HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - On Hilton Head, the Heritage Library is the place families go to find out about themselves.
"We are,'' said Heritage Library Foundation Executive Director, Barbara Catenaci, "one of the 10 best places in the world to do ancestry research, according to USA Today.''
Hilton Head’s history lives at the small private library that allows public access through books and journals - documents that cannot be found anywhere else.
"We have a number of data bases,'' Catenaci said. "Obviously, we have books, periodicals, all of the things you need to do the history research on Hilton Head.''
Thousands of Islanders every year will visit the Heritage Library for help researching their genealogy, but the library foundation also preserves and promotes the history of its hometown.
"We teach classes,'' Catenaci said. "We have the research center here, and we also own two historical sites that we manage, and give tours at.''
One of those sites is Fort Mitchell, a Civil War Fort on Skull Creek. The other is the Zion Chapel of Ease Cemetery, which includes the grave sites of four Revolutionary War soldiers among the dozens buried there.
“Also at Zion Cemetery is the oldest standing building on Hilton Head, which is the Baynard Mausoleum, which we’ve just redone," Catenaci said.
The WTOC Community Champions at Heritage Museum also make history accessible with bike tours that are not just popular with locals.
"History and culture are a big piece of tourism now,'' Catenaci said. "So, besides the beach and golf and tennis, which are all important things to Hilton Head, we have this great little piece of history and ancestry research, so folks really do want to come in and learn a little more about the heritage and the culture of where they’re visiting.''
For others, it’s where their families have lived for generations.