Founders Day pic1

As guest speaker of the inaugural Founders Day Celebration, Joseph McGill presented an informative presentation that included the early settlers and the slaves that lived and worked in Williamsburg County. McGill is the founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, Civil War re-enactor and descendant of the enslaved.

Photo by Michaele Duke

Williamsburgh Historical Society hosted the county’s first Founder’s Day celebration with a special guest speaker. Citizens gathered at the Williamsburg County Recreation Complex February 23, to socialize and celebrate the day with Kingstree native and founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, Joseph McGill. A descendant of slaves, McGill sleeps in extant slave dwellings to bring attention to the neglected structures and ensure the preservation of the historic sites.

Founders Day pic2

Founders Day celebration guest speaker Joseph McGill enjoyed a moment with one of his teachers, Mrs. Beth Cottingham. McGill, a native of Kingstree and descendant of the enslaved, presented to a crowd February 23, at the Williamsburg County Recreation Complex.                                                        Photo by Michaele Duke

McGill provided insight regarding the county that many may not have been aware of. For example, during the American Revolution, there were more enslaved people in Williamsburg County than white people. And in 1860, the population of South Carolina was approximately 703,000 people and of that numbers about 402,000 were enslaved.

McGill discussed the challenges of life such as when traveling the family would purposefully pack extra gas and items, as they never knew if they would find a place to overnight. He encouraged everyone to begin the process of finding his or her own story; a story he said oftentimes can be hard to come by. He also encouraged citizens to contribute stories, artifacts, and the history of county, such as Tomlinson High School, to the Williamsburgh Historical Society.

The Society is in the process of renovating a building next to the museum to include a section of local and statewide African American culture, Civil Rights, and history. The annex is expected to open later this year. Visit to view the video of McGill’s presentation. Learn more about the Slave Dwelling Project at