Huguenot Back-Country Settlement - Steven J. Coker
Subject: Huguenot Back-Country Settlement
From: Steven J. Coker
Date: September 15, 1998

The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina 
By Arthur Henry Hirsch, Ph.D.
1928, Duke University Press
reprinted 1962 by Archon Books
(pp 34-46)

The Back-Country Movement

   Following the settlement of Granville County began the movement into the
back-country. The entire Atlantic waterfront from North Carolina to Georgia was
now occupied. Much of the tide-water area had been appropriated by the large
land holders, and the rich-soil sections had been seized by land-hungry settlers
of all classes. Prior to 1750 a few outposts were established on the margin of
the "up-country" and a few settlers had ventured into the danger-area of the
hostile Indian and the wilderness of swamp and pine-barren or rich back-country
districts. Some of these settlers were from the tide-water and from England, but
others, following the great valleys and adjoining plateaus that ran in a general
south-westerly direction from New England, moved into the Pedee, Hillsboro, and
adjoining sections.[94]
   John Dubose was among the first of the Huguenots to move into the Pedee
region, near the Welch settlement. He came from Santee to Lynch's Creek. Both he
and his sons were men of means.[95] Isolated families, rather than large groups
of French, first made their appearance in these regions. In 1760 Claudius Pegues
went to Pedee and settled on the east side of the river, not far from what later
became the state line. He had fled from France after the Revocation and with his
wife, a Swiss, settled in London. In South Carolina he was an active citizen in
St. David's Parish. He was in 1768 elected to the legislature and in 1770 was a
church warden.[96] The tendency found for successive generations among the
French Protestant families, to move farther and farther into the back-country,
is seen in the family of Bacots. The emigrant, Pierre Bacot, of the vicinity of
Tours in France, and his wife, Jacquine Menesier, together with their two sons,
Daniel and Pierre, went to Charles Town, South Carolina, late in the seventeenth
century. In 1696 and in 1700 grants of land were made to Pierre Bacot, the
elder, in St. Andrew's Parish, lands that are now a part of the well-known
Middleton Place, near Charleston. He died in 1702. His wife, it seems, died in
1709. The two sons who survived moved over into the Goose Creek section, about
twenty miles from Charles Town, not far from what is now Ladson's Station. In
1769, Samuel Bacot, grandson of the emigrant and the eldest son of Peter Bacot
by his second wife, moved into the Darlington District, far into the
back-country. In 1741 he had married Rebecca Foissin. The family was one of the
highly respected and efficient planter and merchant class, several of whom
entered public life. Thomas Wright Bacot, of the Charles Town branch of the
family, was appointed Postmaster at Charleston by President George Washington in
1794. He retained the position with increasing honor for more than forty
years.[97] In the Darlington District were found also the families of Leonard
Dozier and John Prothero. Sometimes driving their animals before them and
carrying their possessions in wagons and carts, at other times making their way
through unbroken wildernesses afoot, they went forth to overcome the
difficulties incidental to the frontier.
   The back-country movement was not without its French clergymen, one of the
best known of whom was Paul Turquand. He was recommended to the Bishop of London
by William Bull in February, 1766, after a sojourn of several years in the
province. During this time "he kept a grammar school of some reputation" and
because he was conducting his life "according to the precepts of Religion and
good order", he was invited to accept the leadership of the Established Church
in St. Matthew's Parish, and in due course he was recommended to the Bishop of
London for ordination.[98]
   In St. Matthew's Parish, he continued his abundant and efficient services
until his death in 1784. Regardless of the fact that his Anglican rectorship
