Law Office of Paul Black - November 2019

Decatur Office Location: Main Location One West Court Square, Suite 750 | Decatur, Georgia 30030




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Green Beans With Ginger and Garlic

Inspirational Moment


The Story of Sapelo Island



A Small Island With a Big Story

A LAND OF FREEDOM After the Civil War, many African Americans who were freed from the bonds of slavery continued to make their home on Sapelo Island, forming the community of Hog Hammock, also called Hogg Hummock. To this day, the town remains one of the last surviving Gullah communities. Thanks to the island’s relative isolation, descendants of the original Hog Hammock founders could preserve their West African heritage and unique Creole dialect.

Explorers, slaves, industrialists, and Islamic scholars — they all have called the quiet shores of Sapelo Island home. This 25-square-mile spit of land holds as much natural beauty as it does history, making it an ideal staycation destination for travelers of all stripes. Whether you venture out to Georgia’s fourth-largest barrier island for a day trip or lodge in the RJ Reynolds Mansion itself, you are sure to take away some truly incredible memories from Sapelo. A LAND OF FIRSTS Many historians believe Sapelo Island may be the first part of the present-day United States to have been settled by Europeans. Not much is known about the town of San Miguel de Gualdape, save it was established on a barrier island off the Georgia coast and only lasted from August of 1526 to November of the same year. Yet in that time, Sapelo

Island would have borne witness to the first Catholic Mass, the first documented use of African slavery, and the first slave rebellion in what is now the United States. And the firsts don’t stop there. A LAND OF FAITH Like much of Georgia in the 19th century, Sapelo Island was cultivated by slaves. Thomas Spalding turned the island into a cotton plantation in the early 1800s through the forced labor of some 400 slaves from West Africa and the Caribbean — Bilali

Mohammad was among them. Literate in French, English, and Arabic before his enslavement as a teenager, Bilali would go on to write a 13-page manuscript while on Sapelo Island. This is widely believed to be the first document on Islamic law in the United States.

So, beyond the beautiful beaches and wildlife, Sapelo Island is home to both treasured and

often-overlooked parts of our nation’s history. Take a 30-minute ferry ride from

Meridian, and discover this truly unique Georgia gem for yourself !

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