The purpose of Palmetto State Roots is to share
some of what I have gained in researching my family history. My desire
is to share with others my joy in the history of my home, the part that
my ancestors took in forming that history, my love for Sumter and
Counties, my feelings for the place that I call Santee, as well as my
for my home state of South Carolina. May we never forgot those who came
before us. If not for them, where would we be, who would we be, or
we even be? One generation must not succeed the next without having an
appreciation of who they are, what they are, and how
came to be.
been born in the Palmetto State of
South Carolina, I have always been aware of my Southern heritage. When
I first began doing genealogical research, I was delighted to discover
how deep my roots run into the history of my home state. Once I began
question my older relatives, I began to find that on both my sides of
family, my fore bearers have been in South Carolina and in Clarendon
for as long as anyone in my family could remember. When asked, no one
to know when the first members of our family came to Clarendon County
to South Carolina.
I began to really dig deep into my family's
history, I soon found that there would be few separate limbs. Since
of my parents were born in Clarendon County, and so were their parents,
and so on down the line, soon on in my research, I came to realize that
my family tree is actually a vine. Recently I described it as a vine of
wisteria, winding in and out among the annals of time in Clarendon
bare at times, but when it blooms, a glorious site to behold. The
and maternal sides of my family tree cross over one another so many
that it makes my research a little easier than for those who have their
roots spread out all over.
my research, I began to understand why
I and other members of my family feel such a connection to the place we
call Santee. Newcomers tend to ask,"Why do you call the lake
Isn't its name Lake Marion?" Until I started doing genealogical
I really hadn't given much thought as to why I call Lake Marion Santee.
It was just a question that came up from time to time from folks who
lived in the area long. I would just say to the person asking, "Well,
just what we have always called it, Santee. "Eventually,
having lived here a while, everyone calls the Lake Marion, Santee. My
has spent many happy times at Santee, exploring the Fort Watson
Indian Mound, boating, skiing, swimming, fishing, having family
but we never talked about, or questioned why we didn't call the lake by
the name on the road signs or on state maps. As a child, I never dreamed what an important roll Santee has played in my
Santee River was dammed long before I was born. Even my parents don't remember a time
the flow of river was stopped to create the huge lake that is so much a
part of life in Clarendon and Sumter Counties and that extends to
with sections of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties. But, my grandparents
knew the river, and their grandparents knew it, and thus on back our
knew the Santee as it once was. They knew the river with all of its
and streams: Jack's Creek, Wyboo, White Oak, Potato Creek, Church
Taw Caw and so many more. They remembered and those place names live on
today. When traveling by boat along the channel of the old river bed, I
cannot begin to describe the feeling of awe that comes over me as I
about my ancestors and picture them traveling by boat in the exact same
place, so many years, even centuries ago.
River August 1997 I
took this photograph
between Williamsburg and Berkeley Counties. This scene is many
miles south of the Santee River dam.
Notice the color of the
water. The Santee not a black water river like many others in South
My Brunson ancestors traveled
up the Santee River in 1740 to become the first settlers in this area.
They lived on land that today is part of Poinsett State Park in Sumter
County. Soon after, my ancestors the Richbourgs, the Holladays and so
others, used the old river to transport them to their new homes as
They traveled inland via the Santee River at a time when the land along
its banks was only a maze of sub tropical jungle. They came inland, up
the Santee River into a wilderness, carved homesteads, farms, and
out of virgin forest and swamp land, raised their families, and when
time came, they shipped their goods back down the river, to the coast
on to the ports of Charleston and Georgetown. I've read that the yellow
flow of the water from the Santee River can be seen three miles out
the Atlantic Ocean. There has always been a treacherous sandbar at the
mouth of the Santee, which made the journey to Charleston dangerous,
the opening of the Santee Canal in 1800.
The place that I know as Santee
holds a special place in my heart, not just for happy memories of the
that I have spent there throughout my life, but even more so, because
is so much a part of my history and the history of the Old Sumter
and of Clarendon County. Now that I know so much more about the river's
history, when ever I wade into Lake Marion and the water washes over
I remember and I visualize the people the river brought home. The
river was dammed up long before I was born, but I know it still. The
River holds a special place in my heart. I hope that there are others
have a special place, a place that has meaning for them in the way that
Santee has meaning for me. They will be the ones who understand that
of history, of remembrance. Not everyone gets to feel that special feeling. When I think of
I feel the history of the river; I see the Spanish moss hanging
from the trees, smell the wisteria in bloom, and I can almost see my
boating up that old river, coming home. The Santee brought them
here. They lived and loved and died along its banks. They wouldn't recognize the
old river if they came back today, but it's still there, hidden beneath the
great waters of Lake Marion, and it lives in the hearts and minds of
those who are their descendants. I am proud to be a part of the rich
history and heritage of the Santee.
saw behind me those who had gone, and before me those who are to
looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers,and
see my son,and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond. And their eyes
As I felt, so they had felt and were to feel, as then,so now, as
I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning and no
of his father grasped my father's hand, and his hand was in mine,
and my unborn son
my right hand, and all, up and down the line that stretched from Time
That Is, and Is Not Yet, raised their hands to show the link,and we
one, born of Woman, Son of Man, made in the Image, fashioned in
Womb by the
of God, the Eternal Father."
