James Huey’s Will, Abbeville District February 8, 1845
James Huey’s Will, Abbeville District February 8, 1845
The following information was taken from http://www.hchsonline.org/
The name Witecaw / Wittecaw is almost assuredly an Indian term and most probably Waccamaw Indian. The earliness of its grant in relation to the surrounding lands in Kingston Township coupled with the fact that William Waties, the Indian trader, received the original land grant, suggests that the bluff was a significant tract. Was it one of the four Waccamaw villages surveyed in 1715 whose names and locations have never been discovered? The Indian census of 1715 states that the Waccomassus (Waccamaw) tribe.
Located approximately three and three-quarter miles north of present day Conway is a bluff on the west side of the Waccamaw that was known by the name of Wittecaw when the original grantee, William Waties, received a proprietary grant to 500 acres on this bluff on 23 April 1717. This is the oldest known grant in Kingston Township.
The Waties family is believed to have come from Wales in the late seventeenth century and both father and son, William Sr. and Jr., were known to have been Indian traders and very active in the colonial government. On July 10, 1716, William Waties, Sr. was appointed factor to trade with the Indians north of the Santee and was instrumental in building the trading post at Yauhannah the same year.
Due to health reasons, he resigned the following year and was succeeded by his assistant, Meredith Hughes. It is uncertain which William Waties (Sr. or Jr.) received the land grant to Wittecaw but most probably William Jr. was granted the land since it was the original grantee that registered the memorial to the property in 1732 and William Sr. was in poor health in 1717. The date of death for William Waties Sr. is unknown and no estate documents have been found.
During the 1730’s, William Waties Jr. received numerous grants and purchased the warrants of others along the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers (several of these being in Kingston Township) and became one of the largest landowners in the area. His lands totaled in the thousands of acres and many of the tracts were strategically important bluffs along the Pee Dee and Waccamaw. On December 4, 1735, he was granted 250 acres across from the new town of Kingston.
Records indicate that sometime prior to Jan. 1735 William Waties sold Witecaw to William Simson (Simpson). We know this because Simson on January 24, 1735 mortgaged the property called Witecaw (sic) to Waties for a little over 1,039 pounds. The mortgage was witnessed by neighbors Ebenezer Shingleton (who lived just upriver from Simson on the east side of the Waccamaw.
On June 9 or 10, 1738, William Simson again mortgaged the 500 acre tract to Daniel & Thomas Laroche, merchants of Georgetown, stating that he lived on the property that was then bounded on the northeast by Thomas Blythe and southwest by William Pinckney, both of whom had received land grants adjacent to Simson’s Wittecaw.
William Pinckney received a grant to 1700 acres and a town lot in Kingston on Sept. 17, 1736 and Thomas Blythe received a grant of 250 acres on September 17, 1736. Thomas Blythe called himself a cabinet maker of Craven County when he mortgaged his 250 acres in 1738 and probably lived on the tract. He later became a deputy surveyor and a justice of the peace for Prince George Parish.
William Simson sold Wittecaw to Paul Trapier who sold to brothers Joseph and Samuel Grier on March 26/27 1749. Shortly after purchasing the 500 acres, the two Grier brothers divided the tract into two parcels of two hundred fifty acres each. Joseph Grier wrote his will on September 2, 1749 naming his wife Barbara and children Andrew, Joseph, Jean and Mary. He left the Wittecaw tract to his son Andrew. Andrew Grier married Margaret (last name unknown) and had children Jean, Joseph and Samuel. He wrote his will on April 8th 1765 leaving the Wittecaw tract to his two sons Joseph and Samuel.
Samuel Grier, brother to the original Joseph Grier and the owner of the other 250 acres at Wittecaw, purchased other lands in Kingston (750 acres on Hunting Swamp and 350 acres adjacent) and on the Pee Dee in Yauhannah (1,950 acres at Conns Creek). At the time of the writing of his will on June 11, 1769, he lived on his plantation in Yauhannah. He left the 250 acre Wittecaw tract to his son John Grier.
