The History of Hunting Island
Prehistory—Shell middens indicate the existence of Native Americans on Hunting Island. Middens, heaps, or mounds are old dump sites of domestic waste. On Hunting Island the sites are composed primarily of shells, indicating that seafood was eaten here by aboriginal people.
1520—Port Royal was settled.
1712—Beaufort was settled.
1713—Hunting Island appeared on a 1713 map and was called Reynolds Island, named for one of the earliest recorded owners, Richard Reynolds. Reynolds family members retained ownership through most of the 18th century.
1825—Robert Mills, from Charleston, noted that “hunting is the principal amusement of the [Beaufort County] planters and its consequent associations at the clubhouse.” The hunting parties would take a boat to the island with their horses, dogs, servants (or slaves), and tents, and spend a week or more hunting deer, raccoon, and waterfowl.
1858—Under the name Captain John Fripp and Company, a group of local men purchased 2,000 acres on the south end of the island for a hunting preserve. In addition to Captain John Fripp, the group included Edward M. Capers, John G. Barnwell, Clarence Fripp, Alviro Fripp, J. Edings Fripp, Dr. W.J. Jenkins, and W.G. Capers.
1859—Before a lighthouse was built at Hunting Island, the coast was protected by a lightship that was anchored near the shoals of St. Helena Sound. The first lighthouse, built in 1859, was blown up by retreating Confederate soldiers to keep it from entering Union hands. A lightship was again posted off the northern tip of Hunting Island until the new lighthouse was lit in 1875.
1859—The federal government acquired a portion of the island to construct the second Lighthouse.
1861—The Union fleet seized Port Royal Sound, many white landowners fled, and their properties were confiscated by Union forces.
1862—Penn Center opened on Saint Helena Island as an education institution for freed slaves.