Onethia Elliott Interview, November 2016


Onethia Elliott Interview, November 2016


Ameris, Quentin (Interviewer);Crawford, Eric (Interviewer)





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An interview in November 2016 with Onethia Elliott, the oldest person on Sandy Island, at her residence on Sandy Island. She discusses her long life on the island and how it has changed over time. She begins by discussing her immediate family and their connection with the area, her childhood home, and her connection with the Sandy Island School. She discusses the food that she used to eat, both at school and at home, and how it was prepared. After this, they talk briefly about some of the modern conveniences that have been brought to the island, namely electricity. Then they start talking about people that she knew. Teachers at the school house, Prince Washington, and her children are all discussed. She segues into her connection with New Bethel Baptist Church. They talk about traditional services, hymns, baptisms, and the importance of shouting in worship practices. They then talk briefly about Butler Chapel, an AME church that was on the island until it was torn down in the 1960s. Ameris asks Miss Onethia about her love for the island, about what makes it her home. She expresses that her connection with the island is unlike anywhere else in the world, that she misses it as soon as she leaves and cannot wait to return to it when she does. They discuss her mobility and ability to traverse the island, then they talk about her ability to attend church at her age. They talk about the history of the church, the construction of the new building, and the preachers, deacons, and pastors that she's known throughout the years. They talk about her keys to a long, healthy life and her connection with having to traverse the river in order to get anywhere. She discusses her history of working off of the island, the life-long friendships she made through work, and how her community on the island is growing with the experience the workers and carpenters bring. They can build buildings and furniture without having to call for somebody off of the island, and because of that, her house had seen significant renovation until her son (who had been doing much of the construction) passed away a few months before the interview. The interview ends with the interviewers telling Miss Onethia that they hope she's feeling better (she's been worried that she's getting sick) and that she'll hopefully be able to attend church on the following Sunday. They thank her for taking the time to speak with them.


Gullahs--South Carolina--Sandy Island--Interviews;Gullahs--South Carolina--Sandy Island--Religion;Georgetown County (S.C.)--Economic conditions;Georgetown County (S.C.)--Race relations;Sandy Island (S.C.)--History;Sandy Island (S.C.)--Social life and customs;African American churches--South Carolina;African Americans--Education--South Carolina;Sandy Island School;Ring shout (Dance);Elliott, Onethia Washington, 1914-2019;Sandy Island (S.C.);New Bethel Baptist Church (Sandy Island, S.C.)


Sandy Island, New Bethel Baptist Church, Sandy Island School, Butler Chapel, the River, Gullah Geechee Identity, Island Traditions, Shouting, Seeking, Prince Washington, Working off of the Island


This interview is protected by the copyright of the interviewee and The Athenaeum Press at Coastal Carolina University. Any form of alteration, reproduction or commercial use of the interviews or other material is prohibited without the written consent of both the interviewee and a representative of The Athenaeum Press. Citations for scholarly purposes must clearly acknowledge the name of the interviewee, the date and The Athenaeum Press at Coastal Carolina University.



Onethia Elliott Interview, November 2016