Fort Howell Civil War historic site, a Hilton Head free family attraction

Hilton Head Island was captured by Union forces on November 7, 1861 after the Battle of Port Royal. The enormous amphibious invasion force, the largest until World War II, consisted of 77 ships (15 warships), 13,000 troops, 1,500 horses and tons of materials needed to establish the headquarters for the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Three years later Fort Howell was built by black Union Army troops to protect Mitchelville, the first town in the South developed specifically for the thousands of newly freed slaves.

Fort Howell historic site is located near the intersection of Beach City Road and Dillon, right across from Hilton Head Airport. Admission is free, the site is open daily from dawn to dusk and it takes about 15-20 minutes to cover all the grounds.

Built by U.S. Troops to protect Mitcheville the first freedmen town in the South

Fort Howell full layout



Fort Howell historic highlights:

• The earthen fort was named after Gen. Joshua Howell, who was killed in the battle of Richmond.
• The newly arrived 500 members of the 32nd U.S. Colored Regiment from Pennsylvania, under the command of Col. Baird and the 144th New York Infantry, were assigned the task of building the fort.
• Fort Howell was built in the middle of a large cotton field near the Port Royal Sound, on 3 acres of land once part of the Fish Hall Plantation of William Pope.
• It was designed for 27 guns, 11 field pieces and 16 siege guns.

After building the fort, the 32nd U.S. Colored Regiment participated in the Battle of Honey Hill, on November 30, 1864, sustain 51 casualties.

Bridge over moat at Fort Howell built in 1864

Traverse and moat

The first black troops in the Union Army enlisted on Hilton Head Island in 1862. Initially, men were reluctant to join the army, not wanting to leave their families and risk being captured by the Confederates which meant a return to slavery and death. Also, many Union troops were openly hostile to escaped slaves. To encourage recruits Gen. Hunter issued a pass to those joining the army:

“Now, be it known to all that, agreeable to the laws, I declare the said person free and forever absolved from all claims to its services. Both he and his wife and his children have full right to go North, South, East, West as they may decide.” D. Hunter Major General Commanding. April 19, 1862.

At the top of the North Bastion

North Bastion location

The unit was disbanded months later. Congress did not allow black men to serve until 1863, when the unit was officially organized as the South Carolina First Regiment. The men in the unit were former slaves from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

By the end of the Civil War, 179,000 blacks in the Union Army and 20,000 in the Navy have fought for freedom and the end of slavery.

Whats left of Fort Howell at Port Royal sound

What remains from Fort Howell’s earthen fortifications

Moss covered trees at Fort Howell Hilton Head

Peaceful trail withing Fort Howell historic site

More historic sites in the area (data and map from Historical Markers Database website)
• Mitchelville site
• St. James Baptist Church
Battle of Port Royal
• Fish Hall Plantation
• Thomas Fenwick Drayton
• Two Gallant Gentlemen from South Carolina

Here is the map, all markers are within 1 mile from Fort Howell and have free admission.

The Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886: pictures, stories, facts and quacks on display at the SC State Museum in Columbia

The most destructive earthquake ever recorded in the eastern United States occurred near Charleston at 9:51PM on August 31st, 1886. The quake was felt by two out every three people living in the country! Estimated at a 7.3 magnitude (more powerful than the Haiti earthquake in 2010) the shock lasted about a minute.

The following historical data, pictures and quotes are from the SC State Museum exhibit dedicated to the 125th Anniversary of the Great Charleston Earthquake and the “Faults and Fractures, The Medical Response to the Charleston Earthquake of 1886” article on the MUSC Waring Library website.

Dock Street Theater and St. Philip Church in the aftermath of the 1886 earthquake

View of St. Philip's Episcopal Church right after the quake

More than 100 people were killed and almost every building in Charleston was damaged.

Charlestonians suffered the most psychologically given the 300 aftershocks taking place over the next 3 years.

The earthquake triggered many strange afflictions, even in cities far from the epicenter.

According to the Savannah Morning News, at least a dozen people went insane and had to be sent to lunatic asylums, including “the wives and daughters of prominent citizens.”

“A drugstore clerk started walking on Tuesday night and didn’t stop until he reached a town fifty miles away, where he sent a postcard to his parents saying he could not return.”

