The quest for religious freedom ultimately brought two European families to Daufuskie Island—the great grandson of French Huguenot David Mongin, and the daughter of Italian Prince Filippo de Martinangelo who escaped the Inquisition. The story of these two founding families is intertwined throughout their long history, and both rose to become powerful plantation owners.
During the Civil War, plantation owners and slaves fled Daufuskie Island as Union Troops occupied the island. Once the war ended, the Gullah people (freed slaves) returned to the island to work in oyster canneries and the logging industry. Life was often hard, made more so by being cut off from the mainland, and as a result Daufuskie Island’s residents grew to create a close-knit, tightly bonded community that crossed racial lines—a rarity for the time.
Eventually, pollution closed the oyster beds in the 1950s and the island’s economy faltered and by the 1980s the Gullah population had dwindled from over 2,000 to roughly 60. Around this time developers started making plans to make Daufuskie Island a residential development destination and Bloody Point, Melrose, Haig Point, and Oakridge were born. Despite this newfound progress and development, the island’s historic district has remained untouched to preserve the Gullah culture and today the entire island is on the National Register of Historic Places.