I’ve known Danny Brown for years but just to have a quick conversation, mostly to smile at each other, wave or say hello. I’d heard about his incredible “way” with history, love of the field…history of the World Wars, the Ford Era, the Indians who peopled Bryan County but particularly Civil War history.
What better place to tell history from the Civil War period then here in Bryan County which is steeped in its history. Fort McAllister, our historic state park, was the southernmost and most active Confederate fortification in Savannah’s defenses on our Ogeechee River and the end of Sherman’s march to the sea.
Here Danny spent 30 years as head ranger.
Christy Sherman, the Executive Director of the Richmond Hill Convention and Visitors Bureau, worked under him at Fort McAllister for four years.
She gave me information enthusiastically about Danny.
“Long before the term “historic preservation” came into vogue, Danny Brown was a champion for it. He is passionate about history, archaeology, nature, and historical landscapes. Working under him I had a real hands-on education about our local historical and natural resources.”
He served as a ranger at Fort Pulaski, Fort Jackson and as the manager of Fort King George Historic Site. Most importantly, Danny’s work in curating the displays at the Fort McAllister museum and his living history programs through the years have given thousands of visitors an accurate and exciting glimpse into the past.
His work is the story of his love of our history. His involvement and gathering of the facts from this period has made him an authority known around the world for his research of this period.
History was always in his life from Benedictine Military High School to studying U.S. History at Armstrong Atlantic State University graduating with a minor in both Anthropology and Museum Studies. Enriched by his education he knew he wanted to join the National Park Service. And uniforms…with a soft smile he said uniforms were always calling him. From alter boy, to enactment uniforms for the many programs at the Fort and elsewhere, to uniforms in movies such as The Lincoln Conspiracy and Glory.
Danny said “I remember when I was around 16 one of my teachers made history come alive for me. I didn’t expect it, I wasn’t good in book learning. “ He sparked something in Danny that has lasted and grown for a lifetime. Perhaps from that joy, that discovery, so long ago, he became a natural in piquing peoples curiosity, teaching them and making them think of things from a different angle. As Christy Sherman expressed with conviction, “He does a great job of presenting a holistic view of the Civil War and is always sure that the information he is relaying is accurate.”
Danny served as an interpretative Ranger developing and doing programs. His research for the museum is voluminous. Stored there, it is research for now and the future. Thorough and extensive research that he has done about Fort McAllister, the Guale Indian site and the local area is housed not only at the fort’s museum but also in his head!
Danny is the “go-to” person for information related to WW11, the Henry Ford era in Richmond Hill, Native Americans, the Civil War and more. His daughters, Emily and Evelyn grew up at the park developing a unique love of history and nature, participating in civil war enactments, fishing, collecting shark teeth, arrow heads and pottery shards on barrier islands, shooting muskets, blacksmithing and cooking as was done in the Civil War era. Their everyday life put “flesh on the bones” of how one lived before… Danny is retired now, replaced by Jason Carter. Jason says when he sees Danny in his mind’s eye he sees him cooking for the reenactors, traditionally in his uniform. Each time he joins those reenacting it is a lasting memory shared again and again. Or he remembers making black powder and black powder training. There is more shooting at Fort McAllister programs then at all other sites combined.
“My first impression of Danny, was you could count on one hand those who have civil war history knowledge and history talent but none like him. I was thrilled to meet this legendary guy, charismatic guy. He’s known so well nationally. ‘Thanks to Danny Brown’ is written in so many history books.”
Danny has walked the path Sherman walked, he was able to obtain the flag flying in 1863 during the naval assaults stenciled with Fort McAllister on it and returned it to its rightful home, Fort McAllister. Although retired from his position at the Fort he still participates in the reenactments, is still speaking on the wonderful history he has helped to keep available to those who visit Bryan County. He misses his access to the public, the teaching of people that he so loves, and still keeps his commitment to telling about the civil war soldiers who fought to protect family, protect the homeland.
For those who haven’t visited the Fort, heard lectures on it or experienced the reenactments, GO.
It is an experience designed and given to us by this humble and special man. Our thanks to a hero of Bryan County.
You’re a good man, Danny Brown.