The Barbados Connection


You’re probably asking yourself what the island of Barbados has to do with South Carolina. If you’ll continue to read, you will see that Barbados had a great deal to do with how South Carolina developed through the early years.

Barbados was settled by the English in 1627 and become an exceptionally wealthy, sugar controlled economy by the time of South Carolina’s settlement in 1670. Sir John Colleton, who probably led the effort to gain the Carolina charter for eight English noblemen. Anthony Ashley Cooper, later the first earl of Shaftesbury and the leading proprietor in the settling of South Carolina owned a plantation in Barbados was also a leader in helping gain a Carolina charter.

South Carolina’s beginnings are closely linked to the British West Indian colony of Barbados that it has been called a “Colony of a Colony.” South Carolina resemble the West Indies more than any other of the English mainland colonies.

Originally the Lords Proprietors wanted to inhabit their colony with settlers from Barbados and other colonies rather than from England. In 1663 a group of “Barbadian Explorers” attempted to establish a settlement at Cape Fear but four years the Barbadian settlement at Cape Fear was abandoned. In 1669 an expedition from England picked up some Barbadians and made its way to Carolina where they began to settle in the Charleston area. A great deal of the shipping from England during the early years came via Barbados, and a considerable number of Barbadians, both white and black, immigrated to the Carolina lowcountry.

Barbados has a total of 166 square miles of land, and by 1670 a majority of it was tied up in sugar “factories.” While the migration of freemen, indentured servants, and slaves from Barbados was huge only in South Carolina’s early years, the ties between the colonies remained strong. Provisions and barrel poles were among South Carolina’s earliest profitable enterprises and remained a substantial portion of exports even after large rice plantations enriched by slave labor came to dominate the colony after the 1690s

Proprietary South Carolina’s powerful Goose Creek political faction contained Barbadians. Their efforts to circumvent the proprietors’ prohibitions against selling Native Americans into slavery and dealing with pirates plagued the colony’s owners for years. Sir John Yeamans, who abandoned the earlier failed Barbadian settlement at Cape Fear and arranged the murder of his paramour’s husband so that he could marry her, while serving as South Carolina’s third governor from 1672 to 1674, he infuriated Lord Shaftesbury by making profits selling to Barbados provisions that were desperately needed in Carolina. Proprietary South Carolina had two other Barbadian governors: James Colleton, a brother of the man who then held the Colleton family share in the enterprise; and Robert Gibbes, who bribed his way into the governor’s office in 1710.

The Hanging of Little Abe

The Hanging of Little Abe

Little Abe

During the summer of 1849, Abraham “Big Abe” Rabon, Sr. and his sons, Abraham “Little Abe” Rabon, Jr. and Duke Rabon, farmed in the Popular section of Horry County, South Carolina which was located north of Cool Springs, about ten miles from Conway, SC. Another family of Rabon’s, (brother of Big Abe) lived nearby, the sons of both families which were cousins of Little Abe and Duke were in the habit of feeding their hogs on the lands of Big Abe. On September 3, 1849 they were told to stop by Big Abe or there would be trouble. In spite of the warning Little Abe’s cousin, Willis and his little brother George continued to feed their hogs on the Abe Rabon land. Later on the day of September 3 Willie and his brother were caught feeding their hogs on their land, Big Abe, Little Abe, and Duke went to stop the trespassing once and for all.

When Big Abe and his sons encountered Willis and George Rabon on “Big Abe’s” land, Willis & George were told by “Big Abe” to get off his land or he would release his dogs. Willis responded by saying he would kill the dogs, the dogs were released and Willis struck one of the dogs in the head. As the altercation escalated Willis Rabon was stabbed by “Little Abe” in the right side and died 15 minutes later. “Big Abe”, “Little Abe”, and Duke Rabon were arrested for Murder and were jailed. The trial was held in the 1850 Spring Term of criminal court. The Winyah Observer reported that all three were convicted of murder. They appealed their conviction, Duke was given a new trial and charges against Duke were eventually dropped. The Winyah Observer reported Little Abe was found guilty of murder and sentenced to be hanged but his father “Big Abe” was released. After “Big Abe” was released he went to the judge to ask that his son “Little Abe” be released until his hanging, “Big Abe” pleaded with the judge and gave the judge his word that he would have him there for his hanging (Judge’s name was not disclosed) if he would let him take his son home so help put the crop in. The Judge granted him this privilege and set the execution day for Jun 6, 1851

