Mitchelville was the nation’s first freedmen’s village built during the Civil War. Although only ruins now with a major preservation project underway, this is a significant African American site on the north end of Hilton Head Island. Only the tabby foundations of a few buildings remain, speaking to the history of the island.
The village created by Gen. O. M. Mitchel, on the site of a cotton field, was built as a town to house contraband blacks. It was an experiment actually designed as a town with the leadership elected and the building done by its residents. The first mandatory education system was established here. This was even before the president had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. From the 1880s into the early 20th century, the community continued with a small family base.