant with a great Gullah/Geechee buffet. Sitting down with our food we talked about the reenactment and information about what was going to happen the next day at Fort Moultrie. After 2 hours of eating and talking we all went home to get some rest for the big day. That day, Thursday, July 18th I took a shower, put on my uniform and walked out of the hotel to reenact one of the most important battles in the history of The Civil War. When we got to Fort Moultrie I was amazed by the Fort and the different costumes and gear people had! I wasn’t quite prepared, but the park visitors center let me borrow a drum and a couple of the men there helped me look more authentic.

After a few hours of gun checking, firing demonstrations, eating, and history talks, we all got on the boat to Morris Island. There, everyone slid out of the boat and we stepped out onto the sand. It took my breath away. This was the Island where my ancestor David Miles Moore stepped into history! We knelt down into the sand and a lot of blinding pictures were taken of us. We got up again, played a marching cadence, and marched to a spot on the island were we all got into ranks and fired the guns. The drummer boys played Battle Hymn of The Republic. I couldn’t play the drums at all so I just played the bass part of it. The men fired their guns into the air and we all got back onto the boat. I will never forget that moment when I first felt the sand. Thank you Mr. McGill for inviting me on this wonderful trip. I had a lot of fun and I am thinking about doing this again. Thank you.

Fort Moultrie 8 Fort Moultrie Group Photo

Stay at Old Charleston Jail

By Joseph McGill
Encampment Old Jail 11

The Old Charleston Jail was built in 1802 using bricks that were made by enslaved people along with their carpentry and masonry skills. My desire to extend the Slave Dwelling Project to the Old Charleston Jail was based on the fact that after the battle that was portrayed in the movie Glory, some of the Black soldiers who were taken as prisoners were held there. The American College of the Building Arts now holds classes in the jail and allotted me 15 slots for people desiring to share the experience with me. When I revealed to the public that I was going to spend two nights in the Old Charleston Jail, I immediately started to get responses about ghosts. While I don’t believe in ghosts, I do all within my powers to respect those that do.

I got to the jail at the appointed time of 6:00 pm to meet the tour guides who would be giving ghost tours in the jail. A prior meeting determined that we would interact only minimally with the tour groups. Nearly half of the people who signed up for the first night stay were no shows which at this point in the project did not surprise me but it turned out that nine Civil War reenactors, all males, would sleep in the jail that night. To my surprise, all of the reenactors were very anxious to interact with the tour groups. The tours started at our Civil War encampment where the visitors were presented with some story telling about how former slaves became Union soldiers. They then proceeded inside for their tour through the jail.

I tagged along on one of the ghost tours and enjoyed what I witnessed. Our drummer and youngest member of the Civil War reenactment group who was also scheduled to stay in the jail, went on one of the tours, as a result, we spent a great part of the night convincing him that everything would be fine inside the jail. 11:45 pm and the tours were over but for most of us who were to sleep in the jail, that time would have to come later. Some of the out of town reenactors wanted to hit some of the bars in town, while the rest of us just hung around outside engaging in conversation and enjoying adult beverages. Around 2:00 am we all found ourselves inside the jail to claim the spots where we would sleep. Despite all of the talk about ghosts, I found the night uneventful.

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We would find ourselves back at the jail on Saturday, at 3:00 pm for a period of living history for the general public. I had anticipated a respectable contingency of Confederate reenactors so that we could give the visiting public a feel for how both sides operated during the Civil War, but only three Confederates showed and that number included one lady. That turned out to be a good thing because the crowd was very sparse but they were treated to interpretation and storytelling. At 7:00 pm we had to once again switch into a mode for receiving ghost tour groups. The routine was the same as the previous night. Eight people would stay in the jail that night, five men and three women. The crowds for the tours were just as robust as the previous night which was an indication to me that this is a lucrative industry. After the ghost tours were completed, we again found ourselves chatting outside and drinking a few adult beverages. On this night we did not occupy the building until 3:00 am. To my surprise when I woke up the next morning, two of the young ladies who spent the night had already left. I am still adamant about not believing in ghosts, the fact that my van would not start that morning because of a dead battery and the fact that the battery in my watch died when I was in the jail was pure coincidence.

