A History of Willton, South Carolina

The first settlement of Colleton County was Willtown settled on the Edisto River (near Jacksonboro) in 1682 at the time the county lines were first drawn. It was first named New London by the Lords Proprietors and was renamed by 1708 to Willtown. There were at that time boat docks, small shops, and two churches. It was at Willtown that a ferry operated across the south Edisto River, which in colonial days was called the Pon Pon (an Indian name given to the last twenty miles of the Edisto River). A stagecoach was later built from Charlestown to Savannah, GA, which went through Willtown.

New London's (Willtown's) plan called for 250 lots and 62 blocks with 17 streets laid in a grid pattern. Four acres each were reserved for a school and an Anglican church and parsonage. An acre each were planned for a market town and a town garden. Willtown was an important regional trade center until the 1740s but it declined due to epidemics of Malaria during the summer months, and afterward being plundered by the British soldiers during the American Revolution.

Although it never recovered as a merchant trade center, Willtown became a popular summer village, later becoming part of Charleston County. The place where Willtown once stood is now Willtown Plantation. Soon after the American Revolution, the name was shortened to simply Willton, and it can be found on many South Carolina maps well into the late 1800s.

The first settlers in Colleton County were Anglicans, who settled along the Chee-Ha (Cheehaw) River. They established the first place of worship, called a glebe (a portion of land assigned to a parish). In this case the parish was the St. Bartholomew Parish, established in 1706. The oldest was in the town of Edmundsbury, named for Landgrave Edmund Bellinger.

This area was greatly affected by the Yamassee Indian War of 1715.

Fort Willtown was a colonial militia fort on the Edisto River at the old Willtown (New London) settlement. It was attacked by Apalachee Indians in 1715. This fort was used as a base for colonial patrol boats in 1716
The minister, Mr. Lord, and others of the "Church" who had remained in Charles Town were urged by "ye Lieut. General Blake (Joseph Blake, Governor and one of the Lords Proprietors, then residing on his plantation called "Plainsfield", on Stono River, near New Cut) and many others" to settle at New London (on Pon Pon River, generally known as Willtown) and had gone to Landgrave Joseph Morton's near that place.

Elder Pratt and his companion also went to Landgrave Morton's to view the land at New London, and there Elder Pratt gave Mr. Lord his preference for Ashley River, and the latter agreed with him.

Willton Plat - 1818
As Willtown, Willton was granted a US Post Office on January 1, 1801, and its first Postmaster was Mr. Robert Paisley. The Post Office was closed permanently prior to 1824.

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