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Seabrook Island’s Rich History

Posted 09/02/2014

Seabrook Island has a rich history of intrigue as it grew from a simple island with only a few Native Americans living off the land to what it is today.  The Stono Indians handed over the island’s government to British explorers, led by Lt Col Robert Sanders, who had landed there in 1664. Sanders was sent on King Charles’ II orders to find new land.  Thus, he landed on the coast of what was to become South Carolina and sent for more of his kinsmen to settle the area.

Over the next few years, the land was sold to British settlers who then organized a staging area for troops to use during the American Revolution.  During 1776-1785, the island was used as an access point for British and Hessian troops to attack Charleston.  Its proximity to the big city allowed them to easily sneak in and cause chaos.  Sir Henry Clinton’s goal of seizing the city accomplished its mission, and Charleston surrendered to British troops in 1780.

After the war was over, the British no longer needed the property for military purposes and the need for indigo had diminished.  The land was then sold to William Seabrook from Edisto, its current namesake, who turned the island into successful farm land.  Having cornered a large portion of the market on the other side of the Edisto River, he expanded his cotton to Seabrook Island.  Sea Island Cotton was unique to the lowcountry, and its fine, silky long threads were highly desirable at the time.  Cotton farmers were exceptionally competitive, and they protected their seeds from being stolen or lost to other farmers.  The demand for Seabrook’s cotton was so great that by 1850, he shipped 26 bales, weighing 400 pounds each.

The Civil War was to bring challenges to the local farm lands in expected ways.  Men were lost to the war.  Times had changed, and many slaves had been freed.  Paying wages for work was a much different culture than before, and at the height of the war, Seabrook decided to sell the island to William Gregg as he then settled into Dodge Plantation located on Edisto Island.

Cotton farms ultimately failed, with no chance of recovery, after a boll weevil infestation that took over the entire region.  Gregg rented out the land then to Charles Andell, and finally sold the island to hunters at the turn of the century.

The Episcopal Church became interested in the island in the mid 1900’s.   In 1939, the Diocese of SC leased land to develop an outlet for kids.  By 1951, they had amassed over 1,400 acres, some of which is still used as a summer camp and educational facility for underprivileged children.

Over the years, the Church sold property back to developers, resulting in many of the beautiful vacation homes where we live and relax.

In 1987, The Town of Seabrook Island was officially incorporated.

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