Posts Tagged ‘St. Helena’

Taking My 2% to Heritage Days

November 15, 2017

I took a DNA test a year ago. The results showed that I have approximately 2% African. Nothing would do except to go to the Heritage Days celebration at the Penn Center.

Sugar and I went to the Penn Center last year as part of a history group that was taking a tour. This was going to be very different.

Heritage Days Celebration is a three-day cultural event celebrating the Gullah/Geechee/Sea Island history, folk arts, food, music, crafts and West African cultural legacy.

Located at Penn Center—formerly the Penn School, one of the first schools for formerly enslaved Africans and their descendants living on St. Helena Island—visitors can experience the unique setting of the 50-acre historic campus of Penn Center.

Sugar wasn’t sure he could go to the festival because he has crowd anxiety. I made it easy for him to decide that he shouldn’t go by saying that I was meeting Toni Carrier who was representing the International African American Museum and it might be hard for him to hang around, what with the crowds and meeting people. So he stayed home with the dogs and cats.

There was a parade scheduled on Saturday from 9-11am, so I figured I’d go after that since they block Martin Luther King Drive on St. Helena. I didn’t know that the road STAYS blocked, and you have to park on the Sea Island Parkway and walk the mile or so to the Penn Center. Yet I found out when I got there, and I walked it anyway.


There is a center stage with activities going on all day, like singing, storytelling, dancing, and music. There are vendors of arts and crafts, and produce, and food. Oh my. The food.


There was a line at every food vendor. The one with the shortest line featured grilled and curried foods, like chicken, shrimp, and goat, plus rice and cooked cabbage, and other things that I can’t remember now.


I visited with Toni and looked at her great handouts regarding research. You can follow her on Facebook along with the progress of the fundraising and construction of the IAAM.

There was an enormous crowd of hundreds of people under the live oaks. Perfect crisp fall weather reminded us how good it was to be here.


Vendors were selling local produce. I waited in a line to buy some rutabagas for Sugar. This particular stand was also selling turnips and turnip greens, collards, persimmon fruit, apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, and sugar cane, and probably more that I can’t remember. People were actually walking around eating sugar cane. I’ve never seen that before.


On the walk back to the car, there is a section of marsh, and I spotted a great egret sunning himself. If you zoom in on one of the photos, the images start to fragment and look like an oil painting, as if you can see the actual brushstrokes.

A couple of men walked by, and one of them called out, ” Did you get it?”, meaning did I get the photograph of the bird. I could only nod yes, and could not speak because I was so full of contentment of this wonderful experience.


From the other side…


Across the road…


So y’all know what you need to do next year.


The Chapel of Ease on St. Helena’s Island: Ten Years Later

April 14, 2016

Sugar and I went on a day trip to Datha Island. It’s a private community now, and a nice lady from a history group arranged a tour of Datha and also the Penn Center which is nearby on St Helena. 

Further along the road from the Penn Center is the ruins of the White Church, a Chapel of Ease. It’s a highly photographed spot, and it’s a readily accessible location. 

I took photos here probably 10 years ago when Sugar was following the trail of his ancestor Dr. George Mosse. We know that Dr. Mosse was part of an early congregation on St. Helena in the late 1700s, and we further know that Jonathan Norton donated 2 acres of land on St. Helena for the site of a church. 

A chapel of ease was a way for folks on the plantation to have church services when a trip to their church in town was too difficult. This particular chapel was located on an island over two hundred and seventy-five years ago, and it is not the closest island to the mainland. It’s part of a chain of sea islands along the coast. So, if you wanted to go to your home church in Beaufort, you’d have to go from St. Helena to Lady’s Island to Beaufort. These areas were isolated, and bridges weren’t dependable. Toss in travel by horse and buggy or wagon, and ferries or boats, and that makes for a long, possibly dangerous, trip to get to town in time for church. I can’t imagine keeping my frock clean during all this. I have a hard enough time finding clean pants. 

The “ease” part of all this was to indicate that it was easier to attend a religious service if travel to town was difficult. However, Chapel of Easy sounds cheap and impertinent, at least to me. The added bonus would be that having a chapel nearby would let you drop in for prayer or meditation or solitude, a way to ease your heart and soul. So Chapel of Ease could mean whatever you needed it to mean, in my book. 

We park under a giant live oak between the road and the chapel. My back is to the road, and I’m almost standing on the pavement to get all of the tree in the shot. The things I do for you people. 

Look up, from whence cometh my help. 

I posted these photos on Facebook. I think that the bricks in the photo of the front wall are a patch job. One woman commented that tabby was the stucco of the day, and that tabby had been applied over the building which was brick underneath. My thoughts are NO. NoNoNo. I do not want that woman laying any bricks for me, even though she might be an expert. (Rolls eyes here)

A close-up of the tabby in the window with a perpendicular wall in contrast.


More window.


Just inside the front door looking ar the rear of the building.


The tabby building material is stuccoed over and pointed to look like individual blocks.


So many tabby ruins. So little time.