would ordinarily lead him to be loyal to the British government, he became one
of the most active patriots in the cause of the American colonies in the
Revolution. Elected to the Constitutional Convention of South Carolina and to
the State Legislature he continued his work in defense of the American side
until the British seized Charles Town and overran South Carolina. It was not
until then that, foreseeing the possibility of being apprehended on charges of
treason, owing to his Anglican ordination, he left his family in charge of
friends, and, in company with Tacitus Gaillard, also an ardent patriot, fled to
New Orleans. Though eventually both of these men were captured, Turquand was
released; his friend Gaillard probably died in prison. When the war closed
Turquand returned to Charles Town. Accompanied by a faithful negro servant, who
had been his escort on the trip, he threaded his way through the vast Indian
wilderness between New Orleans and Georgia afoot. On his return to South
Carolina he resumed his duties in St. Matthew's Parish. Paul Turquand represents
a tendency, prevalent, as we shall see, several generations prior to this time
in young men of French nativity or parentage, resident in England, to turn to
Anglican orders rather than continue in Calvinistic circles. The period of
polemic discourses and sensitive distinctions had to a large extent passed both
in South Carolina and in England, but he carefully considered both sides of the
question. He had made a visit to South Carolina as a young man and after
studiously weighing the matter he returned to England persuaded that he ought to
embrace Anglicanism. He was probably helped into this decision by Pastor
Boundillon, of London, an Anglicized Huguenot clergyman, and by the Rector of
the Purrysburg Congregation, Mr. Geisendammer, who, together with other
influential men, had been addressed by Turquand on the subject. On his return to
England, after visiting South Carolina, he had entered the Winchester School,
the records of which reveal his residence in 1757, and according to current
practice give the date of his baptism as October 25, 1736, at Spitalfields. His
family was one of the oldest and most respected of the merchant and professional
class of France, who under persecution had gone to London in search of
protection and an opportunity to make a living under British rule. Paul Turquand
during his rectorship in St. Matthew's Parish projected a plan for the founding
of a college with a faculty composed of educators gathered from England and
France. With this in view he bad collected a large classical library and a
considerable amount of manuscript material as a nucleus, but the approaching
Revolution put an end to his contemplations.[99]
   With the establishment then, as we shall see, of the Hillsboro district,
individual families of French Protestants emigrated thither by way of the
back-country. For example, James and Mary Petigru (Petigrew) journeyed from
France to Ireland, thence to Pennsylvania, and finally by way of the
back-country moved into Abbeville District.[100]
   These pioneers were an interesting people, fearless and dauntless. Their
heroism made the frontier less dreaded, and their tireless toil made the
back-country wilderness smile with generous harvests.
   In 1764, shortly after the conclusion of the Peace of Paris, 1763, which
ended the Seven Years' War, the last large groups of French Protestants to go to
South Carolina, landed at Charles Town. They settled in Hillsboro Township and
comprised a total of 371 persons. Like several of the other colonies these
people left France "on account of their religion", brought their ministers with
them, and established a Protestant Reformed Church, of the Calvinistic
faith.[101] The sagacious governor of the Province was not insensible to the
value of these newcomers. He wisely wrote to Patrick Calhoun, father of John C.
Calhoun, the statesman: "I expect you will do every friendly office for them
which besides discharging your own conscience by doing will most certainly if
this colony shoud thrive and become very Populous as it will if properly
encouraged now promote the value of all the Neighbouring Lands these being men
