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History: 1700's & Earliest Settlers


Early Settlers

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the Native Indian tribes living in what is now South Carolina included the Bear River Indians, Cape Fear Indians, Catawba, Cheraw, Cherokee, Chowanoc, Machapunga, Moratok, Natchez, Occaneechi, Santee, Saponi, Shakori, Tuscarora, Wateree, and the Waccamaw tribes. See YouTube videos on the History of Native American Indians.

  • In 1670, the first English settlement was established in South Carolina at Albemarle Point on the Ashley River.
  • In 1682, Craven county within the Carolina colony included the area now known as Clarendon county. For more detail, see Historic Clarendon County.
  • Clarendon county is named after Edward Hyde, the Earl of Clarendon, friend and supporter of King Charles II of England. At one time he served as the Lord High Chancellor of England. He was one of the lords proprietors to whom the King gave all the land in this part of the American colonies.
  • Many of the first settlers of Clarendon county were Huguenots, meaning they were French Protestants who fled their country between 1685 and 1787, in order to avoid persecution in France because of their religious beliefs. Many of these early settlers came up the Santee River from coastal areas around the year 1700 and received land grants in the area.
  • In 1701, John Lawson, an English trader and explorer wrote of the Santee Indians of this area. In his writings he spoke of the friendliness and hospitality of the Santees. Examples of their ways of life and customs can still be found in and around their burial mounds at Fort Watson near the Santee waters.
  • In addition to judicial districts, the 1706 Church Act also divided South Carolina into a series of parishes. 
  • In 1711 the Santee Indians joined the settlers to fight the Tuscarora Indians of North Carolina, but in 1715 the Santees joined the Yemassee Indians in a war to destroy the South Carolina settlers - and they almost succeeded. The few Indians left at the end of that war were either sent to the West Indies as slaves or moved up the river to join the Catawba Indians, leaving no Santee Indians in Clarendon county.
  • In 1721, South Carolina officially became a Crown Colony. Sir Francis Nicholson was appointed the first royal governor of the colony.
  • The American Revolutionary War began in 1775. Throughout the course of the American Revolutionary War over 200 battles were fought within South Carolina, more than in any other state.

On November 19, 1775, Patriot forces of the Long Cane Militia fought Loyalists in the First Battle of Ninety Six, resulting in the death of James Birmingham, the first South Carolinian to die in the war. Under Colonel William Moultrie, the South Carolinians then defeated the Royal Navy in the Battle of Sullivan's Island on June 28, 1776 and brought the Patriot Continental Army a major victory just days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. For more detail, go to Wikipedia to read more about South Carolina and the Revolutionary War.

  • In 1778, the British shifted their attention to the southern colonies, recaptured Georgia and South Carolina for the Crown.
  • A number of Revolutionary War battles or engagements took place near Summerton in Clarendon county. They included the Battle of Half Way Swamp took place December 1780. Various other battles that took place in the general area are the Battle of Richbourg’s Mill, the Battle of Nelson’s Ferry, the Battle of Fort Watson/Santee Indian Mound, and the Battle of Tearcoat.
  • It was General Frances Marion's strategy to surprise and strike the British forces and then disappear into the swamps. British General Lord Cornwallis sent one of his top officers to try to catch Frances Marion and they chased him to the edge of our Ox Swamp and then turned back in disgust, with the comment that the devil himself could not catch that fox. From then until now, General Marion is known in history as the Swamp Fox. There is now a Swamp Fox Murals Trail which is a historical landmark depicting the American Revolution and General Francis Marion.

  • In 1781, British forces suffered a major defaeat at Yorktown, Virginia. The defeat broke Britain's will to continue the war. Limited fighting continued throughout 1782 until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, officially ending the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States of America.
  • On May 23, 1788, South Carolina became the 8th State to join the Union - the newly formed United States of America (USA).
  • In 1790, only 24% of the 330 families in Clarendon owned slaves. As new crops like cotton and rice were successfully introduced into the state, the number of slaves in South Carolina began to increase rapidly.
  • In 1793, the Santee Canal was constructed to facilitate the transportation of settlers goods inland. The canal was later closed in the early 1850's as the railroads made the canal obsolete.
  • In 1798, the three counties of Clarendon, Claremont and Salem were combined to form Sumter District.

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