While researching Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns Islands for the first publication of The Island Connection, there was one very important person we had to visit. Almost every islander we met told us that, if we were even considering writing about these islands, we had to sit down and talk with Ms. Betty Stringfellow. That suggestion led to one of the most fascinating chats on the porch I have ever had, and introduced me to one of the most incredible women I have ever met. Ms. Betty Stringfellow is a Johns Island treasure. Born of the Charlestonian bloodlines of Hamilton and Andell, Ms. Stringfellow dedicated several years of her life to researching the intricate history of Johns Island: from its first inhabitants in 7500 BC to present day. The book, entitled A Place Called St. Johns, takes the reader from the early English settlements through slavery and the evolution of island crops (who knew that Charleston was once the main source of potatoes in the country?) to the development of the islands and the fight to keep this treasured agricultural community free from overdevelopment.
It was with this achievement in mind, along with Ms. Stringfellow’s published collection of island lore and a multitude of services that she has provided throughout Johns Island, that the Eliza Lucas Pinckney Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) nominated Ms. Stringfellow for the DAR Community Service Award.
“When the DAR created their community service award, it must have been with Elizabeth “Betty” Stringfellow in mind,” wrote Kiawah Island Mayor William Wert in his recommendation to the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. “As our community took shape over the past century, Betty has served as unofficial historian, environmentalist, scribe and our conscience.”
Eloise Burnaford, member of the Eliza Lucas Pinckney Chapter of DAR, included her praise of Ms. Stringfellow in their chapter’s application for the award. “I have visited the Johns Island Museum [Walnut Hill School], restored by Mrs.Stringfellow, and find that it is very educational,” wrote Mrs. Burnaford. “I look forward to a time I can take grandchildren there to see the displays.”
It was with great pleasure that the Eliza Lucas Pinckney Chapter of DAR presented Ms. Stringfellow with the DAR Community Service Award at the Exchange Building in Downtown Charleston on Sunday, March 14.
“Betty received her award and a pin that accompanied the framed certificate, and then she regaled and delighted members and guests with details,” smiled Mrs. Burnaford. “[She told us about] how she saved Walnut Hill School from the bulldozers, about setting up scholarships that have enabled hundreds of Johns Island children to start their college educations, about life as a child on Johns Island, and much more. She was a delight! We hope to have her return in the not-too-distant-future to speak to us in detail specifically about happenings right here on Kiawah and Johns Islands during the American Revolution.”
The Eliza Lucas Pinckney Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution only give the Community Service Award twice per year. For more information on the Daughters of the American Revolution, please visit www.dar.org. For more information on the Eliza Lucas Pinckney Chapter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.