How Kingstree Got Its Name
Taken from History of Williamsburg by William Willis Boddie
Some explorer, whose name has been lost long before 1780, laboriously rowed his pettiagua from Winyaw Bay up the sinuous channel of Black River to a large white pine tree on the north bank, which he marked and called the "King's Tree". This explorer went no further westward up the river but returned to Charleston and reported to the Colonial Governor that he had worked his way up the Wee Nee River for more than a hundred miles to a place where he found a white pine tree, one like those growing on the New England hills, and that he had chopped into the sap of this "King's Tree" a broad arrow just as the King's trees in New England had been marked. This explorer told wonderful tales about the King's Tree, and the "King's Tree" became a basal point in the "back country".
White pine trees grow normally only on highlands in Northern latitudes. It was purely by chance that this white pine tree, christened by that nameless explorer the "King's Tree", grew in Williamsburg. Only to the poet's mind can its history be known. Possibly some Indian brave, coming southward from the Great Lakes, camped on this bluff on the Wee Nee River and unwittingly dropped the seed that grew into the King's Tree. Or did some old bald eagle, bloody from his battle in the mountains, rest a while on this spot, and in a cooling shower, have washed from his matted feathers the little bit of life that grew into the King's Tree?
This white pine tree on the Wee Nee River possibly caused King George to reserve in every grant of land in these parts all white pine trees forever as the sole property of the King. In those days of sailing ships, white pine made the best masts available and the King kept them for his own. Few of these white pines trees had ever grown in Williamsburg and none of them ever went into a ship flying a Royal Banner.
The American Revolution and South Carolina
The American Revolution brought new challenges to South Carolina. Charles Towne's defenders successfully defeated an invading British fleet in June of 1776 at the battle of Fort Moultrie, but in May of 1780 the city surrendered to another British invasion force after a siege by English General Sir Henry Clinton. The state was the scene of several violent struggles between Patriots (like the Partisans Thomas Sumter, Francis Marion and Andrew Pickens) and Loyalists (like Tories William Wragg and other South Carolina citizens who supported the British). During the American Revolution the Patriots gradually gained the upper hand. With peace in 1783, South Carolina became part of a new country.
Figure 1-10: Revolutionary War Campaigns in South Carolina
Colonial Prosperity Through Rice, Indigo, and Cotton
After the Revolutionary War South, Carolinians moved quickly to rebuild their economy. But first, the planters needed a new staple crop. Because of the war, England would no longer purchase indigo, and rice cultivation was limited to the coastal region. Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1794 led to the spread of the cotton culture throughout the state. Like rice, cotton cultivation was labor intensive and based upon slave labor. As a result of this expansion of commerce throughout the state, it became obvious that the State Capitol could not remain permanently in Charleston. Finally, in 1786, in response to political pressure from Up Country settlers, a more central location, at the confluence of the Saluda and Broad rivers (banks of the Congaree River) was chosen, and the building of the City of Columbia began.
President George Washington's Southern Tour
"Nothing would give me more pleasure than to visit all the Southern States" was the reply President George Washington made to the invitation extended to him by Governor Charles Pinckney of South Carolina. George Washington had just been inaugurated as the first president of the United States in 1789, but he had never been south of his home state of Virginia. Before he headed south, he outlined his specific goals for his southern tour. He wanted to:
· See how much support there was for a General Government,
· Determine the growth and extent of agriculture,
· See the land,
· Find out if the Country had recovered from the ravages of the Revolutionary War, and
· Confront the Up Country farmers in the southern states about the bill he had just signed, The Duties on Distilled Spirits Act, often referred to as the "Whiskey Tax."
The "Whiskey Tax" had just been passed by both houses of Congress and signed by Washington into law. Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of Treasury, had recommended the bill calling for an excise tax (duty) on distilled spirits (whisky) as it entered the country. The revenue generated was designed to retire the Revolutionary War debts. Washington was afraid that taxation of this nature would cause a "whiskey rebellion." It was thought by Capitol leaders that this tax would be hard to collect in the Back Country of the south. With this in mind, he wanted to see if this type of taxation could be enforced. In addition, Washington wanted to promote the new federal union and hoped that his personal popularity would help to unite the newly formed country.