who fly from the religious oppressions in france will be followed by many also
the account of enjoying Civil and religious Liberty here."[102] The Rev. Jean
Louis Gibert was the pastor of one of the groups. With him was associated the
Rev. Jacques Boutiton.
   There was abundant reason for the continued emigration of Protestants from
France to South Carolina. Persecution, though at times diminished, had not
ceased.[103] Besides, it must have been generally known on the continent of
Europe that the poorest classes in South Carolina and even the middle class
could live better there than in Europe. Of those intending to go to the
Hillsboro section the first group embarked from Plymouth, England, January 2,
1764, after two years of negotiations through their agent, John Lewis Gibert,
with the British authorities, and arrived in Charleston, on April 12.[104]
Gibert's correspondence with the English authorities shows him to have been a
man of unique leadership. He had carefully studied the problems that would
confront the new colony and had scrutinized the difficulties of the Georgia and
other settlements near by. His frank boldness and characteristic courtesy were
outstanding traits.[105] These people were furnished accommodations in Fort
Lyttleton, at Beaufort, at a total cost of £12-17-0 for the summer and returned
to Charles Town in August, having lost only one of their number.[106] A tract of
land, known as Hillsboro Township, on Long Cane Creek, immediately north of the
settlement made shortly before by Irish immigrants, was allotted to them.
Michael Smith undertook the task of transporting them from Charles Town to
Hillsboro Township. His remuneration was £840.[107] These people went to South
Carolina under written contract between John Lewis Gibert and his colleague, Mr.
McNutt, on the one hand, and the English authorities on the other band. The
"undertakers", as they were called, were to transport two hundred French people
to South Carolina and furnish a "proper vessel" for the voyage. Even the details
concerning the accomodations are preserved. The passengers should be furnished
with berths 6x11/2 feet each and wholesome provisions in quantities as follows:
six pounds of bread, six of beef, and one pound of butter per week, and two
quarts of water each day for each passenger.[108] They were to receive land
grants at the rate of one hundred acres to each family head and fifty acres to
each black or white man, woman or child in the family. The rent rate was fixed
at four shillings proclamation money per 100 acres, to begin at the expiration
of two years.[109] Both on account of their indigent condition and their value
to the province they were allowed ten years' exemption from rent, and the
expenses of surveying the township and transporting them from Charles Town to
the place of final settlement were paid by the provincial treasury in addition
to the bounty of twenty shillings per capita for provisions and tools.[110] They
named the village in the center of the township, New Bordeaux, because many of
their number had come from Bordeaux, in France.[111]
   Immediately after their arrival in August and September, Patrick Calhoun,
grandfather of the famous American statesman, John C. Calhoun, with the aid of
the Frenchmen, surveyed the township and laid it out in vineyard lots,
plantations, and a village on a New England plan. The township embraced 26,000
acres, 24,000 of which were designed to be reserved for the French.[112] For
land already occupied in other grants 2,000 acres had been allowed in the
survey. The surveyed portion was situated on the two main forks of Long Cane
Creek, three and one-half miles from the Savannah River, forty miles above
Augusta and nine miles south of Fort Boone. The lot surveys in the village were
completed by October 5.[113] In spite of the "distemper" among them, they had
built a fort, a mill, and a number of houses by January, 1765.
   A tract of 800 acres, which comprised the village of New Bordeaux, the
vineyards, glebelands, and commons, was situated on the spot where the Long Cane
Creek and the Northwest Fork meet.[114] These 800 acres were apportioned as

