by Bob Tuten

In the spring edition of Our Journal I wrote an article about the nuclear ship NS Savannah which had been moored at Patriots Point in Charleston Harbor as a Maritime Museum for about 10 years during the 1980s. This story is about 2 other nearby locations. First: A couple of miles downstream near the entrance from the Atlantic Ocean is Fort Sumter. In 1861 the first shots of the Civil War were fired on the fort by Confederate General Beauregard. Federal General Anderson surrendered. Second: Just up the river about 3 to 4 miles from Patriots Point, at the confluence of the Cooper and Wando Rivers, is Daniel Island. Connecting the two rivers is Beresford Creek which floods and ebbs to the Cooper River. Other creeks connect and flood and ebb to the Wando River. -In 1935 during the Great Depression when I was 8 years old and in the 3rd grade my family moved to Daniel Island from Hampton County. Most of the island was truck farming, owned and operated by a company named American Fruit Growers Inc. Cabbage and Irish potatoes were the main money crops. There were five farms. The population consisted of 7 white families. Five were managers of the farms, one was the mechanic and boat captain. And one was the store keeper and postmaster. On each farm there were about four or five black families. All housing was provided by the Company. The houses for the black families were very small, only a few hundred square feet. The laborers earned $1:00 a day. During harvest seasons for cabbage and potatoes the women also worked. The potato gathering was paid as piece work. There was also hay and oats and corn to harvest. We butchered our hogs in winter. We had to pack the pork in a box filled with salt or either cure it by smoking it for several weeks.

The potatoes, cabbage and sometimes hogs were shipped by boat and barge from two piers on the Wando River and three piers on Beresford Creek. When loaded they could only navigate the creek on high tide.

My best buddy was a black boy my age and named Isaac. He and I hunted (slingshots) fished and swam in a small creek off the Cooper River, across the marsh from our houses. Far enough away; no clothes required. No cruise ships passing by. His father had built a row boat and knitted a cast net. Isaac and I made a sail. The mast and boom, we made from a very small tree trunk and a piece of driftwood. We made the sail with old fertilizer bags pinned together with rusty nails we had pulled from some old boards.

One day the wind was just right and we rowed to Charleston under the Cooper River Bridge.. We raised the sail, attached fishing line to the boom, held an oar over the stern for a rudder and headed home. We left a white wake and breezed homeward at record speed. Isaac and I were the Tom Sawyers of the Cooper River.

From 1935 thru 1939 I attended school (3rd-7th grades) in a one room schoolhouse with a maximum of five students at any time. There was no electricity or inside plumbing. We had a fireplace for heating in the winter. The outhouse was about 100 yards across a plowed field near the wet lands. I walked to school which was about 1 mile. Basic groceries, etc. could be purchased at the store and Post Office. Our main shopping was in Charleston which was by boat. The company’s gig (the BLUE GOOSE – company logo) would take us on Saturdays as needed. We had a car but it was garaged in Charleston. The mail boat, the UCLAS ran six days a week from Cain Hoy to Charleston and also carried passengers. Also on Saturdays another boat, the VIKING ran the same route. It was much faster and the blacks preferred it. There were 3 piers along the Wando River and either boat would pull in at a wave of a handkerchief.

In 1939 a bridge was built over Beresford Creek. We could now bring our car to the island. Driving time was 30-40 min, over the Cooper River bridge, thru Mt. Pleasant, north on US Hwy 17, then left on a one way road for several miles thru the woods and across the Wando River to Cain Hoy. A sandy road of 6-8 miles continued on to Daniel Island. If you met a car, each kept one side of wheels in a rut.

In 1940 I was entering my 1st year of high school. We were living in Berkeley County and the closest county high school was Berkeley High School in Monck’s Corner. Due to distance (35-40 mi.) and a clay road, approximately 9 high school students from the Cain Hoy area were bused on Mondays and Fridays to and from Monck’s Corner. Three of us students from the island would now join them, along with the 2 children, boy and girl, of the store owner who lived between Daniel Island and Cain Hoy, and transported us to and from Cain Hoy. His children previously attended Cain Hoy Grammar School. Several other students from other parts of the county were also transported to Berkeley High.

Our lodging at the school was the second floor of the homes of the school superintendent (girls) and assistant superintendent (boys).The dining hall was between. All buildings were on the campus. The boys, 18 or 19, occupied 5 rooms. 4 maximum per room, All shared a single bathroom with 1 each, tub, basin and toilet. For showers we used the school’s facilities which was a couple of hundred feet away.

