It’s not every day that a whole town gets added to a national historic network, but that’s what happened Tuesday for Lincolnville, a town of about 2,500 people on the edge of Charleston County near Summerville.

The National Park Service announced Tuesday that Lincolnville and four other sites were new additions to the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, a group of sites largely centered on South Carolina that help to tell the story of American Reconstruction after the Civil War.  It’s part of an effort established in 2019 to create the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park in Beaufort.

Lincolnville’s part of the Reconstruction story is key to understanding the transformation that the United States underwent as newly freed African Americans became integrated into the country’s social, political, economic and labor systems.

Lincolnville, the Park Service said in a news release, is a “freedmen’s town founded in 1867 by seven African American men who purchased 620 acres to create a community of homes, churches and schools for African American people, primarily of Gullah Geechee heritage, who had migrated from the Sea Islands.”

Some of the descendents of original settlers still live today in the small town “among original structures, cemeteries and live oak trees, actively preserving their rich Gullah Geechee heritage and celebrating their ancestors’ ability to overcome adversity during Reconstruction to found Lincolnville.”

“These sites tell critical stories related to the Reconstruction Era,” said Reconstruction Era National Historical Park Superintendent Scott Teodorski in the release. “They join sites from across the country that focus on this important period in our history. We are pleased to welcome these new sites to the network and work with them to share their stories.” 

The Rev. Richard Cain (1825-1887), a major Reconstruction leader who pastored Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church after the war, is credited with leading the effort to found Lincolnville.  He later was elected to the state Senate in 1868 and served two terms in the U.S. Congress.

“He also purchased more than 500 acres of land about 25 miles north of Charleston and sold lots to African Americans,” according to “We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel” by Herb Frazier, Bernard Powers and Marjory Wentworth. “These initial sales were the basis for the settlement of Lincolnville, which Cain planned to become an all-black town in which the residents could show their capacity for discipline, order and prosperity.”

About half of Lincolnville’s residents today are Black, according to Census Reporter.

Three other South Carolina sites added to the Reconstruction network Tuesday were Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site in Aiken County; Randolph Cemetery in Columbia; and the Schofield Normal and Industrial School in Aiken.  Also added was the D.C. Legacy Project: Barry Farm-Hillsdale in southeast Washington, D.C. 

Keep the City Paper free

We don't have a paywall. Each week's printed issue is free. We're local, independent and free. Let's keep it this way.

Please consider a donation of $100 to keep the City Paper free. Donate: