Blue Channel Seafood
facility, Town of Port Royal
Beaufort County, SC
County was named for one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina,
Henry Somerset, the Second Duke of Beaufort.
of South Carolina is pronounced
"BYOO-fert" (as in "beautiful").
The Beaufort of coastal North Carolina
is "BOH-fert" (as in "Beauregard"),
which is also the correct pronunciation of the Duke of Beaufort's name.
Those who claim the city of
Beaufort as their residence are called Beaufortonians (as with "Washingtonians",
the accent is on the -ton- syllable and the -o-
is long: oh).
of Beaufort (County Seat): population in 2000 Census
Town of Port Royal: 2000 Census: 3,950.
Town of Hilton Head Island: 2000 Census: 33,862.
Town of Bluffton: 2002 Census: 1,275.
Census population was 125,212 (70.7% White; 24.0% African American;
6.8% Hispanic; 0.8% Asian; 0.3% Native American). See
also detailed information.
to semi-tropical. Winters are moderate, summers hot. Snowfall is rare,
but electrical storms are common, particularly in summer months. Average
annual rainfall is 47.9 inches. The average annual humidity is 75%. Beaufort's
annual mean high temperature is 76.5 degrees F, and the annual mean low
temperature is 57.2 degrees F. Prevailing gulf breezes temper the summer's
of Beaufort: population in 2000 Census: 12,950.
University of South Carolina at Beaufort (http://www.sc.edu/beaufort) is a two-year
regional campus of the state university system, offering undergraduate
studies in the humanities, education and business. A USC-B campus on Hilton
Head Island offers courses to students in that part of the county as well.
The Campus Library holds a state documents depository collection, and
academic collection in the humanities and sciences,and is open to the
Technical College of the Lowcountry (http://www.tclonline.org)
offers programs of vocational-technical education in industrial skills,
business, practical nursing, computer science, cosmetology and the first
two years toward a bachelor's degree. The TCL's Learning Resource Center
is also open to the general public and includes curriculum-support materials
with emphasis on computers, nursing and business.
Park College offer
additional programs through their extension service.
County lies in the southeastern corner of the state along the Atlantic
Coast and the Inland Waterway. It is the heart of the area known as the
Lowcountry and the Sea Islands. Beaufort County's 637 square miles encompass
64 large- to moderate-sized islands, about 2,000 smaller ones, and a portion
of the mainland. The mean average elevation is 21 feet above sea level,
with elevations ranging from sea level to 42 feet above at the highest
point. The Broad River divides the county into two major segments, emptying
into the Atlantic Ocean at Port Royal Sound at about the mid-point of
its coast. The Coosaw River empties into the Atlantic at St. Helena Sound
at the county's northern border, which is shared with Colleton County.
Beaufort County also borders Hampton County on the Northwest and Jasper
County on the West and Southwest. Marshes, creeks, inlets and swamps are
the geographical features of Beaufort County along with the islands, rivers
recorded history of the area now known as Beaufort County
goes back to 1561 (or earlier) with the Spanish
explorations of Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon.
1562, Huguenots, under the leadership of
Captain Jean Ribaut* established the short-lived French settlement
of Charlesfort on present-day Parris Island.
alternate spelling, "Ribault",
reflects the archaic French writing system of the 16th century.
Whatever the spelling, the most accurate pronunciation of
"Jean Ribaut" for English speakers is "zhahn
ree-BOH" (the "zh"
is like the "s" of "pleasure").
1566, the Spanish, led by Pedro Menendez
de Aviles, returned to build the settlement of Santa Elena
(also on Parris Island).
1588, Santa Elena had been abandoned, though
the Spanish continued to claim sovereignty over the region.
1629, Charles I claimed the Carolinas for
first Englishman to explore this region was Captain William
Hilton, who arrived in 1663 and gave a favorable
report upon his return to Barbados.
1666, Lt. Col. Robert Sandford came to Port
Royal and left a young English surgeon, Dr. Henry Woodward,
with the Indians; Sandford recommended that an English colony
would thrive in the area.
1670, English colonists were dispatched from
Barbados with the intention of settling on Port Royal Island,
but were persuaded by the Indian chief and Dr. Woodward to
move instead to Charles Town, some sixty miles to the North.
group of Scottish traders attempted a settlement called Stuart
Town in 1684.
Town was destroyed by a Spanish attack in 1686.
Town was founded by the Lords Proprietors of Carolina in 1710.
Yemassee Indian War of 1715 slowed early
growth of the newly founded Beaufort Town.
1729, the province was transferred back to
the Crown and with this new stability Beaufort developed into
one of the wealthiest, most aristocratic and cultivated towns
of its size in America at the time. Beaufort prospered under
the plantation system with rice, indigo and finally cotton
as prime crops.