"1. Lots of 21/2 acres each, embracing 100 acres . .  100

 2. A fort, church yard, parsonage, market-place,
    parade ground, 1 acre for a public mill, 
    and streets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
 3. A common reserved for the government. . . . . . 200

 4. A glebe for the minister and the Church of
    England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300

5. 175 acres to be divided into 4-acre lots for
   vineyards and olive gardens. . . . . . . . . . . 175
                      Total . . . . . . . . . . . . 800" [115]

   In 1765 word was sent in the form of a petition, signed by fifty-eight
persons, to the Board of Trade, informing them that the subscribed twenty
families of destitute French Protestants were in London, that relief had been
sought from the French churches in the city, "which already swarmed with poor",
but without avail; and that unless they be transported to some colony they
"would starve for want in this land of plenty".[116] They expressed a desire to
go to South Carolina and to join the colony under the care of John Pierre Gibert
and Mr. Boutiton.[117] Help was given them and they united with the settlers
already situated in Hillsboro Township.
   At New Bordeaux the inhabitants at once organized a local form of government.
It seems to have been a sort of branch political system, making reports to the
head of the provincial government in Charles Town and referring disputes to the
colonial assembly. Roger (Rogers) took up the duties of justice of the Peace and
was supplied with a copy of Simpson's Justices' Guide. Due was made Captain of
the militia; Leorion was chosen Lieutenant; Le Violette, Ensign; and the Rev.
Joseph Boutiton assumed the duties of spiritual guide, associated with the Rev.
Mr. Gibert. For each five persons a cow and a calf were purchased. These and the
horses were branded so as to distinguish them from those owned by persons
outside the French community.[118]
   Jacob Anger, one of the Frenchmen of Hillsboro, in 1765 petitioned the
Council for a bounty sufficient to enable him to return to Great Britain and
France with the purpose of trying to induce many of his relatives to emigrate to
South Carolina. He sets forth in his petition that he had come to the province
very poor, that he had left about twenty-five relatives in France, among whom
were tradesmen who said they would settle in South Carolina in case it would be
advantageous for them to do so, and that he believed that he could, by
returning, induce them to go to South Carolina. He states that he is "afraid to
write" lest his letters be intercepted and be of great detriment to his friends
in France.[119] This indicates that as late as 1765 matters were so disturbed in
France as to compel Protestants to flee and to make it unsafe for those who
remained to declare publicly their Protestant persuasions. The Council ordered
that £100 currency be given him out of the township fund.[120]
   The last two installments of French Protestants to go to South Carolina
before the American Revolution went under the direction of M. Dumese de St.
Pierre, who in 1767 was taking a number of French and German Protestants to
occupy lands granted them by the government at Cape Sable, in Nova Scotia.[121]
St. Pierre and his French followers also left France on account of religious
persecution, for St. Pierre states in his petition to the public that he could
not live on his estate in Normandy, because he had been "devoted to death" for
his perseverance in religion and his inviolable attachments to the commercial
interests of Great Britain.[122]
   Owing to severe weather the vessels were driven far from their course and put
in at Charles Town after being searidden 138 days and having buried ten of their
number overboard.[123] Sick of the sea they decided to remain at Charles Town
rather than pursue their journey further and were given the benefit of the
bounty ordered by the law of 1761. Accordingly £1,197 was voted by the assembly
to M. de St. Pierre.[124] These people settled in Hillsboro Township and St.
Pierre immediately entered public life. He became one of the Justices of the
Peace and was made captain of the militia of the French colony of New Bordeaux.
He was one of the most successful cultivators of the vine in the province.[125]
In 1772 he returned to England and France to purchase grape vines and
incidentally induced twenty-seven families to return to South Carolina with him.
One-third of these bore French names.[126]
   These groups, going to America and settling in Hillsboro Township, as we have
seen to be the case in the early history of South Carolina, were assembled by
brokerage agents in Europe. Direct commissions to the extent of £209 were paid
to these brokers for the Hillsboro emigrants alone.[127]
   Though most of the settlers in New Bordeaux were distressingly poor,
occasionally one can be found who was in good circumstances. Among the latter
were Antoine Gabeau and his mother, who went to South Carolina under the
