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Revised 27 December 2010

SOUTH CAROLINA

In addition to the prior history I had written, I have included a section from the Ridpath history of the United States because of its colorful descriptions and because it adds detail that shows the researcher how other world affairs effected their ancestors.

(Source: "A Popular History of the United States of America from the Aboriginal Times to the Present Day", by John Clark Ridpath, A.m., published by Jones Brothers & Co, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta - 1878, pp 230-237. Keep in mind when reading this, the period in which it was written. You will note also, that Ridpath stopped short of the American Revolution in his writings. For additional history, see my library.)

"In January of 1670 the proprietors of Carolina sent out a colony under command of Joseph West and William Sayle. There was at this time not a single European settlement between the mouth of Cape Fear River and the St. John's in Florida. Here was a beautiful coast of nearly four hundred miles ready to receive the beginnings of civiliztion. The new emigrants, sailing by way of Barbadoes, steered far to the south, and reached the mainland in the country of the Savannah. The vessels first entered the harbor of Port Royal. It was now a hundred and eight years since John Ribault, on an island in this same harbor, had set up a stone engraved with the lilies of France; now the Englishman had come.

The ships were anchored near the site of Beufort. But the colonists were dissatisfied with the appearance of the country, and did not go ashore. Sailing northward along the coast for forty miles, they next entered the mouth of Ashley River, and landed where the first high land appeared upon the southern bank. Here were laid the foundations of Old Charleston, so named in honor of King Charles II. Of this the oldest town in South Carolina, no trace remains except the line of a ditch which was digged around the fort; a cotton-field occupies the site of the ancient settlement.

Sayle had been commissioned as governor and West as commercial agent of the colony. The settlers had been furnished with a copy of Locke's big constitution, but they had no more use for it than for a dead elephant. Instead of the grand model, a little government was organized on the principles of common sense. Five councilors were elected by the people, and five others appointed by the proprietors. Over this council of ten the governor presided. Twenty delegates, composing a house of representatives, were chosen by the colonists. Within two years the system of popular government was firmly established in the province. Except the prevalence of diseases peculiar to the southern climate, no calamity darkened the prospects of the rising State.

In the beginning of 1671 Governor Sayle died, and West, by common consent, assumed the duties of the vacant office. After the lapse of a few months, Sir John Yeamans, who had been governor of the northern province and was now in B arbadoes, was commissioned by the proprietors as chief magistrate of the southern colony. He brought with him to Ashley River a large cargo of African slaves. From the beginning the unused as yet to the climate, could hardly endure the excessive heats of the sultry fields. To the Caribbee negroes, already accustomed to the burning sun of the tropics, the Carolina summer seemed temperate and pleasant. Thus the labor of the black man was substituted for the labor of the white man, and in less than two years from the founding of the colony the system of slavery was firmly established. In this respect the history of South Carolina is peculiar. Slavery had been introduced into all the American colonies, but everywhere else the introduction had een effected by those who were engaged in the slave-gtrade. In South Carolina alone was the system adopted as a political and social experiment and with a view to the regular establishment of a laboring class in the State. Governor Yeamans ws the first to accept this policy, which soon became the general policy of the province. The importation of negroes went on so rapidly that in a short time they outnumbered the whites as two to one.

Immigration from England did not lag. During the year 1671 a system of cheap rents and liberal bounties was adopted by the proprietors, and the country was rapidly filled with people. A tract of a hundred and fifty acres was granted to every one who would either immigrate or import a negro. Fertile lands were abundant. Wars and pestilence had almost annihilated the native tribes; whole counties were almost without an occupant. The disasters of one race had prepared the way for the coming of another. Only a few years before this time New Netherland had been conquered by the English. The Dutch were greatly dissatisfied with the government which the duke of York had established over them, and began to leave the country. The proprietors of Carolina sent several ships to New York, loaded them with the industrious but discontented people, and brought them without expense to Charleston. The unoccupied lands west of Ashley River were dived among the Dutch, who formed there a thriving settlement called Jamestown. The fame of the new country reached Holland, and other emigrants left fatherland to join their kinsmen in Carolina. Charles II., who rarely aided a colony, collected a company of Protestant refugees from the South of Europe, and sent them to Carolina to introduce the silk-worm and to begin the cultivation of the grape.

