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A Rich History

Hello friends!  A funny thing happened last week while I was meeting a new client.  We started talking about the history of Hilton Head, and boy, did they know it!  I had read Margaret Greer’s excellent book ”The Sands of Time, A History of Hilton Head Island” a while ago, but these good folks took so much of that knowledge and expanded on it and it was another beautiful reminder of the rich tapestry of the world here.  People have come to this island paradise in the Low Country of South Carolina for millennia, and it was one of the first places that the Europeans explored on the North American mainland.

Everybody knows that Columbus “discovered” the New World in 1492, but the Spanish explorers first set foot in the Hilton Head area (then it was considered part of Spain’s Florida colony) just a few years later, in 1526.  Native American people, such as the Cusabo and Yuchi tribes, have used this beautiful place for nearly 10,000 years.  I know why, too.  Just a ride through the majestic live oaks or a walk along the beautiful beaches can transport you to a better place. The wind blowing off of the Atlantic and the smell of the salt air?  I don’t know a better way to make a day great.

Another part of that fun history lesson I got the other day was the “back story” on the name Hilton Head.  Of course I know William Hilton was the captain who named it, but I learned that he was actually exploring Port Royal and used the bluffs of the island for navigational sightings.  These bluffs, or headlands, gave the island it’s name, and that was all the way back in 1663.  Captain Hilton lingered here for a week or more, noting the great soil, the fresh water, the beautiful coastal forests, and I can’t help but think that a part of him wanted to stay here, too.

What I find so telling is that Hilton Head has never been “undiscovered”.  It has been a part of the American life since before there was an America, and it has played a part in every stage of American history.  The broken pottery and shell midens of the early Native Americans that gave way to the tabby buildings of the Colonial period.  The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Gullah culture of the African-American people of these barrier islands.  All these amazing parts of our country’s history were witnesses by this island.  In the last century, Hilton Head even contributed to coastal defense in the World Wars, to say nothing of the thousands of young men who have become Marines for this great nation across the sound at Paris Island.

Waking up each day in a place so rich in history, and so ingrained in the growth and beliefs of America, makes me proud to be a part of it, and even happier that others, like my friends this week, share that love of Hilton Head Island.

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