Seven Grier brothers and sisters came from Northern Ireland and settled in old Kingston starting in the early 1730’s. They were Samuel, Joseph, John, Patrick, Jannett Willson (wife of John Willson), Agnus Baxter (wife of Arthur Baxter) and Mary Ridgell (wife of William Ridgell). One brother, Thomas Grier, remained in Northern Ireland. They came to the new world as weavers, planters and ship owners and were some of the first inhabitants of Kingston. John and Joseph Grier appear to have been in Kingston when the lands were being laid out as a township.
Several references are shown of them being adjacent land owners on some of the original grantees’ plats but no plats or grants have been found for either John or Joseph Grier. Although the surname for that particular family line no longer exists in Horry County, the name Grier shows even today in some of the old families of Horry – probably from one or more of the numerous Grier girls (children of the original 7 brothers and sisters) who married into the old Horry County families and whose genealogies have been lost over the last 250 years.
Many of the descendants of these Grier brothers and sisters moved down to the Pee Dee in the Yauhannah/Petersfield area during the 1750’s and 60’s. Family lore says that there was a fever in Kingston during the 1750’s that wiped out much of the population and the Grier’s moved to the Pee Dee in hopes of finding a healthier climate.
After the Civil War ended, it led the way for the 13th amendment which formally abolished slavery in the United States. But following their emancipation, the majority of former slaves had no financial resources, property, residence, or education.
Attempts were made to reach some shred of economic freedom, such as with the “40 acres and mule,” decree but it was foiled.
Without any federal land compensation or any financial compensation a lot of ex-slaves were forced into sharecropping, tenancy farming, or some other method of basic labor arrangements.
By 1899, around 21 percent of the black population had been born into slavery, had the government been required to distribute pensions to former slaves near the turn of the century, there would have been a limited number of people to compensate.
But the movement to grant pensions to ex-slaves faced intense opposition, the greatest opposition did not come from southerners in Congress but from three executive branch agencies. It was opposition impossible to overcome.
During the late stages of the Civil War the federal government (primarily Republicans) tried to help relieve the hardship among freed slaves and help them gain economic independence through attempts to allocate land. These efforts, both military and legislative can explain why ex-slaves thought that compensation was possible.
Special Field Orders No. 15, issued by Gen. William T. Sherman in January 1865, promised 40 acres of abandoned and confiscated land in South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Florida (largely the Sea Islands and coastal lands that had previously belonged to Confederates) to the former slaves.
But these efforts were rolled back by President Andrew Johnson’s Amnesty Proclamation of May 29, 1865. By the latter part of 1865, thousands of freed slaves were suddenly evicted from land that had been distributed to them through Special Field Orders No. 15.
The Freedmen’s Bureau issued an order on September 12, 1865, and paired with Johnson’s presidential pardons, provided for restoration of land to former slave owners. With the exception of a small number who had legal land titles the freed slaves were removed from the land as a result of President Johnson’s restoration program.
The Freedmen’s Bureau Act had been established by Congress in March 1865 to help former slaves transition from slavery to freedom. In section four of the act it authorized the bureau to rent no more than 40 acres of confiscated or abandoned land to freed slaves and loyal white refugees for a term of three years. At the end of this period, or at any point during this period, the male occupants renting the land had the option to purchase it and would then receive a title to the land.
But Johnson’s restitution policy made section four null and void and prevented bureau officials’ from helping the newly liberated to acquire land.
In June 1866 the Southern Homestead Act was ratified and was intended to give freed slaves and white southern loyalists first choice of the remaining public lands from five southern states until January 1, 1867.
Congress also misjudged the time it would take for the freed slaves and loyal whites to effectively complete the process of securing a homestead. The process involved filing claims, waiting indefinitely until offices opened or reopened, and working to secure enough money to purchase land. At the same time, freed slaves faced southern white opposition to settling land.
Furthermore, Congress provided no tools, seed, rations, or any form of extra assistance to these people, and most of those affected their earnings barely covered the bare necessities for them to survive. With all these obstacles sustaining a homestead without assistance was almost impossible under those circumstances.