In 1680 the present capital of South Carolina was founded. The site of Old Charleston had been hastily and injudiciously selected. The delightful peninsula called Oyster Point, between Ashley and Cooper Rivers, was now chosen as the sopt on which to build a city. The erections of thirty dwellings during the first summer gave proof to enterprise; the name of CHARLESTON was a second time bestowed, and the village immediately became the capital of the colony. The unhealthy climate for a while retarded the progress of the new town, but the people were full of life and enterprise; storehouses and wharves were built, and merchant-ships soon began to throng the commodious harbor.

Injustice provoked an Indian war. Some vagabond Nestoes, whose only offense consisted in strolling through the plantations, were hot. The tribe appealed to the government, and the proprietors showed a willingness to punish the wrongdooers; but the pioneers were determined to fight and the savages were naturally revengeful. Scenes of violence continued along the border, and hostilities began in earnest. In the prosecution of the war the colonists were actuated by a shameful spirit of avarice. The object was not so much to punish or destroy the savages as to take them prisoners. A bounty was offered for every captured Indian, and as fast as the warriors were taken they were sold as slaves for the West Indies. The petty strife continued for a year, and was then concluded with a treaty of peace. Commissioners were appointed to whom all complaints and isputes between the natives and colonists should henceforth be submitted.

South Carolina was favored with rapid immigration, and the immigrants were worthy to become the founders of a great State. The best nations of Europe contributed to people the country between Cape Fear and the Savannah. England, continued to send her colonies. In 1683 Joseph Blake, a brother of the great English admiral, devoted his fortune and the last years of his life to bringing a large company of dissenters from Somersetshire to Charleston. In the same year an Irish colony under Ferguson arrived at Ashley River, and met a hearty welcome. A company of Scotch Presbyterians, ten families in all, led by the excellent Lord Cardross, settled at Port Royal in 1684. The authorities of Charleston claimed jurisdiction there, and the new immigrants reluctantly yielded to the claim. Two years afterward a band of Spanis soldiers arrived from St. Augustine, and the unhappy Scotch exiles were driven from their homes. But intolerant France gave up more of her subjects than did all the other nations.

As early as 1598 Henry VI, king of the French, had published a celebrated proclamation called the Edict of Nantes, by the terms of which the Huguenots were protected in their rights of religious worship. Now, after eighty-seven years of toleration, Louis XIV, blinded with bigotry and passion and hoping to make Catholicism universal, revoked the kindly edict, and exposed the Protestants of his kindom to the long-suppressed rage of their enimies. In order to enforce the decree of revocation the French army was quartered in the towns of the Huguenots, and ports were closed against emigration, and the borders were watched to prevent escape. How foolish are the ways of despotism! in spite of every precaution, five hundred thousand of the best people of France, preferring banishment to religious thraldom, escaped from their country and fled, self-exiled, into foreign lands. The Huguenots were scattered from the Baltic Sea to the Cape of Good Hope, and on the Western continent from Maine to Florida. But of all the American colonies, South Carolina received the greatest number of French refugees within her borders. They were met by the proprietors with a pledge of protection and a promise of citizenship; but neither promise nor pledge was immediately fulfilled, for the colony had not yet determined wht should be its laws of naturalization. Both the general assembly and the proprietors claimed the right of fixing the conditions. Until that question could be decided the Huguenots were kept in suspense, and were sometimes unkindly treated by the jealous English settlers. Not until 1697 were all discriminations against the French immigrants removed.