Earthquake damage throughout United States:
• Maine: The captain of a schooner off the coast saw “black wall” rising on the water, a mighty wave that lifted the ship to a fantastic height. The schooner was buried in a mountain of foam, its sails torn off and its mast snapped.

• North Carolina Mountains: Flames shot from caverns, leaving behind a cloud of smoke that smelled like burning coal. Massive rocks crashed down into the valley.

• Brooklyn, New York: A telephone operator thought he was having a heart attack when all the plugs on his switchboard popped out of their sockets.

• Terre Haute, Indiana: At a minstrel show the galleries swayed, and one man was thrown out of the balcony; he saved himself by clinging to a railing.

• Dubuque Iowa: The audience in the opera house stampeded, thinking the building was about to fall.

125th anniversary exhibit at the SC State Museum

"People ran through the streets...bare feet cut by broken glass and brick shards. Fires raged across the city."

Earthquake damage in South Carolina
• Dorchester County: Every structure in town was damaged. “…the structure seemed to dance up and down…The doors and ceilings were warped and twisted; the timbers groaned and crackled; the chimneys crashed at their bases, sank downward, carrying fireplaces, mantles and hearthstones through the floors through the ground below.” U.S. Geological Survey final report.

At present day Colonial Dorchester Historic Site, the ruin of 1719 St. George Anglican Church tumbled to the ground. A chuck of the bell tower flew through the air and landed 35 feet away.

• Horse Creek, Aiken County: A train pulling stock cars plunged off the tracks into 40 feet of water. The fireman was killed and four horses drowned. Other animals kicked holes in the cars and swam to safety.

• Adams Run, Charleston County: 20 feet high geysers covered the ground hip-deep with water.

• Ravenel, Charleston County: The ground broke open for 2.5 miles. A man trying to reach his grand-children was cut off by a jet of water.

• Columbia, Richland County: The Congaree River threw up 10 foot waves.

Shock and awe
Within days almost everyone in Charleston abandoned his damaged home to sleep outside, in parks, cemeteries, backyards, on buses, ships, ice wagons, and railroad cars. Ships in the harbor became refugees for the homeless.

Major destruction on the corner pf East bay and Cumberland

Building completely destroyed by the earthquake


By September 3rd, 40,000 people were tenting and encampments bloomed on every piece of open ground. Many families returned to their houses only to flee back when aftershocks struck.

At first black and whites shared the camps, but soon whites moved away from integrated areas like Washington Square Park and congregated instead at White Point Garden by the Battery.

The state government never provided relief money or supplies. After more than a week the city began to erect wooden shelters and substantial tents sent by other states and the U.S. military.

Where is disaster there is also opportunity…
• Within days a large number of tourists from as far away as Boston came to see the wreckage. Railroads scheduled a variety of excursions and sometimes donated funds to the relief effort. On September 12, 1550 visitors arrived from Georgia and Florida, 400 of whom stopped to eat dinner in the city’s big hotels. Most wary of the aftershocks got back on their trains and left before dusk.

• Businessmen scrambled to serve the tourists: stores offered booklets showing the damage, some sold vials of the brightly colored sand and clay brought up by sand blows.

Entrepreneurs profiting from the Charleston quake of 1886

'Earthquake Views...Not an advertising scheme'...yeah right!

When those ran out they filled glass tubes with coffee grounds and red pepper flakes.

• One antique dealer ran ads seeking door knockers, candlesticks and other artifacts that survived the quake to sell to “Northern parties”.

• Agents for dime museums were said to be in town looking for “earthquake babies” as special exhibits. Some twins born the night of the disaster were nicknamed Earth and Quake.

The biggest quake sham of all time!
Earthquake Ray-Charged Copper Battery made by J. M Brasington, Benetsville South Carolina, discoverer of Rays, 1890.

The maker, J.M. Brasington, contends that the battery will intercept and store earthquake rays from 10,000 miles away, and when connected to the body can cure a many illnesses.

How it Works (text from the battery label)

Some try to profit from the earthquake with sham products

The Ray Charged Copper Battery scam of the late 1880s...