President Washington traveled in a cream colored coach pulled by four horses. He was accompanied by a two-horse baggage wagon, four horses for his outriders, and a white riding horse for himself. Years later he was remembered for his "white chariot." He had originally planned to compensate tavern keepers for food and lodging, but even then southern hospitality was the custom. He accepted many invitations to dine and lodge with plantation owners primarily because there were few lodging houses along his route. Washington kept a journal describing the people he met on his journey, the landscape, time, and distance he traveled. Many of the people he visited are remembered today because of their role in shaping the destiny of South Carolina.
Washington liked to get up early and be on his way by sunrise. He would usually travel about 10-20 miles before stopping for breakfast. About noon on April 27, 1791, President George Washington entered South Carolina from North Carolina near Calabash. The following account of Washington's southern tour is excerpted from his diary.
Diary of the First Presidential Visit to the Palmetto State
Washington's Southern Tour Through Coastal Zone
Excerpted from a pamphlet prepared by A.S. Salley,
a former South Carolina State Historian
[ ] Indicates editorial notes inserted by SC MAPS authors
( ) Indicates editorial notes inserted by A.S. Salley
Highway numbers given in the editorial notes are included for reference only. There were no numbered highways in the 1700's. What we now know as US Hwy. 17 was originally called the King's Highway and followed approximately the same route as the modern road.
Entry for Wednesday, April 27, 1791
. . . crossed the boundary line between Nor. & South Carolina abt. half after 12 o'clock . . . dined at a private house (one Cochran's) about 2 miles farther--and lodged at Mr. Vareen's 14 miles more and 2 miles short of the long bay.--To this house we were directed as a Tavern, but the proprietor of it either did not keep one, or would not acknowledge it--we therefore were entertained (& very kindly) without being able to make compensation.
[On his coastal tour, Washington and his entourage entered South Carolina on what is now US Hwy. 118 just east of US Hwy. 17. After dining at Cochran's house, Little River, he left riding along what is now US Hwy. 17 to Jeremiah Vareen's house two miles north of Singleton's Swash. A swash is a narrow channel through which tidewater flows making it dangerous to cross at high tide. Singleton's Swash marks the beginning of Long Bay or Myrtle Beach as we call it today. Mr. Vareen's house was near the intersection of Hwy. 17 and Lake Arrowhead Road. Both James Cochran and Jeremiah Vareen were Revolutionary War veterans.]
Entry for Thursday, April 28, 1791
Mr. Vareen piloted us across the Swash (which at high water is impassable, & at times, by the shifting of the Sands is dangerous) on the long Beach of the Ocean; and it being at a proper time of the tide we passed along it with ease and celerity to the place of quitting it, which is estimated 16 miles,--five miles farther we got dinner and fed our horses at a Mr. Pawley's private house, no public one being on the Road;--and being met on the Road, & kindly invited by a Doctor Flagg to his house, we lodged there; it being about 10 miles from Pawley's & 33 from Vareen's.
[From Singleton's Swash, Washington traveled 16 miles along US Hwy. 17, Kings Hwy., which was 50 paces or walking steps from the Atlantic Ocean. He stopped to rest his horses and eat dinner with George Pawley at his house located at Garden City. From there, he continued on US Hwy. 17, which parallels the Waccamaw River. Inland, facing the river, were several rice plantations. Dr. Henry Collins Flagg met Washington's party at the small road leading to Brookgreen Plantation. The Flagg family produced a line of medical doctors including Dr. J. Ward Flagg who wrote an account of "The Hurricane of 1893" which is included in SC MAPS Section 10B. Alligator Pool fountain at Brookgreen Gardens marks the site of the house where George Washington spent the night.]
Entry for Friday, April 29, 1791
We left Doctr. Flagg's about 6 o'clock, and arrived at Captn. Wm. Alston's on the Waggamau [Waccamaw River] to Breakfast. Captn. Alston is a Gentleman of large fortune and esteemed one of the neatest Rice planters in the State of So. Carolina and a proprietor of the most valuable ground for the culture of this article.--His house which is large, new, and elegantly furnished stands on a sand hill, high for the Country, with his Rice Fields below; the contrast of which with the lands back of it, and the Sand & piney barrens through which we had passed is scarcely to be conceived.
