The Town of Bluffton will host its second of two “Bluffton History Harvest” events from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 17 at the historic Campbell Chapel AME Church, 23 Boundary St.
Residents can stop by anytime during the events with their stories, photos and family artifacts.
The first Bluffton History Harvest was held Nov. 10.
Residents are encouraged to bring family photos, documents and stories so event organizers can better understand and document sites and structures throughout the Bluffton area that are historically and culturally important to the African American community.
Councilman Fred Hamilton said the Town needs residents’ stories to help enlarge its list of sites and structures, which have historical or cultural meaning to the Town’s collective history.
“Many of our residents attended classes at M.C. Riley High School or played baseball on Eagles’ Field or grew up in Bluffton when it was still considered a rural area,” Hamilton said. “We want to hear from those residents. Their everyday stories are building blocks for Bluffton’s history.”
“If you have a story about past traditions or how a site or structure had special meaning in the community, we want to know about it,” said Erin Schumacher, the Town’s principal planner for historic preservation. “We believe by hosting a History Harvest, members of the community can share with us what is important to them in the hopes we can bring recognition to previously underrepresented historical landmarks in our Town.”
Organizers are interested especially in hearing about what Bluffton was like 50 or more years ago, Hamilton said. “Where did neighbors and families gather? Was your family baptized in the May River? Where did you learn how to fish or catch seafood?” he asked. “It is important to preserve our culture and character, so we want to know those stories through the eyes of those who lived them or through their family members, as stories were passed down through their relatives.”
“Town leaders and staff members want to know more about the layered history of Bluffton’s African American community,” Mayor Lisa Sulka said. “We believe the Gullah-Geechee culture and its historic resources are underrepresented in the properties currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places for the Town of Bluffton. We hope to change that.”
Sulka said input from residents is important to capture these stories now. “As Bluffton continues to grow, there is a chance these stories, sites and photos may be lost,” she said, “and the Town wants to ensure that we know and always remember those places that are important to the community’s history and culture.”
The objectives of these events are two-fold. Historians will collect stories and materials shared by those who attend the events. These stories, photos, and documents will inform the future surveying project which will include the Buck Island-Simmonsville community, the Goethe Road neighborhood and the existing properties within the Old Town Bluffton Historic District.
Ultimately, this survey will provide information to propose the addition of sites and structures associated with Bluffton’s African American community into the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information, contact Schumacher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-706-4561.