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Jan 02, 2024

African American Centenarian Stories: Mrs. Ercelle Chillis (Charleston County, South Carolina)

Mrs. Ercelle Chillis (Right) with her daughter

The International African American Museum recently launched a program to capture the stories of African American Centenarians. Their history is part of our living history, and we are keen to capture their stories before they are lost.

In this African American centenarian interview, the 109-year-old Mrs. Ercelle Chillis of James Island, Charleston County, South Carolina shared stories about her family’s history and her life. Her interview opens with the story of her birth during a horrific South Carolina hurricane. She also shared the story of how her paternal grandfather walked with his family from Alabama to Charleston in the 1870s in a bid to hire a boat that would take him and his family to Africa!

Other story snippets included how she left James Island for New Jersey during the Great Migration and what life was like in the North -and what it was like to return to the Charleston area later in life.

Do you have a 100+ year old African American relative who would like to share their family history stories? Please contact us at cfh (at) iaamuseum (dot) org with an outline of the story/stories your family member would like to share.