Amid the horrors of the Jim Crow South, 78-year-old Ms. Legree recalled an remoted childhood with entry to contemporary seafood, tomatoes, corn, candy potatoes, okra, and such exotic-sounding fare as pomegranates, persimmons, figs and turtle eggs, all grown on St. Helena Island.

Even when Ms. Legree moved to New York Metropolis and later Michigan, she saved her connection to the Lowcountry, as soon as asking her father to ship a cooler of whiting by Specific Mail so she may maintain a barbeque for her Detroit neighbors. Extra necessary, she saved paying the property taxes on the land that had been in her household since 1866.

“I didn’t know what it meant, however I despatched the cash,” she instructed me as we sat on the wood pews within the reward home, the door open to the sunny June morning.

She understood the worth of the land when, in 2005, she retired and moved again to St. Helena.

After settling into her father’s cottage on Coffin Level, Ms. Legree usually handed the outdated reward home. Providers had ceased with the deaths of elders, and the constructing was in poor situation. The doorways had been left open, and no markers or plaques indicated the historic significance of the construction. Ms. Legree recalled saying to herself, “This place wants someone.”

Regardless of renewed public curiosity within the space’s historical past, Ms. Legree nonetheless worries that the sturdy sense of tradition that has made St. Helena a cohesive group can be misplaced except native residents combat more durable to protect it.

“A lot of the Gullah folks round listed below are between 60 and 80 years outdated,” she stated. “The younger folks right here don’t perceive the historic significance of being landowners. They don’t even understand how they acquired their land.”


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