“The Battery trap intercepts rays from earthquakes; this stream of rays is the first entering the lower pure blood veins; the rays from the battery immediately enter the upper pure blood veins meeting the quake rays in the heart;

Then it seems million of battery and quake rays shoot out through all blood, flesh, nerves, bones and skin, strengthening the heart nerves, improving resistance to infestation, aiding appetite, digestion, inducing sleep and rest; helps to keep mentally tired man’s body youthful and vigorous.”

How to Use (text from the battery label)
“When taking the hot or cold rays, the wrist band must be on the right or left wrist…Copper traps must be laced to slipper soles, stocking or bare feet. When wrists and straps are properly fitted you will get the Quake and Battery rays even if sitting on rubber, glass, riding in automobile, boat, lying on bed or couch.

Place Battery in any position best suited to your comfort; except the Battery must not be between your feet. While Battery is surrounded by your feet you will get no Earthquake Rays…”


Fun stuff for kids inside the SC State Museum Earthquake exhibit

Test your engineering and architectural skills at the large shake table to see whether you can build an earthquake proof building.

Test your architectural skills

See whether you can build an earthquake proof structure

Check out the one of the base isolation pads used in the renovation of the SC State Capitol in the late 1990s. About $13 million was spent to make the building meet and exceed 20th century earthquake protection codes. A new base isolation system was created to absorb the energy of vibrations caused by earthquakes. 130 base isolation pads were installed to support the building, a first for a major structure building east of the Mississippi River. Nowadays computers monitor any shifts in the ground through these isolators.

Hundreds of base isolation pads were installed under the foundation

The SC State Capitol was the first major building east of the Mississippi River to undergo a massive earthquake prevention renovation.

Learn how to be safe when the earthquake strikes: drop, cover and hold!

Safety tips during an earthquake

Drop, cover and hold!

See more exhibit details in the presentation below:

Read “Upheaval in Charleston: Earthquake and Murder on the Eve of Jim Crow” by Susan Millar Williams and Stephen G. Hoffius, a gripping account of the natural disaster and turbulent social change in Charleston following the Civil War.

The book features Francis Warrington Dawson, editor of Charleston’s News and Courier, who rallied Charlestonians after the earthquake struck by organizing the relief committee and receiving contributions that helped rebuild the city. Hailed as a hero in the aftermath of the earthquake, Dawson was denounced by white supremacists and murdered less than 3 years after the disaster. His killer was acquitted after a sensational trial that unmasked a Charleston underworld of decadence and corruption.

Don’t miss!
You have until end of April 2012 to see the remarkable Body Worlds Vital exhibit at the SC State Museum.

Astronomy lovers check out the incredible collection of historical telescopes, donated by Robert B. Ariail.

Native Americans exhibit at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville

The history museum in downtown Greenville has an interesting exhibit about Native American tribes in the South Carolina Upcountry. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children and students age 4 to 18 and free for children age 3 and under.

The Cherokees
“…The Great Buzzard flew all over the world…when he reached the Cherokee country, he was very tired, and his wings began to flap…wherever they struck the earth there was a valley, and when they turned up again there was a mountain.” Cherokee myth

“The males of the Cherokee…are tall, erect, and moderately robust, their limbs well shaped so as generally to form a perefect human figure…”
William Bartram, naturalist, 1791

18th century encounter with the Cherokee tribe

Early description of Cherokee men

Drawing of early Cherokee settlements in the Carolinas.

Cherokee settlements around 1250 AD

Cherokee village near Pisgah North Carolina 1250 A.D.

Over time the Cherokee settlements turned into towns that were more spread out and more advanced than earlier villages, as illustrated in the Tennessee’s Chota town layout below.

Cherokee town settlement

A look at a more developed prehistoric Cherokee town

Trade and war
In 1730, seven Cherokee warriors went to London to sign a treaty with the British government. They signed a trade agreement that will eventully build colonial fortunes for Great Britain. European traders obtained deerskins and sometimes slaves from the Cherokees. In the early 1700s, South Carolina exported 54,000 deerskins annually.

Cherokee come to England the early 18th century for a trade contract

Cherokee leaders travel to London in 1730 to establish a trade agreement


Native Americans became dependent on European manufactured goods, such as fabric, farming tools, hardware and weapons. They soon exhausted the deer population.

Mounting debt forced them to sell land in order to satisfy their creditors.