On the day of the hanging, “Big Abe” brought his son in on an ox and cart and an 11:00 that morning he turned him over to the Sheriff (W.H. “Hickory Bill” Johnston and the hangman). “Big Abe” also brought a pine coffin he had made for Little Abe to be buried in. Little Abe was hanged at 12:00 in the old muster field (corner 6th Avenue & Beaty St.) in Conway, SC. The hanging must have been the talk of the county, the Winyah Observer reported that about two thousand people witnessed the spectacle. Among the two thousand were about 500 women and young girls. After it was over, “Big Abe” placed his son in the coffin, and drove him back home in the rain.

Pleasant Union Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery

The next day he was buried in Pleasant Union Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery located in Bayboro, SC in Horry County.


Kensington Plantation

KensingtonKensington Plantation

During the early 1850s, Greek revival continued as a favorite style for plantation houses among the elite in South Carolina. It was not until Matthew Richard Singleton (Great Grandson of original owner Matthew Singleton) broke away from the existing configuration that he decided to change his Lower Richland County plantation house into a stylish Italianate mansion. Singleton, descendant of a planter family with vast landholdings along the Wateree River, Singleton moved to the plantation in 1844 after returning from a tour of duty in Europe as a military attaché. After moving in he began making improvements to the house and grounds which were influenced by his service in Europe, he hired Charleston architect Edward C. Jones to remodel the main house, which in its original appearance was probably a small plain house. By the time it was completed in 1854, Jones had fashioned a Renaissance-inspired residence that evoked the country villas of northern Italy. The house had twenty-nine rooms with a total of 12,000 square feet.

Matthew Singleton was the first owner of the plantation, he died in 1787 and his son John inherited the property. When John Singleton died the plantation was left to his son, Colonel Richard Singleton. During Colonel Singleton’s life he acquired six other plantations located on both sides of the Wateree River. Matthew Richard Singleton was the heir of Colonel Singleton and in 1844 Matthew Richard Singleton married Martha Rutledge Kinloch. They changed the name of the plantation to Kensington to reflect the name of Martha’s childhood home near Georgetown, SC. When Matthew died Martha and their children continued to live on the plantation. Between 1870-1880 Matthew Richard Singleton’s sons, Richard and Cleland Singleton, divided the plantation lands.

In 1981 Kensington Plantation was acquired by the Union Camp Corporation.  The main house was unoccupied from about 1940 and in poor shape. Following several discussions with the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and other local groups, Union Camp undertook a complete restoration of the property and established a partnership with the Scarborough-Hamer Foundation to provide informational tours for visitors. Kensington is operated as a historic house museum and is open to the public. International Paper ended its partnership with the Scarborough-Hamer Foundation in 2015.

The Kensington Plantation Located eight miles east of Eastover in Richland County on US 601, half a mile past the entrance to International Paper at 4101 McCords Ferry Road

The Town of Walhalla


Downtown Walhalla

In the northwest part of South Carolina is the scenic area of Oconee County which includes Walhalla. The town of Walhalla was founded in 1850, Walhalla was a German settlement that became the seat of Oconee County. Its settlers were part of the German Colonization Society, this society was formed in Charleston by John A. Wagner, a German immigrant who was a successful businessman and newspaper editor. These settlers sought the proper land that would allow them to follow their livelihood of farming. While the society publicized what they were looking for, the group was contacted by Colonel Joseph Grisham of Pickens District, he offered to sell them an entire tract of land. On December 24, 1849, the society purchased 17,859 acres from Grisham for $27,000. The town remained mostly German until it became the courthouse seat in 1868. At that time the name of the town was pronounced as “Valhalla,” this pronunciation was taken from Norse mythology and means “Garden of the Gods.”

