Shell and lime (tabby) slave quarters built by the enslaved Africans on Daufuskie Island in South Carolina.
Daufuskie Island was originally inhabited by the Cusabo and then later the Yamacraw Native Americans. Native American pottery dating back to as far back as 9,000 years ago has been found on the island and represents some of the oldest artifacts found in the USA.
On Daufuskie Island, the special nutrient soil and climate was ideal for growing a silky, rare type of cotton that became known as “Sea Island Cotton”. The Sea Island Cotton industry was the most profitable crop in the United States at that time (even more than tobacco). It was also the most significant crop requiring slave labor, thus prompting the slave trade with thousands arriving on Daufuskie and nearby islands from the west coast of Africa. Slavery continued to exist on Daufuskie Island until the end of the Civil War.
When Union forces overran Beaufort-area islands early in the Civil War, white plantation owners fled, leaving property and slaves behind. After the war, Daufuskie’s remoteness allowed Gullah to survive and flourish through the generations.
Most native residents of Daufuskie today are descendants of slaves who live off of oystering and fishing.