Daufuskie Island History

Daufuskie Island is an island rich in legend, lore, history and an abundance of nature. Yet it offers a simple existence to her population. The Island is fringed with the green undulating marshes of the Southern coast; shrimp boats ply the waters around her and fishermen cast their lines along her bountiful shores. Deer cut though the forests in small, silent herds. The great Southern oaks stand broodingly on her banks. There is something eternal and indestructible about the etched shores and the dark swamps. Today Daufuskie Island is looked upon in a romantic fashion by tourists and environmentalists and with hope for the future by its residents.

Change, growth and development have been a part of Daufuskie Island since the very beginning. From indigo to cotton, from plantations to farms, from sallow poverty to whatever the future holds-the island has endured changes throughout history. However slowly, the island is always shifting like the sands of its own shores. And much like those tides, our island has known the ebb and flow of prosperity and peace, and hardship and bloodshed. Indian pottery found on the island is among the oldest of its kind in North America, dating back more than 9,000 years.  Their history on the island ended in the early 18th century, after a battle with English soldiers in 1715. After the sand ran red with Indian blood, the southern tip of the island was given the moniker , a name it carries to this day. The island knew the high tide of splendor in the mid-1800s when plantations produced world-famous Sea Island cotton. The island enjoyed another high tide of prosperity in the 1940s and ‘50s, when more than 1,000 people called Daufuskie home. The island's oyster houses, the primary employers at that time, shipped famous Daufuskie oysters around the world and at least two steamship lines ran regular service to Savannah.

But for every high tide, there is a low tide. English soldiers took the lives of the island's Indians. The boll weevil took the island's cotton. Pollution from the Savannah River took the island's oysters. The island fell in poverty.

In the late 1960s, author Pat Conroy spent a year teaching on Daufuskie. He later recounted his experiences  in "The Water Is Wide." The later film adaptation of the book, "Conrack," featured Jon Voigt as Conroy.

It was not until the 1970s, when neighboring islands and beach communities were developed, that the focus turned back to Daufuskie.   The Daufuskie Company's recognized the opportunity that lay just a mile south of Hilton Head. So he formed a partnership that would purchase roughly 50% of the island, including the and Oakridge communities.

Today, Daufuskie Island is a collection of healthy, growing communities.  With approximately 425 residents, new home construction is thriving, and there are great values in both homes and undeveloped land.  The last, large piece of undeveloped land, the Webb Tract, is slated for groundbreaking in 2009 as a Town Center, with a Nantucket-like marina village.

The future is indeed bright for Daufuskie Island.

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