On my last day in South Carolina, three friends and I boarded a pontoon boat with Captain Rommy and headed out into the fog to tour Sandy Island which is a prehistoric sand dune covering around 9,000 acres.
Sandy Island is in between the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers on the east and west, Bull Creek on the north, and Thoroughfare Creek on the south.
After the Civil War, several hundred acres in the southern part of the island was purchased by freed slave, Philip Washington.
Mr. Washington was a slave on Pipe Down Plantation on Sandy Island and was involved in an unusual set of circumstances when their owner passed and his wife left the area. Concerned that they would be sold off and separated from family, they got together, considered all the essential attributes of a good master and elected Governor Robert Francis Withers Allston. Their next challenge was to convince Governor Allston to take on the plantation which he had already turned down. Mr. Washington was sent to talk with him, and he came away with a successful resolution.
It is still inhabited today by ancestors of skilled African slaves brought over to work the rice fields of SC plantations including Brookgreen Plantation.
The population of Sandy Island today is approximately 28 people.
Residents who work and children who go to school commute by boat.
The northern part of the island is now owned and preserved through The Nature Conservancy.
Brookgreen Gardens runs boat tours that go near the island, but to actually visit the island you need to set up a tour with Tours De Sandy Island.
If you have the chance to meet the very personable Captain Rommy Pyatt, be sure to thank him for his service. He is retired Air Force.
What did we take away from our tour? I think I can say we all came away with a feeling of deep pride in country, family, and background along with a deeper understanding of our country’s southern history.
This tour was another example that our history is not a story but facts that all stacked together bring us to where we are today. Facts that we can learn from and become better citizens, neighbors, and just plain better human beings.
Happy Thursday and a Happy Easter to those who celebrate this weekend!
Linked to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors, April 18, 2019.