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Mims in Brevard County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Mitchelville, South Carolina

Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park

 
 
Mitchelville, South Carolina Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, July 21, 2021
1. Mitchelville, South Carolina Marker
Inscription.  On November 7, 1861, Union forces attacked two Confederate forts and the Sea Islands of South Carolina near Port Royal. “The Battle of Port Royal” later drove Confederate forces to retreat to the mainland. One island, Hilton Head Island, immediately became the headquarters for the Union Army. It also would the setting for the first self-governed town of freed Africans in the country. After the Battle of Port Royal, men, women, and children fled the plantations and sought freedom with the Union army. However, the Emancipation Proclamation was yet to be signed so these former slaves—though seeking new lives as freemen--would be labeled – “contrabands of war” and housed in ill-constructed shacks on the grounds on the Union outpost. In need of labor, the Union Army hired these “contrabands”, as carpenters, blacksmiths, launderers, coopers, clerks and cooks.

Due to overcrowding in the barracks in the Union camp, General Ornsby Mitchel dedicated a large parcel of land, near the old Drayton Plantation, to the newly freed Blacks that they would be able to cultivate and govern. Individuals and families were given a quarter acre lot and material

Mitchelville, South Carolina Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, July 21, 2021
2. Mitchelville, South Carolina Marker
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to build a home. The freedmen elected their own officials, created their own system of law, built three churches, four stores and established the first compulsory school system in the state of South Carolina. Education was required for every child from age 6 to 15 and when the school district was created in 1866, there were 238 students in town. Commercial organizations and churches were established and weddings were conducted. Men were recruited for the on-going Civil War and Black soldiers built nearby Fort Howell to protect Mitchelville. On weekends, the marsh tacky work horses were raced along the beaches for enjoyment. They designed sweet grass baskets and fishing nets and sang songs interpreting their burdens.

After the slaves were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, Mitchelville (named after General Mitchel following his death from yellow fever in 1862) became a template for the creation of future freedmen towns and served as the “rehearsal for Reconstruction”. This experiment of independence was a radical idea. It addressed the former slaves’ longings for their own land, the right to choose who would represent them, the responsibility of keeping families intact, the right to negotiate wages for their labor, and initiate their own religious and commercial enterprises.

At its height, Mitchelville boasted over 3,000 residents, but after the Union army left

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the area in 1868, the population began to decrease. Many residents began farming and engaging in local commerce to sustain themselves and the town would maintain until the end of the century. Eventually, the residents took apart their homes and moved inland towards the area of Squire Pope, Bayard and Chaplain. Even though the citizens of this important community moved on from the physical property, their connection to the town endured through their descendants and the impact of the first taste of African American independence. Mitchelville truly is:”Where Freedom Began”
 
Erected by Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsSettlements & SettlersWar, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is November 7, 1861.
 
Location. 28° 39.276′ N, 80° 50.786′ W. Marker is in Mims, Florida, in Brevard County. Marker can be reached from Freedom Avenue, 0.3 miles south of Parker Street, on the right when traveling south. Located within the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park and Museum grounds. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2180 Freedom Avenue, Mims FL 32754, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. James, General Daniel “Chappie”, Jr. (1920–1978) (a few steps from this marker); Ocoee Race Riots - 1920
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(a few steps from this marker); Thurgood Marshall (within shouting distance of this marker); Greensboro Sit-Ins (within shouting distance of this marker); Medgar Evers (within shouting distance of this marker); 99th Fighter Squadron (within shouting distance of this marker); The Tallahassee Bus Boycott (within shouting distance of this marker); Juneteenth (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mims.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Story of Mitchelville. (Submitted on July 28, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
2. Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park. (Submitted on July 28, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 28, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 108 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 28, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 8, 2022