In March of this year, I attended a panel discussion at a conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on ghost tours. It was concluded that one can obtain more African American history on a ghost tour than on a regular history tour. Personally, I have a problem with that. Participating in the event at the jail is bringing me around to seeing things differently. When we interacted with the tour groups, through our interpretation and storytelling they learned how men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry became prisoners at that jail, in other words, we hit them with some real history. To that end, I am willing to work with the American College of the Building Arts and the ghost tour company to address their groups in the same capacity in the future. There are times when you have to get in where you fit in. As for ghosts, I will spend several more nights in that jail if the opportunity presents itself in the future.

Related Reading

"My First Night In Jail," Part I, from the blog South Carolina Traveler
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Searching Online Records for Florida? Don’t Forget These Valuable Resources!

FamilySearch Florida Collections (current to Feb 2013)

Title

Records

Last Updated

Florida, Births and Christenings, 1880-1935 20,227 10 Mar 2012
Florida, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 285,975 21 Apr 2012
Florida, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 25,416 21 Apr 2012
Florida, Confederate Veterans and Widows Pension Applications, 1885-1955 Browse Images 26 Sep 2011
Florida, Death Index, 1877-1998 5,187,074 10 Feb 2012
Florida, Deaths and Burials, 1900-1921 24,800 27 Apr 2010
Florida, Deaths, 1877-1939 471,800 29 Mar 2010
Florida, Divorce Index, 1927-2001 3,012,178 29 Feb 2012
Florida, Key West Passenger Lists, 1898-1920 Browse Images  *16 Jan 2013
Florida, Marriage Index, 1822-1875 and 1927-2001 11,718,373 14 Jan 2012
Florida, Marriages, 1830-1993 571,766 9 May 2012
Florida, Marriages, 1837-1974 859,969 26 Mar 2012
Florida, Probate Records, 1784-1990 Browse Images 27 Sep 2012
Florida, State Census, 1885 110,864 27 Mar 2010
Florida, State Census, 1935 1,599,085 27 Mar 2010
Florida, State Census, 1945 2,249,138 27 Mar 2010
Florida, Tampa, Passenger Lists, 1898-1945 50,103 21 Dec 2012

Florida Message Boards ~ Ancestry.com

Message boards or forums are a great place to engage with others researching in our area of interest.

AfriGeneas States Research Forum

You can post your FL-specific queries here!

AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

This board is reserved for discussion of the Enslavement Period, slave genealogy, documents pertaining to slavery, and techniques for finding the last slaveowner and the first slave ancestor.

Free Persons of Color (FPOC) Forum

This is the hosted message board of the Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware website. This is the place to discuss issues pertaining to ancestors who were either born free or emancipated prior to the Civil War.

Florida GenWeb

The purpose of FLGenWeb is to preserve and educate the public about Florida's rich heritage and to help families discover their ancestors.

Florida Digital Newspaper Library

The Florida Digital Newspaper Library exists to provide access to the news and history of Florida. All of the over 1,376,000 pages of historic through current Florida newspapers in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library are openly and freely available with zoomable page images and full text.

Florida History Online

From  Daniel L. Schafer, Professor Emeritus of History, University of North Florida, Florida History Online is an educational website intended as a resource for teachers and scholars, students at all grade levels, and the general public. It offers free online access to transcribed Florida history documents.

Floridiana on the Web ~ USF Libraries Digital Collections

An astoundingly rich collection of digitized manuscripts, oral histories, historical photographs and full text articles on Florida history. All back editions of the journal Florida Historical Quarterly are available as searchable full text.

State Archives of Florida ~ Florida Memory Project

The Florida Memory Project website presents a selection of digitized historical records that illustrate significant moments in Florida history, education resources for students of all ages and archival collections for historical research. Notable online collections:

Resource Guide ~ P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History

Excellent guide to online resources for Florida history and genealogy

Florida Cemetery Index

There were 12,071 names from 83 cemeteries in the database as of 1 August 2000.