Beaufort was occupied by British troops from 1779
to the end of the Revolution, it was spared destruction and
so quickly recovered, enjoying its greatest period of prosperity
in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Oak" in Bluffton
Photograph by Dennis Adams
(August 29, 2002)
Secesion House" in Beaufort(1113 Craven St.).
Photograph by Dennis Adams (August 20, 2002)
"Secession Oak" may already have been two centuries
old on July 31, 1844, when as many as 500 people met beneath
its canopy. According to Janice Hunter Cantrell (in the Bluffton
Historical Preservation Societys No. II: A Longer
Short History of Bluffton, South Carolina and Its Environs,
they had come to hear their congressman, Robert Barnwell Rhett,
"who had been so vociferously agitating since the 1820s
Secession". And so began "The Bluffton
Movement", which "led to South Carolinas withdrawal
from the Union on December 20, 1860 the first state to
plaque in the basement of "The Secesion House"
in Beaufort, SC. (1113 Craven St.) reads, "In this
house the first meeting in favor of secession
was held in 1851."
Troops occupied Beaufort early in the Civil War. In November
of 1861, Union naval and army detachments
subdued Confederate forts off Port Royal Island, established
a strong blockade base on Hilton Head Island, and occupied
the town of Beaufort not only for the duration of the war,
but for years afterward. As a Federal base of operation in
the South, the town escaped destruction during General Sherman's
"March to the Sea". Most land owners suffered ruin,
however, when their houses were confiscated by the Federal
government and sold for taxes. On the other hand, many of
the freed slaves were able to buy land for the first time.
1862, the Penn School was founded
on St. Helena Island as a school for African-American Sea
was slow to recover from the hardships of Reconstruction.
The ravages of the boll weevil to the cotton crop and the
vast devastation of the hurricane of 1893
Fire of 1907 destroyed
much of downtown Beaufort.
- The era
of the military bases began on October 28, 1915, when
the Marine barracks on Parris Island commenced full recruit
training operations. The Naval Hospital facilty was completed
in 1949, and in 1960 the Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort
was officially commissioned. These installations are a major
part of the economy to the present day.
was not until World War II that Beaufort
County really began to recover from its severe depression
with the growth of the Parris Island military installation,
the emergence of vegetables and seafood as exportable commodities,
and -- most recently -- the advent of tourism and resort and
- Major commercial
development of Southern Beaufort County than began on
Hilton Head Island in the 1950s grew dramatically in the last
third of the 20th century. In the 1990s, the Sun City housing
development in Okatie and growth in the Bluffton area brought
more residents and business "South of the Broad (River)."
- The 2000 Census
showed that Beaufort County had the fastest-growing
population in the state.
and recreation, seafood fishing, military installations, manufacturing,
and South Carolina Ports Authority. Leading industries in number of 1991
employees were services (38.2%); retail trade (31.4%); finance, insurance
and real estate (8.8%). 34 companies had more than 100 employees, and
Beaufort County Memorial Hospital was a major employer.
Vegetables -- especially tomatoes -- are the principal source of crop
receipts in Beaufort County. Other crops include timber, soybeans, beef,
pork and eggs. There were 120 farms totaling 44,800 acres in 1992.
Beaufort continues to be a favorite choice of major film companies. The
Big Chill, The Great Santini,
The Prince of Tides, Disney's live-action version
of The Jungle Book and Forrest Gump
are among major productions recently filmed in the county.
Author Pat Conroy has set Beach Music, The
Prince of Tides, and other of his novels in Beaufort's Lowcountry
setting. (Source for post-1990 figures: Profiles of America:
South Region -- Volume 3).
There is no simple answer for
Ladys Island. In Names in South Carolina,
Claude Neuffer wrote that "Lady's Island was so called because it
was on the day of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, that the island was claimed
for Spain by explorers in 1525." The History of
Beaufort County by Lawrence S. Rowland, Alexander Moore and
George C. Rogers, Jr., gave quite another origin: "Lady's Island
was named after Lady Elizabeth Axtell Blake and is sometimes called Combachee,
Combee, or Comber Island". By the way, the proper spelling is "Lady's
Island", not "Ladies Island" or "Ladies' Island".
St. Helena Island
in South Carolina (Volume V, page 18) confirmed
that St. Helena Island "received its name from one of the captains
in the party of the Spanish explorer Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon. This captain
called it Punta de Santa Helena". In English, this "Punta de
Santa Helena" is "St. Helena Point" or "St. Helena's
Other Beaufort County Islands
(from Names in South Carolina)
Among other Sea Island names,
Royal is most
regal, so named by Huguenot explorer Jean Ribaut for its kingly ocean
honors English seafarer William Hilton, and Parris
preserves the name of a Colonial Treasurer of South Carolina.
