By Luana M. Graves Sellars

You’re Welcomed – Sonja Griffin Evans

As the first Mayor of the Historic Town of Mitchelville, the first Black Mayor in the United States and the first pastor of Hilton Head Island’s oldest church, , Reverend Murchison, an escaped slave from Savannah, was also a significant influence on the Civil War effort and countless generations of Gullah families. After establishing the First African Baptist Church in 1862 with 120 members, all of whom were contrabands, Reverend Murchison went on to baptize and marry 1,000’s of freedmen who lived on the island’s Historic Town of Mitchelville. 

Marrying countless couples and preaching the gospel was not all that Murchison was known for. As a result of his stature within the community, he was also very influential with Union officers during the Civil War. As the war’s toll of casualties rose, and the Union Army needed to reinforce it’s ranks, Murchison was instrumental in recruiting slaves to join the ranks of the US Colored Troops who gallantly fought for their chance for freedom.

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