On March 11, 1867, House Speaker Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania introduced a bill (H.R. 29) that sketch out a plan for confiscated land in the “confederate States of America.” Section four of the proposed bill clearly called for land to be distributed to former slaves:
During the 1868 campaign Republicans promised 40 acres and a mule to freed slaves. A couple of decades passed before any further concerted efforts were made to provide economic relief and security for ex-slaves. and when there was another major effort, it was not by the government but by former slaves and their allies.
By the last decade of the 19th century, the concept to procure the enactment of pension legislation for ex-slaves for their years of unpaid labor was put into action. The concept of ex-slave pensions was modeled after the Civil War era program of military service pensions, and the first ex-slave pension bill (H.R. 11119) was introduced by Rep. William Connell of Nebraska in 1890.
It was introduced at the request of Walter R. Vaughan of Omaha, a white Democrat and ex-mayor of Council Bluffs, Iowa. He did not believe that it, or subsequent bills, should be identified as a pension bill but instead as “a Southern-tax relief bill.”
Vaughan understood that pensions would financially benefit former slaves and would indeed be a measure of justice for their years of forced labor. Even though Vaughan wanted to help the freed slaves he also wanted these ex-slaves to spend their pensions in the South in order to give the devastated southern economy a financial boost.
The push for ex-slave pensions gained momentum in the 1890s and lingered into the early 20th century. This grassroots movement was composed largely of former slaves, their family members, and friends.
A proposed pension payment scale based upon the age of beneficiaries that appeared in every ex-slave bill from 1899 and moving forward. Ex-slaves 70 years and older at the time of disbursement were to receive an initial payment of $500 and $15 a month for the rest of their lives; those aged 60–69 years old would receive $300 and $12 a month; those aged 50–59 years old would receive $100 and $8 a month; and those under 50 would receive a $4 a month pension. If formerly enslaved persons were either very old or too ill to care for themselves, their caretakers were to be compensated.
Once a freed slave reached a certain age threshold, he or she would then be eligible for the higher pension. This proposed ex-slave pension payment scale is very similar to the Civil War pension gradation scale for soldiers with disabilities. Soldiers who became disabled as a result of military service received pension payments based on the nature of their partial disability and military rank. Over time, the Civil War pension program came to resemble a system of pensions for elderly veterans just as the ex-slave pension movement’s main focus was to secure pensions to particularly aid the elderly.
The downfall of the pension plan for ex-slaves came about from three federal agencies, the Bureau of Pensions, the Post Office Department, and the Department of Justice acted collectively in the late 1890s and into the early 20th century to research individuals and groups in this movement.
These officials who pursued the idea of ex-slaves receiving a pension was unrealistic because the government had no intention of compensating former slaves for their years of involuntary labor. Thus, ending the prospect of any ex-slaves receiving a pension for their years in slavery.
An interview with Mary Edwards a former South Carolina slave from Greenwood sharing her memories.
I was born in the section of Greenwood County called the
“promised land”. My parents were Henry and Julis Watkins, I married Prank Edwards when I was young. Our master, Marshall Jordon was not so mean. He had lots of slaves and he give ’em good quarters and plenty to eat. He had big gardens, lots of hogs and cattle and a big farm.
My master had two children. Sometimes they hunted rabbits, squirrels, possums and doves. Our master had two overseers, but we never worked at night.
We made our own clothes which we done sometimes late in evening.
We had no school and didn’t learn to read and write, not
till freedom come when a school started there by a Yankee named
Backiastore. Later, our church and Sunday school was in the yard.
We had cotton pickings, cornshuckings and big suppers.
We didn’t have to work on Christmas.
One of the old-time cures was boiling fever-grass and
drinking de tea. Pokeberry salad was cooked, too. The cure for rheumatism was to carry a raw potato in the pocket until it dried up.
I had 11 children and 8 grandchildren.
I think Abe Lincoln was a great man. Don’t know much
about Jeff Davis. Booker Washington is all right.
I Joined the Methodist church, I was 50 years old. I joined because they had meetings and my daughter had already joined. I think all ought to join a church.