(from How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn)
The earliest of my forbears
to come to South Carolina were my French Huguenot ancestors. The first were my DuBose
ancestors who settled along the Santee River in an area dubbed "French
Santee," which is now in Berkeley County. They arrived in 1680. They were naturalized as
citizens in 1695/1696. An act of that year gave Huguenots and "other
expect Papists "the rights of English citizens. Eventually, my DuBose
moved across the Santee River to settle in Clarendon County.
My Richbourg ancestors also
settled in the French Santee area. The Reverend Claude Phillipe de
was a Huguenot minister who came to the New World, arriving in Virginia
in 1700. He and a group of other French Protesters settled in
Town, Powhatan County where they resided for about 12 years. In 1712 he
and a party of other French protestants traveled from Virginia to North
where they decided to live along the Trent River. They didn't stay in North Carolina long, because they
were attacked by Indians and 111 of their fellow Huguenots were killed.
Along with his wife, Ann Chastain, and others who survived the Indian
massacre, de Richbourg and the other Huguenots left North Carolina to make their way to the more settled and secure,
French Santee in South Carolina. de Richbourge served as the minister of the St. James
Santee Church which was within sight of the Santee River in the village of
for several years until his death. In the years to come, his son, Claudius traveled inland
the Santee River to settle on land grants along Jack's Creek, a
of the river, in what would become Clarendon County.
Brunson ancestors made their
way to Carolina from England via Connecticut. John Brunson and his
Frances Hills moved with their children from County Essex, England in
with the first group of settlers in the Hartford, Connecticut area.
Records show that by 1637, John had enlisted to fight in the Pequot War
his service he obtained several parcels of land. By 1649, he and his
were living in Farmington, Connecticut. His son, John Brunson, Jr.
to the Crown Colony of Carolina in 1692. He settled not far from the
River, in what is now Dorchester County, where the village of
was founded by a group of Massachusetts, New England dissenters in
about 1695. The land was not very productive so
about three generations, the village of Dorchester was deserted, and
dissenters moved on to Medway, Georgia. The Brunsons also left the
area, but my line didn't go to Georgia.
They stayed in South Carolina. In
the year 1740, the grandson of John Brunson, Jr., Isaac Brunson, Jr.
the first to obtain a land grant in what is now Clarendon County. His
eventually settled along Jack's Creek, a tributary of the Santee River.
Old land plats show that his wife owned land grants which covered parts
of present day Poinsett State Park in Sumter County.
first of my Ridgeway ancestors
is mentioned in the records of South Carolina in the year 1751. William
petitioned for 200 acres of land in Kingston Township along the
River. Kingston was named in honor of King George II, who ruled the
Empire at that time. It's now known as Conway and is in Horry County,
not far from Myrtle Beach. At that time, new immigrants to the colony
offered a number of inducements if they chose to settle in Kingston or
any of the other back country townships. The colonial government gave
new settler free transportation from Charleston to the township. Upon
the settler would be awarded 50 acres of free land for himself and 50
acres for each
member of his household. William Ridgeway's petition stated that he had
lived in the area for several years on rented land and that he now
his own property. He requested 200 acres for himself, his wife, and two
children. The petition was granted. In a memorial made by his son,
Jr. years later, it shows that William Ridgeway, Sr. was able to obtain
located in what is now Clarendon County. This property was
in 1755 and was along the Santee River. Since William, Sr. must have
moved with his
family from Kingston, they may have traveled along the
River to Winyah Bay in what is now Georgetown County and from there
traveled inland to settle in Clarendon County. They may have
sailed south along the coast of South Carolina to enter the treachorous
mouth of the Santee River which forms the Georgetown and Charleston
County border and then travled inland along the river through the
French Santee and on to what was then the back country of Craven County.
It is thought
the Ridgeways came to South Carolina from Virginia. It is well known
a great many settlers came to this area of South Carolina which would
become the Old Sumter District during the mid 18th century. The
came from Virginia and from other areas to the north. More than likely
my Ridgeway line came from the New Jersey branch of the surname. The
Ridgeways are connected with the New Jersey branch. I hope to the find
to that mystery of where my Ridgeway ancestors came from some day soon.
State Roots has
been on-line since December 1996.
again. This page
will be revised as often as possible.
was last updated
on July 31, 2009
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pages created by
Cynthia Ridgeway Parker may be freely used to further one's knowledge
understanding of personal family origins. The information included on
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