Braddock’s Point Cemetery…and Other Places

A few posts ago, I encouraged visitors of Hilton Head to visit Braddock’s Point Cemetery that is located behind the gates of Sea Pines Plantation. Upon doing so, I was reminded of the story that I read concerning the Sea Islands in a 1987 issue of National Geographic. Lord knows where the publication is now (somewhere in the attic of my childhood home), but I remember that there was picture of a woman looking at headstones through a gate. Luxury condominiums served as its backdrop. It’s an odd experience to watch the past and the present collide in such a manner. To me, it’s an unsettling feeling. It makes me wonder if people realize that places like Braddock’s Point Cemetery is more than just a bunch of headstones but a historical record of self-sufficient people who built, lived, and thrived on Hilton Head Island. Up until a few years ago, few people respected that fact. The descendants of the Braddock’s Point Slaves and Freedmen even had to pay to enter the Sea Pines Plantation just to visit the cemetery. The plantation powers-that-be put a stop to that after the wrong was exposed in the National Geographic article.

Another story of the present clashing with the past takes me closer to home. My husband and I went to visit one of my loved ones in the Joe Pope Cemetery, which is located near Broad Creek. First we stopped at the Piggly Wiggly to buy flowers, but we didn’t return to the car, to drive to the destination as was probably expected. It wasn’t necessary. If husband was surprised that I walked through a fence next to the supermarket and into the neighboring cemetery, he never let on. I knew that it was odd to him though that a place so sacred did not have its respected space.

Finally, one summer while I was in college, I worked for one of he resorts on nearby Daufuskie Island. The only way to access this island, even now, is by boat. As we would chug slowly to the docks, one of the first sights of the island was a cemetery near the water. With the surrounding oaks and palmettos, it was actually a beautiful site. But then the welcome center for the resort was right next to it, just marring the whole image. It wasn’t more than a couple of weeks after working at the resort did the islanders tell me that the building wasn’t right next to the cemetery. It was right on top of the cemetery and there was a big lawsuit going on for the resort to move the welcome center. I was appalled but it wasn’t surprising. A lot of the older graves on the Sea Islands are either unmarked or the headstones have sunken into the soft earth. I just wonder why development has to occur right next to or practically on top of these final resting places, as if our ancestors never existed. I’ve been to a few cemeteries over the years in places like New Orleans and Philadelphia where they are apart of the cities’ character. I feel as these places are respected as places that contributed to this country’s history rather than as places that are an inconvenience to someone’s plans for development.

If you have read either The Promise of Palmettos or Marshland, you will find that I make references to the cemeteries to help the reader understand that these aren’t just places to bury loved ones. These places are also a part of our history. It displays our traditions. This cemeteries on the islands are the only places undisturbed by time. They are a record of our past.


The Reviews for “Marshland” and “The Promise of Palmettos” are In!

If you are still not convinced that you should give Marshland and The Promise of Palmettos a read, check out reviews.

Family – Part 2

Have you ever heard that song, Family Reunion by the O’Jays? That song always takes me back to my younger days when my Dad would take us “next door” for our own family reunion. Back then, it was a one-day cookout beneath the shade trees. I can still smell the meat on the grill and the aroma wafting from the covered dishes spread out on the tables. Music would be playing in the background as we kids ate, played, looked for our names on the family tree – near the bottom, and caught up with family. Our older family members always wanted to know who we belonged to. That question was easy enough to answer. But we better know who they were as well.

Then there was the story. My father was the first person to tell it to my sister and me over the dinner table. Then I heard it again during the reunion. The story went this way: During the Civil War, our ancestors fled their mainland plantation. When they arrived at the great water with the islands in the distance, they stuffed the mouths of the babies with cotton and swam on over. That was all that was known. No one knew of their actual experiences. That story died with them. But the tale of their flight has always stayed with me. It was my husband’s idea to create a novel that would fill-in-the-blanks, and that was how Marshland was born. I could have totally missed the mark with my interpretation and crazy imagination. Or maybe I was on the right track and my ancestors helped me with my story. I would like to think it was the later. So thank you ancestors for your bravery that would earn us our island legacy. I hope I did your story justice. If you want to know how we ended up on that vast property where we now eat, dance (Most likely to that O’Jays song), and enjoy our family, I invite you to read Marshland, on Amazon.

Just click the link below.

10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head (Part 3)


I got a little bit down to business on Part 2, but went for a lighter approach with these last four points. And now for Part 3…

4) Stay away from Touristy Areas where Hilton Head Islanders, who spot you wearing the t-shirt of said place(s), won’t roll their eyes at you. – Yes, I know that was a long title, but it really needs to be said. People need to know that there are other places to brag about visiting that aren’t quite so um…cliche. If you visit Hilton Head, may I point you in the direction of Roast Fish and Cornbread; Spanish Wells Seafood; The Grant’s Business Complex on Highway 278 that consists of a mini market, gas station, a diner, and fresh produce market. I also love The Crazy Crab, although I’m not a fan of seafood, so it is a great place for my family to get their fresh fish good eatin’, while I grub on the chicken.