Source: Mary Edwards (79), Greenwood, S.C
Interviewed by: G.L. Summer, Newberry, S.C. (6/10/37)
While doing some genealogy research I cam across some interviews of former slaves in South Carolina. This interview is former slave Emanuel Elmore of Gaffney, SC.
These are stories give us a first hand look of what life was during slavery in South Carolina.
I was born on June 20th and I remember when the war broke
out, for I was about five years old. We lived in Spartanburg
County not far from old Cherokee lord. My father was Emanuel
Elmore, and he lived to be about 90 years old.
My master was called by everybody, Col. Elmore, and
that is all that I can remember about his name. When he went to
the war I wanted to go with him, but I was too little. He joined
the Spartanburg Sharp Shooters.
They had a drill ground near the falls. pa took me to see them drill, and they were calling him Col. Elmore then. When I got home I tried to do like him and everybody laughed at me. That is about all that I remember about the war. In those days children did not know things like they do now and grown folks did not know as much either.
I used to go and watch my father work. He was a molder
in the Cherokee Iron Works, way back then when everything was
done by hand. He molded everything from knives and forks to
skillets and wash pots. If you could have seen pa’s hammers, you
would have seen something worth looking at. It was so big that it
jarred the” whole earth when it struck a lick.
Of course it was a forge hammer, driven by water power. They called the hammer
“Big Henry”. The butt end was as big as an ordinary telephone pole.
The water wheel had fifteen or twenty spokes on it, but
when it was running it looked like it was solid. I used to like to
sit and watch that old wheel. The water ran over it and the more
faster came over the more power the wheel gave out.
At the Iron Works they made everything by hand that was
used in a hardware store, like nails, horse shoes and rims for all
kinds of wheels, like wagon and buggy wheels. There were molds for
everything no matter how large or small the thing to be made was.
Pa could almost pick up the right mold in the dark, he was so
used to doing it. The patterns for the pots and kettles of different sizes were all in rows, each row being a different size. In my mind I can still see them.
Hot molten iron from the vats was dipped with spoons
which were handled by two men. Both spoons had long handles, with
a man at each handle. The spoons would hold from four to five gallons of hot iron that poured just like water does. As quick as the men poured the hot iron in the mold, another man came along behind them and closed the mold. The large molds had doors and the small molds had lids. They had small pans and small spoons for
little things, like nails, knives and forks. When the mold had
set until cold, the piece was prized out.
Pa had a turn for making covered skillets and fire dogs.
He made them so pretty that white ladies would come and give an
order for a pair of dogs’, and tell him how they wanted them to
look. He would take His hammer and beat them to look just that way.
Rollers pressed out the hot iron for machines and for
special lengths and things that had to be flat. Railroad ties were
pressed out in these rollers.
Once the man that handled the hot iron to be pressed through these rollers got fastened in them himself. He was a big man. The blood flew out of him as his bones were crushed, and he was rolled into a mass about the thickness and width of my hand. Each roller weighed about 2,000 pounds.
The man who got killed was named Alex Golightly. He
taught the boys my age how to swim, fish and hunt. His death was
the worst thing that had happened in the community. The man who
worked at the foundry, made Alex a coffin. It had to be made long
and thin because he was mashed up so bad.
In those days coffins were nothing but boxes anyway, but Alex’s coffin was the most
terrible thing that I have ever seen. I reckon if they had
pretty coffins then like they do now, folks would have bought
them to sleep in.
Hundreds went to Alex’s funeral, white and black, to see
that narrow coffin and the grave which was dug to fit it. On
the way to the graveyard, Negroes sang songs, for Alex was a good
man. They carried him to the Cherokee graveyard on the old Smith
ford Road, and there they buried him. My father helped to build
the coffin arid he helped haul him to the graveyard, pa worked at
the Iron foundry until he was very old. He worked there before I
was ever born.
My father was sold four times during slavery, then he
was brought to Virginia he was put on the block and auctioned off
for 4,0O0. He said that the last time he was sold he only brought
1,500. He was born in Alabama. When he was bought he was carried
from Alabama to Virginia.
