Black Island, Georgia
Tag Archives: Folklife of the Georgia Coast
On occasion, cows can be seen roaming freely around Hog Hammock, grazing on grasses and weeds in the isolated community. While this may seem a random occurrence, it is actually a sustainable practice dating back hundreds of years and the cows’ ramblings aren’t unknown to their owners.
Sapelo Island, Georgia
Old cars are a common sight in Hog Hammock. Due to the difficulty and cost in removing them from the island, they are frequently encountered. On my visits with a part-time resident, I’ve ridden in a wide variety of “gently used” vehicles. Gently used is putting it kindly.
The image below illustrates what’s left of Mr. Ernest Walker’s fall garden, who was working hard to remove weeds the day before so he could plant his summer crops. The people of Hog Hammock are very self-sufficient and I have great respect for that; when I visited the day before with my friend who lives nearby, I learned that Mr. Walker is legally blind.
Sapelo slaves and their descendants have been buried at Behavior since 1805.
Fleur-de-lis Marker & Headstone of Isabella, Wife of Monday Robinson
(26 September 1858 – 17 February 1889) Married 6 May 1876
Sallie Hall (15 March 1886 – 7 August 1951)
Ceaser Jackson (17 January 1893 – 7 February 1916)
(Additional Text) He. Die. In. Faith. Sleep. On. Son. Take. You. Rest.
This headstone, along with several others, features the “star” motif common in Gould’s Cemetery.
Charles Walker (1813 – 5 February 1897)
Sarah Wilson (29 July 1881 – 18 November 1940)
Peter Maxwell, Company A, 30th (?) United States Colored Infantry
Liberty Handy (1 August 1856 – 20 May 1916)
Beloved Husband of Katie Brown (1850 – 28 January 1918)
Mary Jackson (1837? – 7 February 1913)
Minto Bell (1780? – 25 August 1890)
The age, as well as the dates on the tombstone, is an estimation; Bintou (Minto) Bell was one of seven daughters of the patriarch of Sapelo Island, Bilali Muhammad (Mohamet).
Mary Wright (13 February 1873 – 29 September 1923)
For Amy Lyn Hedrick’s excellent overview of Sapelo’s slave descendants, see:
Sapelo Island, Georgia
While churches like this were once common among Primitive Baptists, they are quite unusual today. Even most so-called Hardshell Primitive Baptists have traded such humble gathering places for more modern construction and convenience. Though Wayfair appears to be from another century, I believe it dates to the 1930s; 1934 is the earliest burial recorded in the adjacent cemetery. Amy Hedrick surveyed and documented the cemetery in 2005.
Thanks to Leon Gordon for bringing this great place to my attention.
Note the off-center placement of the side doors.
The roof boards and beams are exposed with no further protection from the elements.
The pulpit is strangely located on the side center of the church. The thin boards hanging from the ceiling on the right are used as a coat and hat rack.
Each window is shuttered in this fashion. Note the rough-hewn boards.
There’s obviously no indoor plumbing, hence this unusual double privy
McIntosh County, Georgia
Hog Hammock is the last intact Geechee/Gullah community in Georgia. Most of the remaining residents are descendants of African slaves brought to Sapelo Island to work on the plantation of Thomas Spalding. Historically known as Hogg Hummock, it was named for a resident, Sampson Hogg. At one time, there were several communities on the island: Raccoon Bluff, Hanging Bull, Behavior, Chocolate, and Shell Hummock, but when Richard Reynolds acquired the bulk of the island in the 1930s, he consolidated all the residents into Hog Hammock.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of resident and unofficial ambassador Cornelia Walker Bailey, the community has become nationally known. Her bestselling book, God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia (Anchor Press, 2001-available through the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society (SICARS) or on Amazon) is a fascinating blend of autobiography and cultural history that is a must-read if you plan on visiting the island.
Today, largely through the efforts of Mrs. Bailey and SICARS, the vanishing cultural traditions and folkways are being preserved, but there is the constant threat of encroachment by outsiders. Hog Hammock is one of those places where, rightfully so, visitors are welcome but invaders are not. It is sad to think that as the population of the island dwindles due to death and old age, many properties in Hog Hammock will be sold to outside interests with no concern for this unique history. I applaud Hog Hammock’s citizens for attempting to maintain their social and cultural heritage in a world often interested in nothing more than commercial and material gain and I hope that Hog Hammock survives far into the future.
If you ever visit you will be amazed at this magical place. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you come back to the mainland on the Katie Underwood…let me just say that there’s something about Sapelo time that just doesn’t synch up with the rest of the world!
Sapelo Island, Georgia
Sapelo Island can only be reached by ferry or plane. And I’m not sure about the second option. The ferry leaves the Meridian dock at least twice every day except major holidays and advance reservations are suggested, if not required. Access to the island is quite limited, but it’s worth the trouble! But if you go, please be mindful that while the residents are welcoming of tourists who appreciate their culture, they’re not a sideshow or a museum exhibit. This is their home and way of life, so please be respectful of that fact.