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Dorchester County SCGenWeb

Part Two


This article first appeared
in the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine,
Vol VI - No 2, April 1905 (p. 62 - 81: online - more coming soon)

 The list of the settlers has not come down to us. The occupiers of the lots were not confined to them, but from data derived from later transfers, wills and conveyances the following appear to have formed substantially all of the new settlers who received lots in the division:
1. John Stevens. He was in Carolina before the others arrived. The record does not show where he came from. He was one of the leading men in the Dorchester settlement, and was the ancestor of the Stevens family, members of which have always occupied position in lower South Carolina.

2. Revd. Joseph Lord. Was the Pastor under whom the "Church" immigrated. Received lot No. 10 in the first range, and purchased lots 11 and 12 in the same range. Lot 10 he subsequently conveyed (15 Aug 1721) to "Michael Bacon Nathaniel Sumner and Thomas Osgood Jr.and the rest of the inhabitants of in and about Dorchester now under the ministrv of the Rev Mr Hugh Fisher". He left Carolina and returned to Massachusetts in 1720.

3. Increase Sumner received a lot in the first range.

4. Williant Pratt. He received lot No. 23 in the first range. It is to his diary that we are indebted for so much information as to the first settlement. He returned to New England and there died 13th January, 1713.

5. William Adams.

6. William Norman. He had already a grant for 320 acres, and does not seem to have taken any part of the division of the 4,050 acres. He apparently left a number of descendants.

7. Samuel Sumner, brother of Increase Sumner, received lot 24 in the first range.

8. Michael Bacon. Received a lot in the first range, and purchased lots 6 and 7 in the same range from John Stevens. On one of these last two was situated the bridge over the Ashley River, originally called Stevens's Bridge, but ever since and now known as Bacon's Bridge.

9. John Simmons received lot 12 in the first range.

10. Abraham Gorton received lot 13 in the first range.

11. Jonathan Clarke received lot 14 in the first range.

12. Thomas Osgood had a lot in the first range and 1-26th part of all undivided lands.

13. Job Chamberlain removed to Carolina in 1698, and in 1702 owned a lot in the second division.

14. Aaron Way, Senr.

15. Aaron Way, Junr.

16. William Way.

17. Moses Way.

18. Samuel Way.

All of the Ways seem to have been original settlers and at an early date owned lots in one or other of the divisions.

19. Robert Miller, an early settler, as early as 1717 had accumulated 479 acres in the second range of the first division.

The foregoing are all that can be said with any degree of certainly to have been among those who received lots at the first division of the 4,050 acres.

The following are the additional names of others who appear soon afterwards as owning some of the lots and as forming part of the distinctive Church:

John Hill       in  1726.

Thomas Satur   1722.

Peter Savey    1738.

Joseph Brunson 1722.

John Hawks     1721.

David Batcheler1707.

John Kitchen   1720.

Thomas Graves  1720.

Robert Winn    1718.

Stephen Dowse  1727.

Isaac Brunson  1712.
There were outsiders, apparently, who had lots very early. These may have been the "others that were concerned", mentioned by Elder Pratt.

Ralph Izard and Daniel Chastaigner, both persons wholly disconnected with the "Church", held lots in the first range at an early date. Izard prior to 1708 and Chastaigner prior to 1712.

The small lots in the town, or place of trade, very soon began to drift into the hands of outsiders.

There has been a tendency to depict this settlement as something unusual - a band of enthusiastic missionaries, carrying the Gospel into a primeval wilderness.

The Rev. Mr. Howe, in his History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, says they "came into this country as a missionary church to plant an institution of the Gospel", and again they sailed "toward the land God had given them as an inheritance, not knowing whither they went", and again that they settled "here in the midst of an unbroken forest inhabited by beasts of prey and savage men twenty miles from the dwellings of any whites they took up their abode".

All this is rhetorical but not historical. Mr. Howe cites as his authority a sermon styled "The Hand of God Recognized", preached by the Rev. Mr. George Sheldon on the 22d. February, 1846, in the Congregational Church at Dorchester, in observance of the 150th anniversary of that church. This sermon does make similar statements, but the reverend author gives no references for his statements.

