Today In Charleston History: July 31

1736 – Religion 

John and Charles Wesley arrived in Charlestown from Savannah where they had been serving as missionaries. Charles was returning to England due to ill health.

wesley brothers

John Wesley; Charles Wesley

1776 – Deaths. Charleston First.

Francis Salvador, part of the Ninety-Six militia, fell in battle against the Cherokee, and an Indian took his scalp. He died “within three-quarters of an hour” at the age of 29. He was the first Jew to die in the cause of America liberty. 

1852 –Crime.Prostitution
11 Fulton Street, commonly called "The Big Brick" by Charleston locals. Owned and operated by the infamous Grace Piexotto.

11 Fulton Street, commonly called “The Big Brick” by Charleston locals. Owned and operated by the infamous Grace Piexotto.

Grace Piexotto, a “mother of crime” appeared before the city council and asked them to pave the lot in front of her brick house (Gentleman’s Club – House of Negotiated Affection – Brothel) at 11 Beresford Street.

Read more about Grace in the book Wicked Charleston, Vol. II: Prostitutes, Politics & Prohibition. 

Grounds of the Expo

Grounds of the Expo

A public auction was held for the Exposition property. Eighty-nine bidders showed up, including “three small boys and one decrepit old negro.” Entire buildings were sold for as little as $7 to $115. Most of the bidders were building contractors who purchased for the materials. In less than a week, most of the buildings were being dismantled and were gone by the end of the year. In an article titled “Going! Going! Gone!” the News and Courier wrote:

So the work of demolition will be prosecuted now with all possible speed. In a few days the beautiful Ivory City will be a heap of lumber and debris and every vestige of its splendor will be blotted from the things that be.

1937-Deaths.Jenkins Orphanage

Rev. Daniel Jenkins’ obituary ran in the News and Courier. In part it read:


Negro Institution Founder Sent Brass Bands to Europe Three Times

The Rev. D.J. Jenkins, founder of the Jenkins Orphanage, whose brass bands have toured the United States and crossed the ocean three times to Europe, died last night after a long illness. He was seventy-four years old.

Jenkins founded the orphanage December 16, 1891, and built it into an institution which has taken care of 5000 Negro boys and girls in the intervening forty-five years.  The orphanage has its main building in Franklin Street, maintains two farms and publishes a newspaper (The Messenger). Boys learn printing, carpentry, shoe making, chair caning and automobile mechanics. Girls are taught to do housework.

In Charleston the orphanage is known best for its bands. There are two now, frequently there have been four, which play at street corners to the energetic directions of a diminutive conductor. These bands have been familiar sights in cities all over the United States, going as far west as Los Angeles. Charlestonians have reported seeking them in many out-of-the-way places. Their silver donations go to the orphanage fund.

In 1914, the Rev. Jenkins took the band to England to represent the negro race at the Anglo-American exposition in London celebrating a century of peace between the nations. The band played before the Queen of England.

The war broke out and Jenkins was able to assist several prominent Charlestonians stranded by the money confusion. They were unable to cash checks but he was paid in gold and loaned money for them to get out of the country.

The Jenkins band marched in the inaugural parade when President Taft was inaugurated and at the St. Louis Exposition. Seventy children in the three groups, now are on the road, playing and singing in Boston, Saratoga (for the races) and New York city.

Jenkins had a flow of language both oral and written calculated to wring the hearts of prospective donors, and he received contributions from some of the most eminent people in the United States. His letters to the newspapers asked alms for his “Little Black Lambs” were powerful pleas that were read by generations of Charlestonians.

Besides being president of the orphan society, Jenkins was pastor of the Fourth Baptist church for forty-six years. 

Today In Charleston History: July 30

1781 – American Revolution

The St. Augustine exiles arrived in Philadelphia. Edward Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Thomas Pinckney, and their families rented a brick mansion in Germantown. The Pinckney brothers were met by their cousin, Charles. Over the next few months Charles became friends with Pierce Butler, leader of his Charleston militia unit. Both men would later play major roles during the Constitutional Congress six years later.

rutledge and pinckneys

TOP: Charles Cotesworth Pinckney; Thomas Pinckney (brothers) BOTTOM: Edward Rutledge; Charles Pinckney (their cousin)

1822-Denmark Vesey Rebellion

Four more slaves were executed associated with the Vesey Rebellion.

