Savannah Valley

The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission suggests the following trip itinerary through the Savannah Valley region to enrich your vacation in South Carolina. Trips like this are outstanding, day-long excursions suitable for family reunions, fraternity / sorority get-togethers, meetings and other gatherings. A link to a route mapped out in is at the bottom of the page. For details about other day-trips, including best practices for trip planning, click here.

9:00 a.m. Bettis Academy – Bettis Academy Road and Nicholson Rd., Trenton (GPS coordinates 33.66555, -81.88083333) — (803) 663-0300
Rev. Alexander Bettis, a former slave who could read but couldn’t write, established Bettis Academy in 1882 to provide education for African-Americans in South Carolina. Bettis Academy provided both day and boarding options for its students. Its curriculum emphasized the Bible and religious instruction, literacy, mechanical and agricultural arts, and home economics. It eventually grew to a student body of more than 1000 and added a junior college on a 350-acre campus. It was forced to close in 1952 during South Carolina’s school equalization campaign. Today only three buildings remain—Alexander Bettis Community Library (1938), the Classroom Building (c. 1935), and Biddle Hall (1942)—and a large county park occupies part of the site.
Time at site – 30 minutes
10 a.m. The Hamburg Massacre marker and Carrsville – 313 Barton St., North Augusta (GPS coordinates 33.486473, -81.957888)
*MARKER* — Historic markers at this site denote The Hamburg Massacre and the African American community of Carrsville. The Hamburg Massacre, which occurred nearby on July 8, 1876, was one of the most notable incidents of racial and political violence in S.C. during Reconstruction. White Democrats, who at the time were ultra conservative, organized “rifle clubs” to intimidate progressive Republicans during the gubernatorial election of 1876. After a dispute between whites and a black militia company, about 200 men from local rifle clubs tried to disarm blacks barricaded in a warehouse. One white was killed and men on each side were wounded before the blacks fled. Two blacks were killed trying to escape. Whites captured 25-30 blacks and executed four of them.


Carrsville was an African American community that was established in 1930 after two floods on the Savannah River washed away most of the town of Hamburg. That town had become a predominantly African American community after the Civil War and was most likely named for Charles W. Carr of the American Red Cross or for William Carpenter, an African American businessman, both of whom gave lots for new homes here to families displaced by the flooding.

Time at site – 30 minutes
11 a.m. Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site – 181 Redcliffe Road, Beech Island – 803-827-1473
Redcliffe interprets the history of multiple generations of families (Henleys, Goodwins and Wigfalls) who were enslaved here and at other plantations owned by SC Governor James Henry Hammond, or who worked as sharecroppers and/or paid employees from 1831 to 1875. In addition to touring the two historic c. 1857 slave cabins, visitors learn more from special exhibits and interpretive programs.
Time at site – 1.5 hours
12:30 p.m. LUNCH – Restaurant of your choice, or pack the type of cold meals typical of Green Book traveling – cold fried chicken, whole fruits, biscuits/breads/crackers, bottled water.
2:30 p.m. Aiken Colored Cemetery / Pine Lawn Cemetery – Florence Street and Hampton Avenue, Aiken (33.5708815, -81.72264799999999) – 803-642-2015
Aiken Colored Cemetery, established in 1852 in Aiken, is the principal burial ground for African Americans in the city. Many of those buried there were prominent leaders in the city and county from the mid-19th through the mid-20th century. The cemetery includes the graves of slaves, freedmen, Reconstruction politicians and office holders, merchants, bankers, lawyers, doctors, ministers and educators. The cemetery is listed on the National Register for Historic Places and is marked with a historic roadside marker that was sponsored by the Aiken County Historical Society in 2014.
Time at site – 30 minutes
3:45 p.m. Macedonia Baptist Church – 3572 Dexter Street, Blackville – (803) 284-3311
The first African American Baptist church in Barnwell County was founded in 1866 when Rev. James T. Tolbert preached in Blackville under a brush arbor, the first sanctuary was built in 1868. The church hosted the first state convention of black Baptists, held here in 1875, and built its second sanctuary by 1887. The present sanctuary was built in 1976. This is the mother church of eight churches founded 1867- 1922: Ebenezer, Frost Branch, Pilgrim Rest, St. Peter, Sunshine, Tabernacle, Shrub Branch, and Central. Macedonia Baptist Association, which promoted the education of area blacks, opened Macedonia School nearby in 1890.
Time at site – 30 minutes
4:30 p.m. Voorhees College – 481 Porter Drive, Denmark, SC – 803-780-1234
Voorhees College, founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897 as the Denmark Industrial School, was an effort to emphasize a vocational curriculum for rural African American students on the model of the Tuskegee Institute. The school, with funding from philanthropist Ralph Voorhees, was renamed Voorhees Industrial School for Colored Youth in 1904, Voorhees Normal and Industrial School in 1916, and Voorhees School and Junior College in 1947. Voorhees, supported by the Episcopal Church since 1924, changed its mission during the first half of the twentieth century and in 1962 became Voorhees College.
Time at site – 30 minutes
5:45 p.m. Happy Home Baptist Church – 336 Railroad Avenue W., Allendale – (803) 584-4281
This church, founded soon after the Civil War, held its first services in a brush arbor in the Woods community of what was then Barnwell County. It built its first permanent church, a frame building, in the Zion Branch community near Old Allendale, and adopted the name Zion Branch Baptist Church. The church bought this site in 1875, built a new frame sanctuary here, and was renamed Happy Home Baptist Church.
Time at site – 30 minutes
MAPQUEST route itinerary —,-81.880833/to/near-33.486473,-81.957888/to/us/south-carolina/beech-island/29842-9535/181-redcliffe-rd-33.417839,-81.867352/to/near-33.570882,-81.722648/to/us/sc/blackville/29817-2324/3572-dexter-st-33.353597,-81.273532/to/us/sc/denmark/29042-2528/%5B798-798%5D-porter-dr-798-5d-798-5d-798-5d-798-5d-798-5d-603-5d-33.311315,-81.126254/to/us/sc/allendale/29810-3623/336-railroad-ave-w-33.009555,-81.310238