The town was laid out on a ridge at the foot of Stumphouse Mountain in 8 four-acre sections on both sides of Main Street. Each society member obtained a half-acre lot on Main Street and an acre on either North or South Broad Street. Adjacent to those streets there were fifty-acre farms which were laid out, the society members met March 26, 1850 in Charleston to draw lots for the property. The first German immigrants came shortly thereafter and by 1854 Walhalla had a German population of around four hundred. The town was incorporated on December 19, 1855 and one of the original structures was the St. John’s Lutheran Church, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.


Stumphouse Mountain

With the start of the Civil War, the Walhalla Riflemen were organized in 1852, they were among the first militia units to volunteer for Confederate service. During the war the town became a sanctuary for lowcountry refugees, those who were nonresidents of Walhalla had to have certificates issued to them the town council in order to stay within the town limits. After the war ended there was a small group of federal troops that occupied the town.

Following a couple years after Walhalla was selected as the seat for Oconee County in 1868, the main German population was offset by an flood of new settlers, including many from Pickens Court House, the prior seat of the old Pickens District.

There were three colleges in early years of Walhalla, there was Newberry College, which moved to Walhalla in 1856, staying until 1877 when it returned to the town of Newberry. Residents of Walhalla then planned Adger College under the Presbytery of South Carolina, which was ended in 1886. Walhalla Female College opened in 1877 but died ten years later.

Known as the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Walhalla has sustained a solid population, but the German influence is all but disappeared. Even though Walhalla’s German heritage may not be as it once was in their early history and the German Colonization Society no longer exists the town has maintained the annual Oktoberfest celebration since 1979.  What brings thousands of people to visit Walhalla and the surrounding area are the beautiful sites, such as the Station Cove Falls seen below.

station-cove-falls Wallahla

South Carolina’s Andrew Jackson


Andrew Jackson

March 15, 1767- June 8, 1845

Andrew Jackson served as a Soldier, U.S. senator, president of the United States. Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaw community of Lancaster District on March 15, 1767, Jackson was the son of Andrew Jackson and Elizabeth Hutchinson. Jackson’s father died before he was born, so Jackson was raised by his mother in the home of relatives and attended local schools in the Lancaster District. During the Revolution War Jackson’s mother and two older brothers (Hugh & Robert) died from illnesses. His actions against Tories (supported the British) led to his arrest by the British in April 1781. During his detainment, a British officer demanded that Jackson clean his boots. Jackson refused and for his refusal Jackson was slashed with a sword which left scars on his hand and head.

In 1784 Jackson moved to Salisbury, North Carolina, to study law, he passed the bar in 1787. He then moved into what would later become Tennessee, landing in Nashville, he immediately gained the spot light as an excellent prosecutor and attorney. He met Rachel Donelson Robards who was going through a divorce, there were cloudy circumstances over her divorce and accusations of adultery, but he subsequently married Rachel on January 18, 1794, the events surrounding Rachel plagued Jackson during his presidential campaigns.

Even though the marriage to Rachel haunted Jackson’s presidential runs, it was Jackson’s political connections and Rachel’s prominent family that energized Jackson’s rise in politics. He served at Tennessee’s constitutional convention in 1796 and as the state’s first U.S. Representative. He served one year in the U.S. Senate before winning election to the Tennessee Superior Court. In 1802 Jackson gained a top position as major general in the militia.

During the War of 1812, Jackson defeated the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend in 1814, which led to him being commissioned as major general in the U.S. Army. Jackson was sent to New Orleans where he collected a mixed force of irregulars to impede a British attempt to take the city of New Orleans. This astounding victory over the British regulars made Jackson a national symbol. His popularity was amplified when he conquered Spanish Florida in 1818 and hanged two British followers accused of rousing the Indians along the Alabama-Georgia border. President James Monroe and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, along with the cabinet came close to renouncing Jackson’s actions prior to a treaty purchasing Florida from Spain which ended the predicament.

After a short term as territorial governor of Florida, Jackson returned to Tennessee, Jackson’s actions brought him an enormous amount of popularity making Jackson a presidential contender. Jackson was nominated for president in 1822 with hardly any support initially, during this time Jackson accepted the U.S. Senate seat by the Tennessee legislature in 1823. Once in Washington, Jackson voiced his displeasure against the widespread corruption he discovered when arriving in Washington. In the 1824 presidential election, Jackson received the most popular votes, but fell short of gathering an Electoral College majority. The U.S. House of Representatives, along with the support of Speaker Henry Clay, it gave the presidency to John Quincy Adams, who then appointed Clay as Secretary of State. Jackson was furious at this “corrupt bargain” and made it known that this was a deliberate rejection of the will of the people.

