St. Helena Island

The island of St. Helena was one of the first free black communities in the South.when the island was liberated by Union
soldiers during the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers fled the island, creating a free African
American community. The population of the island remains predominately African American today.

Military Graves

I loved life like a budding broad
I never had the nerve to kiss.
Take back your medals,
Stamp on the stars,
Then cry for me,
Please anybody cry for me.
Lick my dead wounds,
You mothers!

James Van Der Zee
Wealthy families were able to honor their dead with crypts. These structures were in no way 'better' than a tombstone, merely a more expensive honorarium. However, the passage of time has caused the few remaining on St.Helena to fall into disrepair.

Tabby walls were used to surround family grave sites. They were made primarily of shells and other materials.

The tradition of placing walls around family grave sites does not limit itself to tabby walls. Bricks, stone, and other materials can be used to create the wall.

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