A history of our town
The first European to travel inland in South Carolina was Ponce De
Leon, a Spanish explorer. He was followed in 1520 by Capt. Francisco
Gordillo, who was dispatched by Lucas Vasquez. In 1521 Pedro de Quexos,
and Francisco Gordillo met in Winyah Bay. Quexos was a slave trader. It
was recorded that they were at 33112 Degrees, and explored what the
Indians called Chicora ( which is South Carolina ). It is also recorded
he took 140 Indian slaves. In 1524 an Italian Navigator Giovanni in the
service of King Francis I of France sailed the Atlantic coast line and
landed in the Carolinas. From 1523 to 1524 Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, with
Pedro de Quexos and Francisco Gordillo with 500 soldiers and six ships
landed in Chicora and explored inland. They came very close to
Blackville. By the late 1600's the English were settling Charleston.
They determined there were five different type groups of Indians in the
area. The names of some of the tribes were the Ashepoos, Catawba,
Combahees, Edistos, Kiawahs, Santee, Yemassee, and Wandos. In South
Carolina you can determine the location of particular tribes by looking
at the names of the rivers. Some of these tribes practiced cannibalism.
The Blackville, Barnwell County area, was part of Lord Colleton's land grant from the King of England. It was called the "back country." The last Indian left the area when Nathaniel Walker, some times called Gen. Walker, purchased, or traded with the Indians to gain control of Healing Springs. Mr. Walker was a trader doing business with the Indians along the Cherokee Trail. He set up trading posts and stage coach stations on that trail which became the old Charleston-Augusta Highway, which runs parallel to the Edisto river on the south side. Spurs started branching off to the South, and the back country started growing in population.
Germans slowly settled in the area from 1670-1775. They were poor, but had a strong desire to survive. By the middle 1700's the Highland Scots, the Scotch-lrish, and the Irish were clearing land fast. They came out of Charleston. Then there was a migration from the North, mainly from Pennsylvania and Virginia. Already in the low country were black slaves who were brought in by rich land holders mainly through Beaufort, later through Charleston. The migrants brought more black people in from the North. It has been established they were people of two entirely different characters. Though punishment to the black man was always cruel, the slaves of the low country, in many cases were left in the back country and often left to survive on their own. Sometime they did not see their holders for months. This allowed them the opportunity to develop their own cultures.
There were combinations of Christianity, as well as religious practices and customs brought from the West Indies and Africa, as well as a mixture of languages; English and different African dialects. From this, today commonly in the low country and coastal islands, we have what is known as Gullah. The Slaves who were brought in from the North were totally dominated by their holders.
As the area was cleared, plantations were built and more black slaves were introduced into the area. Most towns were built in locations where there was a good water supply for drinking and transportation. The Village of Barnwell was one such case. It did not become a political entity until 1829. A great deal can be gathered about the living conditions of the time and place from the memoirs of the grand old man Tarleton Brown, whose family migrated to the area from Va.. Tarleton Brown of Barnwell is not to be confused with the "Bloody Butcher" Lt. Col. Baluster Tarleton Brown of the Revolutionary war.
During the Revolutionary war the population was split. Tories were Partisans in support of the King and his troops and American partisans were simple farmers with no backing or support, but men with a strong belief in freedom. One of the bloodiest of all battles was fought just north of Blackville and was known as Slaughter Field. It has been referred to in many reports and papers, but the exact location was never recorded, Because of this the S.C. Dept. of Archives refuses to recognize the location.
After the war, the first known settler in what is now Blackville proper was an Irishman, Cornelius Tobin, whose family had re-patronized to Ireland from France. He entered through the port of Charleston in the late 1700's, acquired ten black slaves, and built a plantation which ran from the Edisto River to Barnwell, and from what is now Denmark to Williston. He built a home near where the Blackville Country Club swimming pool is today. The plantation was named Fairmont, and was described as splendid than any thing in Charleston. By 1833 the railroad was completed from Charleston to Hamburg (which is in the North Augusta area). It was the longest railroad in the world, and the first commercial steam locomotive train in the United States. It could run only in the daylight hours because it had no lights. It ran on wood rails with flat iron or steel on top and inside of the tracks. According to reports, it ran a fantastic average speed of 18-1/2 MPH, and had to stop about every ten miles to take on fuel and water. It was the responsibility of John Alexander Black to choose the locations of these stops, and Blackville was chosen as an overnight stop because it was one day's run from Charleston.
Mr. Black moved his family to Blackville, and the town was named after Mr. Black, and called the Village of Blackville. MR. Black hired Mr. Cycil 0. Pascallas Esq., a civil engineer who surveyed the railroad bed.
