Hog Hammock, Sapelo Island

Hog Hammock is the last intact Geechee/Gullah community in Georgia. Most of the remaining residents are descendants of African slaves brought to Sapelo Island to work on the plantation of Thomas Spalding. Historically known as Hogg Hummock, it was named for a resident, Sampson Hogg. At one time, there were several communities on the island: Raccoon Bluff, Hanging Bull, Behavior, Chocolate, and Shell Hummock, but when Richard Reynolds acquired the bulk of the island in the 1930s, he consolidated all the residents into Hog Hammock.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of resident and unofficial ambassador Cornelia Walker Bailey, the community has become nationally known. Her bestselling book, God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island, Georgia (Anchor Press, 2001-available through the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society (SICARS) or on Amazon) is a fascinating blend of autobiography and cultural history that is a must-read if you plan on visiting the island.

Today, largely through the efforts of Mrs. Bailey and SICARS, the vanishing cultural traditions and folkways are being preserved, but there is the constant threat of encroachment by outsiders. Hog Hammock is one of those places where, rightfully so, visitors are welcome but invaders are not. It is sad to think that as the population of the island dwindles due to death and old age, many properties in Hog Hammock will be sold to outside interests with no concern for this unique history. I applaud Hog Hammock’s citizens for attempting to maintain their social and cultural  heritage in a world often interested in nothing more than commercial and material gain and I hope that Hog Hammock survives far into the future.

If you ever visit you will be amazed at this magical place. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you come back to the mainland on the Katie Underwood…let me just say that there’s something about Sapelo time that just doesn’t sync up with  the rest of the world.

Sapelo Island can only be reached by ferry or plane. And I’m not sure about the second option. The ferry leaves the Meridian dock at least twice every day except major holidays and advance reservations are suggested, if not required. Access to the island is quite limited, but it’s worth the trouble! But if you go, please be mindful that while the residents are welcoming of tourists who appreciate their culture, they’re not a sideshow or a museum exhibit. This is their home and way of life, so please be respectful of that fact.

Hog Hammock Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

5 thoughts on “Hog Hammock, Sapelo Island

  1. Nanci G Posey

    Any relation to Bailey Walker? a friend from many years ago…I believe she was from Macon…she would be in her mid-eighties by now.

  2. Elke Glass

    We had the pleasure to see this amazing community, guided no less by Mr. Walker years ago as we purchased not 1 but 2 church benches from the old church. What an experience!!! Did not know the island was only accessible by Ferry. Mr. Walker met us at the dock, showed us the island, found help to transport the benches for us and get back to the Ferry. Gave one bench to a dear friend and still have the other. I feel like I own a piece of history. One day we might go back to visit. Thank you for these photos and hustoric insight

  3. R. Bailey

    When you are living on social security, don’t have a good job, or can’t pay your property taxes, the proceeds of selling a piece of land can help a lot. Some descendants who have never lived in Hog Hammock don’t have a strong connection to the land and prefer to sell. Outsiders are the people who buy it. Good jobs on the island would help people retain their land.

  4. L. Davis

    Dyanne:I don’t see a petition here but let this serve as my signature if possible. I rarely go on facebook anymore because I just don’t have time. However I’m happy to support this effort.

  5. Dyanne Hood

    Why are we allowing such a historic place, Hog Hammock, to “vanish” when it is on the National Historic Register?


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