Great Migration Project


Gullah Tour of Charleston
The Facade of Bennett's Rice Mill
African American Gravestones
Denmark Vesey House
Jenkins Orphanage
Old Jail
Old Slave Mart

Basket Weaving

St. Helena's Island

created by Mark, Carol, Linda, Allan, Milton, Peter, Beverly and our colleagues.

Sponsored by: Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Cleveland State University

Funded by: The Cleveland Foundation; Dominion East Ohio Gas

Created: July 2001
Last Update: August 2001

North by South Home





Gullah Tour of Charleston


The Facade of the Bennett's Rice Mill

This one of the last remaining symbols of Charleston's early dependence on rice culture. Africans from the West Coast brought with them to the Carolinas an understanding of the cultivation of rice which made planters rich. Charleston's port was the entrance point for perhaps three-quarters of the enslaved Africans brought to America.

African American Gravestones

Located in the parking lot of Old Bethel Methodist Church, gravestones of Charleston's early African-American settlers were moved to make way for adjacent houses. Old Bethel, built in 1797 - 1798, is the third oldest church building in the city. Originally both African-Americans and whites attended the Old Bethel, but in 1880 the building was given to its black members.

Slavery denied people fundamental recognition as human beings. As a result, the headstones of many enslaved people recorded only a single name.


The Denmark Vesey House

Denmark Vesey, a native of the West Indies,won a raffle which enabled him to purchase his freedom But freedom alone was not enough for him. In 1822, he planned a slave rebellion in Charleston. Two blacksmiths made hundreds of spear heads, pikes, and daggers. However two house servants informed their owners. Thirty-four were found guilty and publicly hanged. This is believed to have been Vesey's home, built in 1821.

Jenkins Orphanage

The old Marine Hospital served as the second home of the Jenkins Orphanage. Founded by Reverend Daniel Jenkins in 1891, the orphanage was famous for its band which toured the United States and Europe in the early twentieth century. Many famous musicians began their careers with the Jenkins Orphanage Band, including jazz greats Jabbo Smith, "Cat" Anderson, Gus Aitken. Today the building is occupied by the Charleston Housing Authority.

The Old Jail

Since 1802 this jail has housed criminals and free African Americans. After the Vesesy insurrection, Black strangers, including seamen, were prohibited from roaming the city and were temporarily confined here. In 1991, the Spoleto Festival used the jail for an art exhibition. It is currently under renovating and will eventually be a school for the vanishing arts.

The Old Slave Mart

The North side of the custom house was used to sell slaves until a city ordinance was passed in 1856, which hid the trade in humans from view. Traders opened "salesroom" yards, or "marts," along Chalmers, Queen, Vendue Range, and State streets. Located on Chalmers, next to the German Fire Station, the Old Slave Mart is being renovated into a museum.

Many African Americans trace their roots through slave marts, such as the one located along Chalmers Street. As many as three-quarters of all African Americans alive today can trace their lineage through the port of Charleston. Among them is Milton Profit, a master teacher and colleague of us here at the Kenyon Great Migration Project.