In 1686 came James Colleton as colonial governor. he began his administration with a foolish attempt to establish the mammoth constitution of Locke and Shaftesbury. No wonder that the assemly resisted his authority, and that the people were embittered against him. The rents came due; payment was refused; and the colony was in a state of rebellion. In order to divert attention from himself, Colleton published a proclamation setting forth the danger of a pretended invasion by the Indians and Spaniards. The militia was called out and the province declared under martial law. It was all in vain. The people were only exasperated by the arbitrary proceedings of the governor. Tidings came that James II. had been driven from the throne of England. The popular assembly was convened and William and Mary were proclaimed as sovereigns. In 1690 a decree of impeachment was passed against Colleton, and he was banished from the province.

The people of North Carolina had just performed a similar service for Seth Sothel. Not satisfied with his previous success, he at once repaired to Charleston and assumed the government of the southern colony. To Sothel's other merits wre added the qualifications of a first-rate demagogue; he induced the people to acquiesce to his usurpation and to sustain his authority. But his avaricious disposition could not long be held in check. the proprietors disclaimed his acts and after a turbulent rule of two years, he and his government were overthrown. One bright page redeems the record of his administration. In May of 1691 the first general act of enfranchisement was passed in favor of the Huguenots.

Philip Ludwell, who had been collector of customs in Virginia, and since 1689 governor of North Carolina, was now sent to establish order in the southern province. He spent a year in a well-meant effort to administer the government of the proprietors; but the people were fixed in their antagonism to the constitution, and nothing could be accomplished. Ludwell gave up the hopeless task, withdrew from the province, and returned to Virginia. South Carolina had fallen into a condition bordering on anarchy.

Nearly a quarter of a century had elapsed since Locke drafted the grand model. At last the proprietors came to see that the establishment of such a monstrous frame of government over an American colony was impossible. Pride said that the constitution should stand, for the nobility of England had declared it immortal. But self-interest and common sense demanded its abrogation, and the demand prevailed. In April of 1693 the proprietors assembled and voted the boasted model out of existence. It was enacted at the same meeting that since the people of Carolina preferred a simple charger government, their request be granted. The nagnificent paper empire of Shaftesbury was swept into oblivion.

Thomas Smith was now appointed governor, but was soon superseded by John Archdale, a distinguished and talented Quaker. Arriving in 1695, he began an administration so just and wise that dissension ceased and the colony entered upon a career of prosperity. The quit-rents on lands were remitted for four years. The people were given the option of paying their taxes in money or in produce. The Indians were concilliated with kindness and protected against kidnappers. Some native Catholics were ransomed from slavery and sent to their homes in Florida, and the Spanish governor reciprocated the deed with a friendly message. When the old jealousy against the Huguenots asserted itself in the general assembly, the benovelent influence of Archdale procured the passage of a law by which all Christians, except the Catholics, were fully enfranchised; the ungenerous exception was made against the governor's will. It was a real misfortune to the colony when, in 1698, the good governor was recalled to England.

James Moore was next commissioned as chief magistrate. The first important act of his administration was a declaration of histilities against the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine. Queen Anne's WAr had broken out. The Spaniards were in alliance with the French against the English. By the antagonism of England and Spain, South Carolina and Florida were brought into conflict. Yet a declaration of war was strongly opposed in the assembly at Charleston, and was only passed by a small majority. It was voted to raise and equip a force of twelve hundred men, and to invade Florida by land and water. The summer of 1702 was spent in preparation, and in September the expeditions departed, the land-forces led by Colonel Daniel and the fleet commanded by the governor.

The English vessels sailed down the coast, entered the St. John's and blocked up the river. Daniel marched overland, reached St. Augustine and captured the town. But the Spaniards withdrew without serious loss into the castle, and bade defiance to the besiegers. Without artillery it was evident that the place could not be taken. Colonel Daniel was despatched with a sloop to Jamaica to procure cannons for the siege; but before his return two Spanish men-of-war appeared at the mouth of the St. John's and Governor Moore found himself blockaded. His courage was not equal to the occasion. Abandoning his ships, he took to the shore, and colecting his forces, hastily retreated into Carolina. Daniel returned and entered the St. John's but discovered the danger in time to make his escape. The governor's retreat occasioned great dissatisfaction. There were insinuations of cowardice and threats of impeachment, but no formal action was taken against him. The only results of the unfortunate expedition were debt and paper money. In order to meet the heavy expenses of the war, the assembly was obliged to issue bills of credit to the amount of six thousand pounds sterling.

