A typical Lowcountry view heading to St. Helena Island, home to many Gullah people. The Gullah are the descendants of slaves kidnapped from western Africa, what is now Sierra Leone, who mixed some of their language with English into what is now the Gullah language after the Union drove out the whites early in the Civil War.
The Brick Baptist Church. Originally built by slaves for white parishoners in 1855, the church was turned over to the black residents of St. Helena Island as their church in 1861 during the Civil War when the Federalists took control of the island and Beaufort.
The Chapel of Ease, a church built for slave owners because it was too far to travel to Beaufort to attend services. After the Union army captured the island, it was used by Northeners who had come to educate and train the former slaves. It also was used as a sanctuary for the Gullah for a while, but was destroyed in a forest fire in 1886 and never repaired.
Interior of the Chapel of Ease. The remains of the buiding, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a relatively intact example of mid-18th century tabby construction. Tabby is a type of concrete made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells.
Inside the praise house, our guide explains their purpose as well as what so many old spiritual hymns meant. For example, if Harriet Tubman would be in the area on a particular evening to rescue people from slavery, one particular spiritual was sung to announce the fact.