At Captn. Alston's we were met by General Moultree, Col. Washington & Mr. Rutledge (son of the present Chief Justice of So. Carolina) who had come out that far to escort me to town.--We dined and lodged at this Gentlemans and Boats being provided we the next mornin . . .
[Also living in the Waccamaw Neck was William Alston, who owned Clifton Plantation, located just off of US Hwy. 17. Washington ate breakfast with Alston, who served as a captain in the South Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War. The Charleston reception committee greeting Washington included Major-General William Moultrie, Revolutionary War hero and former governor; Colonel William Washington, cousin of the president and also a Revolutionary War hero; and John Rutledge, Jr., son of the Revolutionary War governor and former Justice of the United States Supreme Court.]
Entry for Saturday, April 30, 1791
Crossed the Waggamau [Waccamaw River] to Georgetown by descending the River three miles--at this place we were recd. under a Salute of Cannon, & by a Company of Infantry handsomely uniformed.--I dined with the Citizens in public; and in the afternoon, was introduced to upwards of 50 ladies who had assembled (at a Tea party) on the occasion.
[George Washington was rowed across the Waccamaw River to Georgetown by seven captains of vessels, dressed in round hats trimmed with gold lace, blue coats, and white jackets riding in an elegantly painted boat. He stayed at the Stewart-Parker house, which is still standing today in the historic district of Georgetown. At Prince George's Lodge, he addressed the Masonic Order and attended a party given to him by more that 50 Georgetown ladies.]
Entry for Sunday, May 1, 1791
Left Georgetown about 6 o'clock and crossing the Santee Creek at the town, and the Santee River 12 miles from it, at Lynch's Island, we breakfasted and dined at Mrs. Horry's about 15 miles from Georgetown & lodged at the Plantation of Mr. Manigold about 19 miles farther.
[Washington left Georgetown on US Hwy. 17 crossing the Sampit River. He continued on this road crossing the North Santee and South Santee rivers on the Santee Delta and arriving for breakfast at Hampton Plantation, now Hampton State Park, just west of US Hwy. 17. Greeting him were Mrs. (Daniel) Harriott Pinckney Horry and her mother Eliza Lucas Pinckney. Colonel Daniel Horry had been a rice planter, sportsman, and Revolutionary War cavalryman until his death in 1785. Eliza Lucas Pinckney is credited with becoming a successful lady planter and introducing indigo as a new cash crop to the Low Country. George Washington voluntarily served as a pallbearer at her funeral when she died in Philadelphia in 1793. See SC MAPS Section 9: Coastal Zone Overview, to find out more about Eliza Lucas Pinckney's contribution to the state. That night he lodged with Joseph Manigault at his plantation on Awendaw Creek just off of US Hwy. 17. Salt Hope Plantation is now part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.]
Entry for Monday, May 2, 1791
Breakfasted at the Country Seat of Govr. Pinckney (Snee Farm) about 18 miles from our lodging place, & then came to the ferry at Haddrel's point [Mt. Pleasant], 6 miles further where I was met by the Recorder of the City, Genl. Pinckney & Edward Rutledge, Esqr. in a 12 oared barge rowed by 12 American Captains of Ships, most elegantly dressed.--There were a great number of other Boats with Gentlemen and ladies in them;--and two Boats with Music; all of whom attended me across, and on the passage were met by a number of others.--As we approached the town a salute with artillery commenced, and at the Wharf I was met by the Governor, and Lt. Governor . . . two Senators of the State, Wardens of the City . . . conducted to the Exchange where they passed by in procession . . .