Governor Moore retrieved his reputation by invading the Indian nations south-west of the Savannah. In December of 1705 he left the province at the head of fifty volunteers and a thousand friendly natives. White men had not been seen marching in these woods since the days of De Soto. On the 14th of the month the invaders reached the fortified town of Ayavalla, in the neighborhood of St. Mark's. An attack was made and the church set on fire. A Franciscan monk came out and begged for mercy; but the place was carried by assault, and more than two hundred prisoners were taken, only to be enslaved. On the next day Moore's forces met and defeated a large body of Indians and Spaniards. Five important towns were carried in succession, and the English flag wa borne in triumph to the Gulf of Mexico. Communications between the Spanish settlements of Florida and the French posts in Louisiana was entirely cut off.

Meanwhile, the Church of England had been established by law in South Carolina. In the first year of Johnston's administration the High Church party succeeded in getting majority of one in the colonial assembly, and immediately passed an act disfranchising all the dissenters in the province. An appeal was carried to the proprietors, only to be rejected with contempt. The dissenting party next laid their cause before Parliament, and that body promptly voted that the act of disfranchisement was contrary to the laws of England, and that the proprietors had forfeided their cahrter. The queen's ministers were authorized to declare the intolerant law null and void. In November of the same year the colonial legislature revoked its own act so far as the disfranchising clause ws concerned; but Episcopalianism continued to be the established faith of the province.

The year 1706 was a stirring epoch in the history of South Carolina. A French and Spanish fleet was sent from Havana to capture Cahrleston and subdue the country. The orders were more easily given than executed. The brave people of the capital flew to arms. Governor Johnson and Colonel William Rhett inspired the volunteers with courage; and when the hostile squadron anchored in the harbor, the city was ready for a stubborn defence. Several times a landing was attempted, but the invaders were everywhere repulsed. At last a French vessel succeeded in getting to shore with eight hundred troops, but they were attacked with fury and driven off with a loss of three hundred in killed and prisoners. The siege was at once abandoned; unaided by the proprietors, South Carolina had made a glorious defence.

In the spring of 1715 war broke out with the Yamassees. As usual with their race, the Indians began hostilities with treachery. At the very time when Captain Nairne was among them as a friendly ambassador, the wily savages rose upon the frontier settlements and committed an atrocious massacre. The people of Port Royal were alarmed just in time to escape in a ship to Charleston. The desperate savages rushed on to with a short distance of the capital. It seemed that the city would be taken and the whole colony driven to destruction. But the brave Charles Craven, governor of the province, rallied the militia of Colleton district, and the blood-stained barbarians were driven back. A vigorous pursuit began, and the savages were pressed to the banks of the Salkehatchie. Here a decisive battle was fought, and the Indians were completely routed. The Yamassees collected their shattered tribe and retired into Florida, where they were received by the Spaniards as friends and confederates.

In 1719 the government of South Carolina was revolutionized. At the close of the war with the Yamassees the assembly petitioned the priotors to bear a portion of the expense. But the avaricious noblemen refused, and would take no measures for the future protection of the colony. The people were greatly burned with rents and taxes. The lands were monopolized; every act of the assembly which seemed for the public good was vetoed by the proprietors. In the new election every delegate was chosen by the popular party. The 21st of December was training-day in Charleston. on that day James Moore, the new chief magistrated elected by the people, was to be inaugurated. Governor Jonnson forbade the military display and tried to prevent the inauguration; but the militia collected in the public square, drums were beaten, flags were flung out on the forts and shipping, and before nightfall the proprietary government of Carolina was overthrown. Governor Moore was duly inaugurated in the name of King George I. A colonial agent was at once sent to England; the cause of the colonists was heard, and the forfeited charter of the proprietors abrogated by act of Parliament.

