By Richard Rankin
Willow Hill Press 978-0-98384-660-4
$20 paperback 8½ x 8½ 140 pages January 2012 (Originally published by John F. Blair in 2006)
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Hilton Head Island is a world-class resort, a playground for the wealthy, a golfer’s paradise.
Or at least it has been for the last tiny fragment of its long history.
Some very special businessmen-turned-hunters were among the last people to know the South Carolina sea island in its natural state, before it became famous. The Hilton Head Agricultural Company, incorporated in 1917, was comprised of mill owners, bankers, physicians, and other local leaders from three communities: Gastonia, North Carolina; Clover, South Carolina; and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Every year, those men would slough off their high-powered business concerns, pile in their cars, make the long drive to the coast, arrange for a boat to Hilton Head, and traverse the wild island to the simple hunting camp they had established there.
It was a journey not only across distance but through time as well. The men traded their suits and ties for rough clothing, forswore communications with the outside world, lived communally, and ate only what they managed to kill. The only other humans they were likely to encounter were slave descendants who spoke the Gullah language. The island and its surrounding waters teemed with fish, birds, and game animals to a degree unimaginable today.
A New South Hunt Club tells the story of a time, a place, and a way of life that should not be forgotten. Author Richard Rankin conducted personal interviews and sought out papers and rare photographs from private and company archives to compile this entertaining and eye-catching account.
“A New South Hunt Club vividly portrays the fifty-year history of an actual hunt club and the wonderful wilderness that was Hilton Head Island.”
- South Carolina Historical Magazine