Harleyville site receives Underground Railroad Designation

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Congressman Jim Clyburn and the National Park Service are honoring a historical landmark that played a significant role in the fight against slavery in the Lowcountry. 

Four Holes Swamp at Audubon’s Center and Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest was recognized on Saturday by the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Program, which “seeks to honor, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight.” 

The Four Holes Swamp Watershed in Harleyville served as a place of refuge along the Underground Railroad. 

“It is particularly impactful to be in this landscape during September, which is known around the world as International Underground Railroad Month,” Sheri Jackson with the National Park Service said. 

According to the Audubon Center and Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest, freedom seekers used the area around the Beidler Forest sanctuary as a refuge from slavery leading up to the Civil War. 

Historians say James Matthews fled bondage on a plantation near Four Holes Swamp. He sought refuge in the swamp before finally escaping North. Matthews later recounted his experiences anonymously in a memoir entitled “Recollections of Slavery by a Runaway Slave.”  

“The stories of the men and women who sought freedom from enslavement among these very trees are powerful reminders of the strength and resilience of the human spirit, even under the most challenging circumstances,” Congressman Clyburn said. 

“I commend Audubon South Carolina’s commitment to telling a complete history of the lands it protects.”