Francis Nicholson was now commissioned as governor. He had already held the office of chief magistrate in New York, in Virginia, In Maryland and in Nova Scotia. He began a successful administration in South Carolina by concluding reaties of peace and commerce with the Cherokees and the Creeks. But another and final change in colonial affairs was at hand. In 1729 seven of the eight proprietors of the Carolinas sold their entire claims in the provinces to the king. Lord Cartaret, the eighth proprietor, would surrender nothing but his right of jurisdiction, reserving his share in the soil. The sum paid by King George for the two coloniles was twenty-two thousand five hundred pounds sterling. Royal governors were appointed and the affairs of the privince were settled on a permanent bases, not to be disturbed for more than forty years.

The people who colonized South Carolina were brave and chivalrous. On the banks of the Santee, the Edisto and the Combahee were gathered some of the best elements of the European nations. The Huguenot, the Scotch Presbyterian, the English dissenter, the loyalist and High Churchman, the Irish adventurer and the Dutch mechanic, composed the powerful material out of which soon grew the beauty and renown of the PALMETTO STATE. Equally with the rugges Puritans of the North, the South Carolians were lovers of liberty. Without the severe morality and formal manners of the Pilgrims, the people who were once governed by the peaceful Archdale and once led to war by the gallant Craven became leaders in courtly politeness and high-toned honor between man and man. In the coming struggle for freedom South Carolina will bear a noble and distinguisned part; the fame of the patriot Rhett wil be perpetuated by Marion and Sumter."

 

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Spaniard Lucas Vasquez de Ayllón founded the first settlement in The Spaniards and he French made numerous attempts to settle South Carolina between 1526 and 1644 but these efforts failed. Prior to their arrival, this land was the home of the Cherokee, the Yamasee, and many other Native American tribes.

In 1663, King Charles II granted the lands between Florida and Virginia to eight "lords proprietors". The first English settlers of the granted land named "Carolina" after the Latin form of Charles and included many planters from Barbados. They landed near present-day Charleston in 1671 in the area of the Ashley River. This first group was English straight from England and a group of people who came here from the Barbados Island of the West Indies. They established Charles Town. They were later joined by a group of Dutch families from New York and these, in turn were joined by families direct from Holland.

In 1675, Quakers joined the mix and in 1680, a group of 45 Huguenots established homes there. In 1683, a group of dissenters from the Episcopal church came from Sommersetshire to establish Charleston. A new group of Irish settled along the Ashley River. In 1684, a group of about ten Scotch Presbyterians moved into the area and established Port Royal. The primary crops to be harvested were Indigo, Tobacco and rice. It was the cultivation of rice that made the use of slave labor a necessity because this crop was extremely labor-intensive.

From 1732 until 1736, families continued to pour into the area. The countries represented were England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Switzerland and Germany. Some of the early settlements from 1745 to 1760 were established by immigrants from the Rhine section of Germany, the northern American colonies and the Ulster section of Ireland. Subsequent to the Indian Wars, more Scotch-Irish came in about 1761. There was a diverse socioeconomic order between the immigrants of the Appalachian region and that of their southern plantation-owner neighbors. By 1786, the tension between these two factors made a compromise necessary and thus the old capital of Charleston was replaced with a more centralized capital in Columbia.

In viewing the establishment of the counties, it is important to know that the first three colonies of Berkley, Colleton and Craven were discontinued at a later date. The present Berkley Co. is not the original. By an act ratified in 1769, the province of South Carolina was divided into seven judicial districts: Charleston, Georgetown, Beaufort, Orangeburg, Ninety-Six, Camden and Cheraws. Cheraws was named after the Cheraw Indians that were the former residents of that area.