It was Col. Elmore who took him. He wanted to go to Alabama again, so Col. Elmore let a speculator take him back and sell him. He stayed there for several years and got
homesick for South Carolina. He couldn’t get his master to sell him back here, so he just refuged back to Col. Elmore s plantation.
Col. Elmore took him back and wouldn’t t let anybody have him.
Pa married twice about the same time. He married Dorcas Cooper, who belonged to the Coopers at Staunton Military Academy.
I was the first child born in Camden. She had sixteen children. I
was brought to Spartanburg County when I was little. Both ma and
pa ware sold together in Alabama. The first time pa came to South
Carolina he married a girl called Jenny. She never had any children.
When he went to Alabama, Dorcas went with him, but Jenny stayed
with Col. Elmore. Of course, pa just jumped the broom for both of
When pa left Alabama to refugee back, he had to leave
Dorcas. They did not love their master anyway. He put Dorcas up
on the block with a red handkerchief around her head and gave her
a red apple to eat. She was sold to a man whose name I have forgotten. When they herded them she got away and was months making her way back to South Carolina. Those Africans sure were strong.
She said that she stayed in the woods at night. Negroes along the
way would give her bread and she would kill rabbits and squirrels
and cook and eat in the woods. She would get drunk and beat any
one that tried to stop her from coming back. When she did get back
to Col. Elmore’s place, she was lanky, ragged and poor, but Col.
Elmore was glad to see her and told her he was not going to let
anybody take her off. Jenny had cared so well for her children
while she was off, that she liked her. They lived in the same house
with pa till my mother died.
Col. Elmore said that Negroes who were from Virginia and
had African blood could stand anything. He was kind to ma. He fed
her extra and she soon got fat again. She worked hard for Col. Elmore, and she and pa sure did love him. One time a lot of the Negroes in the quarter got drunk and ma got to fighting all of them.
When she got sobered up she was afraid that Col Elmore was going to send her back to Alabama so she went and hid in the woods. Pa took food to her. In about a month Col. Elmore asked where she was, and pa just looked sheepish and grinned. Col. Elmore told pa to go and bring her back, for he said he was tired of having his rations
carried to the woods; so ma came home. She had stayed off three
months. She never felt well anymore, and she died in about three
more months. Pa and Jenny kept us till we got big and went off to
Jenny was born and raised in South Carolina, and she was
good to everybody and never fought and went on like ma did. Ma
liked her and would not let anybody say anything against her. She
was good to pa till he died, a real old man. Jenny never had any
children. She was not old when she died, but just a settled woman.
We felt worse over her death than we did over ma’s, because she
was so good to us and had cared for us while ma and pa were in
Alabama then she was good to us after Dorcas died and when she
hid in the woods. It seems that folks are too tender now. They cant stand
much. My ma could stand more than I can. My children can’t stand
what I can right now.
Sycamore St., Gaffney, S.C.
Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C.
Benjamin Randolph (1820—October 16, 1868) was born free in Kentucky to mixed race parents, he grew up in Morrow County, Ohio, where he received a basic education. He attended preparatory school at Oberlin College and graduated from their collegiate program in 1862.
Soon afterwards he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister, but he served as a Presbyterian chaplain with the Twenty-sixth U.S. Colored Troops located in Hilton Head, South Carolina. After the war Randolph returned to the Methodist faith while he settled in Charleston in 1865 and worked for the American Missionary Association and then the Freedmen’s Bureau as the assistant superintendent of schools. He played a part in the Colored People’s Convention at Charleston’s Zion Presbyterian Church and in 1866 he coedited, with the Rev. E. J. Adams, the Charleston Journal.
With the introduction of “Manhood Suffrage” in 1867 which was a form of voting rights, this allowed all adult males within a political system to vote, regardless of income, property, religion, or race. With this movement Randolph joined in the reconstruction era as a politician as he was a committed Republican.
