Colleton County, South Carolina
The land that was
to become South Carolina was an early outpost of Spain, France, Spain again,
and finally, England. In 1670 King Charles II of England
established a settlement at Charles Towne.
The first settlement of
Colleton County was Willtown settled on the Edisto River (near Jacksonboro)
in 1682 at the time the county lines were drawn. It was first
named New London by the Lords Proprietors and was renamed by 1708.
There were at that time boat docks, small shops, and two churches.
It was at Willtown that a ferry operated across the south Edisto River,
which in colonial days was called the Pon Pon (an Indian name given to
the last twenty miles of the Edisto River). A stagecoach
was later built from Charleston to Savannah which went through Willtown.
Willtown's plan called
for 250 lots and 62 blocks with 17 streets laid in a grid pattern.
Four acres each were reserved for a school and an Episcopal church and
parsonage. An acre each were planned for a market town and
a town garden. Willtown was an important regional trade center
until the 1740s but it declined after epidemics of malaria during the summer
months, afterward being plundered by the British soldiers during the Revolution.Although
it never recovered as a merchant trade center, Willtown became a popular
summer village, later becoming part of Charleston County. The place
where Willtown once stood is now Willtown Plantation.
Originally the Indian settlement of Pon Pon, the
town of Jacksonborough took its name for John Jackson who was granted land
along the Edisto River in 1701. Around 1735 it was recognized as
a settlement, and a plan of the town drawn in 1780 shows 113 town lots.
Jacksonborough became the county seat with a courthouse and jail.
The first free school was established in Jacksonborough in 1744, and
early Methodist and Episcopal churches were built.
In February 1782, with
Charleston under siege by the British, the General Assembly met in Jacksonborough.
The Masonic Lodge building and a tavern owned by Peter DuBose were
used for the meetings of the Senate and the House. Thus, Jacksonborough
became the Provisional Capital of South Carolina.
Colleton (two parishes)
was represented by the following:
A post office
was established in Jacksonboro on February 23, 1823. It's name was
changed to "Jacksonborough" after July of 1869, and back again to
Jacksonboro November 28, 1892.
The South Carolina
Gazette was published the spring of 1782 at Parker's Ferry, a few miles
above Jacksonboro, being the first publication outside Charleston.
The early churches in
South Carolina were directly related to the origins of the people.
The English were members of the Church of England; the French were
Catholic or Huguenot; the Scots were Presbyterians or Dissenters (those
who were not in agreement with the Presbyterians or the Church of England);
the Irish were Catholic; and the Jews. For the first thirty years
of colonization there was no real organized religion. It was in the
early 1800s that a great number of people became converted to the two new
religions, the Baptist and Methodist, which by 1810 were represented in
equal numbers to the Presbyterians.
The first settlers
in Colleton County were Episcopal (Anglican), who settled along the Chee-Ha
(Cheehaw) River. They established the first place of worship, called
a glebe (a portion of land assigned to a parish). In this case the
parish was the St. Bartholomew Parish, established in 1706.
The oldest was in the town of Edmundsbury, named for Landgrave Edmund Bellinger.
This area was greatly affected by the Yemassee Indian War of 1715.
The second Episcopal church
was located in Pon Pon, called the Pon Pon Chapel of Ease to St. Bartholomew's
Parish. It is located on the road to Parker's Ferry which, when the
chapel was built in 1725, was the stage coach road from Charleston to Savannah.
The ruin of this chapel is still a historic site, referred to for many
years as the Old Burnt Church.
Colleton County was considered
the stronghold of the "Dissenters". As noted in Colleton County,
South Carolina, A History of the First 160 Years, 1670-1830, not all
Dissenters were Presbyterians, but all Presbyterians were Dissenters.
For the first thirty years, until 1700, the Dissenters controlled the Province.
The first church was Bethel Presbyterian Church, on Hwy 63. Much
of its congregation moved to Walterboro when it became the county seat
in 1820, and the new Bethel Presbyterian Church was established there on
Rev. William Screven came with
his followers to South Carolina around 1696 from Massachusetts. He
is credited with founding the first Baptist church in the Province, in
what is now Clarendon County, South Carolina. Through his leadership,
the Charleston Church led the Baptists in the area.
There were divisions among the
Baptists even then, with several groups forming: the Anabaptist,
Antipedo Baptists, and the Calvinistic Baptists. Many
residents of early Colleton County were members of the St. Andrew's Parish
Methodism was present in Colleton
County as early as 1734, when Joh Wesley preached at the Pon Pon Chapel
on April 24, 1734. Bishop Francis Asbury was instrumental in spreading
the faith in the South and visited Colleton County many times in the late
1700's and early 1800's.
The first Mass was celebrated
in Charleston in 1786, but there were few Catholics until after the Revolutionary
War. In 1793 Rev. Simon Felix Gallagher, a native of Dublin,
Ireland, came to Charleston. He was very active in city affairs,
organizing the Hibernian Society.
In the colonial days in the
province, the Jews were the leading non-Protestant religious group,
establishing one of the earliest congregation in Charleston in 1750.
By the 1850's the mainstay
of the low country economy was rice production, with South Carolina and
Georgia producing 90% of the country's rice and importing to European
There were 227 plantations
cultivating rice crops, called "Carolina Gold", encompassing
70,000 acres. By 1916 less than 500 pounds of rice were produced.
The emancipation of slaves and the mechanization of other states in rice
harvesting (the ground in low country South Carolina was too soft for modern
equipment). Floods and hurricanes of 1910 and 1911 took a heavy toll
on the remaining plantations.