Why I set Catherine’s Cross in Beaufort, South Carolina

  1. The Beaufort, South Carolina area is perfect for the plot of Catherine’s Cross. Beaufort was founded in 1711. Over the centuries, a number of taverns were located along the waterways in Beaufort County, especially the Beaufort River and the Morgan River. Beer and wine bottles were thrown into the rivers after consumption. I have been visiting Beaufort for about twenty years and have seen these ancient bottles for sale in antique stores after they were recovered by divers. In my novel, Jenks’s identical twin sister dies while diving for artifacts in the Beaufort River. Bottles weren’t the only things she found.

 

Civil War Period: In the fall of 1861, the Federal Navy invaded Beaufort, Port Royal, and Hilton Head setting up a naval base that would be maintained throughout the war. Catherine’s Cross is a fictitious gold crucifix that was from the collection of Catherine the Great. A wealthy plantation owner, Luke Elliott, purchased it for his daughter, Iris, on a tour of Europe prior to the war. Early in the Federal occupation, the cross and other valuables were stolen from the Elliott plantation home by Union soldiers. According to legend, a ship bound for a northern destination sank near St. Helena sound with the cross on board—going to rest at the bottom of the sea—until, it was recovered.

 

Also, there are descendants of Gullah people (descendants of African slaves) who play an important role in my novel, spiritual advisor Meta Jane Andrews and her sister, Ida Mae. Meta Jane and Ida Mae are in possession of old diaries written by their ancestor, a slave, Joseph Andrews. These diaries document the Civil War period in Beaufort and include a valuable reference to the lost cross of Iris Elliott: Catherine’s cross.  Another figure, the old fisherman, Mose Lafitte, represents purity and honesty. The Gullah culture is unique to the Sea Islands of South Carolina, and Georgia. For many years, the Gullah people were isolated from the outside world, but due to development on these islands, their culture is changing.  Check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullah

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