  • Jack McNeil: One of the youngest killed, perhaps still in his teens.
  • Tom Scott: A member of the A.M. E. Church.
  • Caesar Smith: He possessed a sword and was a member of the A.M. E. Church.
  • Jacob Stagg: A housepainter, Stagg claimed “he was tired of paying wages” to his master.  He also claimed to have fashioned a sword out of a scythe.
1835 – Slavery

 Overnight, a mob raided the Charleston post office to prevent the circulation of abolitionist pamphlets that had arrived by ship from the north.

The pamphlets were burned by 8 p.m. the next evening opposite the main guard house, 3000 persons being present. The effigies of Arthur Tappan, Dr. Cox and W.L. Garrison were at the same time suspended. A 9 o’clock a balloon was let off, and the effigies were consumed by the neck, with the offensive documents at their feet. 

1937-Jenkins Orphanage. Deaths
Rev. Daniel Jenkins

Rev. Daniel Jenkins

Rev. Daniel Joseph Jenkins died, eleven days after he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. He was seventy-five years old and had been the head of the Orphan Aid Society for forty-five years. Ironically, both of the bands were away on tour in New York and Boston and could not return to Charleston in time for the funeral.

1967- Martin Luther King Speaks In Charleston

Dr. King gives a speech before a packed house at Charleston County Hall.

mlk - county hall 1967

Left: King’s Car Pulls Up To County Hall. Right: King Delivers Speech

County Hall, at 1000 King Street, was originally built as a cotton mill in 1902 and later converted to a community auditorium. Some of the entertainment acts who appeared were:

  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Count Basie
  • Elvis Presley
  • James Brown
  • The Beach Boys
  • Bob Dylan
  • Herman’s Hermits
  • The Doors
  • Badfinger
  • Buffalo Springfield
  • Ozzy Osbourne

The Hall also served as host to dances, graduations, sporting events, and even welcomed such American icons as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Harlem Globetrotters. The Hall became one of the most popular venues for professional wrestling from the 1960s well into the 1980s.

Currently, the Hall is the Palace Apartments.


Palace Apartments, 1000 King Street

Today In Charleston History: July 29


Dr. David Ramsay

Dr. David Ramsay

Dr. David Ramsay, in a letter to Benjamin Rush wrote:

Dueling has been practiced so much here [Charlestown] that illiberal language is seldom used. Indeed I never heard one Gentleman vilify the character of another in such plain terms.

Postmaster Alfred Huger discovered antislavery pamphlets in the mail bags that had been delivered overnight. Huger considered the material a call for black revolution. He locked up the pamphlets until President Andrew Jackson could send instructions on their delivery.

Today In Charleston History: July 28


Christopher Gadsden married Jenny Godfrey in Charlestown. During this time he also owned a store on Shute’s Wharf.

1769Slavery. Executions

Dolly, belonging to James Sands, and Liverpoole, a slave doctor belonging to William Price, were burned at the stake on the green in front of the workhouse. Dolly was convicted of poisoning her master and his child, while Liverpoole was convicted of providing the poison.

Dick, a former slave who had been freed, was “accused as instigator of these horrid crimes.” He initially escaped but was eventually retaken and given “twenty-five Lashes…at four different Corners and the same Number last Tuesday, in all 100 each Day, and to lose his Right Ear.”

1856 – Duelling

 Col. Cunningham and editor Hatch met on the Washington Race Course to settle their differences with a duel.

On July 21 the Charleston Evening News published an editorial by Col. John Cunningham, which prompted a response from L.M. Hatch, the editor of the Standard. Cunningham charged Hatch with a “studied and wanton personal insult” and demanded satisfaction. He appointed his friend William Taber, editor of the Charleston Mercury, as his second – to negotiate the details of the duel.

The two exchanged shots with no injury to either man.

