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Kiawah Island History

Kiawah Island's rich history spans centuries

Native Americans, English colonists, American plantation owners, and a supposed pirate … all left their stamp on Kiawah. Primarily utilized for agriculture, the Island also served as strategic outposts during the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The land has changed hands only a few times since the Island was deeded to Captain George Raynor in 1699. Learn more about Kiawah’s history from our timeline.

1670

Cassique, chieftain of the Kiawah Indians, leads English colonists to settle at Charlestowne Landing

1675

Kiawah Indians cede Kiawah Island to the English Lord’s Proprietor, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury

1717

John Stanyarne acquires Kiawah Island

 

1775

Revolutionary War begins. Arnoldus Vanderhorst II, Governor of South Carolina, acquires title to Sandy Point area of Kiawah Island

1780

British burn the home of
Arnoldus Vanderhorst II

1782

General Nathaniel Greene arranges a truce for American officers to use Kiawah for rest and relaxation; the officers stay at the Gibbes plantation on the Kiawah River

1797

Mary Gibbes Middleton marries James Shoolbred, British Consul for South & North America

1802

Vanderhorst home rebuilt, cotton production begins on Kiawah Island, slave population rises from 13 to 113

1812

During the War of 1812, fortifications are built on the north end of Kiawah to maintain control of the Stono and Kiawah Rivers

1815

Elias Vanderhorst inherits Kiawah Island from Arnoldus II, and continues production of cotton

1862

Civil War brings Confederate troops, who occupy and destroy Shoolbred plantation

1863

Union troops establish fortifications and a landing along Bass Creek

1864

Union Troops almost demolish Vanderhorst plantation home

55th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers leave graffiti messages on Vanderhorst walls

1865

Arnoldus Vanderhorst IV manages the postbellum Vanderhorst plantation, returns to cotton crop

1881

After death of Arnoldus IV, wife Adele Vanderhorst and Quash Stevens, mulatto son of Elias Vanderhorst, manage plantation

1900

Adele Vanderhorst purchases the Gibbes property, uniting Kiawah
under a single owner for the first
time in almost 200 years

1904

Arnoldus V rents out the Vanderhorst home for $500 for the hunting season

1911

Daily passenger and freight service by boat from Kiawah to Charleston begins

1915

Adele Vanderhorst dies

1943

Arnoldus V dies; Charlie Scott, last African American tenant farm worker on the Island, is paid $100 a year to serve as caretaker

1950

C.C. Royal purchases Kiawah from the Vanderhorst estate to use for logging and timber

1954

C.C. Royal develops the first summer home neighborhood on Kiawah along the beach and names the street Eugenia, after his wife

1974

The heirs of C.C. Royal sell Kiawah to Kuwait Investment Corporation; an extensive environmental inventory is conducted, a master plan for development is drawn

1976

Real Estate sales begin and the Kiawah Island Inn opens 

Marsh Point (now known as Cougar Point) golf course designed by Gary Player, opens

1981

Turtle Point designed by Jack Nicklaus, opens

1988

Osprey Point golf course, designed by Tom Fazio, opens 

Real estate developer, Kiawah Resort Associates, owned by Charles P. Darby III and Patrick W. McKinney, et al, purchases Kiawah’s undeveloped lands and all resort assets and amenities

Town of Kiawah is incorporated

1989

Hurricane Hugo hits the Charleston area KRA sells resort assets to Landmark Land Co.

1991

USA beats Europe in dramatic finish of the Ryder Cup Matches at the new Ocean Course designed by Pete Dye

1993

William H. Goodwin purchases Landmark’s former resort assets

The Kiawah Island Club (KIC) is founded

1994

Darby family acquires Vanderhorst home and begins restoration

1995

Kiawah Island Club’s River Course, designed by Tom Fazio opens

2000

Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course, designed by Tom Watson opens

2004

Kiawah Partners break ground on Freshfields Village 

The Sanctuary hotel at Kiawah Island, opens

2007

New Ocean Course Clubhouse opens for Senior PGA

2012

PGA Championship to be played at The Ocean Course

Ocean Park neighborhood debuts