DAUFUSKIE ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – A native Gullah chef and cultural historian is taking visitors back in time to understand one small island’s large history.
WSAV.com NOW recently had the chance to travel the Daufuskie Island with Sallie Ann Robinson and learn about some of the most historic Gullah sites.
Shining a light on an important midwife
The tour started at a small shed that held an important artifact.
Robinson tells the story of Sarah Hudson Grant who helped deliver hundreds of babies on the island as a midwife.
Not only was she delivered by Grant, but Robinson says she’s also served as a midwife for almost as many people on the island as Grant.
Museum and old school house
The history museum, which once served as the Daufuskie’s church, sits next to the island’s former school.
In both buildings, artifacts from Daufuskie’s past are on display, including Native American relics.
Fun fact: the oldest artifacts found on the island date back to 7000 B.C.
Oyster Hall was for more than oysters
At the peak of the island’s oyster era in the 20th century, thousands of people were employed by local companies to shuck and prepare oysters for sale on the mainland.
The hall where most of the business has been repaired and still stands today.
Robinson hopes to turn the structure, a traditional Gullah structure, into a museum to give back to the community as it once did over a century ago.
Walking in Island’s only Gullah cemetery
Robinson is no stranger to Mary Field Cemetery.
Many of her close relatives have been buried in the island’s only Gullah cemetery.
She, as well as a few other natives on the island, maintain the cemetery to the best of their ability, but she admits they need more help.
Focus on restoring Gullah homes
Robinson has written multiple books and has been written about in multiple publications. Now, she runs her own tour company on the island.
The sole purpose for all this effort, she says, is to raise enough money to restore the traditional Gullah homes she grew up seeing on the island.
As employment opportunities began to shrink on Daufuskie, many native families left the island and their homes fell into disrepair.
She says the first step in assuring the protection of Gullah culture is to restore the homes and bring life back into them.
Sharing songs of faith
As a child, Robinson admits she didn’t fully understand the songs being sung in church.
Her adulthood gave greater meaning to the songs from her childhood — the ones she still sings today.
She shared a song she is very fond of that her “Pop” used to sing.
Schoolhouse days that changed her
Robinson was one of a handful of students to have Pat Conroy as a teacher, a man she says changed her and her classmates’ lives.
She reflects on her time in the classroom and why his lessons still matter today.