The contemporaneous records show otherwise. The "Church" debated between two points. Boosboo and New London. They were entertained and housed at both places by persons who had already settled. The lands they finally settled on had been granted away and settled by another 20 years previously. They were surrounded by settlers who had preceded them, viz: Lord Shaftesbury's barony with its settlement lay to the south, on the opposite side of the river. West of them were the settlements of Col. Andrew Percivil (granted in 1682), of William Norman (1684), of Benjamin Waring, of Lady Axtell at Newington. East, along the Ashley River, the entire land was taken up already by grants and settlements, and northeast of them, about six miles off towards the head of Goose Creek, was another and quite numerous group of settlements dating from 10 to 20 years previous.

Elder Pratt himself says in his diary that Mr. Lord's first preaching was attended by "all ye next neighbours", and that persons even came from 10 miles around.

It is not even certain that the church building, constructed by the Dorchester immigration, was the first church building constructed in that section.

The little colony of French Huguenots who settled in the neighbourhood of the head of Goose Creek had at a very earlyperiod a small church structure on lands not far to the east of the present Ladson's station, on the Southern Railway. This last may have preceded the erection of any church at Dorchester.

Provision was made at once, however, by the Dorchester settlers for the construction of a permanent church building and the support of the ministry, for on 21st September, 1702, John Stevens conveyed "for provision for the ministry of the Congregational Church now settled in Dorchester unto the inhabitants of Dorchester and particularly unto William Pratt Increase Sumner and Thomas Osgood Senr. as persons intrusted by the inhabitants of Dorchester and to their successors from time to time chosen by the inhabitants of said Dorchester", lot No, 9 in the first range within the land "now called by the name of Dorchester (which was formerly two tracts one commonly called Boosoo the other Roses land)", also Lot 1 in the second division, also 4 small lots Nos. 13, 33, 44 and 112 "in the place designed for a place of trade within Dorchester", also 1-26th of all undivided land within Dorchester. The ministry seems to have been provided for as if the "Church" itself formed one of the 26 to whom the tract was partitioned.

The church building was placed on Lot 9 in the first range where its ruins and the old grave-yard stand to this day.

It was not placed in the town or place for trade, but about one and one-half or two miles to the west, near the public road, then called the "Broad Path".

The place seems to have thriven slowly. Thankful Pratt, the daughter of William Pratt, married a Daniell Axtell, of Sudbury, in Massachusetts. When he came to Carolina is not known, but he was here in 1699, carrying on a saw mill and tar and turpentine business in connection with Lady Axtell and Robert Fenwicke, and Gershom Hawks. He kept a sort of day book of accounts, which is now in the hands of his descendents, Mr. Joshua Eddy Crane, of Bridgeport, Massachusetts.

This day book as containing the names of the persons with whom he dealt gives us the names of the then persons living in and around Dorchester. Gershom Hawks and Robert Fenwicke had each obtained grants for 1,000 acres in the vicinity - Robert Fenwicke in 1700 (Sec'y State's off, Vol 38, p 400) and Gershom Hawks in 1705. (Ibid, p 523) All of the present town Of Summerville, not included in the Dorchester tract of 4,050 acres, lies within the last two grants. Germantown and that part of Summerville adjacent to Germantown are on the grant to Hawks, and all of New Summerville, i. e: that part laid out by the Railroad Company is on the grant to Fenwicke.

The old mill dam and mill site which gave the name of "Saw Mill" Branch to the swamp is either on part of the original Dorchester grant or the grant to Fenwicke.

Daniel Axtell left Carolina in 1707 and returned to Massachusetts, and died in 1736 at Deighton on the Taunton River.

Although of the same name as the Carolina Axtells there is no known blood connection between them.

As early as 1729 the land where the old mill dam ran across the swamp in Summerville was known as "Saw mill land". It had no connection with the tract of 123 acres reserved as "mill land" near the town of Dorchester, but was the land around the saw mill which was operated by Daniel Axtell prior to 1707. Ever since that date this part of Boo-shoo Creek, adjacent to Summerville, has been known as "Saw Mill Branch".

In 1882, before the present canal down the swamp was excavated, the old mill dam was practically intact. Some of the old mill timbers of solid cypress remained on the old mill site. The oldest inhabitant could remember no one who had seen the mill run, and the growth of pines showed that no water could have been kept on the pond for near a century.

The data as to the town of Dorchester and its early history are very scanty. The country around it began to fill up, and the town, lying at the head of navigation on the Ashley River, became a trading place and point of distribution It stood at a point capable of easy defence and of easy communication by water with Charles Town, and thus, became a point of support and refuge from Indian invasions.

The settlers in Dorchester began to overflow. It was easy to obtain grants of land, and many grants were obtained higher up and across the Ashley River, especially in the section known afterwards as "Beech Hill".