It may as well in this as in any other place, he observed, that the Country from Wilmington through which the Road passes, is, except in very small spots, much the same as what has already been described; that is to say, sand & pine barrens---with very few inhabitants---we were indeed informed that at some distance from the Road on both sides the land was of a better quality, & thicker settled, but this could only be on the Rivers & larger waters---for a perfect sameness seems to run through all the rest of the Country--on these---especially the swamps and low lands on the Rivers, the Soil is very rich; and productive when reclaimed; but to do this is both laborious and expensive.---The Rice planters have two modes of watering their fields---the first by the tide---the other by resurvoirs drawn from the adjacent lands.---The former is best because most certain.
[Governor Pinckney's County Seat was a small estate in Christ Church Parish called Snee Farm just north of Mt. Pleasant on US Hwy. 17. This farm is currently under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Washington later wrote that he thought the road from Georgetown to Charleston was the most beautiful in the United States. Washington's entrance to Charleston was a gala event with the flotilla leaving Haddrel's Point at Mt. Pleasant. A group of dignitaries escorted Washington across the bay in an elegant twelve-oared barge. Accompanying him was St. Philip's Church Choir singing and playing instruments from two other boats. East Bay Street was lined with spectators, while others watched from windows and balconies. The Charleston Artillery Battalion fired a 15 gun federal salute and the bells at St. Michael's Church rang. The clock tower of St. Philip's Church indicated the time as 2 p.m. It was Monday, May 2, 1791. The Exchange building where Washington was entertained is located at East Bay and Broad Streets. Today, it is a museum operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution and is called The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.
President George Washington was elegantly entertained in Charleston where he spent the week of May 2-9, 1791. While there, several balls were held in his honor. He took special note to mention the "elegantly dressed and handsome ladies." He dined with citizens at a public dinner and was entertained by the elite Society of the Cincinnati, visited Fort Johnson and Fort Moultrie by boat, ate breakfast with orphans, and attended services at both St. Philip's and St. Michael's Episcopal Churches. On Monday May 9, he crossed over the Ashley River on Hampton's Bridge, US Hwy. 17, and headed to Savannah.]
Entry for Monday, May 9, 1791
At six o'clock I recommenced my journey for Savanna; attended by a Corps of the Cincinnati and most of the principal Gentlemen of the city as far as the bridge over Ashley River, where we breakfasted, and proceeded to Col. W. Washington at Sandy-hill with a select party of particular friends--distance from Charleston 28 miles.
[Washington stayed at Sandy Hill Plantation just south of US Hwy. 17 with his cousin Col. William Washington, who had married an heiress of a rice plantation. Even though William had only lived in South Carolina a short time, he had become a very successful rice planter.]
Entry for Tuesday, May 10, 1791
. . . breakfasting at Judge Bee's 12 miles from Sandy Hill, lodged at Mr. Obrain Smith's Duharra plantation 18 or 20 miles further on.
[Judge Thomas Bee's plantation was on the road to Jacksonboro now US Hwy. 17. From there, Washington left present day US Hwy. 17 and turned onto what would become Hwy. 64 heading northwestward. About midway to Walterboro, he turned left on Hwy. 41 and went through Ritter then south to Duharra Plantation.]
Entry for Wednesday, May 11, 1791
After an early breakfast at Mr. [O'Brien] Smiths [Duharra Plantation] we rode 20 miles to a place called Pokitellieo where dinner was provided by the Parishoners of Prince William . . . . After dinner we proceeded 16 miles farther to Judge Hayward's where we lodged [White Hall Plantation] . . . there being no public houses on the Road and my distance to get to these private ones increased at least 10 or 12 miles between Charleston and Savanna.
[Washington spent the night at Duharra Plantation owned by O'Brien Smith. He went back to Hwy. 41 and turned south on US Hwy. 17 Alt. He passed through Yemassee and then Pocotaligo, where US Hwy. 17 and US Hwy. 17 Alt. merge and follow present day I-95. Originally, Pocotaligo was a trading post for the Yemassee. It is located at the intersection of US Hwy. 17 and the Beaufort highway. From there, Washington followed present day I-95 to Coosawhatchie, where he took Hwy. 462 to White Hall Plantation. George Washington stayed at two of Judge Thomas Hayward's homes, a town house located on Church Street in Charleston and White Hall Plantation on Euhaw Creek in Jasper County. Thomas Hayward is one of the two signers of the Declaration of Independence from South Carolina.]
