Founded in 1925 as Fairview Cemetery, Lincoln Cemetery is the final resting place for many notable Black Atlantans. Tiger Flowers, the renowned boxer, was one of the original benefactors to help develop the cemetery. The cemetery is over 100 acres with many of the acres not yet developed.
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..
The Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society (SICARS) Multipurpose Center is located in Hog Hammock on Sapelo Island. From their website, the mission is “to preserve and revitalize the Hogg Hummock Community which is located on Sapelo Island, Georgia.” The organization was in 1993 by descendants to educate and preserve the history of Sapelo Island. They host the annual Cultural Day.
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.”
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.
Coffin Point Community Praise House. The roots of praise or “prays” houses are tied to enslaved people building small places of worship on or near the plantation where they labored. They were kept small because enslavers feared large gatherings. (If you look at police response towards Black Lives Matter protests and the insurrectionists, then you know that fear continues today.) This praise house was built in 1900 and rebuilt in 1950. It is still used occasionally by the Coffin Point community.
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.
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.
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.
The Old McCanaan Missionary Baptist Church, now the First McCanaan Baptist Church, was founded in 1875. Many of the founding members were sharecroppers from the nearby Millhaven Plantation. It served as a spiritual gathering place the Black men and women of the area. The first building for the church was lost due to fire. By 1912, the new building was erected, which the congregation still uses today.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 for as an excellent example of Gothic Revival in a rural Southern church.
Alma Thomas (1891-1978) was a Black artist known for her colorful and impressionist work. Born in Columbus, Georgia, she and her family lived there until she was sixteen. In 1907, they relocated to Washington, DC to escape the racial hostility and threats of violence that were directed towards the Black community at the hands of whites.
She was considered a member of the Washington School of Color. A lifelong art teacher, she was the first graduate of the art department at Howard University.
I am unable to locate much information on the church. The cemetery is active with burials as recent as 2021. The names on most of the headstones were some version of Clements, Clemons, and Clemmons. Several of the headstones had impressions on the back of the headstones.
Built around 1938, the Philadelphia School is tied to the freedman’s church, Philadelphia Baptist Church. The church was founded in 1875. The land where this school sits was purchased in 1883. Records show there were teachers associated with the church by 1885. Unfortunately, in April 1936, a fire in the schoolhouse spread to the chapel and destroyed both buildings.