2 Your Roots: The Town of Kiawah Island

2 Your Roots

Courtesy: The Library of Congress

Charleston, S.C. (WCBD) –In this week’s edition of 2 Your Roots, we travel to a small town with a rich history: Kiawah Island.

Located south of Charleston between the mouths of the Stono and North Edisto Rivers, the small barrier island works double-time as a world-famous resort.

A look at the town’s history explains that Kiawah Island was named for the Kiawah Indians, who inhabited the island before the arrival of English settlers in South Carolina.

Library of Congress: Contributor, Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918.

A historical marker on Kiawah Island says that in 1670, the first colonists were directed to the “Cassique of the Kiawah” by the Chief of the Kiawah Indians. According to the Historical Marker Database, the friendly Cassique and his people greatly helped the struggling colony and in 1699 the Lords Proprietors deeded the island to George Rayner, a merchant/pirate.

“Twenty years later the island became the property of the planter John Stanyarne, who cleared land for indigo production and built a sizable house that came to be known as the Vanderhorst mansion.”

South Carolina Encyclopedia

According to a timeline on the Town of Kiawah Island’s website, Stanyarne and other slave owners raised cattle and produced crops on Kiawah Island until slavery was abolished.

In the early 1900’s, cotton fields were reverted to woodland and the island remained in the possession of the Vanderhorst family for about 180 years before C. C. Royal Lumber Company purchased it in 1952 for $125,000.

“In 1974 Royal’s heirs sold the island for $17,385,000 to Kiawah Island Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Kuwait Investment Corporation, which developed an upscale resort and residential community.”

South Carolina Encyclopedia

In the decades that followed, Kiawah Island became home to luxurious resorts and breathtaking real-estate property. The island also holds bragging rights to some of golf lover’s most anticipated events: The Ryder Cup, PGA Championship, and more.

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