Posted By Bill Payer on Apr 24, 2020 | 0 comments

The Daniel Island Historical Society’s challenge to area high school students was both simple and personal. We asked students to consider how their own personal histories, perhaps their family stories, intersect with, and continue the history of Daniel Island.

The winners of the inaugural essay contest each embraced and expanded that challenge to put their personal stamp on Daniel Island life.

First place winner Sarah McLean of St. Thomas Island is an 11th grader at Ashley Hall.

Sarah McLean

In her essay, “A Modern Day Eden,” she describes the history of Daniel Island from a perspective of a family who moved here several years ago. Sarah recounts the Cainhoy peninsula’s early days as the site of a hunting lodge under the ownership of the late Harry Frank Guggenheim and includes an1863 map of Charleston Harbor in which the Daniel Island is not even named. She closes her essay with “No matter where we have come from, we are here now and Daniel Island is our home, community and environment. Much like the American Dream, it matters not where you come from but where you go next.”

The second place winner is Daniel Island resident Sarah Legare’ Smith, a freshman at Bishop England High School.

Sarah Legare’ Smith

Her essay is titled “Homegrown on Daniel Island.” Sarah grew up on Daniel Island and writes about how the island’s past and present have merged to make her the person she is today. She discusses how food played a role in life on the island in its early days and identifies a sprawling tree pictured in a 1949 photo that still sits on the island today. “I have become more aware of how much our backgrounds affect us all because of this essay, and in the end, I couldn’t be more grateful for the history that I’m living.”

The Daniel Island Historical Society was founded in 2011 and was officially established as a non-profit organization in 2012. From the beginning, the organization’s mission has been to uncover, preserve and share Daniel Island’s rich and unique history for the benefit of both visitors and residents. In building the organization’s outreach program over the years, members of the DIHS board of directors have worked to help ignite a passion for history in our community. Local students have been an important part of that work, explained DIHS co-founder Beth Bush.

“For many years, we have provided educational resources to schools in our community to help them in sharing local history in their classrooms,” she said. “This year, under the direction of our DIHS President Chris Frisby, we decided to take that to the next level by creating an essay contest to engage students in a new and exciting way – one that would not only celebrate our island’s past, but their own personal heritage. We couldn’t be more pleased with the submissions entered by Sarah McLean and Sarah Legare’ Smith. Both captured the essence of that mission and we are thrilled to announce them as our inaugural winners!”

First place winner Sarah McLean will receive a cash prize of $350 and a copy of local young author John Conley’s book Daniel Island Unearthed: An Archaeological Field Guide To Daniel Island’s Wando River Coastline. Second Place winner Sarah Legare’ Smith will receive a cash prize of $200 as well as Conley’s book.

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