The history of Hilton Head Island goes back to the time of French colonists, African-American and soldiers who left behind footprints on the island. Since its inception in 1983, the Island is now home to nearly 30,000 families who stay in the eco-friendly residential communities. To know more, visit their website or if you like the digital way, flip through the articles in www.nytimes.com that talk about this beautiful island on Earth.
History has it that William Hilton spotted this Island while he was sailing on his ship. He was appointed by Barbados planters to look out for a new land where they could grow plantations and food crops.
In the year 1521, the Spanish fled their homeland for fear of being persecuted by foreigners. These colonists took shelter on this Island and rechristened Port Royal Sound as Port Royale. Later, they moved to safe land and settled in an area that is presently known as Beaufort.
When the sailor William Hilton arrived at Lowcountry, he came across a group of Spanish-speaking Indians who had migrated to Florida several years ago. His next tryst was with the Escamacus Indians who had made the Island their home 4000 years back. You can find the remnants of shell rings that measure a whopping 240-feet by nine-feet in height. If you are interested, catch a glimpse of these artefacts in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, located north of the Island.
During early 1698, several islands and Lowcountry’s mainland was gifted to John Bayley, from whom the area got its name. However, Hilton Head Island was referred as Trench’s Island, in memory of Alexander Trench who was Bayley’s most-sought-after person.
It was in the year 1717 when John Barmwell gained the recognition of being the first American settler after he received 1000 acres of land. Later, in the year 1790, William Elliott became famous for putting the Island on the global map. With help from another planter, Elliott came up with a different variant of the fertilizer to grow cotton, which received acclaim far and wide.
As days turned into months, the year of 1860 witnessed several plantations on the Island. Crops like cotton, sugar cane and rice were grown on the Island.
War and peace
November 7, 1861, was a red letter day as it marked the landing by the US forces. In less than a few hours, 12,000 Union soldiers took into custody Fort Beauregard and Fort Walker located on the Island. Later, Federal troops took over, forcing the families residing on the Island to migrate to a different city.
In the year 1940, there was quiet revolution taking place on the Island. A group of workers discovered the potential in the tall pines that filled the Island.
It was in 1956 when Charles Fraser realized that this Island had plenty to offer in addition to wood. He was armed with a mission and invested his time and resources to create a community for living here. Lush green lung spaces and villas have replaced the famous cotton fields.
Despite these advances, the Island’s beauty, history and tranquilly beckons travelers from across the globe.