Mr. Black died in Blackville and his grave is now under the Methodist Church. During the construction of the railroad, the Company purchased a large number of black slaves to build the railroad bed. Many of these slaves were brought to Blackville. A list of the names of those slaves still exists and some of those names still are found among the people in Blackville.
The Village of Blackville was first Chartered on December 27,1837, but was a village long before that. In 1846 Blackville was first mapped and a plat drawn by James Clark, also a civil engineer with the railroad. Mr. Clark also moved his family to Blackville. The name of the Village of Blackville was changed to Clinton in 1849. They expanded and declared limits which were to be 112 mile from a point on the railr6ad in all directions.
Again, on December 16, 1851, under Charter act 4062, the name was changed to The Town of Blackville, declaring the same political powers that Barnwell had. In that same Act, permission was given to form a Fire Department.
The railroad grew and Blackville grew with it. Blackville became a marketing and transportation center. From this beginning grew the largest transport system in the world. Freight sheds and docks with spurs in Blackville took farmers' goods to ports where they were transported all over the world. With the train, people came from allover the world, Polish, Russian, and even Chinese, (there was a Chinese laundry in Blackville) and along with them also came their religious beliefs.
The Civil War began in Charleston on April 12, 1860. This war was known in the North as The War of the Rebellion. This was to bring great changes to the South. Slavery, its plantation system, and its way of life changed.
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's troops first marched into Blackville at 1 p.m. on February 7, 1865. By February 12, 1865, up to 60,000 troops of the Union Army marched through and camped in Blackville. In a last ditch effort to save the town of Blackville and the Railroad to Augusta. Hagan's Confederate Cavalry Brigade attempted to make a stand against Gen. Kilpatrick's Union Cavalry Division. By 2 p.m. Kilpatrick was setting up his HQ. of the Cavalry Command. On Feb. 8th Kilpatrick departed Blackville heading west toward Aiken tearing up the Railroad as he went. On Feb. 9th the 20th Corps entered with 5 Brigades of 4 Divisions. They were followed by the remainder of Sherman's Army. By Feb. 12th all of the Union Troops were crossing the Edisto River at 4 different bridges.
Sherman's Army attempted to destroy the town when they departed, and were successful in burning down 45 major structures. Some buildings were saved however! This was done by deception. The railroad and every thing owned by the Railroad was destroyed.
After the war when turmoil was the general rule in the South, Blackville seemed to function as a normal community and started rebuilding. Most of the black community did not leave the area, but stayed and helped rebuild. They formed a political base of their own, and worked with the land owners in building a new system of farming known as the share-crop system. This rebuilt the agriculture industry stronger than what it was before the war.
From 1869 to 1874 Blackville was the County seat. Circuit Court was held in many buildings around Blackville (including the First Baptist Church) until the people built the Court House in Blackville. The building was built on Court House Square, on the north side of Pascallas Street facing south. It eventually became the first Blackville white public school and was enlarged twice. This building was torn down about 1952.
Pieces of the granite columns, hauled in by train, used as foundation columns in the courthouse basement still remain on the location where the courthouse stood (near the Blackville Library).
On the first property bought by the Town Government a building was built and called Market Hall ( built in 1859 ). The location of this property is on the Northwest corner of Lartigue and Dexter Sts. Most of the Original building still remains and is presently the James Hammond Museum. The oldest house in Blackville located on the corner of South Boundary, and Clark St. which is now Solomon Blatt Ave. is the Lartigue House, built in 1832. The family cemetery Js located a short distance behind the residence. In the cemetery you will see that there were many ties with other prominent families of South Carolina.
The Lartigue family played a very important part in the history of Blackville providing the town with doctors, lawyers, and many government officials.
Other interesting homes with great history cover the area of three blocks of Main St. of Blackville. One of these homes is the home of Nathan Blatt, father of Solomon Blatt, who served 47 years in the state legislature and was nominated as Supreme Court Justice of the United States by Franklin D. Roosevelt, but declined the appointment. The residence of Samuel H. Still, who was legal counsel to Congress and then made librarian of the Congressional Library where he retired, is located on Dexter St. The Patrick Farrell home on Main St. was built by Patrick Farrell, who was an Irish emigrant and in Charleston the day Fort Sumter was fired on, is another important part of the history of Blackville. Doctor 0. D. Hammond, brother of Sen. James Hammond, and the Rivers Carroll home next door to the Hammond home are two more historical homes located in Blackville.
There is a great deal more to the history which is discussed in history books concerning Blackville. If you wish, take a look in the local cemeteries, its like looking at " Who's Who's of the World."
History written by Stanley McDonald