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15 Sep 2022
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We know you love visiting the charming communities on the South Carolina shore. But how much do you know about the region’s history?  

Native Americans

On Isle of Palms, the indigenous Sewee were said to have greeted the first English settlers by swimming to the ships and carrying the travelers to shore. Kiawah Indians, specifically the Cusabo tribe, occupied the Island now named for its first inhabitants. In 1675, the Kiawah Indians ceded Kiawah Island to an English earl, Anthony Ashley Cooper. The Kiawah, Stono, and Bohicket Indian tribes lived on Seabrook Island as far back as 1400 BC. 

Pirate History

Charleston was an enticing harbor for pirates in the early 18th century, so it is no surprise they would hide off the coast. Among those said to have sailed these waters were Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet, and Ann Bonny. There are legends of pirates burying their treasure in the deserted dunes and woods of the islands, although none has ever been discovered. 

Revolutionary War

During the Revolutionary War, a British Army contingent of 2,500 men attempted to raid a colonial encampment on Sullivan's Island. The attack failed when the force attempted to cross the waters of Breach Inlet and many men drowned. British and Hessian soldiers built flat-bottom boats to travel up the Bohicket River. Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island was still incomplete when nine British Man-of-War ships attacked in 1776. Early Kiawah Island vacationers were Colonial officers who relaxed at the Gibbes plantation on the Kiawah River in 1782.

Civil War

Of course, Fort Sumter is well-known for its part in the Civil War. The Confederacy fired on the Union-held Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, sparking the War between the States. The area was also the point of departure for the CSS Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel. After sinking the USS Housatonic, the Hunley and her crew were lost at sea. The wreck of the Hunley was discovered off Sullivan's Island. Confederates also occupied Fort Moultrie during the War.

Ferries and Trolleys

Ferry service ran between Charleston and the south side of Shem Creek as far back as 1770. Steam-powered ferries came along in the early 1800s, making the trip in 15 minutes. In 1847, the Mount Pleasant Ferry Company started running ferries, including the Sappho, which carried 750 passengers and costs 30 cents a ride. In 1898, the Charleston and Seashore Railroad Co. started ferry service from Charleston to Mount Pleasant. Passengers then rode a trolley eight miles to Isle of Palms. In 1911, daily passenger and freight boat service began from Kiawah Island to Charleston. The Breach Inlet Bridge trolley trestle was rebuilt to carry cars in 1926. 

Seabrook Island

Seabrook Island did not get its name because it is an island next to a sea. William Seabrook, a Sea Island cotton farmer, bought the Island in 1816 and named it for his family.