The Lost Town of Mitchelville

Mitchelville-026
Mitchelville Park Center, Hilton Head Island

NOTE: Yeah, I’m still behind on blogging. Now I’m about two weeks behind, but I’m slowly catching up. 🙂

A few months ago I learned about an exhibit at USC’s McKissick Museum about the town of Mitchelville. As I read more about Mitchelville, I knew I had to add this one to my list of South Carolina ghost towns. The recent trip to Bluffton offered the perfect opportunity to explore this town on the northeast shore of Hilton Head.

During the Civil War Union troops captured Hilton Head Island and established that as one of their bases of operations. Beginning in 1861 escaped slaves, or “contrabands” as they were called, sought refuge on the island. The Union soldiers were unsure of what to do with the slaves, so in late 1862 General Ormsby M. Mitchel allowed the escaped African Americans to establish the town of Mitchelville. This one of the first examples of the Port Royal Experiment, where African Americans were given control of the land to work for wages.

Mitchelville Map 1864
Mitchelville Map circa 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864
Mitchelville Refugee Quarters 1864, Creative Commons from Wikipedia

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