Entry for Thursday, May 12, 1791
By five o'clock we set out from Judge Hayward's, and the road to Purisburgh 22 miles to breakfast.
At that place I was met by . . . from the city of Savanna to conduct me thither.
[Leaving White Hall Plantation, Washington took Hwy. 278 to Grahamville turning on Hwy. 13 and then taking Hwy. 169 to Purryburg on the Savannah River. He left South Carolina between ten and eleven o'clock, and was escorted across the Savannah River in a handsome eight-oared presidential barge followed by a flotilla carrying his coach and baggage wagon. He landed at Mulberry Grove plantation and dined with Catherine Greene, widow of General Nathanael Greene, Revolutionary War general.
From May 12-21, 1791, George Washington toured Georgia, visiting Savannah, Waynesboro, and Augusta, before returning to South Carolina on May 21, 1791.]
Diary of the First Presidential Visit to the Palmetto State
Washington's Southern Tour Through the Sandhills
[ ] Indicates editorial notes inserted by SC MAPS authors
( ) Indicates editorial notes inserted by A.S. Salley
Entry for Saturday, May 21, 1791
Left Augusta about 6 o'clock, and takg. leave of the Governor & principal Gentlemen of the place at the bridge over Savanna River, where they had assembied for the purpose, I proceeded in Company with Col. Hampton & Taylor, & Mr. Lithgow a committee from Columbia, (who had come on to meet & conduct me to that place) & a Mr. Jameson from the Village of Granby on my Rout.
[A three gun salute was fired as George Washington reentered South Carolina from Augusta over Hampton's Bridge, spanning the Savannah River. He was escorted by a four member delegation: Colonel Wade Hampton, Colonel Thomas Taylor, Robert Lithgow from Columbia, and Archibold Jamison from Granby. Wade Hampton was a business man, Revolutionary War Colonel, planter, and owner of Hampton's Bridge and the Congaree River Ferry. His family had settled on the Tyger River in Spartanburg County when he was a child. After his parents were murdered by a Cherokee war party, he moved to the fork between the Congaree and Wateree rivers. Later, Hampton served as a major general in the United States Army during the War of 1812. Hampton's Bridge, 800 feet long and 16 feet wide, opened in 1790 but was later swept away by a flood in 1796. Colonel Thomas Taylor, planter and business man, often called the "Father of Columbia" sold his plantation to the state as the site for the new Capitol when it was moved from Charleston to Columbia. He served as a colonel in the militia during the Revolutionary War. Mr. Robert Lithgow was the newly elected Richland County Judge; and Archibald Jamieson had the contract to build a bridge over a creek south of Granby, thereby upgrading the Charleston-Orangeburg-Columbia road.
Washington's party left North Augusta on US Hwy. 25 and dined at Pine House Tavern just west of Trenton. Like at all of his stops, a crowd of local citizens gathered to shake hands and speak with him. He knew that there would be opposition to the excise tax, which had just been passed by Congress. Prior to his arrival, the Edgefield County Grand Jury had drafted this statement, "We are of the opinion that all Excise Laws . . . are repugnant to the Conditions & Liberties of a free people. . . . Excise will bear very & unequally hard on the Inhabitants of the Southern States." About the same time, an Abbeville County Grand Jury had argued that the law would favor northern commercial distilleries and breweries. As Washington continued on his goodwill tour, he was quoted in the "Independent Gazetteer and Agricultural Repository," Philadelphia, PA, 11 June 1791, as saying, "The discontent which it was supposed the last Revenue Act would create, . . . subside as fast as the law is explained." He felt that the "Whiskey Tax" could be enforced and that his mission had been successful.
From Trenton, Washington followed Hwy. 75 to Ridge Spring and Hwy. 23 to Batesburg. At a crossroads between Batesburg and Leesville near present-day Hwy. 41, Washington spoke to a group of people. From Leesville, he followed present day Hwy. 330 and Hwy. 261 to Gilbert, where he may have eaten breakfast. He than traveled Hwy. 60 to Hwy. 70 and took US Hwy. 1 on into West Columbia.]