We were fed from lunch time Mondays through lunch time on Fridays. All furnished by the county. We went home on Fridays after classes to get clean sheets and clothing.

When I was about 10-11 years old my father gave me a 20 gauge single shot bolt action shotgun. Black birds were abundant in groups where land was being plowed or planted. When I flushed them I could usually kill several with one shot. Some of the laborers would pay me $0.01 per bird. If I didn’t get too anxious I could keep myself in ammo. Shells were $.75 per box of 25 or $0.03 per shell.

In 1941 downsizing of personnel began. I had completed the 8th grade and my dad had given me the job of caring for the animals and doing various chores around the house including milking the cow every morning. I had never milked a cow before. Over the next 3 months period I never did get all the milk.

Over the last 2 years 2 tractors had been purchased and incorporated into the farming. One huge John Deere with large tires could pull 2 plow blades the width of 6 mule drawn plows. Also the speed was 5 times the speed of the mule drawn plow. This equaled 30 times what 1 man and mule could do. The other John Deere was rigged with v shaped blades in front, middle and back to plow aisle and throw dirt on the beds 3 rows wide Again, speed was also a big advantage.

Farms were combined requiring less managers and laborers. We moved from the island in Sept. 1941 to Colleton County. My family bought a small grocery store and gas pump. I now went to high school daily on a bus. When I graduated 3 years later and turned 17 I joined the navy. When discharged 2 years later in 1946, I came home and married Kathleen my sweetheart. We had attended our last 3 years of high school together. Our graduating class was 13 students.

In 1944 all farming by The American Fruit Growers on the island ceased. In 1966 this 2/3 of the island, about 3000 acres of arable land, forest and marshland was sold to Harry Guggenheim for $75,000. In 1955 he also purchased the northern 1/3 of the island, known as the Furman Track containing over 1,000 acres for $70,000. Mr Guggenheim had many other investments in land in the area including a 10,000 acre plantation nearby, named Cain Hoy. He grew timber raised game and bred race horses at his Cain Hoy stable. His horse, Dark Star won the 79th running of The Kentucky Derby in 1953. In 1959 his stable earned more prize money than any other stable in the country. Harry died of cancer in 1971 leaving all Daniel Island properties to The Harry Guggenheim Foundation.

By the time The Marc Clark Expressway opened in 1992, with an interchange on the island and a proposal by Charleston to annex the island, land prices had skyrocketed. Two members of the foundation, Matt Sloan COO and Frank Brumley CEO, formed The Daniel Island Company and purchased all of Daniel Island for $12 million. Developers paid from $170,000 to $250,000 per acre. The area is now a thriving town in and of itself with a golf course and a professional tennis stadium. The Family Cup Tennis Complex (now known as Volvo Car Stadium) is a circular stadium with 3500 box seats, 6500 temporary seats and 16 extra clay courts. The stadium courts are green clay.

In 2010 my son Keith and I visited the island. This was my second visit. The first was in 2003 with my wife Kathleen. Matt Sloan had showed us around but we could get no closer than 1/4 mile of where I had lived, because of construction. Keith and I arrived early and checked in at the Hampton Inn. We were ahead of our scheduled meeting and tour with Matt Sloan. With a recent map of the area showing the newly constructed Bishop England High School I was able to navigate to the general area where I lived. When we came to the end of a street where construction had stopped I recognized the contour of a wooded area across from a small clearing as being out of my front bedroom window. We returned later with the touring party and I pushed aside brambles and thick growth to find the remains of an old brick fireplace. I recognized this as my bedroom when I saw an oak tree that was just outside my west bedroom window and between the house and the river. It had added another 70 years growth. I took a brick as a souvenir.

Harry Guggenheim was a newspaper publisher, senior partner of Guggenheim Brothers ( a mining and metallurgical firm) head of several foundations, ambassador to Cuba, author, and naval aviator in WWI and WWII .He had many famous visitors and guest at his plantation house in Cain Hoy from 1935 onward. Having served as an aviator in two wars he had a deep belief in the future of aviation. His friends consisted of Charles Lindbergh, Orville Wright and Jimmy Doolittle. He was also friends with Dr. Robert Goddard and sponsored much of his pioneering research upon which all modern rockets and jet propulsion developments are based. Another friend and visitor was Vice Admiral John S. McCain.

Bob Tuten and his great granddaughter Payton Kathleen Watson