The other day on our way back from Hilton Head Island we drove through Bluffton, SC and thought it looked like an interesting little town. They have a number of old homes, businesses and other historical places to visit and today was our chance to do so.
I looked up the history of the town and pulled the following from a tourism brochure.
"Beginning more than 250 years ago settlers began making their mark in this pristine wilderness, just north of the Savannah River. But the area was already occupied by a group of over 1,200 indigenous people, the Yemassee Indians, when in 1715 the Yemassee War broke out and after several years of fighting, the tribe migrated to Florida.
Opening the “Indian Lands” to European settlement, the Lords Proprietors carved the area into several new baronies in 1718, including the Devil’s Elbow Barony that contained the future town of Bluffton.
Historic Old Town Bluffton emerged in the early 1800’s in small dwellings atop high river bluffs overlooking the May River. This coastal community grew in popularity during the antebellum period as an escape from the harsh inland plantation conditions in the summer months that often manifested into yellow fever and malaria outbreaks. Strong southerly breezes from the river kept the infectious mosquitoes at bay and made sultry summer days bearable.
The layout of the town's streets in 1830 indicate that it started as a summer haven, and soon developed into a commercial center for isolated plantations in the vicinity that received their goods from Savannah via the May River. The town was a place where children could attend school and planter families could socialize and discuss the politics of the day. Two notable structures reflecting the history and architecture of the time are The Heyward House, circa 1840, and The Church of the Cross.
Literally a hotbed for political rhetoric, in 1844 some of the first cries of secession were first given voice and debate in Bluffton. Incensed planters gathered beneath what became known as the "Secession Oak" (still existing today, but on private property in Bluffton) and the secessionist movement was born. Sixteen years later South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.
On June 4, 1863, several Union gunboats and a transport carrying 1,000 infantrymen steamed up the river to Bluffton because, as the officer in charge wrote in his report, "This town has been the headquarters for the rebels for a long time in this vicinity." Troops were landed with orders to fire the town. Confederate soldiers attacked but were outnumbered and outgunned. When shelling and torching ended and the Union forces withdrew, 34 or more homes, churches and other buildings had been destroyed.
With the Civil War raging and the occupation of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort by Union forces, the town was mostly abandoned by residents and utilized as a base for Confederate pickets observing Union troop movements. The town was pillaged by Union forces on several excursions up the May River and eventually burned in June of 1863. Although the overall destruction was severe, 75% of the town was destroyed, only 15 homes and 2 churches survived."
The Church of the CrossA place of worship, beauty and spiritual reflection for over 150 years, The Church of the Cross has played a pivotal role in the Bluffton community since July of 1854, when the present building was consecrated. As one of Bluffton’s oldest surviving buildings, and listed with The National Register of Historic Places since 1975, The Church of the Cross overlooks the May River at 60 Calhoun Street
The Bluffton Oyster Company shucking house is near this spot on the May River. It is built on oyster shells that have piled up over the past 200 years. I couldn't get a good photo since the parking lot was full of cars. The building looks like it could be 200 years old.
Spa Vino and Restaurant on Calhoun Street. They have happy hour from 4-7 and we may go back and check it out. Not the Spa, but the Happy Hour.
We weren't able to tell what this home was, but it was beautiful and had every light on in the place. It's common down here for the large 2 story homes to have wrap around porches on each floor. The home was recently sold, however the ad is still out there and shows the rooms and beauty of the house.
Click on the Seven Oaks ===> 1850 House For Sale
This ramble shack is called "The Store" and had lots of interesting stuff around and in it. We hope to go back and check it out further in the next few days.
It was getting late and we stopped at a Publix grocery store for a few items and that in itself isn't that interesting. However, picking up a Key Lime Pie for dessert is important to us. Publix makes the best KLP that we have ever tasted and can't resist buying one when we can find them. It was good for a snack this evening and we still have some leftover.
That was our day here in sunny and warm South Carolina Lowcountry. How was your day?