Historic Zion Forum

On Friday, October 13, The Heritage Library on Hilton Head Island will host the Historic Zion Forum, a one-day summit dedicated to discussion and exploration of our area’s unique role in American history during the Revolutionary War and plantation era. Among the many topics being discussed will be a presentation detailing recent insights from archaeological sites between the Savannah and Combahee Rivers as well as interactive discussions with presenters on a number of topics of significance to the years 1730-1860. SC Humanities supported this program with a Mini Grant.

During the Historic Zion Forum, a full slate of fascinating subject matter experts, historians, and lecturers will guide attendees through all facets of the area’s history, from The Revolutionary War Trail, archaeological findings at Palmetto Bluff, area battlegrounds, and preservation of Gullah culture. A major focus will be on the significance of Hilton Head Island’s Baynard Mausoleum and Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery and of the importance the families interred there hold to Beaufort County’s history.

Speakers include: Douglas W. Bostic; Dr. Kimberly K. Cavanagh; Dr. Emory Shaw Campbell; Ehren Foley; John Moore; Mary Socci, PhD; J. Brent Morris, PhD; Dr. Matthew C. Sanger; and Earl “Smittie” Smith Cooler, Jr. For a list of topics and speaker bios, see below.


The Forum will take place at Christ Lutheran Church (829 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island) with an evening reception at Zion Cemetery & Baynard Mausoleum (on the corner of Mathews Drive & 278). For more information about the event and to reserve tickets, visit HeritageLib.org

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.


Speaker Lineup:

Published author and 8th-generation South Carolinian Douglas W. Bostic is as famed for his extensive body of work as he is his gift for storytelling. Executive Director and CEO of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust and CEO for the South Carolina Liberty Trail, he has authored 26 books covering a wide array of topics related to Southern and South Carolina history. Among those works, three have been selected as “Book of Year,” one by the Foundation for Coast Guard history and two by the Wholesale Book Dealers Association.

Currently Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University of South Carolina Beaufort, Dr. Kimberly K. Cavanagh has pursued a storied career in her field, with studies both domestically and in the Middle East. A Fulbright fellow as well as an American Center of Oriental Research-Council of American Overseas Research Center fellow, Cavanaugh has proven herself in the classroom and in the field.

A towering figure in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Dr. Emory Shaw Campbell has been a champion for native islander culture for decades, helping raise awareness of Gullah heritage and their unique role in our area’s history. As the director of the Penn Center for 22 years, he revived interest in the rich historical significance of this storied institution, and as inaugural chairman of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission for preserving Gullah Geechee culture, he helped introduce native islander culture to the world.

A sought-after author and speaker, Ehren Foley is one of the Lowcountry’s finest historical minds, with a well-rounded body of work that touches on several crucial aspects of our nation’s history. Currently serving as National Register of Historic Places Historian and Historical Marker Coordinator for the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, Foley has authored several works and led presentations on South Carolina’s history during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The recipient of multiple Engineer of the Year honors from the Charleston Contractors’ Association, John Moore has built a career in structural design and project management on 35 years of experience. As founding principle of 4SE, he has overseen several historic reconstruction projects from antebellum plantations to The Cape Romain Lighthouse.

Mary Socci, PhD developed an interest in archaeology while she was an undergraduate at Princeton University. She received her master’s degree and her doctorate from Yale University. Dr. Socci has worked on archaeological sites in Belize, Israel, New York, as well as South Carolina, and she has been Palmetto Bluff’s archaeologist since 2004.

Award-winning author, teacher and documentarian J. Brent Morris, PhD has spent his career studying the fascinating history of the South during and after the Civil War with a focus on the African American experience. Currently serving as department chair of history and humanities at University of South Carolina Beaufort, Morris has written or edited dozens of books, articles and encyclopedia entries in outlets from American historical Review to Daily Life Encyclopedia.

Dr. Matthew C. Sanger, currently director archaeological research in Sea Pines, has helped define our understanding of the southeast’s ancient indigenous people through a decade of thorough research. Through his high-tech approach and insightful observations, his work has unearthed a treasure trove of information into how our earliest settlers lived and how they interacted with the land and one another.

Award-winning historian Earl Smith “Smittie” Cooler, Jr. has gained recognition for his work in helping to establish the Lowcountry Revolutionary War Trail, which emphasizes our area’s unique role in the American Revolution. In addition to his volunteer work for the War Trail, Cooler is a lifetime member of the Heritage Library foundation and a past board member. He is also a past President of the Hilton Head Island Genealogical Society.