Treaties between the Cherokees and the Charlestown-based government limited European settlement in the Upcountry. South Carolina Governor James Glen secured treaties with Native Americans in 1743 that promoted trade and designated land for European settlement. However, as Piedmont region offered rich soil and clean water for farming, settlers ignored these treaties and moved into Native American land.

Native American artifacts from the Upcountry

Cherokee hunting and harvesting tools


In response, the Cherokees attacked the settlements in 1759. The following winter,
at Fort Prince George, the colonial militia killed hostages when Cherokee warriors stormed the fort.

After intese fighting a new treaty was signed creating a new boundary between Cherokee lands and European settlements.

During the American Revolution the Cherokees sighted with the British, hoping they would stop the advancement of the settlements. Patriot militia burned Cherokee towns and crops. On May 20, 1777 at DeWitt’s Corner, Outacite and other Cherokee leaders gave up their lands to the new American government.

The Catawbas
The Catawbas settled east along the Catawba and Wateree Rivers. They often fought with the Cherokees over precious Upcountry land. When the Europeans arrived the tribes agreed to a truce in order to participate in trading. Over time Catawba pottery became highly desired by European settlers who used it for cooking.

Catawba tribe artifact

Catawba peace pipe artifact

Once a distinct nation, by the 1730s, the Catawbas became an amalgam of different trives joined together from wars, settler incursion and disease. By 1760, war and smallpox ravaged the Catawbas to just about 500 people.

The Catawba in the Upcountry

Early drawing of a Catawba man

Military war camps at the Upcountry history museum in Greenville

For over 200 years the Upcountry sent her sons and daughters to serve in the military and has provided a home for several training camps.

Uniform and personal items worn during WWI

Army uniform in WWI


The tradition started before the American Revolution, when militia troops trained at Fort Prince George.

Throughout the years residents understood the benefits of having troops nearby. Local businessmen sold land for camps, built houses, outfitted and entertained the soldiers.

Come camp payday, money “bounced from one merchant’s cash register to another.”

You can learn more about it at the Upcountry History Museum in downtwon Greenville. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 4-18 and free for children age 3 and under.

Disclaimer: historic data and pictures in this post are from the museum exhibits.

During the Spanish American War of 1898, horses were still the main mode of transportation. Sick soldiers recovered at Camp Wetherill in a hospital tent that had a wooden floor. Other places had tents with dirt floors that sometimes turned into mud when it rained.

Military training camps in the 19th century

Horses were the main way of transportation during the Spanish American War

Bootcamp humor – The unusual cold winter of 1898-1899 surprised soldiers from northern states who expected to lie around in the shade of palms trees and gorge on oranges and bananas.

Soldiers jokes on military training in the Upcountry

Guard duties humor

During World War I soldiers were required to shave to allow gas masks to fit properly. In 1901 Gillette developed the safety razor, a welcome improvement over the dangerous straight edge razor. The army bought millions of the new razor and blades for soldiers.

Army soldiers personal items

The first safe razor used by military personnel during World War I

The mess kit or “meat can” contained eating utensils and a frying pan that could be used as a plate. After the meal the utensils went back into the pan, the cover slipped on, and the handle slid across to secure it.

The mess kit used in the army

The multi-purpose meat can, frying pan and dinner plate for the WWI army soldiers

American soldiers used a Coupon Book containing one, two and five francs, to pay the French luxury tax on items purchased there. The Army Air Force published an Emergency Book with jungle and desert survival techniques to airmen deployed to the Pacific and Africa battle fronts.

WWII personal items carried by soldiers

World War I French coupons, Emergency manual and medals

During World War I, medical personnel at Camp Wadsworth took part in stretcher drills to learn how to care for casualties. Did you know? Camp Wadsworth sent out a call for dried peach pits which provided the carbon for gas masks filters.

Medical personnel doing stretch drills in the Upcountry

Medical drills at Camp Wadsworth during World war I

During World War II at Camp Croft, troops conducted war maneuvers and prepared for battle in the European and Pacific fronts in. Camp Croft also housed German POWs who picked peaches, fixed jeeps and cooked their own food.

Military exercises at Camp Croft in 1940s

Bombardment drills at Camp Croft during WWII

Women were able to serve their country as WACS (Women’s Army Corps), at Greenville Army Air Base during World War II.

