The City Magazine Since 1975

Island Escape

Island Escape
October 2016
Rembering Henry and Blanche Holloway, the hermits of Goat Island 

Henry Holloway (above, right) with John Midgett, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard base on Sullivan’s Island, circa 1960

Today, Goat Island, located across the Intracoastal Waterway from Isle of Palms, is lined with comfortable homes and private docks—a far different place from when “The Goat Man,” Henry Holloway, and his wife, Blanche, lived as hermits on its jungled shores from the early 1940s to ’60s. For much of that time, the land was entirely uninhabited except for the couple’s herd of some 200 goats.

Henry had been a butcher in Charleston until the Depression. When prices plunged, he looked for alternatives. Blanche also may have suffered mental health issues stemming from menopause. Whatever the reasons, they fled society, first setting up a small squatter’s compound on Isle of Palms’ north end (now Wild Dunes).

When that property was sold for development, they moved across the water to Goat, constructing a “house” of driftwood and tree boughs. Growing veggies, drinking rain water flavored with goat’s milk, and enjoying supplies dropped off by kind citizens (such as John Midgett, pictured above, left), they subsisted there right up till their deaths in the early ’60s.