Jackson resigned his Senate seat and returned to Tennessee in 1825. An alliance of anti-administration adversaries began to form around Jackson and the call for change. An early and nervous alliance was made with Calhoun, and Jackson agreed to back a newspaper run by Duff Green, a Calhoun supporter. A short time later, New York’s Martin Van Buren and other well-known politicians adjoined their support to Jackson’s candidacy, creating the core of the modern Democratic Party. A nasty campaign followed in 1828 powered by rumors concerning Jackson’s marriage, but Jackson with Calhoun as his vice presidential candidate carried them to an overwhelming victory. Jackson advocated limited government, removal of the Indians beyond the Mississippi, replacement of public officials, and payment of the national debt.

Jackson, a supporter of states’ rights, was a committed nationalist and viewed nullification as the first step towards disunion and an abandonment of majority rule. In reply to Calhoun and the developing nullification sentiment, Jackson, at the 1830 annual Jefferson Dinner declared, “Our Union: It must be preserved.”

Soon after Jackson was in the White House he uncovered information that Calhoun, as secretary of war, had backed Jackson’s arrest and punishment over his invasion of Florida, this information expanded the rift between Jackson and Calhoun. It was thought by many in Washington that Martin Van Buren was behind the Jackson-Calhoun rift as an attempt to replace Calhoun as Jackson’s successor. The ultimate break between Jackson & Calhoun occurred when Jackson orchestrated for a new newspaper to promote the administration’s policies. Things exploded when Calhoun published his thoughts over the Florida affair, this caused Jackson to then eliminate his cabinet, an action never previously taken. Van Buren assumed Calhoun’s spot on the 1832 ticket, strengthening his role as Jackson’s successor.

The Tariff of 1832 reintroduced nullification sentiment in South Carolina, the following November a South Carolina convention nullified the tariff acts and prohibited the collection of custom duties within the state. On December 10, 1832, Jackson issued a proclamation declaring the actions “incompatible with the existence of the Union and destructive of the great object for which it was formed” and solicited the use of force. A compromise tariff was signed into law just days before Jackson’s second inauguration, this ended the crisis of a nullification threat.

Jackson’s popularity amid the common people, his resilient personality, leadership, and his underappreciated political skills strengthened his presidency during his two terms from March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1837. His platform against nullification forced southerners to seek more radical means whenever slavery became the main issue. Jackson’s political opponents merged into the Whig Party and securely started the two-party political system. With Jackson’s control of the Democratic Party it led to Martin Van Buren’s election as president in 1836.

Andrew Jackson Home After leaving office, Jackson retired to his home of Hermitage, outside of Nashville. He died on June 8, 1845, and was buried in his garden. Andrew Jackson is the only South Carolinian to have ever served as president of the United States.


South Carolina & Slavery

South Carolina and the African Slave Trade

Slavery was instituted in the “New World” by the Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch, each dispatched African slaves to work in North America during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The English embarked in slave trading in what was called “black ivory” through the middle 17th century, this slave trade was driven by the need for laborers in the sugar fields in the West Indian islands of Barbados, Bermuda, and Jamaica.

By the time Charles Towne (Charleston, SC ) was settled in 1670, Englishmen from the West Indies were accustomed with slavery and the vast profits they could obtain from the labor of others. For this reason slavery was deemed a necessity in order to have a successful and established crop on plantations in South Carolina. Like many other European nations, England created the Royal African Company to finance the slave trade. A string of forts and “slave factories” were established from the Cape Verde Islands to the Bight of Biafra (Western African coast between the Niger River and Cape Lopez). The slave trade would not been as effective had it not been for the “unholy alliance” between the English and other European nations, along with the African nations where these forts were positioned. The English slave traders would try to deceive the African kings, and the African king would do their best to acquire the greatest amount of goods in exchange for each slave for sale. For their shipments of slaves, the traders offered iron and copper bars, brass pans and kettles, cowrey shells (used as money in certain parts of Africa), guns, gun powder, cloth, and alcohol. The African kings would send ships loaded with slaves, anywhere from 200 to over 600 slaves, piling them like cord wood and allowing almost no breathing room for the slaves. With the overcrowding, the bad ventilation, and poor nutrition during the five weeks to three month voyage there were around 14%- 20% of the slaves died. This was thought to be a natural routine when doing business in slave trading. The slave trade is believed to have transported at least 10 million, and possibly over 20 million, Africans to the American.