Training camps for service women during World War II

Army women training in Greenville during WWII

More interesting things to see at the museum and surrounding areas:
• “Mud, Sweat & Cheers Football in the Palmetto State, 1889-Present”, a fun filled exhibit dedicated to over 120 years of football in South Carolina. Check out the heated Gamecocks – Tigers rivalry, the early days rules and legends and interesting collectible items.
Be a textile worker in the early 1900s (Greenville used to be the “Textile Capital of the World”)
• Be inspired by the impressive collection of paintings by Southern artists at the Museum of Art. Right now you will be delighted to see exquisite watercolor work by Mary Whyte and Andrew Wyeth. Admission is free.
• Enjoy the historic 1838 Kilgore-Lewis home and garden, one of the oldest and best preserved houses in the area. Admission is free.

It’s gold! Western North Carolina gold mining photos, legendary finds and old stories

America’s first gold rush started in Western North Carolina by a lucky accident. Find out at the Colburn Earth Science Museum in downtown Asheville, that features an impressive collection of gems, minerals, precious metals, fossils and photographs documenting the rich mining history of North Carolina.

It’s gold mine for history buffs, hobbyists and tourists. The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10AM – 5PM, Sunday 1 – 5PM. Admission is $6 adults, $5 seniors, students, and children over 4.

The beginnings… (historical data and photos are from the museum exhibit)

Gold rush starts in Western North Carolina in the late 1700s

The find of the century! A 12 years old boy discovers a huge gold nugget and the rest is history...

John Reed, a Hessian soldier in the British Army, settled in Western North Carolina at the end of the Revolutionary War with other German immigrants.

In 1799, Conrad, his 12 years old son, spotted a shimmering yellow rock while fishing on the family farm and brought it home. His parents, not familiar with gold, used the rock as a doorstop.

In 1802, John Reed sold it to a jeweler in Fayeteville, NC for $3.50. He later found out the rock was a large gold nugget, returned to the jeweler and collected an additional $3,000.

And so the country’ first gold fever began!

The Reed farm quickly became the Reed Gold Mine. The creek where the rock was found was rich in gold for nearly a mile, and the area will later yield over 150 pounds of gold nuggets.

By 1803, there were over 600 mines and prospects in Western North Carolina. Most gold was found by panning in streams and using simple rockers. At this time North Carolina was a slave state; historical records suggest that at the height of the gold rush fever as many as 3,000 slaves could be seen working the gravel deposits along a single stream…

First gold rush in America begins

Thousands of slaves mined for gold in the early 1800s in North Carolina

By 1825, most of the gold nuggets and flakes found in streams had been mined.

Riding the kibble underground gold mining in mid 19th century

Cornish-designed bucket used to hoist miners and gold to the surface


A Stanley County farmer, Mathias Barringer, found an outcrop of quartz with a gold vein while following a trail of nuggets upstream.

He realized the small nuggets found in rivers were eroded from the exposed gold vein.

Baringer decided to extract gold from the rock rather than the stream, and so the first subsurface gold mine in North Carolina was born.

Prospectors began looking for “color”, the whie quartz vein that indicated the loction of gold. Most were not skilled in subsurface mining; serius accidents and deaths were fairly common.

European immigrants bring in mining know-how
Immigrants from Cornwall, England and Germany brought mining expertise and technology.

Old photo of gold miners working under a vein in Gold Hill NC

Subsurface gold mining involved tough working conditions


Examples include stamp mills, blasting and drilling techniques, mine shafts, drifts, beam reinforced ceilings and walls, and the Cornish-designed buckets (kibbles) that hoisted miners and gold to the surface.

Underground work at the Reed Mine began in 1831.

In 1842, miners found a 20 foot wide gold vein at Gold Hill in Rowan county. Mining veterans flocked to the area sensing good fortunes. By 1848, the town boasted 15 active mines, 5 stores, 4 doctors, and 27 saloons.

The majority of gold mining towns in North Carolina (unlike th western mining towns popularized in movies), were fairly peaceful due to the strong religious background of the Cornish miners.

Minting Gold
In the early 1800s, North Carolina was the nation’s sole native source of gold. The only U.S. Mint at the time was in Philadelphia. Because of long distance and poor transportation conditions miners looked for an easier and safe way to convert their raw gold into money.

