Daniel Island’s namesake, Robert Daniell, had a home near the present day Children’s Park overlooking the Wando River more than 300 years ago. In the early 1900s, island produce was shipped from a pier on Bellinger Island to Charleston and beyond. Gunboat #9, commissioned under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, was built on Daniel Island at a place known as Pritchard Shipyard. These are just a few of the glimpses into the past you will discover as you walk Daniel Island’s trails and sidewalks, thanks to a fleet of more than a dozen historical markers produced by the Daniel Island Historical Society (DIHS).
Topics of other markers include the island’s African-American burial grounds (Grove, Alston, and Simmons cemeteries), Raven’s Creek, Mitchell Pier, Codner Plantation, Scott’s and Clements ferries, the Ittiwan Oak and Fairbank Plantation. There are 13 total, with two more in the works that will document the lives of Thomas Elfe and George Cunningham and their ties to Daniel Island.
“The goal of putting up the historical markers was really to educate the community,” said DIHS board member and community outreach coordinator Lee Ann Bain, who heads up the organization’s marker program. “We don’t have any historical buildings that you can see and touch, but so much history did happen here on Daniel Island, so we wanted to let the community know about it.”
Bain painstakingly researches each topic for the island marker program using multiple sources, including local archeological surveys and reports, as well as the book “Daniel Island” by Michael K. Dahlman and Michael K. Dahlman Jr.
“It’s really just finding out who was important to the history of Daniel Island,” said Bain, who is also a licensed tour guide for the Grimke Sisters Tour and Walk Charleston Tours, and serves as president of the Charleston Tour Association. “…We make sure it’s accurate, to the best of our knowledge.”
“The history of Daniel Island plays such a large part in what makes it such a special and unique community,” said Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association. “By partnering with the Daniel Island Historical Society on the marker project, the Daniel Island Community Fund was happy to be able to play a small part in sharing the history of the island with our residents and visitors. The markers really make the past come alive and offer an enriching experience, especially for those using our trail system.”
“Community outreach and education is such an important part of what we do,” added DIHS President Chris Frisby. “This year it was our newly launched essay contest for resident youth, and for a much longer time the DIHS historical markers have served as beacons for those curious residents and visitors seeking to explore Daniel Island’s history. We hope the markers are sparking interesting conversations and personal reflection for those who stop to read them. Some may even be inspired to do additional research. We so appreciate Lee Ann Bain for all the work she puts into this program on behalf of DIHS, as well as the Daniel Island Community Fund for financially supporting our efforts.” (Credit: Daniel Island News)
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