Charleston was founded in 1670 by English and African immigrants from the Caribbean island of Barbados. Savannah was established in 1733 by colonists directly from England. Because of swamps, rivers, and forests between the two there was probably a delay of a few years before a trail between the two colonies was constructed. In 1856 a railroad was built between the towns which later had a role in the Civil War.
As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.
Fort Charlotte played a role in the American Revolution. The South Carolina colonial government used the fort as an arsenal. The first Revolutionary War action in South Carolina ocurred when Patriots seized those supplies. They also negotiated at the fort trying in vain to win the Indians to the Patriot cause.
The first European colonists settled in counties along this trail (north to south) as follows:
Connecting trails. The Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail links to other trails at each end. The migration pathways connecting in Charleston included:
The migration routes connecting in Fort Charlotte included:
The newer Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail also crossed the much older Occaneechi Path in Aiken County. The Occaneechi Path was overlapped here by the Fall Line Road starting about 1735, and also the Great Valley Road (south fork) starting in the 1740s.
Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the old Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail start in Charleston. Follow I-26 north to the Orangeburg. Then take the Neeses Highway west to Springfield. Then take Highway 4 west to Aiken. Then follow Highway 19 northwest until it becomes Highway 25. Continue northwest along Highway 25 to where it meets Highway 378 in northern Edgefield County. Turn west onto Highway 378 to reach McCormick. Then go northwest on Highway 28 until Highway 81 forks off to the west. Follow Highway 81 winding westerly to Mt. Carmel. From Mt. Carmel take the Fort Charlotte Road 6.5 miles (10.4 km) southwest to Strom Thurmond Lake. The Old Fort Charlotte site lies under that lake.
Settlers and Records
The first colonists in what became the Fort Charlotte area arrived before the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail existed. They would have arrived by way of the Savannah River, the Middle Creek Trading Path, the Fort Moore-Charleston Trail, the Augusta and Cherokee Trail on the Georgia side of the river, or even the Occaneechi Path and its overlapping Fall Line Road, and Great Valley Road. Only after Fort Charlotte was started in 1765 would travelers have been able to use what became the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail. Even then, they may have used the older Fort Moore-Charleston Trail most of the way to Aiken County before splitting off toward Fort Charlotte.
Ulster-Irish, French Huguenots, and Germans were among the earliest, pre-Fort Charlotte pioneer settlers.
No complete list of settlers who used the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail is known to exist. Nevertheless, local and county histories along that trail may reveal pioneer settlers who arrived after 1765 and who were candidates to have travelled the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail from the Charleston area.
For partial lists of early settlers who may have used the Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail, see histories like:
in McCormick County:
- Bobby F. Edmonds, The Huguenots of New Bordeaux (McCormick, SC: Cedar Hill, 2005) ((FHL Book 975.736 F2e) WorldCat entry.
- Bobby F. Edmonds, The Making of McCormick County [South Carolina] (McCormick, SC: Cedar Hill, 1999) (FHL Book 975.736 H2e) WorldCat entry.
- [Willie Mae Wood], Old Families of McCormick County, South Carolina and Dorn families of Edgefield, Greenwood and McCormick counties ([S.l. : s.n.], 1982) (FHL Book 975.736 D2w; Film 2056008 Item 2-3) WorldCat entry.
in Edgefield County:
- John A. Chapman, History of Edgefield County from the earliest settlements to 1897 : biographical and anecdotical, with sketches of the Seminole War, nullification, secession, reconstruction, churches and literature, wtih rolls of all the companies from Edgefield in the war of secession, war with Mexico and with the Seminole Indians (Newberry, S.C.: E. H. Aull, 1897) (FHL Film 162293) WorldCat entry.
in Aiken County:
- Gasper Loren Toole, Ninety Years in Aiken County: Memoirs of Aiken County and Its People (Charleston?, S.C.: s.n., 1959) (FHL Book 975.775 H2t; Film 1425280 Item 3) WorldCat entry.
in Orangeburg County:
- "The First Families of Orangeburgh District, South Carolina" in Orangeburgh German-Swiss Genealogy Society at http://www.ogsgs.org/ffam/ff-intro.htm (accessed 23 March 2011).
in Dorchester County:
- Fort Charlotte (South Carolina) in Wikipedia
- Fort Charlotte historical marker in Mt. Carmel at junction of SC Hwy 81 and Road 91.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 848. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Fort Charlotte (South Carolina)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Fort_Charlotte_(South_Carolina) (accessed 24 March 2011).
- South Carolina - The Counties, http://www.carolana.com/SC/Counties/sc_counties_alphabetical_order.html (accessed 22 March 2011).