Today In Charleston History: June 30


A second charter was drafted to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina to settle several legal issues in the original 1629 Heath grant.


Elizabeth Villin was born in Amsterdam. She would later marry Lewis Timothy and move to Charles Town in 1731.


Theodosia’s son, Aaron Burr Alston, died of a summer fever. Theodosia’s health deteriorated to the point she was unable to travel to visit her father. Joseph Alston wished to reunite his wife with her father. However, as brigadier general of the state militia, it was impossible for him to leave during a state of declared war.


President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, issued a proclamation establishing a provisional government for South Carolina. He appointed Benjamin F. Perry, a South Carolina native as provisional governor because of the strong unionist views he had held prior to the war.

Benjamin Franklin Perry

Benjamin Franklin Perry

Perry was directed by the president to enroll voters and to lead the state in the writing of a new state constitution. The delegates at the constitutional convention largely followed Perry’s guidelines for the constitution, but they strayed by adopting the black codes to prevent black suffrage. President Johnson urged the granting of suffrage to blacks while also including a property qualification clause. A property qualification would essentially disenfranchise all blacks without giving the appearance of impropriety towards blacks and prevent the imposition of harsh terms by the Radical Republicans. 

Benjamin Franklin Perry said in 1865:

The African has been in all ages, a savage or a slave. God created him inferior to the white man in form, color, and intellect, and no legislation or culture can make him his equal… His hair, his form and features will not compete with the caucasian race, and it is in vain to think of elevating him to the dignity of the white man. God created differences between the two races, and nothing can make him equal.

Upon the completion of the constitution, elections were called and Perry sought election to the U.S. Senate. He was elected along with John Lawrence Manning, but the Radical Republicans in charge of Congress refused to seat them. In 1872, he unsuccessfully ran for the 4th congressional district House seat against Republican Alexander S. Wallace. His son, William Hayne Perry, did successfully gain election to the House and was a member from 1885 to 1891.


The Spartanburg Herald-Journal  posted this story about George Gershwin at Folly Beach.  

Charleston, June 30.

Bare and black above the waist, an inch of hair bristling from his face, and with a pair of tattered knickers furnishing a sole connected link with civilization, George Gershwin, composer of jazz music, had gone native. He is staying at the Charles T. Tamsberg cottage at Folly Beach, South Carolina.

“I have become acclimated,” he said yesterday as he ran his hand experimentally through a crop of dark, matted hair which had not had the benefit of being combed for many, many days. “You know, it’s so pleasant here that it’s really a shame to work.”

Two weeks at Folly have made a different Gershwin from the almost sleek creator of “Rhapsody in Blue”  and “Concerto in F” who arrived from New York City on June 16. Naturally brown, he is now black. Naturally sturdy, he is now sturdier. Gershwin, it would seem intends to play the part of Crown, the tremendous buck in “Porgy” who lunges a knife into the throat of a friend too lucky at craps and who makes women love him by placing huge black hands about their throats and tensing their muscles.

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

The opera “Porgy” which Gershwin is writing from the book and play by DuBose Heyward, is to be a serious musical work to be presented by the Guild Theater early next year, is an interpretation in sound of the life in Charleston’s “Catfish Row”; an impressionistic dissertation on the philosophy of negro life and the relationship between the negro and the white.   Mr. Heyward, who is staying at Lester Karow’s cottage at the beach, spends every afternoon with the composer, cutting the score, rewriting and whipping the now-completed first act into final form.

“We are attempting to have an opera that is serious and dramatic,” Mr. Gershwin said.  “The whites will speak their lines, but the negroes will sing throughout. I hope the audience will get the idea. With the colored people there is always a song, see? They always find something to sing about somewhere. The whites are dull and drab.”

It is the crap game scene and subsequent murder by Crown which may make the first act the most dramatic of the production. A strange rhythm and an acid, biting quality in the music create the sensation of conflict and strife between men and strife caused by the rolling bones of luck.

