The City of Savannah and members of the community come together to unveil the first of four new historical markers in the Hostess City.
The new signs are dedicated to the African-Americans who settled along the marshes in southeastern Savannah in the 19th century. They built lives for themselves in Coffee Bluff and White Bluff.
On February 14, City Council approved the Crusader Club’s petition to install four historic markers on public property in the White Bluff and Coffee Bluff areas. The area was settled by freed slaves from St. Catherines, Ossabaw, and Sapelo islands.
The Crusader Club’s Historian, Sandy Battise, says those early settlers are part of the Gullah/Geechee culture.
“It is a huge day. This huge Gullah history in this community and we didn’t realize we were part of the Gullah history. So it’s a rich history of a working people that contributed not only to the community but also, um, to the city of Savannah,” Battise said, adding those settlers picked the area because it’s close to the water.
“Access to the waterways was actually critical to the people that lived in this community, not only to feed their families but also as a way to generate revenue and they will take their goods to market, down to the old city market,” said Battise.
She says Savannah’s 6th District Alderman, Tony Thomas, played a key role in the historical markers making it off the drawing board and into the community.
“That’s important for us to remember, the history,” said Thomas. “Because you know a lot of it gets covered up with each new house it’s built with each new road that’s laid and we want to respect and honor the people that were here before us and all the contributions that were made before us.”
The unveiling of the historical markers is being celebrated as part of the Savannah Black Heritage Festival, of which the City of Savannah is a major sponsor.