The Carolina’s and their planters fostered an image of ” the “ideal slave– tall, healthy, male, between the ages of 14 and 18, “free of blemishes,” and as dark as possible. For these “ideal” slaves Carolina planters in the 18th century would pay between 100 and 200 sterling, today that would be somewhere between $11,500 and $24,000. Just about all of these slaves entered the Charleston port, they would be held temporarily on Sullivan’s Island where they were quarantined before being sold in Charleston’s slave markets. Most of these slaves were put to work in South Carolina’s rice fields.


Columbia…..A Planned City

A Planned City

The first occupants of the area that became Columbia were a people called the Congaree. The Congaree were a group of Native Americans who lived along the Congaree River. In May 1540, a Spanish expedition led by Hernando de Soto pass through what is now Columbia while moving northward. The expedition produced the earliest written historical records of the area.

Columbia was an area of the state that set up the overall development of the state, as a fort was built on the west bank of the Congaree River, this was the start of a navigation route in the Santee River system. With the ferry being started by the colonial government in 1754, this connected the fort with the growing settlements on the higher ground on the east bank of the Congaree River

State Senator John Lewis Gervais who was from the town of Ninety Six introduced a bill that was ratified by the legislature on March 22, 1786, to establish a new state capital moving it from Charleston. There was a huge argument over the name for the new capital, one legislator insisted it be called “Washington”, but “Columbia” won by a vote of 11–7 in the state senate and the South Carolina General Assembly established the site of Columbia as the Capital of South Carolina.

The site was decided on due to its central location in the state. The State Legislature first met there in 1790. After remaining under the direct government of the legislature for the first two decades of its existence, Columbia was incorporated as a township in 1805 and then as a city in 1854.

Columbia received a big incentive to develop a direct water route to Charleston via the Santee Canal, the canal connected the Santee and Cooper rivers in a 22-mile-long section. It was first chartered in 1786 and finished in 1800, making it one of the earliest canals in the United States. The canal ceased operation around 1850 with expanded railroad traffic.

City officials designed a town of 400 blocks in a 2-mile square along the river. Each block was divided into lots of 0.5 acres and sold to speculators and potential residents. The Buyer was required to build their house at least 30 feet long and 18 feet wide within three years or face an annual 5% penalty. The perimeter streets and two through streets were 150 feet wide. The remaining squares were divided by main road 100 feet wide. The width was determined by the idea that either dangerous or annoying mosquitoes could not fly more than 60 feet without dying of starvation along the way. As the second planned city in the United States (Savannah, GA was first), Columbia began to grow rapidly.

By 1816, there were 250 homes in Columbia with a population of just over 1,000. The governing body of Columbia was allowed to tax property owners up to 12 cents per $100 of property, additionally taxes were imposed for ownership, a carriage was $5 and a wagon was $3 per year. One of the first public employees in Columbia was call a “Warner”, this person would go to each property owner’s home warning them that it was time to work on or clean the public streets. For $2 a year, a home owner could be exempt from working on the streets.

In the early days, every home owner was required to keep a fire bucket for every chimney they had in the home. Policing the city of Columbia was not easy in the early 1800’s, the legislature appointed a city marshal who would just walk through the city twice a day. In 1854 the city elect a mayor and two years later the city had a police force which consisted of a full-time police chief and nine deputies. Their starting pay was $16 a month.

Columbia did not get paved streets until 1908, 17 blacks on Main Street were paved. The city did try something different on Washington Street, Washington was paved with wooden blocks. This didn’t last especially when the wooden blocks began to buckle and some of the blocks floated away during heavy rains. These wooden blocks were replaced with asphalt in 1925.

An 1872 Map of Columbia


Columbia Past & Present