What’s Next for SCETV’s Between the Waters Project?

Over the past week and a half, the Between the Waters team has presented the project in a series of soft launches at Coastal Carolina University, a research workshop for South Carolina’s National History Day workshop, the Slave Dwelling Project Conference, and at the Avery Research Center. We are thankful to all of our hosts and to everyone who attended these programs.

btw-launch-collage

Between the Water launch events; top: Avery Research Center; bottom left: 2016 Slave Dwelling Project Conference; bottom right: Coastal Carolina University.

 

These presentations have given us the opportunity to raise further awareness of the project, showcase the site’s resources, and gain valuable feedback from our audiences. The response has been resoundingly positive. We’ve been thrilled to hear that viewers who have gone to betweenthewaters.org after our presentations have gotten lost searching the site, spending hours exploring Hobcaw Barony’s complex history. We’ve also heard a recurring question from our audience and site visitors; what happens next?

Coming soon to Between the Waters are additional tabs and tools that will further enhance the digital experience. In addition to the “Explore” tab, the top navigation bar will feature “Teacher Resources,” “Trails,” and “Collections.”

kent-map

Screenshot of the Rockwell Kent map, the main navigational tool on the Between the Waters’ site.

The Teacher Resources tab will offer cross-curricular, standards-based lesson plans. Developed in partnership with SCETV’s education department. These lesson plans are designed to used by students in the classroom in conjunction with the digital tour experience.

The Trails tab will allow visitors to navigate Between the Waters thematically, by following a subject of interest across the site. Visitors will be able to choose from over 20 different trails, with themes ranging from Native American history, rice cultivation, African-American religion and Gullah traditions, privilege and the leisure class, sexual identity and women’s suffrage, world politics, and many more. The trails will make site navigation more focused, a benefit to researchers as well as other users with specific interests.

Under the Collections tab, visitors to Between the Waters will be able to access a database of media used throughout the site, including print documents, interview transcripts, the Baruch home movies, photographs, videos and audio files. This database will also contain documents related to local African-American history, including federal census records, labor contracts, a schoolbook found at the Strawberry Schoolhouse with notes from former students, and a list of names of the individuals buried in Marietta Cemetery – a historic African-American cemetery at Hobcaw Barony. We hope that by providing these resources we will not only expand the visitor’s digital experience, but assist with family genealogy research.

discovery-center

Hobcaw Barony’s Discovery Center and Museum.

Later down the road plans will be developed to implement the website at Hobcaw Barony. Our hope is that the site, or portions of the site, will be accessible at Hobcaw’s Discovery Center. By making the site available at Hobcaw Barony we hope to expand outreach opportunities among descendants of former residents, and facilitate deeper relationships with Hobcaw.

We encourage you to enjoy and learn from Between the Waters. Reach out to us via Facebook or Twitter, and let us know your reactions, thoughts, and any suggestions you may have. We always love to hear from our audience and supporters!

The Culture and Tradition of Hunting in the South: Hunting in the New South, Class and Racial Divides, and Environmental Conservation (Part II)

The hunting tradition has long been ingrained in Southern culture. Hunting has played an integral role in developing the characteristic image of the Southern male, and arguably, continues to do so to this day. The Southern hunting tradition is universal, and has served as a way for white and African American men demonstrate their masculinity and affirm their role as providers in the household, and in some instances, reinforce racial and class divides.

After the Civil War, the role of hunting and fishing shifted within Southern society. Rice production declined after the war, and disappeared from South Carolina almost entirely by the early twentieth century. The uncultivated rice fields evolved into wetland habitats that attracted huge numbers of migrating waterfowl, and Southern landowners, particularly those in the Lowcountry, leased portions of their property to hunters and hunt clubs. It was during this period that the South emerged as a leading sporting destination for wealthy white Northerners, including Bernard Baruch.

Deer Drive, 1907

In a c. 1907 hunt scene at Hobcaw Barony, Bernard Baruch and his guests, plantation managers and African American employees gather at the start of a deer drive. Bernard Baruch is mounted to the right with Renèe Baruch on the saddle in front of him.

This shift increased the tension among subsistence hunters and wealthy sportsmen over competition of wild game sources. Hunting also began to reflect racial tensions between whites – specifically the once elite slaveholding whites – and freed blacks. As thousands of hunters journeyed south seeking abundant supplies of fish and game, they also came for an “authentic” Southern experience. This “included the presence of subordinate African Americans to complete the vision of a mythical antebellum South.” (Hunting and Fishing in the New South, 7). The ability of freed blacks – who had previously been forbidden to hunt, or relegated to hunting smaller and less impressive game like possums and rabbits – to freely pursue fish and game, challenged this mythical antebellum trope and placed an additional burden on limited game sources.

“For sportsmen, unrestricted hunting and fishing gave African Americans the ability both to capture valuable wildlife and to engage in sporting behavior that elite whites wished to retain as their exclusive purview. For those invested in sporting tourism, independent black hunters and fishermen not only competed with native and visiting sportsmen for the products of the chase, thereby damaging the regenerative potential of an increasingly lucrative industry, but also challenged the basic assumptions about black subordination that lay at the heart of the popularity of Southern tourism.”

Hunting and Fishing in the New South, Scott Giltner

Regardless of – or oblivious to – the threat that freed blacks posed to this paternalistic, antebellum mythos, wealthy Northerners continued to flock south in the pursuit of abundant game, sporting opportunities, and cheap land.