("Green Wood") was a legendary Muskogean chieftain, the native
Daufuskie (an Indian War battleground),
means "Place of Blood". Several of Beauforts barrier islands
were once known as "hunting islands" ("Isles des Chasseurs"
on a 1777 French map): 18th century planter John Fripp,
Sr. owned one such isle that likely bears his name, and our Hunting
Park has kept the original title.
land area of Beaufort County is 637 square miles.
Major Sea Islands and Water Areas in
(in square miles)
Area of Major Sea Islands
in Beaufort County
- Hilton Head
Island (not including Pinckney Island): 46.6 square
- Port Royal Island
(including Cat Island, Distant Island, etc.):
46.0 square miles
- St. Helena Island
(including Dataw Island): 44.7 square miles
Island (including Coosaw Island): 22.7 square miles
- Parris Island:
12.8 square miles
- Daufuskie Island:
8.0 square miles
- Hunting Island:
2.5 square miles
- Fripp Island:
2.0 square miles
- Harbor Island:
0.7 square miles
Area of Water Surfaces in
calculations, provided by Joe Noll of the Beaufort County
Geographic Information Systems Department (June 2000), are
taken from the "National Wetlands Inventory" and
are not official Beaufort County statistics.
Longitude: 80 degrees
degrees 25' 53" N
of Hilton Head:
Longitude: 80 degrees
degrees 13' 09" N
Longitude: 80 degrees
degrees 14' 13" N
Longitude: 80 degrees
degrees 33' 23" N
Helena Island (Frogmore):
Longitude: 80 degrees
degrees 23' 12" N
Museum and Arsenal
features local artifacts and natural history.
(713 Craven Street, Beaufort, SC 29902; TEL: 843/525-7077).
Coastal Discovery Museum (http://www.coastaldiscovery.org)
offers programs, activities, and exhibits year-round to make learning
about Hilton Head and other sea islands an enjoyable experience for
island visitors and residents alike.
(Location: North end of Hwy 278; Mailing address: P. O. Box 23497
Hilton Head Island, SC 29925; TEL: 843-689-6767, ext. 225).
The John Mark Verdier House Museum presents
an early 19th-century home in the Federal style of architecture.
(801 Bay Street, Beaufort, SC 29902; TEL: 843/524-6334).
Coastal Learning Center" of local marine ecology. Grand
opening: Saturday October 5th, 2002. Hours of Operation:
Tuesday-Saturday:11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. (Location:
N. E. corner of 14th Street and Paris Avenue, Town of Port Royal;
Mailing address: P.O. Box 608. Port Royal, SC 29935-0608; TEL: 843/524-1559).
Island Museum (http://www.pimuseum.us)
Highlights history of the island and of the United States Marine Corps.
seven days/week, and 10-7 Thursday preceeding graduation.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Bldg. 111
PO Box 5202
Parris Island, SC 29905/228-2951 (TEL:
The York W. Bailey Museum, at the Penn Center, Inc.
( Penn Center, Inc. http://www.angelfire.com/sc/jhstevens/penncenter.html)on
St. Helena Island, offers displays on Sea Island culture, history and environment, as well
as about the history of the Penn School, local artifacts and connection
between Africa and the people of the Sea islands. (P. O. Box 126,
Saint Helena Island, SC 29920-0126; TEL: 843/838-8562).
Island State Park (http://www.huntingisland.com/PICmain2.htm)
has beaches, historic lighthouse and facilities for camping, swimming,
fishing and picnicking.
Island Wildlife Refuge: bird-watching and nature observation,
hiking and bicycling trails.
Historic District (Downtown Beaufort): the
entire district is on the National Register of Historic Places. Antebellum
homes, churches and commercial buildings. Annual Tour of Homes (the
John Mark Verdier House on Bay Street is a museum home open to the public
Services of the Sea Islands (Saint Helena Island): formerly
site of the earliest education facility for freed slaves (1862). On
the National Register of Historic Places.
Forts include the (French) Huguenot Charlesfort and Spanish
Forts San Felipe and San Marcos
on Parris Island; colonial British Fort Frederick in Port Royal;
pre-revolutionary Fort Lyttleton and post-Revolutionary Fort Marion
on the same site at Spanish Point in Beaufort; Civil War forts Beauregard
on Bay Point and Walker on Hilton Head Island; Spanish-American War
Fort Fremont at
Land's End (at the end of Land's End Road on St. Helena Island).
Church Ruins: Prince William's Parish Church on SC Secondary
Road 21, built between 1745 and 1755, and burned in both the Revolutionary
and the Civil Wars. See also
The Chapel of Ease Ruins.
Head Island is a well-known resort community with hotels, beaches, tennis,
golf, boating, fishing and other recreation.
Seventeen marinas and numerous public boat ramps are located
in Beaufort County.
The Cement of the Lowcountry