“You won’t hear the dice click and roll,” he said. “It is impressionism, not realism. When you want to get a great painting of nature you don’t take a camera with you.”

Jazz will rear its hotcha head at intervals through the more serious music. Sporting Life, the negro who peddles “joy powder” or dope, to the residents of Catfish Row, will be represented by ragtime.

“Even though we are cutting as much as possible, it is going to be a very long opera,” Mr. Gershwin said. “It takes three times as long to sing a line as it does to say it. In the first act, scene one is 94 pages of music long and scene two is 74.”

There is only one thing about Charleston and Folly that Mr. Gershwin does not like. “Your amateur composers bring me their pieces for me to play. I am very busy and most of them are very bad – very, very bad,” he said.

George Gershwin rented the Tamsberg cottage for his visit to Folly Beach in 1934. It was completely destroyed in a hurricane in 1940. Dorothy and DuBose Heyward lived in the cottage now known as The Porgy House which will be open for tours again after December 8th.

Sketch of Gershwin’s cottage by his cousin, Henry Botkin. George Gershwin rented the Tamsberg cottage for his visit to Folly Beach in 1934. It was completely destroyed in a hurricane in 1940.
Dorothy and DuBose Heyward lived in the cottage which is now known as The Porgy House. Courtesy of The Gershwin Estate

Today In Charleston History: January 4


First issue of the South Carolina Gazette, edited by Elizabeth Timothy was published. The masthead said “Printed by Peter Timothy.”


Masthead of the first edition of the South Carolina Gazette edited and published by Elizabeth Timothy.

In the first issue, at the bottom of the front page Elizabeth announced that she was now publishing the newspaper, under the name of her son, making her made her the first female editor and publisher of a newspaper in America and the first female franchisee in America.

Whereas the late Printer of this Gazette hath been deprived of his life by an unhappy accident. I take this Opportunity of informing the Public, that I shall contain the said paper as usual; and hope, by the Assistance of my Friends, to make it as entertaining and correct as may be reasonable expected. Wherefore I flatter myself, that all those Persons, who, by Subscription or otherwise, assisted my late Husband, on the prosecution of the Said Undertaking, will be kindly pleased to continue their Favours and good Offices to this poor afflicted Widow and six small children and another hourly expected.

Over the next seven years, Elizabeth Timothy increased the quality of the newspaper. She not only included local news, but news from Boston, Newport, and Philadelphia and European news from London, Paris, and Constantinople. Many times she dedicated at least a full page of her four-page newspaper to advertising.

Benjamin Franklin praised her, stating that she was a better business manager and accountant than her late husband had been. He remarked in his Autobiography that while her husband was “a man of learning and honest, but ignorant in matters of account,” Mrs. Timothy:

not only sent me as clear a state as she could find of the transactions past, but continued to account with the greatest regularity and exactness every quarter afterwards, and managed the business with such success, that she not only brought up reputably a family of children, but, at the expiration of the term, was able to purchase of me the printing-house, and establish her son in it.

Elizabeth Timothy also took over her husband’s position as the official “public printer” for the colony of South Carolina. She printed acts, laws, and other proceedings for the Assembly of the colony of South Carolina. In addition to publishing the South-Carolina Gazette and government documents pretty much as her late husband did, she printed sermons and religious materials. She also published some 20 historical books and pamphlets between 1739 and 1745. She also was the postmaster for Charlestown, in charge of the postal deliveries of letters, packages, and newspapers.

1815 – Religion. Arrivals.  

Rev. John Bachman arrived in Charleston as minister of St. John’s Lutheran church, a position he held for the next fifty-six years.

Prior to his arrival, the church had been without a pastor for four years, and had depended on other protestant ministers to conduct services. The church totaled sixty-two members. Ailing from tuberculosis, Bachman had taken the position to live in the warmer, climate for his health. For the first year in Charleston, Bachman lived in the house of Col. Jacob Sass and joined the German Friendly Society.   

