Murchinson, "a colored man in the employ of the Chief Quartermaster," was selected to be a minister in Mitchelville. And another story announced the construction of a new church in the village.
At least four stores were opened in Mitchelville, although several quickly closed down, perhaps for cheating the residents. Two, however, were operated for several years and lists of the merchandise being offered are still preserved at the National Archives. Goods included coffee pots, buckets, tin pie plates, tableware, frying pans, shovels, brooms and brushes, fish seines, shirts, pants, suspenders, cloth, cologne, hair combs, belts, thimbles, buttons, bonnets, bead necklaces, condensed milk, dried peaches, tobacco, pipes, flour, grits, butter, lard, rice, and soap.
One observer noted in 1863 that the blacks in Mitchelville were anxious to both work and acquire goods:
there is a great demand for plates, knives, forks, tin ware, and better
clothing, including even hoop skirts. Negro cloth ... [is] very generally
rejected. But there is no article of household furniture or wearing
apparel, used by persons of moderate means among us, which they will
not purchase when they are allowed the opportunity of labor and
Many freedmen living in Mitchelville were working for the Union Army, while others were working, for wages, on the plantations they once worked as slaves. Most blacks earned between $4 and $12 a month.
Most of the teachers for Mitchelville were supplied by the American Missionary Association (AMA), a group that obtained its funds from Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches in the North. These teachers taught school for about 4 ½ -hours a day. Attendance at the primary school might range from 52 to 108, while the high school typically had about 90 students.
"The Home" for these teachers in Mitchelville was at the edge of the shore and was described 'by one teacher as:
a little bit of a house with a single thickness of boards for sides and
floors, not a bit of whitewash or plaster on the whole house and spaces
between the boards on the sides wide enough so the birds fly through.
Every house on the Island stands on posts so that the air can circulate
under.... The garret [meaning here, the porch] is considered the
coolest place. The houses here look like barns on stilts, but the
teacher's home is so small and light that the slightest wind shakes it.
Mitchelville After the Civil War
In 1865 the Civil War was over and Hilton Head had lost its strategic importance. When the military abandoned the island in January 1868, so too did the jobs. While a great deal of thought had gone into the establishment of Mitchelville, no one bothered to wonder how the village would survive without the wage labor of the military. It was probably