Chris Clayton says history is a popular subject in the Lowcountry, especially local history.
The former president of The Lowcountry Civil War Round Table said that group is great, but it meets in the evenings in Bluffton, and very few people from Hilton Head Island attend. He said they just don't want to drive to Bluffton at night.
For that reason, Clayton thought it might be nice to start a new group that would meet at a more reasonable time and location for Hilton Head Islanders. He contacted fellow history buff John Monkaitis to brainstorm. Monkaitis is another past president of the Lowcountry Civil War Round Table.
What came out of that conversation was the History Forum of the Lowcountry.
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A docent at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn on Hilton Head, Monkaitis suggested they talk to the museum's vice president of programs Natalie Hefter.
Hefter agreed, and they set a date for the first meeting, which will be held Jan. 23. That meeting is full, but the group will meet again at 3 p.m. Feb. 21.
They will meet in the afternoon about once a month at the museum.
"The purpose is, first of all, to promote history in this area," Clayton said. "Second of all, is to promote membership in the Coastal Discovery."
Clayton wants to make it clear that he and Monkaitis do not want to compete with other groups in the area.
On the contrary, they would be happy to team up with The Heritage Library, the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society and others.
The forum will cover a variety of historical issues. The first topic will be the Hurricane of 1893. The February meeting will feature Gullah community leader Emory Campbell, who will speak about the African roots of the Gullah people.
Other topics will include slavery on Hilton Head Island, Sea Island cotton, the Reconstruction period and the Revolutionary War. Clayton said he hopes to honor the 150th anniversary of the Burning of Bluffton in June with a boat ride, Confederate re-enactors and a march to the historic Heyward House.
Monkaitis said guest speakers will talk for about 30 minutes and then moderate a discussion for another 30 or 45 minutes.
"Kind of like a porchside chat, where you say what you want to say," he said.