Capturing the History of Edisto Island: Oral History Interview with Emily Meggett

· Emily Meggett



Emily Hutchinson Meggett was born in Edisto, as were her mother, Laura B. Hutchinson (who later moved to New York), and grandmother, Elizabeth Major Hutchinson, who raised Emily. Through her grandmother’s line she is related to Jim Hutchinson (her great-grandfather, sometimes called a ‘king’ of Edisto, who was the illegitimate son of Isaac Jenkins Mikell). Emily attended Seaside, Geneva, and Limay—all Edisto schools. She didn’t finish high school; she married in 1951 instead. With her husband, Jessie Meggett (who once lived in the Point of Pines cabin that now resides at the Smithsonian), Emily raised ten children, all of whom attended Edisto schools and later went on to college and successful careers, in fields as varied as the stock market, nursing, teaching, government administration, and the military. She has 24 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren; only one of the latter lives on Edisto. For 46 years, beginning in 1954, Emily worked for the family that owned Dodge Plantation. The family had a staff of six who worked for them as needed during the winter months. She rose from dishwasher to cook to housekeeper over that time. In the summers, she worked over the years for the Bolton, Mitchell, and Pepper families, among others. Emily talked about the Mother Emanuel murders; she had a family connection to two people who died there. She said she felt sorry ‘for the people who lost their lives, and for that young man and his family.’ She continued: ‘Back in the slavery time, people taught their children hate, and ain’t all of [it] erased. There's still some there.’ Of race relations on Edisto, she acknowledged that she had seen big changes but that she would like to see more. ‘I'm saying this for years and years...the Lord don't want us to be separated. He made you, he made me. [We’ve] got a different color of skin—but you've got the same red blood, and I've got the same red blood, so he don't want us to separate. He wants us to be close to each other...I don't see colors. I see you as a person.’ Maybe, she joked, she thought that way because of her connection to Jim Hutchinson: ‘I got a streak of lean in me, coming out of the white family.’ Emily Meggett has traveled widely: to Germany, Paris, London; Maine, Tennessee, Florida, Maryland, Colorado. When asked where she wants to be, though, she doesn’t hesitate: ‘This is where I want to be.’

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