Washington Race Track - 1857. A one-mile loop around what is present day Hampton Park. Library of Congress

Washington Race Track – 1857. A one-mile loop around what is present day Hampton Park. Library of Congress

Today In Charleston History: July 27

1669-Carolina Expedition

Mr. Joseph West was appointed Governor and Commander-in-chief of the Carolina expedition until its arrival at Barbados, or until another Governor was appointed.

1772 – American Revolution – Foundations

Governor Montagu, in attempt to break the stalemate in the Assembly over the Wilkes Fund appropriation, announced that in October, the Assembly would meet in Beaufort, not Charleston. He hoped that the distance might keep some of the more radical Charlestown members from attending, so some necessary legislation could be passed. He also hoped the implied threat of moving the capital from Charlestown would intimidate some of the members to moderate their views. It backfired.

1781-British Occupation – Issac Hayne

The British issued an official statement:

The adjutant of the town will be so good as to go to Colonel Hayne in Provost Prison and inform him that in consequence of the court of enquiry held yesterday and the preceding evening Lord Rawdon and the commandant Lieutenant Colonel Nisbet Balfour have resolved upon his execution on Tuesday the thirty-first instant at six o’clock, for having been found under arms raising a regiment to oppose the British government, though he had become a subject and had accepted the protection of that government after the reduction of Charleston.

Judge Waties Waring

Judge Waties Waring

 Waties Waring was born in Charleston. He was the scion of the prominent Waring and Waties families and a son of a Confederate veteran. he would later become a leader in Democrat politics and a Federal judge. He became a controversial figure in South Carolina when he divorced his Southern wife in 1945 and almost immediately married a twice-divorced “Northern” woman, Elizabeth. When Judge Waring began issuing court rulings against South Carolina’s segregationist policies, Waring and Elizabeth became hated figures in the state. Congressman Mendel Rivers (D-SC) led a campaign for Waring’s impeachment which was unsuccessful.   

Today In Charleston History: July 26

1822-Denmark Vesey Rebellion. Executions

denmark_veseyThis was one the largest days of executions in Charleston history – twenty-two more conspirators hanged just north of “The Lines.” The entire city turned out for the Friday morning spectacle. There was such a large crowd and so much excitement that a small black boy was trampled to death.

The bodies of the convicted were given to the Medical College of South Carolina for dissection. The executed were:

  • Smart Anderson: Smart was a drayman who stole two muskets, hiding them on his cart to be used when the occasion arose. He claimed he was in the rebellion “as much as possible.”
  • Charles Billings: Worked in a commercial stables and planned to steal horses on the night of the rebellion. Claimed that he was “ready and willing” to do what needed to be done.
  • Jemmy Clement: Member of the A. M. E. Church
  • Jerry Cohen: One of the last arrested but claimed that if everyone involved was killed, he was “still willing to go on.”
  • Polydore Faber: Good friend of Gullah Jack. Faber was convicted of hiding at least twenty pike poles which were to be fitted with blades and used as weapons on the night of rebellion.
  • Julius Forrest: Claimed to have been “charmed” by Gullah Jack into joining the rebellion.
  • Lot Forrester: One of the most active of Denmark’s recruits. Worked at the State Arsenal and was able to steal a slow fuse to be used in setting fires throughout the city.
  • Jack Glenn: Although he was lame in both feet, he told Vesey he would serve as a horseman on the night of rebellion. He collected money about town to finance the plot.
  • Bacchus Hammett: Stole a keg of black powder, a sword and pistol for the rebellion. ON his way to gallows he shocked the white crowd by laughing and shouting good-byes to his acquaintance. Upon his execution, the mechanism failed, and he did not drop. According to a witness, Bacchus “threw himself forward, and as he swung back he lifted his feet, so that his knees might not touch the Board.” He was shot with a pistol by Captain Dove because he was taking so long to die dangling from the gallows.
  • Mingo Harth: He was a skilled laborer and worked at a lumberyard. Mingo hosted Bible study classes in his quarters in order to discuss the rebellion.
  • Joe Jore: Considered an invalid, Joe pledged to take a sword and fight on the night of rebellion.
  • Dean Mitchell: Assisted in collecting money to make spears and pikes.
  • Jack Purcell: One of Denmark’s first recruits. However, on the gallows he stated that “if it had not been for the cunning of that old villain, Vesey, I should not now be in my present situation.”
  • Adam Robertson: Participated in the ceremony where a chicken was eaten bloody by all present as a sign of their commitment to the rebellion.
  • John Robertson: Also participated in the chicken ceremony.
  • Robert Robertson: Helped conceal pikes and spears. Also, stole a pistol from his master.
  • Tom Russell: A blacksmith who forged pikeheads and spears as long as the group took up a collection to pay for the materials. Russell was also trained by Gullah Jack to be a sorcerer.
  • Dick Simms: Property of the family William Gilmore Simms, famous novelist of the time. Dick stole a pistol from his master for use during the rebellion.
  • Pharo Thompson: Pharo possessed a sword fashioned out of a scythe.
  • Adam Yates: Adam had the responsibility of leading the rural blacks into the city on the night of rebellion.
  • Bellisle Yates: Responsible for hiding some of the plantation blacks in the city during the night of rebellion.
  • Naphur Yates: Yates took an oath and swore that his “heart was in this business.” He claimed that his name had ordained him to be part of the rebellion since the word naphur is defined in the Bible as “purification fire”.

