MAY

May 1

1540 -- Hernado de Soto and his Spanish army reached the village of the Cofitachequi tribe, near the the confluence of Pine Tree Creek and the Wateree River, near the present-day site of Camden, and were met by that village's leader, the Lady of Cofitachequi, who sought a peaceful alliance with the Europeans. (Source: South Carolina Women, p. 11)

1865 -- Thousands of emancipated slaves marched in a parade to the old Washington Race Course, which served as a Union POW camp during the Civil War. They exhumed mass graves and reburied the Union dead with respect and ceremony, then celebrated their newfound freedom with speeches and a picnic. Some credit this celebration as the nation's first Memorial Day.

May 3

1735 -- "Good Governor" Robert Johnson, who served under both proprietary and royal rule of the Charles Town colony, died and was buried in St. Philip's churchyard. Unfortunately, his memorial stone wa destroyed when the church burned in 1835.

1898 -- Septima Poinsette Clark was born.


May 4

1738 -- The Gazette reported that several recently imported slaves had small pox and suggested that readers "take all imaginable care to prevent" its spread.

1906 -- On opening day of Belmont’s Race Track's opening day, nearly 40,000 people streamed through the Washington Race Course's former gates at their new New York home.

May 5

1666 -- Thomas Pinckney, future father of Col. Charles Pinckney, was born.

1930 -- Arthur T. Wayne died.

May 6

1715 -- Following the Yamasee's Good Friday Massacre at Pocotoligo, Gov. Charles Craven ordered a contingency of paid soldiers to assemble under the command of Col. James Moore II and directed them to "follow after, take and destroy all our Indian enemies." (From the South Carolina Colonial House Journal, p. 388, quoted in The Goose Creek Bridge: Gateway to Sacred Places, pp. 51/52)

May 7

1780 -- Fort Moultrie fell before an amphibious assault by British seamen.

May 8

1738 -- Daniel Cartwright sold his land, which included today's Hampton Park, to John Braithwaite.

1781 -- A force of American Patriots led by General Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion and Lt. Colonel "Light Horse" Harry Lee arrived at a plantation house owned by Rebecca Brewton Motte, which had been fortified by the British for use as a depot because of its strategic location at the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree rivers. With about 175 British soldiers there, Mrs. Motte's house had become known as Fort Motte. Marion and Lee hoped to capture the fort before General Francis Rawdon arrived.

May 9

1780 -- Gen. Clinton ordered his 200 artillery pieces that encircled Charlest Town to open a bombardment. Twenty houses were hit and set afire. Gen. William Moultrie recalled that the bombardment "was incessant, cannon balls whizzing and shells hissing continually amongst us; ammunition chests and temporary magazines blowing up; great buns bursting and wounded men growning along the lines." (Source: Charleston! Charleston!, p. 161-162)

May 12

1780 -- After a 42-day seige, General Lincoln surrendered Charles Town with its 5,500 troops and military supplies. One British officer noted the city's defenders were "the most ragged rabble I ever beheld." Another officer wrote the "people looked greatly starved," the houses "were full of wounded," while some of the finer residences were "empty and locked." (Charleston! Charleston!, p. 162.)

1964 -- According to an article in the News and Courier, a domestic rabbit was discovered by two members of the Footlight Players running loose on East Bay Street. The two put out a call for its owner and found him at a West Ashley address. The owner said he could no longer take care of the bunny or its mate, who was still in the owner's possession. He asked the acting group to find a new home for both rabbits, which they did. The rabbits' new residence was wth Robert M. Hollings on Queen Street.

May 21/22

1767 -- A deed recorded for William Withers referred to his property along the Cooper River as "the neck," perhaps proving a clue as to how Goose Creek got its name. (Clara A. Langley, South Carolina Abstracts, 4 vols. (Easley, South Carolina Historical Press, Inc. 1984, Vol. 3:277, 365.)

May 22

1721 -- Charlestonians welcomed South Carolina's first Royal Governor, Francis Nicholson, having won their efforts to become a colony of the Crown, rather than of the Lords Proprietors.

1735 -- Charles Lowndes, being heavily in debt, fatally shot himself in jail, located at that time where the Old Exchange Building now stands at the eastern terminus of Broad Street. He was being held for his failure to financially support his estranged wife. As a gentleman, he had been allowed to keep his firearm during his incarceration.

May 23

1788 -- A special convention of South Carolinians voted to ratify the new Constitution of the United States of America.

May 27

1744 -- Eliza Lucas married widower Charles Pinckney.

May 29

1630 -- Charleston's namesake, Charles II, was born "at noon with Venus the star of love and fortune shining high over the horizon." (Source: A Short History of Charleston, p. 10)

May 31

1861 -- The Tenth Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers gathered for the first time. Among them was Henry Michael Lofton. (Source: Home in the Village, p. 75)

1940 -- The Scottish Rite Cathedral Association sold the Rodgers Mansion at 149 Wentworth Street to the Atlantic Coast Life Insurance Company.

Newly emancipated slaves reburied the Union soldiers who had been placed into mass graves at the Washington Race Track. We visit the site on our Lost Charleston Tour.
We discuss the life and legacy of Septima P. Clark on our Sea Islands Tour.
We visit the graves and hear about the lives of Col. Charles Pinckney and Arthur Wayne on our French Santee Tour.
We visit the Lofton Family memorial at Christ Church on our French Santee Tour.
Mrs. Motte Directing Generals Marion and Lee to Burn Her Mansion by John Blake White, oil on canvas, United States Senate Collection. By John Blake White, before 1859.