History of northern Beaufort County accented with characters

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A trip to Coffin Point seems like the perfect field trip for October, doesn't it? Had we left after dark, parked the car, walked the last mile, heard the hooting of owls under a full blood moon that's shadowed by the Spanish Moss hanging from the ancient Live Oaks, yes, it would have been the makings of a great Halloween tale.

But we left on a Saturday morning and hit the Farmers Market en route. It's more of an autumnal tale ... and yet still a good one.

As wonderful as the Bluffton Farmers Market has become, this annoying thing called a j-o-b keeps us from making an appearance each Thursday. So, seeing the signs for the Port Royal Farmers Market that Saturday morning, a visit was a must-do.

Pasta, perogis, yard eggs, goat cheese, baked goods, gelati - signs, smells and crowded booths made clear who the cool kids were. But my very favorite treat was Breezy the Barred Owl, who sat on his handler's arm looking incredibly stoic and heart-breakingly handsome.

Crippled from a fall, he is a resident at Lowcountry Raptors, an educational organization run by Lila Arnold. Lila moved here from Texas and spends her time caring for these beauties (including other owls, hawks and vultures) and taking them to classrooms to share with kids in the Lowcountry. (Learn more at www.LowcountryRaptors.org.)

Purchases in hand, we moved onward, to Coffin Point. Down Sea Island Parkway, about six miles past Barefoot Farms (which is one of my all-time favorite places and if you haven't been, what are you waiting for, you should go there at once), take a left on Coffin Point Road.

You'll know you're nearly there as you drive along a half mile Avenue of the Oaks. It's a stunning entrance to Coffin Point Plantation, which itself is a jewel. There's a long and very interesting history to the Plantation.

Built by Ebenezer Coffin, a Boston native, it became a thriving planation, was abandoned by the family before the invasion of Union troops, was part of a cotton growing experiment and eventually was owned by Sheriff Ed McTeer.

McTeer is well-known in Beaufort County for his practice of a kind of folk magic called Hoodoo.

Driving through the area (and it's not a very big area at all) was the source for a lot of commentary. We could see some pretty pricey real estate sitting back along the water, next door to some funky fishing shacks.

There was a No Trespassing sign that made us wonder how serious the owner really was. We passed a tiny "Praise House" that I found out later was likely named from a version of a Gullah term: Pray's House.

We decided that life back there was likely very quiet and peaceful. But the myriad "Private Property" signs made us guess that owning a home there might also require a dog, an alarm system, a gun - or perhaps all three.

But the place is steeped in the history of Beaufort County. If those trees could talk, well, I'd freak out - but I bet they'd tell some good tales.

Freelancer writer and blogger Lisa Ashcraft of Bluffton loves fresh produce, owls and history. thingsiseedownhere.blogspot. com

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