Wick's & Jake's Daufuskie Island (PDF)

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Daufuskie is what is known as a barrier island, lying off the coast of South Carolina between Hilton Head Island and Tybee Island, Georgia. Daufuskie is two and one-half miles wide and five miles long, the equivalent to about 5,000 acres, or about one-third the size of Hilton Head. Today, there are about 350 residents. Beaufort County predicted there would be 10,000 by 2000.

A number of key elements contributed to the continuing isolation of the inhabitants and their simple communal society. Unlike other island communities, there are no bridges to Daufuskie, and never have been. The only means of transportation and commerce to and from the Island is by boat, and for hundreds of years by “bateau,” a small flat-bottomed boat used in the early oyster industry. Commerce was self-contained, and technology was non-existent. Even the telephone did not make its debut on Daufuskie until 1970.


My name is Wick Scurry, and I’m going to tell you some stories about Daufuskie Island as I experienced them and as they were related to me.

We need to begin with an understanding of the geography and demographics of Daufuskie to fully appreciate the isolation factor that protected this community from the ills of the outside world, making time actually stand still while the world moved on leaving Daufuskie’s simplified way of life intact.

Daufuskie is what is known as a barrier island, lying off the coast of South Carolina between Hilton Head Island and Tybee Island, Georgia. Daufuskie is two and one-half miles wide and five miles long, the equivalent to about 5,000 acres, or about one-third the size of Hilton Head. Today, there are about 350 residents. Beaufort County predicted there would be 10,000 by 2000.

A number of key elements contributed to the continuing isolation of the inhabitants and their simple communal society. Unlike other island communities, there are no bridges to Daufuskie, and never have been. The only means of transportation and commerce to and from the Island is by boat, and for hundreds of years by “bateau,” a small flat-bottomed boat used in the early oyster industry. Commerce was self-contained, and technology was non-existent. Even the telephone did not make its debut on Daufuskie until 1970.

On the other hand, Hilton Head Island, just across from Daufuskie, developed into a billion dollar resort destination complete with modern highways and bridges to allow its development. As an island without a bridge, Daufuskie has a natural barrier that continues to isolate the culture and people after hundreds of years.

The people of Daufuskie were a self-sufficient community who never depended upon the “outside” world for their existence. No one was poor on Daufuskie because of wealth in family values. The brick and mortar of their culture was a simple lifestyle; everyone valued respect for another person, and equality of everyone in the community was the standard.

“I never knew I was poor until I read it in the paper.” Flossie Washington, wife of Jake Washington and long-time resident of Daufuskie, made this simple and remarkable statement. It sums up the beauty of an island isolated and somewhat forgotten in time. When you first step foot on Daufuskie, it kisses you gently and awakens a feeling of peace and serenity.

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