Gold artifacts on display at the Colburn Museum

Gold nuggets and white quartz sample


In 1831, Christopher Bechtler, a German immigrant entrepreneur, proposed to coin the miners gold for a 2.5% fee. The miners agreed and a min opened near Rutherfordton, NC.

From 1831 to 1840 he minted $2.2 million in gold coins and melted 85,000 ounces into bars ($3 billion in today’s value!)

The Bechtler coins were so well accepted for commerce that during the Civil War the monetary obligations of the Confederacy were specified as payable in “Bechtler gold” rather than Union, Confederate or state currency.

In 1835, the U.S. Congress authorized creation of the Charlotte Mint. Soon, Charlotte became a regional banking center, a position it still holds today.

Historic Brookgreen Gardens, a tour of the Lowcountry Center

The story of the land…

The Lowcountry Center at Brookgreen Gardens features drawings, maps, artifacts, pictures and stories from 1580s to present. Brookgreen Gardens is open daily and admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $6 children 4-12 and free for those 3 and under.

“Draw to life one of each kind of thing that is strange to us in England. . . . all strange birds, beasts, fishes, plants, herbs, trees, and fruits. . . . also the figures and shapes of men and women in their apparel, as also their manner of weapons in every place as you shall find them differing.” – Royal British instructions to John White on a 1582 exploratory voyage

16th century Native Americans lifestyle on the Carolina Coast

1590 drawings of Native Americans living in North Carolina by John White


John White’s drawings, later made famous by Theodore de Bry engraving adaptations, became the most important source of information to Europeans rulers, explorers, settlers and regular folks about the Native Americans lifestyle, social makeup and beliefs.

They showed (through the eye of the “white man”) the flora and fauna that inhabited the area, the village structure, house construction techniques, hunting, harvesting and cooking tools.

They showed the social hierarchy, the roles played by men and women, young and old; how they dressed, how they celebrated and how they dealt with death and the after life.

Learn more about John White’s drawings here.

Rice cultivation was a very complex, time consuming and labor intensive process. Fields needed to be flooded and the water lever to remain stationary. Sometimes the rice needed to be kept completely dry.

Rice flood gates system deployed at Brookgreen Plantation

The rice field trunk was invented by Egyptians more than 6,000 years ago

So ditches were dug, banks were built around the rice fields and small flood gates called “trunks” were installed. People working and maintain the gates were called “trunk menders.”

Did you know? The Egyptians invented the rice field trunk more than 6,000 years ago!

It consisted of two floodgates built to regulate the flow of water. One gate was on the river side and ran through an earthen dike, the other was on the rice field side. The openings were hollowed out from tree trunks, usually cypress (hence the name).

This model was built by Capt. Frank M. Bechkam, who also constructed the two benches in the room with timber left over from the rebuilding of a rice gate on Cane Island in North Santee.

The Lowcountry Center showcases several farming tools used in the past centuries in the rice and turpentine productions. Examples include foot adze, draw knife, broad axe, hoe, rice threshing basket, grinding stone, sap collecting bowl etc.

Rice plantation and sap collecting equipment

18th and 19th centuries farming tools used at Brookgreen Plantation

There is gold in them thar’ trees!

Demand for naval stores products in the United States began in early 1700s to supply the growing shipping industry of the colonies. Turpentine, rosin, tar and pitch were used in various applications in the ship building process.

The turpentine making process in late 19th century

1890s photograph of turpentine workers and distilleries


Tar and pitch were used for water proofing and sealing rope ends; turpentine as a preservative and solvent, and rosin for grease, water proofing and foundry work.

All naval stores were made derivatives extracted from pine trees, especially the Longleaf and Slash varieties abundant along the Carolina coast.

By the early 1800s, the “Tar Heelers” of North Carolina had expanded into the forests of Horry County. By 1850, 12 stills existed on the banks of Waccamaw River. Turpentine workers striped the bark from pine trees and collected the sticky rosin in barrels which were hauled by mule cart to turpentine distilleries for processing.

After Civil War and Reconstruction most of the Lowcountry rice plantations shattered. Ironically this ensured the preservation of extensive natural areas for future generations.