3) Don’t Ignore Broad Creek. – While a visitor may feel inclined hang out on the south end of the island, there are some activities within the island’s interior for the whole family to enjoy:
*ZipLine Hilton Head
*Daufuskie Island Ferry

2) It takes work to find public beach access. – I alluded to this in #6. It is a crying shame that an on an island that is known for their beaches, it is difficult to find a place to get to the beach! When I was young, getting to the beach was the least of our problems. These days, out of 12 miles of beach, the public has access to maybe three places if they are outside of a subdivision. So here are the three that I know about:

*Burkes Beach – Get yourself there early because parking is limited. Or just bike there. Also, the good
thing about this beach is that there is a park nearby as well, if you want to vary your activities.

*Driessen Beach – There is more parking here, but you’ll have to pay a small fee. There is an excellent boardwalk here where you can access the beach and a small playground.

*Coligny Plaza – Again, there are parking issues, so go early. Or go during transition (You know as well as I that some beach goers prefer to go during the heat of the day and some prefer to go at dusk). If you’re lucky, there are spots close by or else search for on-street parking. If you go to Coligny, be on the look-out for an awesome oak tree. It’s a great place for a photograph.

1) Drive Carefully. – This is last, but certainly not least. There are a lot of people (and cars) on an island that is only 12 miles long and 3 miles wide. Take away public access for the majority of the island, and that’s even less space to accommodate weird driving habits from people all over the country (and world). Please take that into consideration as you are racing towards your next activity.

Many of these issues that I have counted down in Parts 1, 2, and 3 can be read about in my novels, The Promise of Palmettos, Marshland, and coming this fall… Destination Wedding.

So as you visit Hilton Head, take in the island through the eyes of an islander, considering all that I have discussed. Most importantly, enjoy your stay.

*** Update 1/25/18: Unfortunately, Roast Fish and Corn Bread has closed ☹️***

10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head Island (Part 2)

As promised in Part 1, I was going to get a little deeper in Part 2, so here goes…

7) We Islanders HATE the name “Plantation.” – As mentioned in #8, Hilton Head’s subdivided communities are called, plantations. The term is demeaning. While some Americans have romantic notions of the Antebellum South, others do not and would prefer that community names on Hilton Head be amended in a manner that embraces the 21st Century. Just how hard is it to sub the word plantation with subdivision? I think that Hilton Head Subdivision has a nice ring to it.

6) Gated Communities give a false sense of security. – As a planner, I am talking to the Plantation Powers-That-Be, letting them know that gates (manned or otherwise) are a bad idea. While you think you’re providing security to residents and guests, all you’re saying to the would-be criminals is “rob me.” Criminals target gated areas because they know that residents and guests feel safe enough to let down their guard. In my opinion, the best security to have is a vigilant neighborhood watch program, heavy locks, and a good security system. If you want to know the truth though, I personally think the gates are aimed to keep “me” out. Please know that I’m not interested in robbing a home. I’m just an islander in search of beach access.

5) Learn the History. – To piggyback off of #8, I invite visitors to do other than tan, bike ride, golf, and tennis. Learn the history of Hilton Head. Visit some historic sites. Here are some good suggestions of places to learn about and visit:

*Gullah Heritage Tours
*Union Cemetery
*Drayton Plantation Slave Tabby Ruins (Covered in the Gullah Heritage Tour)
*Queen Chapel African Methodist Episcopalian Church (You may also be interested in this post)
*First African Baptist Church
*Greens Shell Enclosure (Indian Shell Ring)
*Honey Horn Plantation (This is a real plantation, so it’s okay to use the term here)

Now, if you want a sense of history in a fictional novel, with real historic elements, I invite you to purchase The Promise of Palmettos and Marshland, both available on Amazon. (Hey my blog, my shameless plug ;).)

This is a good place to leave off for now. Stay tuned for Part 3 of 10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head.

10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head Island (Part 1)

the bridge

For the next three blog posts, I will be counting down from 10, discussing important things that visitors need to know about visiting Hilton Head Island. Without further ado, I will get started.

10) You are on Hilton Head when you cross the bridge – Some visitors don’t realize that before mansions and condominiums, small cottages were prevalent in this once self-sufficient island. The presence of such abodes sighted when first crossing the bridge can throw off an uninformed vacationer.

9) Bluffton is not Hilton Head – On the mainland, before travelers even cross the bridge, there are several businesses with “Hilton Head” in its title. I know that this can be confusing but until you cross the bridge, you’re not on Hilton Head yet. You’re in Bluffton. In other words, Hilton Head is Hilton Head and Bluffton is Bluffton. Still confused? See #10.

8) Respect the History – Like many of the Sea Islands, sacrifices (willing and unwilling) have occurred to ensure that the island is full of endless bike trails, numerous golf and tennis courts, hotels, beautiful beach access, high-end shopping centers, and plantations (what most people call subdivisions). Respect occurs when there is an understanding that all places have a history.

This is a good place to leave off for now. Stay tuned for Part 2 of 10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head Island. Part 2 is where it gets a bit deeper. Hope you’re ready. Meanwhile, be on the lookout for that bridge…

Marshland now on Amazon!