Museum offers unique programs

  • Saturday, July 5, 2014

Photos by Jim Tatum/Journal Scene Richard Martin, dressed as an 18th century Lowcountry Citizen Soldier, discusses the history of the rice industry in South Carolina.


Looking for something informative and entertaining to do during upcoming Third Thursdays? Try taking a field trip back in time at the Summerville Dorchester Museum.

The museum will be presenting several programs throughout the year as part of downtown Summerville’s Third Thursday events, according to Rev. John Scott, a volunteer.

More than 100 people attended the most recent program, held June 19, during which Richard Martin, dressed in the costume of a Lowcountry citizen soldier, presented a narrative of the colonial rice culture and its unique contribution to the economic and political development of this area, Scott said. Explaining how the natural ecology of the Carolina Lowcountry was uniquely favorable to cultivation of rice, Martin traced the migration of the rice plants from West Africa to the West Indies to the Carolina Lowcountry and showed how it came to be embraced by the British and French Huguenot Plantation owners to transform Charleston into one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful of the Colonies.

However with this Lowcountry manner of tidal agriculture and its surrounding swamp areas also came a very deadly disease that claimed the lives of many men, women, and children from every plantation family.

Scott, dressed as The Rev. Philip Gadsden, talked about how in 1827 Gadsden began accompanying many of his parish families from the original St. Paul’s Parish on the Stono River to spend the summer months in the high and dry “pine villages” to escape the deadly Lowcountry disease. Ultimately, it was discovered that those who left the swampy areas during the heat of the summer to seek refuge in the higher and drier elevations under the shady canopies of the tall pines, avoided contracting the deadly “Miasma” diseases. Soon this became a seasonal migration practice with the plantations and many pine villages, such as Pinopolis, Pineville, Eutawville -- eutaw being a Cherokee word for pine tree -- Summerton, and Summerville came into existence.

The two presentations were accompanied with a musical rendition of 18th century melodies played on the harpsichord by Annette Martin, wife of the Citizen Soldier and Organist of St. Paul’s Church.

The program also included an array of 18th century foods, including Rice and Chicken Perlo, Hard Tack, Saltwater Taffy, Sarsaparilla, and Muscadine Wine Spritzer.

In July the museum will offer a similar historical presentation including music, costumes and foods of the period. The July presenter will be Rollins Edwards.

Edwards is well known to most of the people of Summerville as a spell-binding story teller.

The museum is located at 200 East Doty Avenue in downtown Summerville. For more information call 875-9666, visit the website at www.summervilledorchestermuseum.org or visit the museum’s Facebook page.

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