Daufuskie Island

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THERE’S MORE TO THE STORY.

Located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Daufuskie Island is the southernmost Sea Island in South Carolina. It is five miles long by almost three miles wide­ – approximately 5,000 acres. With over three miles of pristine beachfront, Daufuskie is surrounded by the waters of Calibogue Sound, Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean. Haig Point is located at the northern tip of the island.

Daufuskie Island offers a quiet, secure environment, yet also a rich cultural experience, with its environmental preserves, quaint Gullah houses, diverse art galleries and history dating back to the “Daufuskie Fight” during the Yamassee War of 1715–1717. The island is also the setting of Pat Conroy’s novel “The Water Is Wide,” recounting Conroy’s experiences teaching on Daufuskie in the 1960s. The residents of Haig Point have long declared their commitment to preserving a way of life unique to Haig Point and Daufuskie Island. The archaeological restoration of historic properties and passing along of folklore surrounding the history of the island proves this spirit is alive and well.

Island Firsts

Archaeologists have traced the inhabited history of the island back 9,000 years and have discovered pottery remnants dating to 7,000 BC. The first inhabitants were the peaceful Cusabo Indians.

In 1664, English sea captain William Hilton first sailed the waters of the South Carolina coast, writing in his log, “The air is clear and sweet, the country very pleasant and delightful; and we would wish all that want a happy settlement of our English Nation, were well transported hither.” English traders soon followed and settled in the area.

Of course, there are many facts and legends that surround our mysterious and magical island. It’s worth a visit to the Billie Burn Museum to travel through time. Established in 2003 by the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation, the museum is staffed by volunteer island residents.


What’s in a Name?

There is an old wives’ tale suggesting the island was named by the Gullah people as being “da fus cay” out of Savannah. More likely, Daufuskie was named by its earliest inhabitants – the Cusabo Indians. Their native tongue can be translated to “pointed feather” or “land with a point.”

First Union African Baptist Church

The development of the First Union African Baptist Church, now listed as an historical landmark, began in 1879 when John I. Stoddard divided the Mary Field plantation into lots and sold 12 acres to former slaves for the purpose of building a church and developing a cemetery. The land was purchased in 1881 for $82 and the first church was built. The original church building burned in 1884 and was rebuilt in 1885.

From the early 1900s through the 1930s, the church building supported worship service as well as a schoolhouse for the island’s children. With islanders seeking employment on the mainland, the island population decreased substantially in the 1950s. During that period the church was closed. In 1968, under the leadership of Rev. C. L. Hanshew, services resumed in the church.