Early 20th duck hunting expedition in the Lowcountry

Waterfowl hunting bonanza on the former rice plantations in the 1920s


At the end of 19th century, real estate promoters described the local climate as beneficial for tuberculosis sufferers.

They advertised the plantations as a dreamland for recreational hunting and fishing. Rich people from the North flocked in the bought most of the plantations.

Anna and Archer Huntington vowed to provide safe havens for waterfowl birds at their properties in Virginia and South Carolina. Other owners encouraged visiting ducks and geese, but ended up harvested them for sport.

Now through August 12, you can enjoy an evening cruise down the creeks of the former rice plantation. Tickets are $7 in addition to general garden admission.

Fun things to do with kids inside Brookgreen Gardens

Play with clay, draw and pet live native animals at The Children Discovery Room

• See some wading magnificent birds at the Cypress Swamp Aviary

• Admire wild animals and rare farm breeds at the Lowcountry Zoo

• Check out the rice fields and the slave overseer’s house and kitchen ruins on the Lowcountry Trail. Beware, there several ghosts haunting the plantation and the nearby beaches.

Free kids activities near Myrtle Beach: visit Horry County Museum downtown Conway

On your way to a fun filled Myrtle Beach vacation stop in downtown Conway to visit the Horry County History Museum. Admission is free and the museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9AM to 5PM.

Take a photo of the historic Wade Hampton Oak that guards the museum entrance. In 1876, former Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton gave a speech in front of 2,000 people during his campaign for SC governor. His election ended the reconstruction period in South Carolina.

SC Governor Wade Hamptons oak tree

The famous oak tree saved by the brave Mary Beaty

Ten years later, as railroad tracks were being laid in Conway, Mary Elizabeth Beaty, owner of the property, ran outside with a shotgun to protect the oak.

Greatest women of Horry County

Mary Elizabeth Beaty helped preserve the Wade Hampton oak tree

She threatened to shoot anyone that attempted to cut down the tree!
Every since the city of Conway was careful in preserving its oaks and roads were built around the trees.

Born in Bucksport, Maine in 1824, Mary Elizabeth Brookman Beaty, was one of nine children of Henry Brookman, a rigger.

In 1840, Mary came to Bucksport, SC to become governess to the children of Henry Buck, shipbuilder and timber magnate.

In 1851, she married Thomas Wilson Beaty of Horry County. Tragically, all of her 5 children died in their youth.

Mary Elizabeth Beaty became one of the most respected and influential women in the county.

See the natural wildlife exhibit, in particular the life size taxidermy examples of some young American black bears. There is also a huge alligator, birds of prey, opossum, beavers and a whale bone.

American black bear Conway natural science exhibit

Young black bear cubs killed by cars

Marvel at the impressive collection of Native American artifacts from the Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian periods. There are various arrow points, atl-atl spear, fire drills, axes, hoes and digging sticks and beautiful Woodland pottery.

Native American artifacts at the Horry County Museum

Prehistoric Native American pottery, bowls, pipes and points

Check out the fine Civil War artifacts recovered in 1991 from the Confederate gunboat PeeDee. The 150 foot Macon class gun boat was built at the Mars Bluff Naval Yard on PeeDee river. It launched in January 1865 but it was short lived. In March 1865, fearing capture by Gen. William Sherman’s Union troops, the Confederate commanders ordered its Brookes cannon thrown overboard and then set the boat on fire.

Civil War weapon artifacts at the Horry County Museum

Replica of a Brookes rifle cannon installed on CSS PeeDee gunboat

Some of the recovered items include a canon shell, lead bullets, iron canister, beam spikes, sail grommets, silver spoon, butcher knife, stove fragments, brass compass and much more.

Artifacts recovered from CSS PeeDee

Confederate weapons and military ship tools recovered from gunboat CSS PeeDee

Admire an exquisite quilt, embroidery and dolls collection created by local artists. On display there are two original Singer sewing machine from the 1920s.

Singer sowing machine with original case

1927 Singer machine featuring the Egyptian Lotus pattern decal

Learn about the economic development history of the region: naval shipbuilding, turpentine, logging and railroad industries.

Collecting and processing tree sap

Giant rosin

After vising the museum take a relaxing stroll along the beautiful Waccamaw Riverwalk.