guidance of Jean Lewis Gibert. Antoine at the time of his arrival in the
province was only seven years of age. His mother, driven out of France by
persecution, was the widow of Pierre Antoine Gabeau, the owner and operator of
extensive champagne vineyards near Bordeaux.[128] She brought with her to South
Carolina the title deeds of two vineyards, a few personal treasures, and enough
money to make herself and her son comfortable. Through her agent in France, into
whose charge her property was committed, she received regular remittances, the
earnings of her French estates. Though for years they yielded a good return,
they were eventually lost to a "squatter". Mme. Gabeau seems to have been more
fortunate than most of the refugees, for there are but few hints that they
profited by their holdings in France after emigrating to South Carolina.[129]
   The Huguenots in the Hillsboro section settled down in comfort and peace, but
the storms of the American Revolution were soon to break forth. Like the French
of the tidewater section, they mingled freely with persons of other blood and
married early into the families of English, Irish, Welsh, and Germans who were
numerous in that part of the province.[130]
   Coeval with the arrival of the last colonizers among the French Protestants
to South Carolina occurred what was perhaps the most extensive exodus among the
descendants of the original emigrants. Small companies had gone to other
colonies from time to time, but in the 1760's, a large number, principally from
the tide-water, emigrated to Georgia, settling to the south of the Altamaha
River, or between it and the Savannah River. This land, it was claimed by
interpreters of the South Carolina charter, was a part of the tract granted to
the province of Carolina.[131] A fort had been built on the Alatamaha River
before 1721 and in that year accidentally burned. Petitions for grants
aggregating nearly 23,000 acres, and grants of land aggregating over 17,000
acres to a list of persons altogether different in personnel from those
represented in the petitions, give hints of the extent of the emigration.[132]
Wealthy Frenchmen, such as Cornelius Dupont, sold their large holdings in South
Carolina, where the price of land was increasing and the productive power of the
land diminishing and moved to the newly opened districts, beyond the Savannah in
Georgia.[133] Other familiar names are Henry Laurens, Theodore Gourdin, Joseph
Porcher, Benjamin Mazˇck, Michael Bonneau, Jean Sinkler, etc. While it is
possible that some of those who received grants remained in South Carolina, no
doubt most of them moved to their newly acquired tracts. The scheme had been
undertaken in England as well as in America, and a canvass had been made of the
continent of Europe for indigent Protestants who would go to Georgia.
   With the opening of Georgia as a new province in 1732, came the opportunity
for the purchase of virgin soil at a low price.[134] James Oglethorpe, one of
the trustees of the new province, sailed in 1732 from England with a company of
emigrants bound for Georgia. The citizens of South Carolina made elaborate
preparations for their arrival. At the request of Governor Robert Johnson and
his Council, James St. Julien, a prominent French Protestant, was sent to wait
on His Excellency, the Honorable James Oglethorpe and to assure him of the
hearty support of South Carolina in the settlement of the new province.[135]
Among the names of the first trustees of the new colony, appointed by George II,
is that of John La Roche, a name for decades familiar in South Carolina among
the French Protestants.[136] Thomas La Roche appears on the list of
councilmen.[137] In order to secure military protection for the new colony by
the arrival of ablebodied men, land tenure was at first made easy, but owing to
the fact that negroes were excluded from the province except by special license
and owing to the fact that the Indian was still in the regions near by,
settlements were made with reluctance by whites other than foreign Protestants.
   Georgia was called upon to undergo experiences similar to those of her
neighbor province, nearly a century before. In both cases Huguenots became
willing settlers, eager to profit by the returns of cheap virgin soil and ready
to endure the hardships incident to the life of a thinly settled country. The
success of the Georgia settlement was largely dependent on the inhabitants of
South Carolina. In 1735 the English Parliament, strongly influenced by a
memorial sent to the King by the Governor of South Carolina, gave £26,000
sterling toward settling and colonizing Georgia, and so its trustees at once
took steps for settling the region near the Alatamaha (Altamaha) River.[138] The
purpose was to raise raw silk.[139] A French silk expert from Piedmont went to
Georgia in the first group from England.[140] On reaching America, this company
cast anchor at Charles Town, and it is possible took with them to Georgia a
number of planters from the southern metropolis, attracted by the added
protection given them.[141]