City of Tallahassee ~ City-Owned Cemeteries Burial Records

Looking for someone who you think might be buried in a City of Tallahassee-owned cemetery? Here's where to start. Also included is a wonderful comprehensive guide to researching ancestors buried in private cemeteries, not in the five owned cemeteries and operated by the City government. Here you will find links to the largest funeral homes in Tallahassee, area churches, and other helpful resources for researching ancestors buried in Tallahassee. See also their page of links to information about cemeteries in general.

The Obituary Daily Times

The Obituary Daily Times is a daily index of published obituaries. It is distributed Freely, often twice a day by email, and usually has over 2500 entries a day. You can search the database anytime with their online search engine.

WPA Life Histories from Florida

First-person accounts of life in Florida collected during the Great Depression.

Alachua County Ancient Records

493,813 Page Images of early Florida records. 14,890 Pages have been transcribed. As Alachua County was an early seat of government in Florida, this collection has records from across Florida, not just Alachua County. You can volunteer to index records, too!

Elmer’s Genealogy Corner

Madison County, FL marriage, divorce, cemetery, voter and obituary records

What Are Your Favorite Florida Resources?

Which FL resources do YOU recommend? Please add a comment with your favorites!
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Blog Talk Radio: Great Lineup for July on "Research at the National Archives and Beyond" With Bernice Bennett

Did you know that you can listen to free, live genealogy talk shows online on BlogTalk Radio? BlogTalkRadio is the largest and fastest growing online talk radio network, where you can listen to thousands of shows on such topics as history, education, social networking and many other topics.

One of our favorite BlogTalkRadio shows is Research at the National Archives and Beyond, with host Bernice Bennett. Every Thursday evening at 8pm Central, 9pm Eastern time, Bernice Bennett hosts engaging conversations with experts who share resources and stories for individuals who are thinking about tracing their family roots; beginners who have already started and others who believe that continuous learning is the key to finding answers.

Bernice Bennett and her guests will also answer your genealogy questions via the live chat room, or you can call in to speak with Bernice and her guests live.

Below is the July lineup for Research at the National Archives and Beyond. We hope to see you in the live chat room!

Thinking Out of the Box - Creating Things with Genealogy, With Drusilla Pair

Thursday, July 5, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Central, 8pm Eastern, 7pm Mountain, 6p, Pacific

Is genealogy only about who begat whom, or would you consider thinking out of the box by creating a new way of researching and sharing your genealogical stories?

Special guest Drusilla Pair, aka “Professor Dru” is a Genealogist, Technologist, Educator, and Lecturer who has been tracing her family history in Virginia and North Carolina since 1994. She is a native of Newport News, VA and is the author of several blogs including Professor Dru’s Blog, www.professordru.com, Find Your Folks, www.findyourfolks.blogspot.com, and Let Freedom Ring, www.freedom150.blogspot.com.

Her most recent genealogy accomplishments are several programs entitled “Sunday Crowns” which focus on the legacy of church hats in her family and in African American churches and the development and teaching of the Back in the Day, a Faith-Based Institution Historical Research Program for youth in her community. Her current community history projects include research of United States Colored Troop Soldiers from Fort Monroe area and research of James A. Fields and his family, slaves from Hanover County, VA who escaped to Fort Monroe, VA during the Civil War.

The Black Harrises of Orange County, North Carolina, With Gwendolyn Olson

Thursday, July 12, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6 pm Pacific

Join family historian Gwendolyn Olson for a discussion of her genealogy journey to find her ancestors enslaved in North Carolina and beyond. She traces the Harris roots branch of the family back to her 4x great grandmother Lydia 'Roberts' who would have been born around 1770. She is successful in locating her with the collaboration of the great great grand daughter of the man who owned and enslaved her 2x & 3x great grandmothers.

Genealogical Resources in Alabama, With Frazine Taylor

Thursday, July 19, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6 pm Pacific

Join host Bernice Bennett and special guest Frazine K. Taylor for an interesting genealogical journey through records in Alabama.

Frazine K. Taylor is the author of Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide (2008) and researched Tom Joyner’s and Linda Johnson Rice’s family roots and ties to Alabama for the PBS series, African American Lives 2.

