A History of Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Berkeley County Court House - Moncks Corner, SC (2007)

There has been a village known as Moncks Corner, either very near to or at the same location as the current County Seat, since at least 1753. It was first settled by those of French Huguenot descent, and was named after one of the original eight Lords Proprietors, George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle. Even before the American Revolution, the locals got rid of the possessive - it was no longer Monck's Corner, but simply Moncks Corner.

Moncks Corner is the County Seat of Berkeley County, South Carolina. Moncks Corner was, during colonial time, a major settlement area of French Huguenots who came to South Carolina as a result of persecution in Europe. Many Berkeley and adjacent county surnames today evidence this French influence. Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion was born near Moncks Corner, and is now honored by the naming of Francis Marion National Forest nearby. A significant Revolutionary War battle was fought at Moncks Corner on April 14, 1780, which helped to secure the British Army's victory and subsequent fall of Charlestown on May 12th.

Nesbitt House

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 and back in Charleston County in 1897.

In his book entitled "Historic Ramblin's Through Berkeley," by J. Russell Cross (1985), he describes "Old Moncks Corner" with a bit of a different background and a different person whom it was named after:

On April 22, 1735, Thomas Monck acquired 1,000 acres from James LeBas. The origin of this Thomas Monck is not known, but he first married Joanna Broughton, daughter of Col. Thomas Broughton (later Lt. Governor), on January 6, 1732. Monck named his property "Mitton," and it was on part of this property that became the first village known as Monck's Corner.

This village came into being because of its geographical location and was not formally laid out. It was on Mitton Plantation that the Charlestown Road forked with the road to the right going over Biggin Creek and Wadboo Creek. From that, other roads went to the eastern branch of the Cooper River, to the Santee River, and across the Santee River on to the Pee Dee River and ultimately to Georgetown. The road to the left was the Cherokee Path or also known as the Congaree River Road. In addition to bringing access to St. Stephen's Parish, this important route went through upper St. John's, Berkeley Parish and led to Nelson's Ferry going on to the High Hills of the Santee. From this fork at the first Monck's Corner, a road also ran to Stony Landing, which was the head of commercial navigation on the Cooper River.

Soon, several stores and a tavern clustered around this important "fork in the roads." In his "Reminiscences of St. Stephen's Parish, Craven County," Samuel DuBose stated that before the American Revolution "Moncks Corner was a place of some commercial importance." There were three or four well-kept taverns and five or six excellent stores. These stores were branches of larger establishments originating in Charlestown. They sold goods at Charlestown prices and maintained a fair business.

It was noted that the average Santee planter took his crops to Moncks Corner and sold them there, attended to all of his other business, dined at one of the taverns for lunch, then returned home in the afternoon.

After the death of his first wife, Thomas Monck married again on July 11, 1745 to Mary De St. Julien, widow of Paul De St. Julien. He died in 1747. The widow Mary Monck carried on her husband's business until 1752, when she then sold all her real property to William Keith. The majority of the land known as "Mitton" was earlier bequeathed by Thomas Monck to his daughter Joanna Broughton Monck, who later married John Dawson on October 8, 1760.

Mr. and Mrs. Dawson apparently carried on the family mercantile business, as an advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette of Saturday, February 26, 1763 listed dry goods, rum, wine, sugar, and bar iron for sale at Charlestown prices at Mitton near Moncks Corner, and the best prices for deer-skins, butter, flour, tallow, etc. The advertisement also stated that the store would be moved "to the corner" as soon as the new building could be fitted out.

The South Carolina Gazette also reported in October of 1766 that the first stage coach in South Carolina was now running between Moncks Corner and Charlestown.

John Dawson died in 1812 after the decline of the old village of Moncks Corner. This decline was mostly due to the development of the nearby Santee Canal and the opening of new roads nearby, such as the "Old State Road." The War of 1812 also brought a significant decline when British markets were closed to American products.

The completion of the nearby Northeastern Railorad in 1856 caused the development of an entirely new settlement to be called Moncks Corner (today's incarnation), which has since expanded to include all of the original Moncks Corner and the entire Mitton plantation of Thomas Monck.

At the time in Charleston District (county), Moncks Corner was first granted a U.S. Post Office on March 15, 1838, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Phillip J. Porcher. On January 22, 1839, the Post Office Department officially changed the name of this town to Black Oak. Black Oak ultimately became Bonneaus Depot in Berkeley County, later shortened to Bonneau. This Post Office has been in continuous operation ever since its original inception in 1838.
The second incarnation of Moncks Corner, at its current location, was on November 19, 1839 in Charleston District (county), with the first Postmaster Mr. Daniel Sheppard. In 1882, Berkeley County was re-created out of Charleston County, and Moncks Corner has been in Berkeley County ever since. This Post Office has been in continuous operation since 1839.

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