A History of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation - Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Originally occupied by the Sewee Indians, Mount Pleasant’s first European settlers arrived from England on July 6, 1680 under the leadership of Captain Florentia O’Sullivan. Captain O’Sullivan had been granted 2,340 acres which included not only the island that bears his name, but also the land that was to become the town of Mount Pleasant. On the earliest map of the time this area was called “North Point.”

In 1696, fifty-one new settlers arrived. Each family was allotted several hundred acres in the area that became known as Christ Church Parish. In 1706, the Province of Carolina withstood several attacks by the Spanish and the French and were victorious in defeating French invaders in an area known as “Abcaw.”

The area of “Abcaw” was Hobcaw Plantation, located between Shem Creek and the Wando River. Later, it was also known as Shipyard Plantation because its deep water and abundance of good timber made it ideal for a prosperous shipbuilding enterprise. Lands adjacent to Hobcaw Point were owned at different times by several different families, many of which maintained ferries which served Mount Pleasant.

In 1770, Andrew Hibben obtained a ferry charter and bought land from Jacob Motte on the south side of Shem Creek. Hibben’s Ferry was the first to connect Haddrell’s Point with the city of Charlestown.

Mount Pleasant played a leading role in the first major military engagement – and victory – of the Revolutionary War. When Charlestown finally fell to the British on May 12, 1780, Lord Cornwallis crossed the Cooper River with 2,500 troops and took possession of Haddrell’s Point. The British headquarters is said to have been the home of Jacob Motte, later known as Hibben House.

The first small settlement to become a village was Greenwich. It was adjacent to Jacob Motte’s “Mount Pleasant” estate and was the home plot of 100 acres belonging to Jonathon Scott. James Hibben (son of Andrew Hibben), who owned the waterfront property adjacent to Motte’s, purchased “Mount Pleasant” in 1803 and divided it into 35 large lots. On December 20, 1837 the village of Greenwich was merged with Mount Pleasant and incorporated by an Act of the General Assembly. In 1858, the limits of the town were extended to embrace Hilliardsville, an area acquired in 1847 by Charles Jugnot and Oliver Hilliard for a picnic ground. Hilliardsville included a grove of live oaks called Hort’s Grove (now known as Alhambra Park). Lucasville, a settlement on Shem Creek, was merged with Mount Pleasant in 1872.

On September 24, 1860 a public meeting was held in Mount Pleasant that produced the first secession resolution of the state. The secession convention met in Charleston on December 20, 1860 and seven southern states formed the Confederate States of America. With the advent of the American Civil War, Battery Gary and an adjacent floating battery between Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island were instrumental in defense of the town, as well as attacks on Fort Sumter. The town was also defended by a line of fortifications from Elliot’s Creek at Boone Hall to Copahee Sound. Mount Pleasant was also the secret training ground for the nine-man crew of the Confederate submarine CSS Hunley. It was from Breach Inlet in 1864 that this small vessel was launched to attack and sink the USS Housitanic.

In 1882, Charleston County was divided and Mount Pleasant was placed in Berkeley County and named the first county seat. Fifteen years later, it was decided that Moncks Corner would be the county seat and Mount Pleasant reverted to its former boundaries, again back within Charleston County in 1897.

Twenty years after the war, Mount Pleasant was populated by 783 residents. Four miles of street were laid with shells and the town was known as a pleasure and health resort for the planters of Christ Church Parish and people of Charleston. Stores and dwellings rented for ten and twenty dollars a month. Truck farming was a major occupation and Mount Pleasant was the site of a sawmill and brick factory. There were nine stores, mostly owned by residents of German origin. A steam ferry provided transportation between Charleston and Mount Pleasant until the first Cooper River Bridge was built in 1929.

A newspaper article in 1889 reported, “The health of Mount Pleasant has been unprecedently fine for the past year. The town council expends about $2,000 on the streets and other necessary improvement, and the money is so judiciously applied that Mount Pleasant, in regard to general appearance, is one of the model towns of the state.”

Berkeley County Court House - Mt. Pleasant, SC (c.1885)

Mount Pleasant was granted a U.S. Post Office on July 20, 1875, and its first Postmaster was Mr. John Wittschen. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved