Category Archives: Black History

Behavior Cemetery, Georgia

Sapelo Island, McIntosh County

Behavior Cemetery is an active cemetery believed to have been in existence prior to the Civil War. It now serves as a burial ground for the descendants of the earliest Black families who have called Sapelo Island home.

Boston Gardner’s grave features a clock. The clock likely represents the passing of time.

The cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The cemetery features many handmade markers that span several decades and more recent granite markers. Burial patterns are not in rows, and the older burials towards the middle and back of the cemetery.

Vases can be seen in many cemeteries, especially coastal ones.
Liberty Bell, 1900-1912
A fleur de lis next to the grave of Isabella Robinson, 1858-1889. In religion, it can represent the Holy Trinity. Additionally, some enslaved men and women were branded with a fleur de lis as punishment for trying to escape bondage.
Glasco Grovner, 1856-1928
Mary Lemon, 1906-1919. The star motif can be seen in many coastal cemeteries.
Deacon Grant Johnson, 1892-1956. The letter stamping is common method to mark headstones.
A modern memento
I believe these are giant checkers.
If you look closely, you can see the rebar and the mesh. It gives an idea of how some of these markers were made.

Farmers’ Alliance Hall, Georgia

Sapelo Island, McIntosh County

Built as the Sapelo Island outpost for the the Colored Farmers’ Alliance and Cooperative Union, the Farmers’ Alliance Hall serves as gathering place for Sapelo Islanders and their descendants. It was restored in 2008 under the guidance of the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society, an organization, an organization dedicated to saving the historic resources on the island..

St. Luke’s Baptist Church and School, Georgia

Hog Hammock, McIntosh County

Founded in 1884, St. Luke’s Baptist Church is still an active church with services every other Sunday. It was formed by former members of the First African Baptist Church. The church was initially called the 2nd Baptist Church. Current structure has been in use since 1902.

St. Luke’s also had one of two Rosenwald Schools on the island. Everything I’ve read states that the school is still standing and is being used by the church. If that is the case, this is the school, but it has been heavily modified. I hope to get confirmation that this is the building.

Hutcherson Cemetery, Georgia

Meridian, McIntosh County

This is a family cemetery where the family name is either Hutcherson or Hutchinson. Based on the repetition of names, this cemetery has been in use for a hundred years. It is still an active cemetery as seen by the last photo. Throughout the cemetery, there is pvc pipe next to markers. In most of them, there were silk flowers placed inside like a small vase.

Pin Point Heritage Museum, Georgia

Savannah, Chatham County

Located in the A. S. Varn and Son Oyster and Crab Factory, the Pin Point Heritage Museum, the museum shares the story of the freed men and women who founded the Pin Point community in 1890. It showcases the Gullah/Geechee culture.

Residents of the community can trace their lineage to the men and women who were once held in bondage on the Sea Islands. According to the Heritage Museum website, “With the property continuing to be passed down generation to generation, it is now believed to be the largest African-American owned waterfront property on the East Coast.”

Pin Point Cemetery, Georgia

Pin Point, Chatham County
Edward Anderson

Pin Point Cemetery shares land with the Sweetfield of Eden Baptist Church. It’s a small cemetery in the heart of the fishing community founded by freedmen and women from the Sea Islands. I cannot discern if the Pin Point Cemetery and Sweetfield of Eden graveyard are the same or if there was a boundary line that was no longer apparent.

Reverend Peter Famble

Ella Garmon
Margaret Devoe
Clarence Fleming, 1994-2017

St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church and School, Georgia

Burroughs, Chatham County

Built in 1896, St. Bartholomew’s Church is the longest continuing Black Episcopal congregation in the state. The school, now the parish hall, was built in 1897.

The Victorian elements of the church make it a standout in rural church architecture. It was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The church is still active with services offered twice a month. They are held in the afternoon, which is a long-standing tradition of the church.

Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church, Georgia

Liberty County

The Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church formed out of the Sunbury Baptist Chirch (c. 1806). During an 1846 census, the church had 161 men and women in bondage that enslaved by the white members of the church.

In June of 1866, this church was founded. they held services until 1918, the it was decided to relocate the church to the current site.

Houston Baptist Church, Georgia

Port Wentworth, Chatham County

Founded in 1886 by Reverend Ulysses S. Houston of the First Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah, the Houston Baptist Church was founded to provide for the spiritual needs of the men and women of Rice Hope Plantation. The church, and the adjoining cemetery, sit on part of the land that used to make up the plantation. When built, it took over the footprint of a praise house that existed there during slavery.

The church was active until the 1970s. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair, and it almost collapsed after a storm in 2007. The community chose to rebuild the historic church. It presently is a museum that focuses on the Black history of the surrounding community.

For earlier photos before restoration and more history, please read The Houston Museum Project.

Talbird Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head, Beaufort County
A view of Skull Creek

Talbird/Tabor/Talbot Cemetery is the largest Gullah cemetery on Hilton Head Island. On one side are condos and the other is Skull Creek. The cemetery’s founding is in the 1800s, but the exact date is not known. The Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church tends to the cemetery that experienced significant damage during Hurricane Matthew.

Katie Miller, 1854-1935. This is one of several crosses like this in the cemetery and other cemeteries on the island. This marker was damaged during Hurricane Matthew.
Corporal Worden White fought as part of the United States Colored Infantry in the Civil War.
Josephine Jones
Rosemary Greene, 1944-1948
Mary Jane Bryan, 1893-1936
Reverend I. S. Green, founder of Second Corinthian Baptist Church in New York City
Ida Jones, 1895-1921 “Softly and tenderly Jesus is colling.”

Drayton Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County

Mitchelville was the first town built for newly freedmen and women in 1862 after Hilton Head fell to Union troops in 1861. The town was named for Union general, Ormsby Mitchel, who set up this town with roads, churches, and homes.

Drayton Cemetery is another Gullah Cemetery connects directly to those original freed men and women, as it is believed this cemetery started before the start of the Civil War.

It features several markers of members of the United States Colored Infantry.

It is cared for by the congregation at St. James Baptist Church.

Based on her age, Louisa Small experienced slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the retaliation against Reconstruction.
An interesting funeral wreath

Joe Pope Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County

Founded in the mid to late 1800s, Joe Pope Cemetery is one of several Gullah cemeteries on Hilton Head Island. The land is owned by the Queen’s Chapel AME Church, but it is maintained by the Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church.

Benjamin Singleton, 1906-1947
Ben Singleton, 1857-1928. Notice the three linked chains which commonly represents the Odd Fellows and for fidelity, love, and truth. He was likely an Odd Fellow.
Viola Mitchel, 1905-1958

Braddock’s Point Cemetery, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County

Flanked by condos and one of the many golf courses on Hilton Island is an historic cemetery called Braddock’s Point Cemetery. While the earliest death date on a marker is during the Civil War, it is believed this also served as a burial ground for the people held in bondage at the nearby Braddock Point Plantation.

One of the burial practices with the Gullah Geechee people is to bury their loved ones with personal items. Sometimes it is the last dish they used, or another object of importance. Braddock’s Point Cemetery illustrates older and more modern interpretations of this practice.

My assumption is that there was a plate in this grave marker that was lost over time.
This marker is one that I’ve seen repeated in several coastal cemeteries.
One of the few markers with a corresponding footstone.
A more modern take of using plates and seashells

Gifford Rosenwald School, South Carolina

Gifford, Hampton County

Built in 1920 for $3250, this two-teacher type schools was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. There is a current fundraising campaign to restore the school.