As a child, Bachman had been fascinated in the birds and mammals in his rural home, and had considered studying science in college, until the ministry called him. As he journeyed deeper into the lush semi-tropical landscape of the low-country, his scientific mind was instantly engaged. Next to his religious ministry, the study of the lowcountry’s natural history became Bachman’s lifelong obsession.

Today In Charleston History: December 30

1820 – Religion

Bishop John England

The Catholic Church in Rome created a new diocese out of the Carolinas and Georgia. The newly consecrated Bishop John England arrived in Charleston.  He discovered that conditions were most uninviting and unpromising in the new diocese, with Catholics scattered in little groups over these states. Most of the few in Charleston were very poor immigrants from Ireland or ruined refugees from San Domingo and their servants.

1874 – Births

Future mayor John Patrick Grace was born in Charleston. He grew up on Society Street and attended the High School of Charleston. All four of his grandparents were natives of Ireland.

mayor grace

John P. Grace

His most lasting accomplishment as mayor was the construction of the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge, which spanned the Cooper River to connect Charleston and Mt. Pleasant. It replaced the ferry system had been used to that point and opened in 1929.

John P. Grace Memorial Bridge

John P. Grace Memorial Bridge

Today In Charleston History: November 18

1720 – Piracy

Anne Bonny reveals her gender to a surprised male pirate she was about to kill.

Jack Rackham and his male crew were hanged in Port Royal, Jamaica. The two female members of Rackham’s crew, Mary Read and Anne Bonny, were imprisoned by “pleading their bellies” – pregnancy. Read died of a fever in prison. What happened to Anne Bonny is uncertain. Like her early life, her later life is lost in shadow. Captain Johnson’s book first came out in 1724, so her trial was still fairly recent news while he was writing it, and he only says of her “She was continued in prison, to the time of her lying in, and afterwards reprieved from Time to Time, but what is become of her since, we cannot tell; only this we know, that she was not executed.”

There are many versions of her fate and no truly decisive proof in favor of any one of them, so you can pick your favorite. Some say she reconciled with her wealthy father, moved back to Charleston, remarried William Burleigh and lived a respectable life into her eighties. Others say she remarried in Port Royal or Nassau and bore her new husband several children.

1740 – Disaster. Fire.

 A fire broke out in the afternoon and consumed all the buildings from Broad and Church Streets down to Granville Bastion (current location of the Missroon House – Historic Charleston Foundation). With more than 300 buildings destroyed –homes, warehouses, stables – it was a major disaster, mainly because this area was along the commercial waterfront district. Losses were estimated at £200,000 ($20 million in 2014). One of the notable losses was the Dock Street Theater.

In the Gazette Elizabeth Timothy reported that “the wind blowing pretty fresh at northwest carried the flakes of fire so far, and by that means set houses on fire at such a distance, that it was not possible to prevent the spreading of it.”

Rev. Josiah Smith responded by publishing The Burning of Sodom, arguing that the fire was God’s response to vanity and wickedness of the city, and the Anglican Church’s treatment of George Whitefield. He wrote: 

Charles-Town is fallen, is fallen. London’s plague and fire came soon after the casting out and silencing a body of ministers … Charlestown … should pay attention and repent … The Pride of Sodom flourished … Let us Enquire seriously … whether our Streets, Lanes and Houses did not burn with Lust … Heaps of Pollution conceal’d from Man … which require’d Brimstone and Fire to burn up … such abandon’d Wretches generally curse the Sun and hate the Light.

The fire bankrupted the Friendly Society for the Mutual Insurance of Houses Against Fire. William Pinckney became so impoverished, he and his wife, Ruth Brewton, were unable to care for their son Charles, who went to live with his namesake, his uncle Charles. The younger Charles began to call himself “Charles Pinckney, Junior.” 

1780 – American Revolution 

Cornwallis issued a proclamation that he was seizing all the “real and personal property” of South Carolina’s patriot leaders, including Henry Laurens and all the St. Augustine exiles.


Lord General Charles Cornwallis, 1780