She obtained her Master in Information Studies from Atlanta University and has over twenty years experience as a librarian, archivist, lecturer and writer. She is also the former Head of Reference for the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and was an expert on Alabama records at ADAH.

Ms. Taylor is currently the Coordinator for the African American Research course for the Samford University - Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Historical Significance of Genealogy- Pearl-Alice Marsh

Thursday, July 26, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6 pm Pacific

Dr. Pearl-Alice Marsh began her genealogical research 20 years ago as an oral history project. As her parents and their friends grew older, she realized their stories were not only their family and community histories but also important to the history of the Depression-era African-American migration to the Pacific Northwest and of America's labor history in the logging industry. After recording and transcribing over 1000 pages of material, she found African-American genealogy organizations and resources through the Internet and began genealogical research in earnest.

Her research focuses primarily on north-central Louisiana where she is researching the story of black land ownership in Jackson Parish during reconstruction and post-reconstruction periods. She is also documenting the 20th century family history through oral interviews with family elders ages 84-92 still living in Louisiana and California.

Dr. Pearl-Alice Marsh currently serves as the Global Health Policy Director for ONE and is responsible for developing and coordinating the global health strategy. She also serves as the U.S. Policy Director for ONE and is responsible for coordinating US policy initiative with the global policy efforts.

She was also instrumental in getting legislation passed and signed by President William Clinton to preserve the Freedmen's Bureau Records. The records are microfilmed, and available for genealogical researchers. The bill, The Freedmen's Bureau Preservation Act of 2000 (HR 5157) was signed into law during the 106th Congress.

Dr. Marsh holds a Ph.D. in political Science and Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley, and B.A. in Social Welfare from Sacramento State College.

On Demand Episodes: A Sampling

Miss an episode? No worries, you can listen to past episodes anytime, at your convenience. Here is a sampling of some shows that may be of interest to Lowcountry researchers:

Sharing Your Genealogy Research Through Blogging!

Join host Bernice Bennett and her special guest on blogging! Angela Walton-Raji is a nationally known genealogy researcher and advocate for other genealogists to join the blogging community. MORE

Slave Records of Edgefield County, SC with Gloria Lucas

Join guest host Natonne Elaine Kemp for an engaging interview and discussion with Mrs. Gloria Ramsey Lucas concerning the Slave Records of Edgefield County, South Carolina. MORE

Edgefield, SC Genealogy Resources with Tonya A. Browder

Guest Tonya A. Browder - Director of the Tompkins Memorial Library discusses the rich history and historical documents and genealogical information available in Edgefield County, South Carolina. MORE

The African American Odyssey of John Kizell - Kevin Lowther

Host Bernice Bennett and co-host Natonne Elaine Kemp lead an engaging conversation with author and historian Kevin G. Lowther about the the life of a Sierra Leonean who survived slavery in Charleston, South Carolina, and served with British forces during the American Revolution. He eventually returned to his homeland, where he campaigned among his people to end slave trading. MORE

About Blog Talk Radio

BlogTalkRadio allows anyone, anywhere the ability to host a live talk radio show online, simply by using a telephone and a computer. BlogTalkRadio’s unique platform, powered by Cinchcast, empowers citizen broadcasters to create and share their original content, their voices and their opinions in a worldwide public forum.

Today, BlogTalkRadio is the largest and fastest growing online talk radio network. A truly democratized medium, BlogTalkRadio has tens of thousands of hosts and millions of listeners tuning in and joining the conversation each month.

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History Comes Full Circle: Community Comes Together to Preserve Seashore Farmers' Lodge No. 767

Seashore Farmers' Lodge After Restoration

In the early 1900s, the Seashore Farmers' Lodge No. 767 was a center of African American cultural life in the Sol Legare community on James Island in Charleston County, South Carolina. One of many mutual benefit societies in the Lowcountry, the Seashore Farmers' Lodge provided a safety net of support to community members - help with home and family during illness, help with seed when crops failed, help with burial expenses when a member died.

Now, some 25 years after it fell into disrepair, the James Island community has come to the aid of the lodge, preserving it and restoring it to its original condition. After its grand re-opening April 16, 2011, the lodge will serve as a museum and cultural center, telling stories of African American life on James Island in the early 1900s.