Dr. Melissa Cooper on the Sea Island Fad from Between the Waters on Vimeo.

When Bernard Baruch bought Hobcaw Barony from the Donaldons in 1905, it was the culmination of nearly eight years of searching for a retreat from his hectic life in New York. He was deeply interested in hunting and, by virtue of this Southern roots, familiar with the potential for winter hunting in his home state. His brother, Hartwig, and his Kaminski cousins in Georgetown had hunted on the Donaldson land and told stories of the skies darkened by thousands of ducks, so when Baruch found out Hobcaw was for sale he didn’t hesitate.

George Shubrick, 1910

A c. 1910 photo features George Shubrick, a skilled hunting guide, boatman and resident in one of Hobcaw’s former slave villages.

For the next four decades the rich and famous joined Bernard and his family on hunting expeditions at Hobcaw Barony. Baruch employed the African-American residents of the former slave villages within Hobcaw Barony, and the white Caines brothers – former poachers – to serve as hunting guides for him and his guests, completing their Southern experience.

Guests who visited the Baruchs at Hobcaw Barony were treated to extravagant dinner parties, and hunting excursions through Hobcaw’s swamps and rice canals. There are seven Baruch guest books covering the period from December, 1911 through August, 1946. Guests who wrote their names in the books include artist Louis Aston Knight; Robert and Evangeline Johnson, children of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson; Harry Whitney, wealthy financier, sportsman and husband of Gertrude Vanderbilt; Richard Irvine Manning, Governor of South Carolina from 1915 – 1919; newspaperman Ralph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World and the Evening World; and Herbert Bayard Swope, journalist and member of the Algonquin Round Table. When he visited in 1921, Robert Wood Johnson II wrote in the guest book, “ A most marvelously organized shooting lodge. The greatest ducking.”

Belle and Robert Wood Johson

In a c.1919 photo, Belle Baruch stands with Robert Wood Johnson II (1893-1968), the brother of Evangeline Johnson. His father co-founded Johnson & Johnson.

Throughout the early twentieth century, a number of prominent and wealthy northerners followed Baruch to the South, and purchased land on the Waccamaw neck. In 1911, W.H. “Bill” Yawkey, owner of the Detroit Tigers, bought several islands in Winyah Bay south of Hobcaw Barony. He left his estate, including the islands, to his nephew and adopted son, Tom Yawkey, who later became owner of the Boston Red Sox. Railroad scion, Archer Huntington and his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt, purchased four old rice plantations – Laurel Hill, Springfield, Brookgreen and The Oaks – located a few miles north of Hobcaw. Many of these properties became vacation homes and hunting preserves for these wealthy northerners and their guests.

The explosion of sporting tourism, and the spike in unregulated hunting, eventually impressed upon Southerners the importance of protecting fish and game. The national conservation movement finally infiltrated the South in the mid to late nineteenth century, bringing about regulations on hunting and fishing, and wider conservation practices. This new attitude toward conservation would be applied at Hobcaw Barony to preserve the property’s natural habitat and wild game.

Belle and Bird Dog

In a c.1913 photo, Belle Baruch poses with a bird dog at Hobcaw Barony. It was at this time that Belle, described as a ‘youthful Diana’, made the New York newspapers for killing her first deer.

Belle Baruch had been coming to Hobcaw Barony since she was five years old, when wild game was plenty and thousands of ducks darkened the sky. By the 1950s development was increasing on the Waccamaw Neck, and she could see that the wildlife was declining. Although unregulated hunting from both subsistence and sport hunters played a large role in this deline, Belle understood that habitat loss did the most damage to local species, as wetlands were drained and forests were cleared. She decided to hire a manager, Nolan Taylor, to help maintain Hobcaw Barony’s vast acreage and diverse ecosystems, and protect the property from exploitation by developers and poachers.

In 1956 Bernard Baruch signed over all of Hobcaw Barony to Belle. She realized the environmental importance of Hobcaw Barony, and in 1960 she began talking with her lawyers about preserving Hobcaw from development. In 1964, Belle established the Bernard Baruch Foundation Trust, mandating that Hobcaw be used, “for the purpose of teaching and/or research in forestry, marine biology, and the care and propagation of wildlife and flora and fauna in South Carolina.” After Belle’s death in 1964, Bernard Baruch rejected the idea of naming Belle’s foundation after him, and the name was changed to the Belle W. Baruch Foundation.

Nolan Taylor supervises Timber Harvesting

In a photo developed taken in September of 1957, Nolan Taylor, plantation manager (center) supervises timber harvesting with a hired contractor (left), a crew member and a heavy equipment operator. Taylor encouraged Hobcaw’s owner, Belle Baruch, to implement forest management and thinning.

Today there are two research facilities on the property: Clemson University’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology, established in 1968; and the University of South Carolina’s Belle W. Baruch Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, founded in 1969.  Hobcaw Barony’s 16,000 undeveloped acres remain dedicated to research, education, and the preservation of wildlife habitat.

 

For further reading:

Hunting and Fishing in the New South: Black Labor and White Leisure after the Civil War by Scott Giltner

Hunting, Fishing, and Foraging: Common Rights and Class Relations in the Postbellum South by Steven Hahn

Bathed in Blood: Hunting and Mastery in the Old South by Nicolas Proctor