Archivist Kendall John Expands our Understanding of Island History

Kendall's presentation at Huyler House

Kendall John gave a presentation on Friday night at the Huyler House, explaining her work cataloging our collection.  One of the things that was most exciting to me was her focus on learning more about the people who were enslaved on Dewees Island, so that we can have a more complete understanding of the lives of those who lived and toiled here.  Kendall’s presentation is below: I have removed some community discussion and edited it for brevity.  In the course of her research, she made some really interesting discoveries.

Kendall, who now works as a records specialist for the City of Charleston, has had a long time of love for historical research.  She graduated from Wake Forest University and has a Master’s Degree in Information Studies from the University of Glasgow.  So we are so lucky that she brought those skills to us, helping us take stock of all the historical resources we have in our collection.

A Flash Drive with an Amazing Story

One of the most interesting things she found were digital copies of affadavits from the 1890’s.  Tucked in a plastic bag, a thumb drive held scans of documents that had turned up an an attic, and had been shared with a previous owner on the island, who added them to the archives collection.   It takes us to the nineteenth century Deliesseline family (Da-lee-es-a-leen) that featured prominently in the story of the 1820 murder on the island.  During the war of 1812, British ships landed on the island and set fire to some buildings, leaving with property.  These affadavits were transcribed by court interviewers and recorders in 1891, by formerly enslaved residents of Dewees who told of watching family members who had told of their capture in Africa being recaptured by British invaders and probably sold again. This is a fitting post for today, Juneteenth,  so I’ll stop here with gratitude for Kendall bring more depth to our understanding of the people whose stories were often unrecorded. We are doing a little more research and will publish more information as we learn more.

History topics on this blog.

We’ve redesigned this blog a little bit, so here is how to get to the best history information.  On the top of the blog is a menu. Select history.  Now you can get to lots of information, including old posts about historical topics, a cool interactive timeline (check the bottom of the page) and our self-guided history tour.  

Take the Tour: From the island or from home

For POA weekend, we updated the self-guided history and nature tour to include more data about under-represented characters in history~ the enslaved workers who drove the economy of the plantation on the island, and the first nations people who were first here.  As you proceed around the island, there are QR codes on signs. Simply open your phone’s camera at each station and the QR code will take you right to that webpage with a one-minute video and more information. Want to explore right from your desktop? We can help with that. Click the link that says “Go Straight to the Tour.”

Residents at POA weekend were given a trifold brochure (paid for by the Arts Council) that showed the stops on the tour.  We also have that information on a single two-sided sheet you could download and put on a clipboard.

Or you can go right to the tour page, which looks like the image to the right.

Or, just watch the videos as a playlist, right here