94 Calhoun, Works, I. 400; Brevard, Digest, Intr., Coll. S. C. Hist. Soc., II.
75; Logan, Upper S. C., etc.

95 Gregg, Old Cheraws, 91.

96 Ibid., 93-5.

97  MS Bacot Papers. The denization records show that one Peter Bacot and one
John Bacot were granted papers of denization in 1699 in London. See Pub. Hug.
Soc., London, XVIII. 312-13.

98 Fulham MS 315, no. 169, Bull to Bishop of London, February 1, 1766. Charles
Town, South Carolina.

99 MS Turquand Papers; Pierce Family Records; David G. McCord Papers; MS Letter,
Boundillon to Turquand, - all in possession of Mrs. Louisa Smythe, Charleston.

100 Grayson, Life of James Petigrew, 19.

101 MS Col. Doc. S. C., XXIX. 375 f.

102 See MS Council Jrnl., 1763-64, 262.

103 Glen to Lords of Trade, 1751, MS Col. Doc. S. C. XXIV. 303.

104 Ibid., XXIX. 375.

105 Coll. S. C. Hist. Soc. vol. II.

106 MS Council Jrnl., 1763-64, 144-47.

107 Ibid., 328.

108 Ibid., XXIX. 378.

109 Ibid., 160.

110 Ibid., 381.

111 Bull to Lords of Trade, Aug. 20, 1764 (ibid., XXX. 185).

112 Inscription, original Calhoun map of Hillsboro Township, Office S. C. Hist.
Com. Columbia.

113 Patrick Calhoun to Council, MS Council Jrnl., 1763-64, 330.

114 Original Calhoun pen map, Office Hist. Com. Columbia.

115 MS Council Jrnl., 1763-64, 261-67.

116  MS Col. Doc. S. C., XX. 261.

117 The list follows: "Claude Chabor sa femme & quatres Enfans Laboureurs de
Terre - 6; Pierre Boyan Charpantier - 1; Jean Jacques Gransar, sa femme &
quatres Enfans Tisserand & Ouvrier de Terre - 6; Paul Chauvet Ouvrier de Terre -
1; Claude Barnier sa femme & unfils Labourer de Terre - 3; Pierre LeRiche sa
femme & cinc enfans Tisserand - 7; Jean Dron sa femme & un Enfant. Tisserand -
3; Jacques Chamberland. Iardinier & Boulanger - 1; Claude Chauvet sa femme & un
Fils, Laboureur de Terre & Fabriquant en Laine - 3; Jean Pierre Blanchet & sa
femme Iardinnier - 2; Jacques Le Gros sa femme & quatres Enfans, Jardinnier - 6;
Pierre Chenton, Laboureur de Terre - {1}; Pierre Vaillant, Travailleur de Terre
& Tailleur - 1; Louis Salleri, sa femme & trois enfans ouvrier de Terre - 5;
Mathew Poitvin & sa femme Laboureur de Terre ~ 2; Iean Plisson sa femme & un
fils Tisserand - 3; Joseph Roulland & sa femme, Jardinnier & ouvrier de Salpetre
- 2; Jacques Paulet Tonnelier - 1; Louise Marechal - 1; Pierre Villaret & sa
femme Iardinnier - 2; Jean Berard, Charpantier - 1; Pierre Commer Boulanger - 1;
Laurrant Augustin, Boulanger - 1." Total 58.

118 MS Council Jrnl., 1763-64, 259 f.

119 MS Council Jrnl., 1765-66, 578-9. The substitute of an X for a signature at
the close of the petition may supply an additional reason for his being "afraid
to write".

120 Ibid. There is no evidence that he ever returned, nor that he induced his
relatives to emigrate to South Carolina.

121 Petition of Lewis Dumesnil de St. Pierre to Council, dated March 9, 1765, MS
Col. Doc. S. C., XXXIII. 91. Copy of St. Pierre's Account of Vine Culture in New
Bordeaux, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.

122 Ibid.

123 Ibid.

124 MS Council Jrnl., 1768, 101.

125 MS Col. Doc. S. C., XXXIII. 91-122.

126 Ibid.

127 Ibid., XXX. 176 f.; XXXIII. 91.

128 Memorial Bk., C. T. Huguenot Church and T. H. S. C., XIII. 84.

129 Ibid.

130 See chapter on Absorption of the Huguenots; see also T. H. S. C., V. 83.

131 MS Col. Doc. S. C., XV. 76 f.

132 MS Council Jrnl., 1763, 43-53; MS North American Papers, Instructions and
Orders, Am. Br., 1704, 211 f., Library of Congress.

133 Dupont advertised for sale his plantation of 1,706 acres on which was a new
Dutch-roofed house, framed in yellow pine. His advertisement also mentions
indigo vats, water reservoirs, a rice-pounding machine. etc. - S. C. Gaz., Aug.
31, 1765.

134 Martyn, Acct. of Ga., London, 1741, 1-2.

135 MS Council Jrnl., 1730-34, 254.

136 Ga. Col. Rec., 1732-52, I. 12.

137 Ibid., I. 14.

138 Martyn, Acct. of Ga., 19.

139 Ibid., 11.

140 Ibid.

141 Ibid., 12, 22.

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