Celebrating 450 Years of Local History

On May 17, 1562, a daring Huguenot sea captain, Jean Ribaut (aka Ribault) landed on Parris Island and established the first French colony in North America. Fewer than 30 settlers quickly erected a wooden bastion that they named Charlesfort (1562-1563). The settlement soon fell upon hard times due to inexperience, repercussions from religious strife in England and France, and poor relations with the Native Americans. Despairing of help, most of the Frenchmen set sail for home with little in the way of supplies. The men resorted to cannibalism before they were spotted off the coast of Ireland by an English ship. The Spanish arrived at Parris Island in 1563, found Charlesfort occupied by a lonely Frenchman, and burned the fort to the ground. The Spanish erected their own fort, Santa Elena, three years later within yards of the French bastion. Santa Elena served as the first capital of Spanish Florida from 1566 until 1587.

The Charlesfort-Santa Elena historic site is nationally significant because it illustrates the competition for New World resources between two European colonial powers, France and Spain. And the intrepid Jean Ribaut was a key actor within this story.

The BDC display case features some of the memorabilia we have from the 400th Anniversary celebration in March 1962. Among the resources are postcards, maps, programs, brochures, Ribaut coins, commemorative stickers, and the master script of "Prologue to Freedom". We have two scrapbooks prepared 50 years ago about Prologue to Freedom that are available to view. Drop by during our regular hours of operation to see the display and other related items.

The Ribaut 450th Anniversary Website [http://www.ribaut450.com/] has plenty of details for you to explore.

On Thursday, May 17th, the Beaufort County Historical Society will present SCIAA member and archaeologist, Dr. Chester DePratter at the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club off Meridian Rd, Lady’s Island, Beaufort, SC. DePratter's power point discussion regarding the archaeological survey and dig at Charlesfort will begin at noon.

In addition to the BDC Jean Ribaut bibliography found at [http://bdcbcl.wordpress.com/article/jean-ribaut-1520-1565-3859k4scvdgpj-27/], here are some online materials to learn more about Ribaut, Laudonniere, and the role that Charlesfort and Santa Elena played in European imperialism:

History of Parris Island, South Carolina – Including Charlesfort and Santa Elena [http://www.sciway.net/city/history/parris-island-sc-history.html]

Charlesfort-Santa Elena Site From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlesfort-Santa_Elena_Site]

Charlesfort-Santa Elena Site [http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId

Charlesfort-Santa Elena [http://parrisislandmuseum.com/santaelena/santaelena.html]

2004 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards for the Charlesfort-Santa Elena site [http://www.denix.osd.mil/awards/upload/mcrd_parris_island_crm-inst.pdf]

Charlesfort, Parris Island, South Carolina [http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/people/charlesfort_parris_island_south_carolina.htm]

Slideshow of what Charlesfort probably looked like [http://www.examiner.com/slideshow/journey-back-to-coast-of-south-carolina-1562#slide=27619341]

Please note schedule change: The Research Room will be closed for lunch, Noon to 1 pm from May 17th - May 23rd due to staff absences.