Fraternal Orders: Mutual Benefit Societies

Fraternal orders, or mutual benefit societies, were an important part of African American culture in the rural Lowcountry in the early 1900s. Along with the church, fraternal lodges were focal points of African American community life, places where members could celebrate holidays and happy times, or find community support when hard times or tragedy appeared.

Seashore Farmers' Lodge Before Restoration

Members paid dues and could purchase crop insurance, health insurance and life insurance. When a member fell ill, other members helped with home and family responsibilities until they were back on their feet. If a member's crop failed, the lodge would help purchase seed for the coming year. If a lodge member died, other members provided community support for grieving family members, and the lodge paid a death benefit if the deceased kept life insurance. Lodges maintained ties with other area lodges, further strengthening bonds among neighboring communities.

The Seashore Farmers' Lodge No. 767 served the community of Sol Legare, an 860-acre settlement on James Island, so named because planter Solomon Legare maintained a plantation there before the Civil War. After the war, the Sol Legare community was settled by primarily African American homesteaders who purchased land and planted truck farms, growing vegetables for sale in Charleston and other area markets. Many of today's residents of Sol Legare are descendants of the pioneer farmers who settled the community.

In 1915, the community came together to build the two-story lodge building on land owned by member Henry Wallace. For many decades, the Seashore Farmers' Lodge served the community of Sol Legare. But over the years, the lodge fell into disrepair. Hurricane Hugo further damaged the building and destroyed many of the Lodge's early records.

Now, history has come full circle as members of the local community, many of them descendants of community pioneers, have come together to restore and preserve the Seashore Farmers' Lodge.

The Restoration

After an extensive two-year restoration project, the Seashore Farmers' Lodge No. 767 will once again open its doors to the public, as a museum and cultural center. The lodge's grand reopening will take place on Saturday, April 16, 2011, from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. As part of the Grand Opening, the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation will present a preservation honor award to the members of the Sol Legare community who worked diligently to restore this treasure of history. To learn more about the grand Opening, please visit the Seashore Farmers' Lodge website, where you will also find hundreds of photos that document the restoration of the lodge. The Seashore Farmers' Lodge is also on Facebook.

Learn More on Blog Talk Radio This Sunday at 8:00 p.m.

This Sunday, April 10, 2001 at 8:00 p.m. the Blog Talk Radio program Nurturing Our Roots will host three community members who were instrumental in restoring and preserving the Seashore Farmers' Lodge, Ernest L. Parks, Bill "Cubby" Wilder and Corie Hipp. Be sure to tune in to the episode, "Descendants of Community Preserve Seashore Farmers' Lodge." You can also call in to the live broadcast to speak with Ernest, Bill and Corie.

Below is a video created by the Seashore Farmers' Lodge restoration committee, which tells the story of the restoration from start to finish. We think you will enjoy it very much!

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New Name, More Fun at the 2011 Georgia History Festival


New Name, More Fun at the 2011 Georgia History Festival

Savannah, GA, September 20, 2010--The Georgia Historical Society is pleased to announce that the popular and exciting events it presents every February--formerly known as "Georgia Days"--shall henceforth be known as the Georgia History Festival

Only the name has changed: The Georgia History Festival continues GHS's long-standing tradition of commemorating the state's rich history with two weeks of lively educational programming and signature social events, including:

  • The Georgia Day Parade on February 11, 2011, starring thousands of elementary school students in period costume and led by General Oglethorpe himself
  • The two-day Colonial Faire and Muster at Wormsloe State Historic Site featuring cannon firings, period dancing and other demonstrations of early American life
  • Free admission to dozens of cultural institutions on Super Museum Sunday
  • In-school programming and hands-on craft workshops


The Georgia History Festival will culminate on February 12 with the Trustees Gala, an elegant evening highlighted by the Governor of Georgia's induction of this year's Georgia Trustees, legendary University of Georgia football coach Vince Dooley and former U.S. Senator and global policy maker Sam Nunn...

Click here to read the full press release.