He emerged quickly becoming very popular, as he represented Orangeburg County in the 1868 constitutional convention. He disappointed many black and white Republicans when he firmly supported disfranchising illiterate voters and those who failed to pay poll taxes. He also supported a constitutional ban on racial discrimination and he was also in favor of the integration of public schools: “The time has come when we shall have to meet things squarely, and we must meet them now or never. The day is coming when we must decide whether the two races shall live together or not.” But, not any of the constitutional proposals Randolph endorsed were passed.
In 1868 Randolph was elected to represent Orangeburg County in the state Senate and he also served as a county school commissioner. The state Republican convention elected him chair of the state central committee, but there were still many who did not care for Randolph. One white Republican leader, John Morris, declared that Randolph was “quite a speaker and a good man” but was “totally unfit for that position.”
On October 16, 1868, while campaigning on behalf of the Republican Party, Randolph was assassinated after he stepped off a train at Hodges station in Abbeville County. There were accusations that the Ku Klux Klan was responsible for his murder, but no one was convicted of the crime. Randolph was one of four Republican leaders—Solomon G. W. Dill, James Martin, and Lee Nance were the others—slain during 1868. He was buried in Columbia in the cemetery that now bears his name.
Randolph Cemetery is located in the downtown area of Columbia, South Carolina and was the first cemetery officially established for the city’s African-American community. In 1871, nineteen local black legislators and businessmen came together to form an association to establish an adequate place for burial for blacks in Columbia. Prior to this period African-Americans were buried near the river in the local Potter’s Field along with poor whites.
Individual Tax Returns for 1824
South Carolina first based its tax structure on differing values for different types of land in 1784. The legislature revised the valuation of land in 1815 by S.C. Statute 1815(6)7. The 1815 valuation was still in effect for the 1824 tax year. Other specifics governing the taxes being collected by this record series can be found in An Act to Raise Supplies for the Year 1824 (S.C. Statute 1824(6)251).
William Bellemee Tax Return For 2,000 Acres And 17 Slaves In Horry District
Information on the tax returns includes the number of acres of land (in 13 categories of assessed value under the 1815 Act to Fix the Value of Lands in this State for Taxation); the “Value of Lots in Towns and Villages”; the “Value of Goods, Wares and Merchandise”; the value of “Factorage, Employments, Faculties and Professions, and Commissions of Masters and Commission Merchants”; the number of slaves (listed as “Negroes”); the number of “Free Negroes, Mulattoes; and “Theatrical, Public Shows, &c. in Towns and Villages not incorporated.”
James Bellemee Tax Return
John Bellemee, Tax Return for 4320 Acres and 29 Slaves In All Saints Parish (Horry County)
The last item was taxed at twenty dollars per day. Entries were made on pre-printed forms. Most returns also include the date of the return, the signature of the person being taxed (or their agent) or the signature of the executor or administrator of an estate, and the signature of the tax collectors.
Richard Bellemee Sr., Tax Return For 1,107 Acres & 19 Slaves In Horry District.
The Battle of Eutaw Springs
September 8, 1781 at Eutawville, South Carolina
After receiving reinforcements, Major General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army once again ordered the attack on Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart and the British soldiers at Eutaw Springs. The battle took place on the banks of the Santee River, as the Patriots approached in the early morning it had forced the British soldiers to abandon their morning breakfasts to defend themselves.
Greene commanded approximately 2,200 men compared to the less than 2,000 British soldiers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart. What the Patriots were unaware of was that the British had managed to secure a stone house, it allowed the British to regroup and a place where Patriot Lieutenant Colonel William Washington’s cavalry was unable to attack. After the Patriots took over the British camp, Washington must have thought because the British had retreated and disappeared he felt there would be no counter attack. As the Patriots began plundering through British supplies, Stewart prepared his men to attack the Patriots.
As a four-hour bloodbath ensued and an unsettled ending, both sides retreated from the battlefield. What was determined was more than 500 Americans were killed or wounded in the action. British losses were even greater and the greatest sustained by any army in a single battle during the entire Revolutionary War. By the end of the battle, 700 of their soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. Because of the high number of casualties the British sustained, Stewart subsequently ordered his men to withdraw to Charleston, South Carolina, to regroup.