Charleston City Council urged restraint from anymore executions, due to the expense. Constable Belknap complained the city had spent $2284 “confining the accused in the Workhouse, erecting a Gallows and obtaining carts to carry the criminals to the place of execution.”

James Louis Petigru, also advised restraint stating,

“I am afraid you will hang half the country. You must take care and save negroes enough for the Rice crop.”


John C. Calhoun wrote a letter to the Pendleton Messenger openly avowing his nullification philosophy. 

1864-Bombardment of Charleston
Gen. Samuel Jones

Gen. Samuel Jones

Gen. Samuel Jones received a telegram from General Winder at Andersonville Prison in Georgia that 600 Union officers and soldiers were being sent to Charleston and that it would “continue … to all are sent.”

Today In Charleston History: July 25

1780-British Occupation  

British military proclamation stated that mechanics and shopkeepers (mostly Patriots) must swear allegiance to Britain in order to sell property, collect debts or leave the city. One hundred sixty-three merchants swore allegiance in order to avoid financial ruin.


 A notice in the Southern Patriot read:

The building at the west end of Broad Street, called the Charleston Theatre, has been purchased by the faculty of the Medical College of the State of South Carolina for the sum of $12,000. It will be fitted up for the classes attached to this institution.

Theater (c. 1792) sat on the corner of Broad and New Streets. Designed by James Hoban.

Theater (c. 1792) sat on the corner of Broad and New Streets. Designed by James Hoban.

A rift developed between management and faculty of the Medical College of South Carolina, and the faculty organized an independent institution, The Medical College of the State of South Carolina. With an enrollment of 105, the new college opened in 1833 in the Broad Street theater.


Angelina Grimke wrote:

We have given great offense on account of our womanhood, which seems to be as objectionable as our abolitionism. The whole land seems aroused to discussion on the province of woman, and I am glad of it. We are willing to bear the brunt of the storm, if we can only be the means of making a break in that wall of public opinion which lies right in the way of woman’s rights, true dignity, honor and usefulness.

1861-Civil War

The CSS Gordon captured the American brig William McGilvery off Charleston on July 25, 1861. She was reported to have run the blockade out of Charleston twenty-seven times by October 1861.

At that time Gordon was under charter to the Confederate States for the daily reconnoiter of the Union warships off that port. She was of such light draft that she could slip over the bar without being confined to the channels.


The city of Charleston purchased the grounds of the West Indian Exposition for $25,000 with the plan to build a public park on the site.


Expo fair grounds, later purchased by the city of Charleston and turned into Hampton Park.

Today In Charleston History: July 24

1778-American Revolution

The Articles of Confederation were signed by the South Carolina delegation to the Continental Congress. South Carolina was now one of thirteen unified colonies. The South Carolina signers were:

  • Henry Laurens
  • William Henry Drayton
  • John Mathews
  • Richard Hutson
  • Thomas Heyward, Jr.

