Beech Island Historical Society


Meeting Notice for November 20, 2018

The Beech Island Historical Society will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, at the society’s History and Visitors Center located at 144 Old Jackson Highway in Beech Island, SC.  A documentary, “Mart to Art: A Repurposed Life,” will be shown.  The documentary is about a building that started out as the Leigh Banana Case Co. Commissary in 1926 approximately 20 miles from its current location in Barnwell, SC.  Leigh was one of the lost towns in the Savannah River Site and home to the Leigh Banana Case Co.  The public is invited to attend.  For more information, email Jackie Bartley ( or call 706-833-3651 or the society at 803-867-3600.


Featured Speaker George Wingard

The Beech Island Historical Society will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, at the society’s History and Visitors Center located at 144 Old Jackson Highway in Beech Island, SC.  Featured speaker will be George Wingard, program coordinator for the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program at the Savannah River Site.  He will show a documentary, Reconstructing Hawthorne, a film that revives memories of a former rural community taken over by the Savannah River Site.  The public is invited to attend.  For more information, email Jackie Bartley ( or call 706-833-3651 or the society at 803-867-3600.

Annual Gospel Concert to be Held March 24

The society’s 3rd Annual Gospel Concert in Memory of James Goodman will be held Saturday, March 24 from 7-9 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Matlock Baptist Church located at 980 Main St. in Jackson, SC. Local gospel favorites Flo Carter and Cookie Dodson will be featured that night along with many other local gospel musicians and singers.

Ticket prices will be $10 in advance and $15 at the door and can be purchased at The Handy Hardware Store at 257 Beech Island Ave. in Beech Island (803-827-1138) or at the Jackson Town Hall at 106 Main St. (803-471-2228). The concert benefits the Beech Island Historical Society. For more information, contact Jackie Bartley at 706-833-3651 or Come and bring your friends for a night of inspirational music.


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12th Annual Historic Beech Island Tour to be Held April 28

Our 12th Annual Historic Beech Island Tour will be held Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. So far, the daylong, self-guided, driving tour will include several historic homes, the Zubly and Hammond cemeteries, the historic Baptist, Episcopal and Silver Bluff churches, the BIHS Visitors & History Center and Agricultural Museum, the Silver Bluff Audubon Center, the Risher Clubhouse and a few more surprise stops.

An old-fashion barbecue lunch will be provided by the society from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. that day behind the Visitors Center. Barbecue dinners of pork or chicken will cost $10 a plate. Tickets for the all-day tour will cost $25 for adults and $20 for seniors (60 &up) the day of the tour, $20 for adults and $15 for seniors in advance and children & students up to age 18 are free.

Advance tickets can be purchased at The Handy Hardware Store in Beech Island (803-827-1138), Jackson Town Hall in Jackson, SC (803-471-2228), the Aiken County Parks, Recreation &Tourism Visitors Center in Aiken (803-642-7557) and the Beech Island Historical Society (803-867-3600). For more information, call Jackie Bartley at 706-833-3651.

More information and a tour brochure will be in the next March-April newsletter.

Beech Island Cemetery Association Survey 

For several years, the Beech Island Cemetery Association has been working on a plan to expand the size of the cemetery in order to create more space for families who have loved ones buried there, but have no options due to space limitations. The South Carolina Park Service has given preliminary approval of a land swap with L.H. Simkins, Jr. that would allow the size to be doubled and to create a new entry from Redcliffe Road.

The association has obtained costs for these improvements and is moving forward with trying to finalize this plan with the state; in the meantime, and under the assumption that this plan will realize final approval, the association is conducting a survey of families associated with the Beech Island Cemetery to determine demand for plot sales. This will allow the association to finalize its business plan to move forward with construction should the state approvals be finalized.

Anyone who would have a preliminary interest in this is asked to contact Turner Simkins at 706-373-1303 or or Jackie Bartley at 803-380-1788 or 706-833-3651 or This is only a survey and will not represent a commitment, but will be very helpful as we move forward to hopefully finding a means of accommodating the next generation at this beautiful historic cemetery.

History & Reflections on Slavery & Its Aftermath, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m.

On Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Augusta Surveyor and Historian Tom Robertson will speak on his latest book, Albert — History & Reflections on Slavery & Its Aftermath. On Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m., Archaeologist Jessica Cooper will speak on Small Triangular Points During the Late Woodland and Early Mississippian Periods.

ALBERT – History and Reflections on Slavery and Its Aftermath – Jonathan Miller, a Beech Island, S.C. planter, bought Albert Taylor, a ten-year-old slave boy, on credit terms for $1,000 in 1860. This transaction would continue to haunt him for nearly 20 years in the aftermath of the Civil War and the collapse of the Southern economy. Taylor became a free man, but Miller still owed the price of his purchase. This book raises an extensive array of issues and questions about slavery, and important constitutional, economic, and legal questions in tumultuous times. Tom Robertson is president of Cranston Engineering Group, P.C. of Augusta, Georgia, where he practices civil engineering, city planning, and land surveying. He is an avid student of history, having authored numerous articles and works, including Resisting Sherman: A Confederate Surgeon’s Journal and the Civil War in the Carolinas, 1865. $19.50



Upcoming Events & Meetings

11th Annual Historic Beech Island Tour Brochure Now Available. Click links below for flyer and brochure.

Click Here for 2017 Tour Flyer

Click Here for 2017 Tour Brochure

Welcome to Beech Island Historical Society Web Site

BIHS-visitorcenterThe Beech Island Historical Society is devoted to collecting, preserving and presenting the history of our country and, particularly, the rich history of the Beech Island, SC area.

First discussed by a group of 14 interested individuals in the winter of 1985, the group held their first meeting on March 19, 1985 at the All Saints Episcopal Church. Under the leadership of its first president, Harold Maness, the society became a non-profit corporation under SC law on September 9.

The very next year the society held the Beech Island Tricentennial Celebration at Redcliffe State Park which drew more than 10,000 visitors. Since then the society made it a yearly event known as Beech Island Heritage Day which was held for 20 consecutive years.

The society voted to end Heritage Day in 2006. In 1991, the heirs of George McElmurray, one of the society’s charter members, donated to the society one acre of land, a four-room meeting hall and a large warehouse. The society dedicated its building to the late George McElmurray and the Beech Island Historical Society History and Visitor’s Center was opened for visitors and tourists.BIHS-barn

On April 3, 1998, the society won the Progress Award for the Visitors and History Center building at the Confederation of Local South Carolina Historical Societies in Columbia, SC. Presently, the society has grown to a membership of over 300. Meetings are held monthly from September to March on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 pm at the society’s meeting hall. These meetings are open to the public.

The Beech Island Historical Society meets every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. September through March at the society’s office at 144 Old Jackson Highway. The public is invited to attend.