Today In Charleston History: July 31

1736 – Religion 

John and Charles Wesley arrived in Charlestown from Savannah where they had been serving as missionaries. Charles was returning to England due to ill health.

wesley brothers

John Wesley; Charles Wesley

1776 – Deaths. Charleston First.

Francis Salvador, part of the Ninety-Six militia, fell in battle against the Cherokee, and an Indian took his scalp. He died “within three-quarters of an hour” at the age of 29. He was the first Jew to die in the cause of America liberty. 

1852 –Crime.Prostitution
11 Fulton Street, commonly called "The Big Brick" by Charleston locals. Owned and operated by the infamous Grace Piexotto.

11 Fulton Street, commonly called “The Big Brick” by Charleston locals. Owned and operated by the infamous Grace Piexotto.

Grace Piexotto, a “mother of crime” appeared before the city council and asked them to pave the lot in front of her brick house (Gentleman’s Club – House of Negotiated Affection – Brothel) at 11 Beresford Street.

Read more about Grace in the book Wicked Charleston, Vol. II: Prostitutes, Politics & Prohibition. 

Grounds of the Expo

Grounds of the Expo

A public auction was held for the Exposition property. Eighty-nine bidders showed up, including “three small boys and one decrepit old negro.” Entire buildings were sold for as little as $7 to $115. Most of the bidders were building contractors who purchased for the materials. In less than a week, most of the buildings were being dismantled and were gone by the end of the year. In an article titled “Going! Going! Gone!” the News and Courier wrote:

So the work of demolition will be prosecuted now with all possible speed. In a few days the beautiful Ivory City will be a heap of lumber and debris and every vestige of its splendor will be blotted from the things that be.

1937-Deaths.Jenkins Orphanage

Rev. Daniel Jenkins’ obituary ran in the News and Courier. In part it read:


Negro Institution Founder Sent Brass Bands to Europe Three Times

The Rev. D.J. Jenkins, founder of the Jenkins Orphanage, whose brass bands have toured the United States and crossed the ocean three times to Europe, died last night after a long illness. He was seventy-four years old.

Jenkins founded the orphanage December 16, 1891, and built it into an institution which has taken care of 5000 Negro boys and girls in the intervening forty-five years.  The orphanage has its main building in Franklin Street, maintains two farms and publishes a newspaper (The Messenger). Boys learn printing, carpentry, shoe making, chair caning and automobile mechanics. Girls are taught to do housework.

In Charleston the orphanage is known best for its bands. There are two now, frequently there have been four, which play at street corners to the energetic directions of a diminutive conductor. These bands have been familiar sights in cities all over the United States, going as far west as Los Angeles. Charlestonians have reported seeking them in many out-of-the-way places. Their silver donations go to the orphanage fund.

In 1914, the Rev. Jenkins took the band to England to represent the negro race at the Anglo-American exposition in London celebrating a century of peace between the nations. The band played before the Queen of England.

The war broke out and Jenkins was able to assist several prominent Charlestonians stranded by the money confusion. They were unable to cash checks but he was paid in gold and loaned money for them to get out of the country.

The Jenkins band marched in the inaugural parade when President Taft was inaugurated and at the St. Louis Exposition. Seventy children in the three groups, now are on the road, playing and singing in Boston, Saratoga (for the races) and New York city.

Jenkins had a flow of language both oral and written calculated to wring the hearts of prospective donors, and he received contributions from some of the most eminent people in the United States. His letters to the newspapers asked alms for his “Little Black Lambs” were powerful pleas that were read by generations of Charlestonians.

Besides being president of the orphan society, Jenkins was pastor of the Fourth Baptist church for forty-six years. 

Today In Charleston History: April 14


John Wesley arrived from Savannah for a second visit to Charlestown. He noted in his diary:

I had the pleasure of meeting with the clergy of South Carolina among whom in the afternoon there was such a conversation for several hours on ‘Christ our Righteousness’ as I had not heard at any visitation in England or hardly any other occasion.

During Wesley’s visit he arranged with Lewis Timothy to publish the Collection of Psalms and Hymns, the first Anglican hymnbook published in the American colonies.

Lewis Timothy print shop

Lewis Timothy print shop marker on King Street, Charleston

1780-American Revolution 

Lt. Colonel Tarleton and his British dragoons took an American cavalry encampment commanded by General Issac Huger, at Middleton’s Plantation in Goose Creek. In a surprise attack Tarleton’s troops killed fifteen and captured eighteen. Tarleton noted that “Lt. Colonel Washington was Prisoner but afterward thro’ the Darkness of the Morn escaped on foot.”

This action effectively cut off Gen. Lincoln’s escape route from Charlestown. The Continental Army was now stuck in the city.

 1861 – Civil War

The Federal garrison at Sumter saluted the American flag with a fifty-gun salute.  The harbor was filled with thousands of Charlestonians, on every type of boat imaginable, to watch the surrender. Major Robert Anderson takes the Stars and Stripes with him when they evacuate the fort. 

The New York Times correspondent described the scene:

The bells have been chiming all day, guns firing, ladies waving handkerchiefs, people cheering and citizens making themselves generally demonstrative. It is regarded as the greatest day in the history of South Carolina.

1865 – Civil War

Maj. Gen. Robert Anderson, who surrendered Fort Sumter to the Confederates, came out of retirement to re-raise the same Stars and Stripes over Fort Sumter that he had lowered in surrender four years earlier. This flag is now on exhibit at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center.

Robert Smalls, the slave who had stolen his master’s boat, the Planter, and fled to freedom, returned with the Planter to Charleston harbor for the ceremonial raising of the American flag upon Ft. Sumter.

ft sumter flag raising

Flag Raising ceremony at Fort Sumter. Library of Congress

Today In Charleston History: December 24

1737 – Religion
John Wesley

John Wesley

John Wesley left Charlestown for England, ending his ministry in Georgia.

1825 – Fire

A fire destroyed parts of King Street with damages estimated to be at least $80,000. Authorities determined it was the work of arsonists. Over the next several weeks, more fires were set nightly. With the Denmark Vesey slave conspiracy still fresh in resident’s mind, it was thought the arsonists were slaves.


The Charleston Courier reported:

The public are respectfully informed that the Rail Road Company has purchased from Mr. E.L. Miller his locomotive steam engine and that it will hereafter be constantly employed in the transportation of passengers. The time of leaving the station in Line Street will be 8 o’clock, at 10 a.m. at 1 and half past three o’ clock p.m.. Great punctuality will be observed in the time of starting.

Best Friend of Charleston

Best Friend of Charleston

1854 – Slavery

Robert Smalls, a slave harbor pilot married hotel maid Hannah Jones.

Today In Charleston History: October 14

1735 – Religion

At the request of James Oglethorpe and through the offices of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, John Wesley and his brother Charles sailed from Kent, England on the Simmonds to Savannah, as minister to the new settlers.

1776 – American Revolution

The Legislature announced the sale of several hundred chests of tea, which had been stored in the Exchange basement for three years. The tea had been seized from the ship Magna Carta in June 1774. The money from the sale of the tea was used in support of the Patriot cause in South Carolina.

The besement, or "dun

The basement, or “dungeon” of the Exchange.