By Anne Christensen Pollitzer
It was May 31, 1895, Niels Christensen, Jr.’s 19th birthday. This year he and his younger brother Fred were not required to attend school in Boston, Mass. They had completed their high school program and, since their father needed their help in the family businesses, they were allowed to stay in Beaufort all winter.
They were overjoyed to avoid the cold New England winter and were immediately put to work with the more onerous task of bill collecting all over the islands. They did this on horseback and with the help of the several small ferry boats that could transport them across the Beaufort River to Lady’s Island — there was a bridge between Lady’s Island and St. Helena Island — or across Whale Branch to Sheldon by way of the Port Royal ferry, or on the Parris Island “kicker,” a kind of barge. The roads were all dirt, or maybe made from oyster shell.
At any rate, this was a special day and the family had gotten together to get Niels an exciting gift — a new bicycle. He was thrilled, and in his usual fashion, he immediately organized a bicycle trip with several friends way out Ribaut Road, past the Eve farm to Port Royal where they shared a picnic they had brought.
In the evening, the young people of the town would be visiting in one home or another to play cards, or charades, or to read in parts from a play book. They would be served lemonade and small cakes to round out the evening.
Other favorite activities included croquet on the small park grounds at the corner of Bay St. and Carteret St. (Captain Robert’s ferry left from there); sailing and boating on the river; and occasionally the whole family would go camping at Bay Point Beach. This required the use of several boats and the help of three or four hired helpers who rowed everyone out (WITH the tide), set up the tents and camp site, caught and cooked fish and crabs for supper, and joined the family around the campfire for singing and storytelling. They would stay for at least a week.
This moment in Beaufort’s history is an excerpt from the book “Beaufort … Then and Now,” an anthology of memories compiled by Holly Kearns Lambert. Copies of this book may be purchased at Beaufort Book Store. To contribute your memory, contact Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.