The Ghosts Are Dying
Stories from the Gullah Geechee Elders
   The oral histories of twelve 80- and 90-year-old elders from Jasper County, South Carolina, represent the memories of those who 
  survived  enslavement and hard times in the South. These stories, collected between 2005 and 2007, describe growing up in a rice culture
  originating in West Africa, and of retaining cultural habits and language. They are now even more pertinent since most of these individuals
  have passed. They agreed to share their stories for a book that the general public could access rather than a video documentary that
  would require playback technology.
  The Coosawhatchie Senior Center served the elders from hamlets and crossroads of Coosawhatchie, Gillisonville, Pineland, Grays,  
  Ridgeland, Point South, Early Branch and Pocotaligo for many decades. Through regular activities, meals, and creating crafts passed down
  from one generation to the next, the elders gathered to share their lives shaped by the experience of rural South Carolina and the Gullah
  Geechee culture.
  As a descendent of this culture from St. Helena Island, South Carolina, Althea has been able to document her culture from an insider's
  perspective. These 80- and 90-year-olds were filled with memories of growing up in families with a history of enslavement and growing rice
  on the plantations that have since become communities on land their families now own.

Photos: Althea Sumpter

I have dedicated 2018 to completing the oral history interviews and writing the stories of the Coosawhatchie Elders before they all are gone. Of the twelve Elders I have interviewed, only one is still alive. Only a few Elders remain in this rice-growing region of the Gullah Geechee culture with the memories of the ways of the culture that link to its West African origins. Time is of the essence before their stories die with them.
2018 Timeline:                     
January -- Transcription Service begin on 36 hours of audio recordings
March - April -- Write Elders stories and preface of book
May -- Research travel to SC archives, libraries and court houses
June -- Write history of area; transcription of all oral histories to be completed
July - September -- Continue writing; on-going review with Writing Group & mentors
October - December -- In the hands of the editor; rewrites

Ella Horton

Ulmer Evell Terry

Mae Etta Green

Leila and Dan Smith

Smithie Jenkins

Anna Owens

Lyda C. Youmans

Lena Virginia Chisolm

Tena Greene, son, James Greene

Sophia Green Witter

Catherine Glass