From Paleo-Indians and semi-nomadic Native Americans, to European explorers, and African slaves, to soldiers of several wars… all and more are a part of the history of Hilton Head Island.
During the plantation era, cotton and indigo were the major crops that grew on the island. I visited the site of one early cotton plantation very near me in Sea Pines, the Stoney-Baynard Ruins.
The one and a half story home was built with a fascinating technique called ‘tabby,’ masonry made by mixing burned crushed oyster shells with sand, whole shells and water that was then protected with a coating of stucco.
Most plantation owners did not live on the island full-time due to the threat of diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. During this time Hilton Head was mainly populated by slaves who lived in quarters on the property.
Two slave families lived here in the cramped quarters below built on a tabby foundation, a sober reminder of our country’s past.
The tabby chimney below is all that is left of the plantation kitchen outbuilding. What happened to the tabby foundation blocks of the kitchen?
They were moved! Archeologists have found evidence that Union troops moved the kitchen foundation blocks to higher ground to serve as footings for their tent.
The stories I heard about ghosts of previous owners roaming the site or witnessing a funeral procession is overstated. I saw nothing ghostly nor heard a thing but singing birds, but then I might change my tune if I visited after dark, flashlight in hand when you are most likely to encounter them. No thanks…
To learn more about the ruins and the history of the families who owned the plantation, visit this site.