Dr. Nic Butler, historian at the Charleston County Public Library, explores the less familiar corners of local history with stories that invite audiences to reflect on the enduring presence of the past in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
Episode 272: Watson's Garden: The Horticultural Roots of Courier Square
Charleston’s venerable newspaper, the Post and Courier, is transforming its headquarters on upper King Street into an upscale mixed-use development called Courier Square. The present twentieth-century structures will soon disappear, exposing a piece of ground with a forgotten claim to fame. A few years before the American Revolution, a Scottish gardener named John Watson developed the site as South Carolina’s first commercial nursery, cultivating both native and exotic plants for sale. The war devastated Watson’s Garden, but the family persevered in the horticultural business until the turn of the nineteenth century.
Episode 271: Free Indians In Amity with the State: A Legal Legacy
Native American ancestry provided a measure of legal immunity to mixed-race people in antebellum South Carolina. Check out the latest episode of Charleston Time Machine to hear examples of their legal victories.
Episode 270: The Native American Land Cessions of 1684
In the late winter of 1684, representatives of eight Native American tribes in the Lowcountry of South Carolina surrendered their traditional homelands to English colonists. A series of documents ostensibly signed on a single day that February ceded Indigenous rights to millions of acres between the rivers Stono and Savannah, ranging from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains. On the next episode of Charleston Time Machine, we’ll explore the forces driving this historic bargain, parse details of the several transactions, and consider their collective impact on the native peoples in question.
Episode 269: The Ghosts of Petit Versailles
Petit Versailles, a forgotten residence in suburban Charleston, links the tragic stories of two women who expired prematurely during the second quarter of the eighteenth century. The modest house fronting the Cooper River was built for a child named Elizabeth Gadsden but occupied by her godfather, Francis LeBrasseur. Following their early deaths, Francis’s wife, Ann, quit the property and withdrew into a life of religious introspection that lead to suicide. Petit Versailles disappeared during the American Revolution, but the memory of its brief existence still haunts the fringes of Ansonborough.
Episode 268: Demolition by Neglect in the 1720s: Forsaking Charleston's Earthen Fortifications
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, South Carolina’s colonial government raised a fortified trace of earthen walls and moats around the nucleus of urban Charleston. These defensive works constrained the town’s growth for more than twenty years, but then quietly vanished before a burst of civic expansion in the mid-1730s. Questions of when and why the earthworks were dismantled have baffled generations of historians and inspired competing theories. On the next episode of Charleston Time Machine, we’ll unpack the forgotten story of government neglect that gradually erased the “Walled City” during the late 1720s.
Episode 267: Spanish and Cuban Consuls in Charleston, 1795–1959
Maritime traffic between Charleston and various ports in the Spanish-speaking Americas was once an important part of the local economy. Prohibited by British law for most of South Carolina’s colonial century, commerce with Cadiz, Havana, Vera Cruz, and other ports blossomed after the independence of the United States. The presence of a Spanish and later a Cuban consular office in Charleston between 1795 and 1959 provides framework for tracking the rise and fall of forgotten trade routes that brought Latin flavors to the Lowcountry.
History of Charleston at its Best
Something for everyone. Uncompromising accuracy and very well researched. Form your own opinion, but consider the historical precedents: Blemishes and all!
Such great deep dives into Charleston history!
Edutainment is a combination of education and entertainment, perfect delivery of facts in a delightful manner. Nic Butler has a knack for making history enthralling! Thanks Nic!