The South Carolina Society had their first meeting in their new building at 72 Meeting Street. The first floor was used to school female orphans and indigents, while the second floor was a ballroom for social purposes.

The Neoclassical building was designed by the gentleman architect, Gabriel Manigault, who was a member of the Society. 

South Carolina Society

South Carolina Society

Today In Charleston History: July 23

1775-American Revolution
Rev. Oliver Hart

Rev. Oliver Hart

Rev. Oliver Hart, of the First Baptist Church, and Rev. William Tennant were ardent supporters of the rebel cause and members of the “Association.” They accompanied William Henry Drayton into the backcountry in an effort to explain the causes of the dispute with England, and to build support for the cause.

Due to the effective pamphlet campaign by Royal Governor William Campbell, they were met with either indifference, or adamant opposition.

1822-Denmark Vesey Rebellion

In a letter Mary Lamboll Thomas Beach commented about the Denmark Vesey rebellion:

This business I fear is akin to the French Revolution to think that many of these people growing up like children … could be brought to such a fiend-like temper that they would commit to embrace their hands in the blood of their masters … Ah! Slavery is a hard business and I am afraid we shall in this country have it to our bitter cost some day or other.

1914-Jenkins Orphanage

 Rev. Daniel Jenkins, in London with the Jenkins Band, who were performing at the Anglo-American Expo, sent a letter on his orphanage stationary (deleting “Charleston, S.C.” and replacing it with a typed “London, England”) to South Carolina Governor Coleman Blease. Some of the text of the letter included:

… the salvation of the South between the white and the black man lies in the careful training of the little negro boys and girls to become honest, upright and industrious citizens … Teaching the Negro to read, to write and to work is not going to do the white man any harm … Nine of the Councilmen of London called on me yesterday and congratulated me on the work I am doing for my race. If were able to gain the respect of the people of England, how much more can be done if the Governor and Lawmakers of South Carolina would simply co-operate with me?

Coleman Blease

Coleman Blease

Blease had been elected governor in 1910, because he “knew how to play on race, religious, and class prejudices to obtain votes.”  He was one of the most racist politicians ever elected in South Carolina. He favored complete white supremacy in all matters, encouraged the practice of lynching, and was opposed to the education of blacks. He even once buried the severed finger of a black lynching victim in the South Carolina gubernatorial garden.

In light of Blease’s racist attitude, Jenkins’s letter to the governor is an indication of the reverend’s fierce determination to raise money, no matter how remote the success.

Today In Charleston History: July 22

1718-Bloodless Revolution

The Proprietors, with permission of the King, repealed the Assembly’s ten per cent duty upon goods of British manufacture imported into the colony. They also repealed several other Acts passed by the Assembly which inflamed the tension between the Assembly and the Proprietors.

  • The ten-year old power of the Assembly to nominate the Public Receiver was repealed.
  • Act for Elections calling it “contrary to the laws and customs of Parliament and Great Britain we therefore do declare the … Acts to be null and void …”
  • Yemassee Act for Settlement which provided 200 acres to each settler was repealed.
  • Indian Trade Act was repealed since London merchants saw it as a monopoly.
  • The Proprietors ordered the Governor to dissolve the Assembly.
Nicholas Trott

Nicholas Trott

Members of the Assembly were surprised and outraged, except for two, Nicholas Trott and William Rhett. It was discovered that Trott and Rhett had carried on a private correspondence with Mr. Shelton, the secretary of the Proprietors, encouraging the repeal of the Act for Elections, since it took control from their offices.

1769-American Revolution – Foundations

During a meeting at the Liberty Tree, both sides – 13 merchants and 13 mechanics & planters – accepted a unified Association. They encouraged American manufacturing and prohibited the importation of any European or East Indian goods, except a few necessary items which could not be produced in America. It was the most comprehensive protest in the American colonies. 

Slave importation from Africa was banned after January 1, 1770 and all signers pledged to boycott anyone who did not sign within a month. Anyone who broke the agreement was to “be treated with the utmost contempt.” The Association was to remain in effect until the Townsend Duties Act was repealed. Anyone who did not sign would have their names published in the Gazette as being against the Association.