In 1780, a decisive group of battles were fought against the Loyalist Troops at Kings Mountain and again at Cowpens. South Carolina became the 8th state to join the Union in 1788. The 1868 Constitution changed 30 districts to counties although some recorders continued to use the term "district" as they felt it to be a "Yankee" term. When the Civil War began with the firing upon Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, The south as they had known it, would never be the same. South Carolina was the first to secede from the union, this act occurring in 1860. It was readmitted to the Union in 1868. South Carolina was devastated from the damages of the war and did not fare much better during the reconstruction. It was many years before South Carolina came into its own again. Visiting today, you can visit many of the beautiful relic of the past and wax nostalgic on the way things were. The city of Charleston is an absolute must for anyone going down there. So draw up a rocking chair, get yourself a fan and pull up a mint julep and relax and set a spell.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Abbeville 1785 District 96 Abbeville
Aiken 1871 Edgefield, Orangeburg, Barnwell, Lexington Aiken
Allendale 1919 Barnwell, Hampton Allendale
Anderson 1826 Pendleton District Anderson
Bamberg 1897 Barnwell Bamberg
Barnwell 1798 Orangeburg Barnwell
Berkley 1683 One of South Carolina's three original counties.  Discontinued.  Not the same as the current Berkeley County.  
Berkeley 1882 Charleston Moncks Corner
Beaufort 1764 Original County Beaufort
Calhoun 1908 Lexington, Orangeburg St. Matthews
Camden District 1769 Discontinued.  
Carteret 1683 Renamed Granville in 1700.  Later discontinued  
Charleston 1769 Original District Charleston
Cheraws District 1769 later discontinued.  Its lands were distributed between Chesterfield and Darlington Counties  
Cherokee 1897 Union, York, Spartanburg Gaffney
Chester 1798 Camden District Chester
Chesterfield 1798 Cheraws District Chesterfield
Clarendon 1855 Sumter District Manning
Claremont prior to 1800 abolished after 1810  
Colleton (Old) 1683 One of the three original counties. Later abolished  
Colleton 1798 Charleston District (not the same as the above) Walterboro
Craven 1683 last of the three original counties.  Discontinued  
Darlington 1798 Cheraws District Darlington
Dillon 1910 Marion Dillon
Dorchester 1897 Berkeley, Colleton St. George
Edgefield 1785 District 96 Edgefield
Fairfield 1785 Camden District Winnsboro
Florence 1888 Marion, Darlington, Clarendon, Williamsburg Florence
Georgetown 1769 Original District Georgetown
Granville District   Originally called Carteret County--discontinued  
Greenville 1798 Washington Greenville
Greenwood 1897 Abbeville, Edgefield Greenwood
Hampton 1878 Beaufort Hampton
Horry 1802 Georgetown Conway
Jasper 1912 Beaufort, Hampton Ridgeland
Kershaw 1798 Camden District Camden
Lancaster 1798 Camden District Lancaster
Laurens 1785 District 96 Laurence
Lee 1902 Darlington, Sumter, Kershaw Bishopville
Lexington 1804 Orangeburg Lexington
Liberty   Discontinued sometime after 1800  
McCormick 1916 Greenwood, Abbeville McCormick
Marion 1798 Georgetown Marion
Marlboro 1798 Cheraws District Bennettsville
Newberry 1785 District 96 Newberry
Ninety-Six District (96) 1769 Discontinued  
Oconee 1868 Pickens Walhalla
Orange   Discontinued sometime after 1800  
Orangeburg 1769 Original District Orangeburg
Pendleton 1798 Discontinued after 1820  
Pinckney District 1793 abolished  
Pickens 1826 Pendleton Pickens
Richland 1799 Kershaw Columbia
Salem before 1800 Discontinued sometime after 1810  
Saluda 1895 Edgefield Saluda
Spartanburg 1785 District 96 Spartanburg
Sumter 1798 Camden District Sumter
Union 1798 District 96 Union
Washington before 1800 Dissolved about 1826  
Winyaw before 1800 Discontinued sometime after 1810  
Williamsburg 1802 Georgetown Kingstree
York 1798 Pinckney York

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