Merchants established themselves in the town. The streets. The streets are not named on the plan, and the only names that have come down thro' the deeds are the river, and "George" Street, the street running to the "Broad Path" or public road.

Gillson Clapp was a merchant "on the Bay" in 1724, and in 1722 Thomas Satur, of Dorchester, Jacob Satur, of London, Eleazer Allen, of Charles Town, and William Rhett, Jr., of Charles Town, formed a co-partnership to carry on trade at Dorchester.

In 1708 Dorchester was a small town containing about 350 souls.

In 1706 the Rev. Joseph Lord wrote to a friend in Massachusetts that the country was more frequented by way of trade.

In 1706 the Act for the establishment of the Church of England in the Province was passed. Six parishes were created, and Dorchester was included in St. Andrew's Parish.

In 1715 the Yemassee Indian War broke out, and the entire province south of the Stono River was devasted. The Yemassee invasion itself seems never to have reached Dorchester, but an invasion of the Indians to the northward, which took place at the same time, was more threatening. This invasion was met by Capt. George Chicken at the the Goose Creek militia, and a decisive defeat was inflicted upon the Indians at a place styled in the old accounts "The Ponds".

This appears to be the Percival plant at the point now called "Shulz's Lake".

The Yemassee War inflicted a terrible loss on the Province, and for many years delayed the settlement of the Province to the south of Ashley River.

In 1719 St. Andrew's Parish was divided, and the upper portion, including Dorchester and the surrounding territory, was created a separate parish and called St. George.

A church was directed to be built at a point to be selected by a majority of the commissioners named with the approval of a majority of the inhabitants of the parish of the profession of the Church of England who should contribute to the building. The commissioners were: Alexander Skene, Capt. Walter Izard, Thomas Diston, Samuel Wragg, John Cantey, Thomas Waring and Jacob Satur.

The place selected for the church was the place for a place of trade or Dorchester town.

The parish church, with its surrounding graveyard, was then placed in the town on lots Nos. 52, 53, 54, 55 and 56.

The parish then contained 115 English families, amounting to about 500 persons, and 1,300 slaves. The town now begin to forge ahead. Roads were extended by statue into the surrounding country, and in 1722 the bridges over the Ashley - Steven's Bridge (now Bacon's Bridge) and Waring's Bridge (now Slann's Bridge) were confirmed as public bridges.

In 1723 an Act was passed for settling a fair and markets in the town of Dorchester, in Berkeley County, "being a frontier in that part of the Country".

In 1734 an Act was passed for the founding and erecting a free school at the town of Dorchester, in the parish of St. George, and in the same year an Act was passed to clear out the Ashley River up to Slann's Bridge.

A bridge across the river, opposite the town of Dorchester, had already been built.

A great loss of population in the surrounding country took place in 1752-56. The descendants of the original settlers who gave the name to Dorchester - the members of the "White Meeting" or Congregational Church - had overflowed into the surrounding country. So many of them had settled in the Beech Hill section that about 1737 another place of worship was constructed there for their convenience. The "Church" had acquired 95 acres in two tracts on the "Beech Hill" road, and on one of these tracts, not far from the parish line of St. Paul's, the building for worship constructed. The congregational being practically the same as that at Dorchester, one minister served at both places on alternate Sundays.

In 1752-56 a general exodus of these congregations took place to Georgia. The reasons, as stated in their records, were lack of sufficient lands for their increasing numbers, and the unhealthiness of Dorchester and Beech Hill. In 1752 they procured two grants of land, aggregated 31,950 acres on the coast of Georgia,' between the Medway and Newport rivers, in what subsequently became Liberty County. Nearly all of the congregations of the Dorchester and Beech Hill churches with their minister, the Rev. John Osgood, removed. The names of the settlers who took up the 31,950 acres and their subsequent history is fully detailed by the Rev. Mr. Stacey, in his History of Midway Church, to which reference bits already been made.

The effect of their removal was practically the death blow to the Congregational Church in St. George Parish, Dorchester. No settled minister was had to perform services. The building at Beech Hill, being of wood, soon perished. From that date the history of Dorchester ceases to be the history of a Congregational settlement and becomes the history of the village of Dorchester and the parish of St. George, Dorchester.

In addition to its growth as a town during these years Dorchester also had become the place of resort for supplies for the country around, which had been taken up more or less for the seats and plantations of a number of wealthy families.

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