Category Archives: Hog Hammock GA

Sapelo Orange Grove, Hog Hammock

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Ernest Walker House, Hog Hammock

Old automobiles are a common sight in Hog Hammock. Due to the difficulty and cost in removing them from the island, they are frequently found in an abandoned state. 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 above illustrates Mr. Ernest Walker’s garden. He was working hard to remove weeds the day before. 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.

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Farmers Alliance Hall, 1929, Hog Hammock

A farmers’ alliance was first chartered on Sapelo Island in 1892 to serve the needs of black farmers. It was also used for social gatherings and community meetings. Original members were: Cuffy Wilson, President; Sipio Sams, Vice-president; Rachel Dunham, Treasurer; Reverend Joseph Jones, Chaplain; Ceasar Sams, Conductor; Sam Dixon, Secretary; other members included Glasco Campbell, Peter Sams, Ben Brown, Cato Hillery, Katie Brown, Charles Hall, and Liberty Handy. Through the efforts of Cornelia Walker Bailey and the Sapelo Island Cultural & Revitalization Society restored this important symbol of Hog Hammock in 2008 and it is the site for the Cultural Day Festival, held every third Saturday in October. It’s one of the older remaining buildings in Hog Hammock.

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Hog Hammock, Sapelo Island

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!

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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.

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Houses of Hog Hammock

The houses shown here are various examples of traditional African-American vernacular architecture. Once common throughout the Southeast, they are quite rare today. They are generally adaptations of extant forms common on the mainland. They are identified elsewhere on the website, thanks to identifications provided by Cornelia Bailey. They are shown as a record of a vanishing way of life, threatened by outsiders, changes in ownership, and outrageous property tax increases in recent years.

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

 

 

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Mary Parker House, Hog Hammock

This was the home of longtime Hog Hammock resident Mary Parker until her death in the 1990s.

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

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St. Luke Baptist Church, Circa 1884, Hog Hammock

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

 

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First African Baptist Church, 1968, Hog Hammock

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

This congregation was established at Raccoon Bluff in 1866; the present structure dates to 1968.

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Mr. Hall’s General Store, 1920, Hog Hammock

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Graball Country Store, Hog Hammock

M& M’s Graball is the only store on Sapelo Island and the Trough is its only bar. Both are owned and operated by Cornelia Walker Bailey and her family, scions of the island’s cultural heritage. It’s open for visitors taking guided tours of the island each day.

I’m lucky to have had a few visits with Mrs. Bailey while staying with a friend on the island in the mid 2010s. She encouraged me to document what I could on the island and shared identifications of many locations, admonishing me to be respectful with what I was doing.

 

 

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