The Battle of Eutaw Springs was one of the hardest fought and bloodiest battles of the Revolution and proved to be the last major engagement of the war to take place in the South. The Patriots’ partial victory cemented their near-complete control of the southern section of the country.
The first surge of French Huguenots came to South Carolina in the late 1670’s into the 1680s. This first group established a settlement on the Santee River north of Charles Town (Charleston), and other areas in the lowcountry. French Huguenot churches were established at Jamestown, Goose Creek, and Charles Town. The French Huguenots quickly arose to own large plantations and businesses, and were among the elite of the South Carolina lowcountry. As the Huguenots married locals who were British, they adopted British ways quickly.
The Calvinist Huguenots came into being about 1550 when ministers brought Bibles to France from Switzerland. Within five years the new church were holding their first service.
This brought about much conflict, the Roman Catholic Church was concerned it would lose control over souls and the government feared Protestant demands for local rule. The government concerns appeared justified when powerful nobles such as the Condés attempted to employ Protestants to strengthen their own political advancement against the powerful Guise family.
War broke out in 1562 when a number of Huguenots were massacred by the Guises in a church at Vassy. The Huguenots were only a twentieth of the total French population, yet fought so fiercely they were able to win concessions from the Roman Catholic majority.
Catherine de Medici, the authority behind the French throne, ordered the assassination of the brilliant Huguenot Admiral Coligny. The attempt left him wounded but not dead. Catherine panicked and ordered the massacre of all Huguenots, including Coligny. The carnage began in Paris on the evening of St. Bartholomew’s Day and spread to the countryside on the following days. Between 40,000 and 100,000 Huguenots were slaughtered in cold blood. This is known today as the St. Bartholomew Massacre.
Remaining Huguenots fled to areas of safety. An exhausted series of wars followed until the Huguenot prince, Henry of Navarre, became heir-elect to the throne of France. But, to gain the throne, Henry eventually learned he must convert to Catholicism. After he did convert the Huguenots viewed this as a betrayal. To silent their fears, Henry issued the Edict of Nantes, this protected Huguenot rights.
The Huguenots continued to defend themselves with arms when necessary, but eventually leaders of the Huguenots decided that it is better to suffer than to fight. Consequently, the rebellion called “the Fronde” came about, as the Huguenots declined to join their natural allies but instead favored the young Louis XIV. He in turn acknowledged their loyalty and confirmed the Edict of Nantes protecting the rights of the Huguenots
At the same time Louis XIV did not want France divided in faith. So, he began to give in to the churchmen who called for Huguenot privileges to be taken away. Laws were passed making it hard for Protestants to participate in any organizations. If a child of fourteen converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, the child could leave its Huguenot parents, Huguenots were forbidden to form new colleges. Even if a Huguenot attempted to leave France they would be punished, but if any Huguenot converted to Catholicism they were paid an endowment.
In 1682 Louis XIV threatened the Huguenots with terrible evils if they did not convert. His religious training, strict upbringing, along with his brutal advisers led him to believe he could not be saved unless he wiped out the Huguenot beliefs. He destroyed 570 of the 815 churches and those Huguenots who met secretly in the woods were exposed to savage punishments or immediate death.
As the Huguenots found safety in Great Britain they also discovered they wanted to move to a new land where they could start a brand new life. It was in 1679, King Charles II sent two shiploads of French Huguenots to South Carolina, in order to introduce the cultivation of grapes, olives and the silkworm. In 1694, Baron de Luttichaw petitioned for permission to import 200 Protestant families that totaled some 1,000 people.
Subsequently, these families settled on the banks of the Santee River, they extended from the lower ferry at South Santee (Mazyck’s Ferry) which was about two miles below Wambaw Creek, in St. James Parish. These families gradually spread themselves out so as to encompass the spacious tract of country stretching to the Winyah Bay and to have access to the Cooper River.
The English settlement embraced within the Parish of St. Stephens, was designated as English Santee, while that below, composed of Huguenots in the Parish of St. James, was called French Santee.