At the end of the 17th century, driven by the terrible persecution in France, thousands of Huguenots fled their country in search of religious freedom. A large number found what they sought in the fledgling colony of (South) Carolina in the new world. Here these noblemen, craftsmen and artisans took up axes and guns and struggled to build their homes and survive in the wilderness with their wives and children.
Nowhere was this more evident than on the banks of the Santee River where a group of French and Swiss Protestant refugees arrived in 1687 and where “a sail from a boat was our first house and the earth our bed. A cabin like that of savages …was our second house.” Through their letters and the tantalizing bits and pieces of recorded history they left behind, their struggles and triumphs to forge a new settlement are revealed. At French Santee they established a wealthy plantation society, until time and fate returned the land they had conquered to wilderness once more.
French Santee A Huguenot Settlement in Colonial South Carolina by noted authors Cheves Leland and Susan Bates is an in-depth study of the 17th century Huguenot settlement on the Santee River in South Carolina with biographical sketches of the more than 100 French Protestant families who lived there. Detailed maps, photographs and copies of old plats show the changes in the area as the settlement grew and evolved into the eighteenth century. The book also includes translations of two letters written from Carolina prior to 1700, explanatory notes and footnotes. You may begin by reading about your own family, but you will soon find yourself checking out their neighbors and friends, tracing land sales and untangling relationships.
The cost of this 428 page (8.5″x 11″) hardcover book is $50.00 (plus shipping). It can be ordered from two organizations we are proud to support: The Village Museum, PO Box 595, McClellanville, SC 29458; telephone 843-887-3030; (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) (website: http://villagemuseum.com/).
We will be giving two talks and signing books for these two organizations. We will be at the McClellanville Town Hall on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 7 pm and at Charles Towne Landing in Charleston, SC on Thursday, April 16, 2015 for the 130th Annual Meeting of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina. Non-members are welcome at the April event, but need to contact the Society (843 723-3235) in advance and there is a small guest fee.