As promised, our April DIHS meeting was a double header kicking off with a birthday celebration for Daniel Island namesake Robert Daniell. We, of course, had cake to celebrate the 373rd birthday.
As DIHS co-founder Mike Dahlman pointed out it’s unclear where Daniell was born. There are arguments for both Scotland and Wales but it looks likely he and an elder brother where both born in London. Although he died on what is now Daniel Island, his body was moved to St. Phillip’s Church cemetery in downtown Charleston where it remains today.
Mike gave us a brief capsule of Daniell’s career from ship’s captain to colonial governor and military scourge of the Spanish in Florida. For more about Robert Daniell take a look at the DIHS website at https://dihistoricalsociety.com/robert-daniell-daniel-islands-namesake. There’s also lots more in Mike’s history of Daniel Island available at Arcadia Press https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9780738543574
The second half of our April 16 meeting was a fascinating look at the walled fortifications of 18th century Charles Town and the 21st century efforts to find and reclaim them.
Katherine Saunders Pemberton of Historic Charleston Foundation is one of those lucky people who makes her living doing something she loves and that that enthusiasm was clear as she walked us through when, where and why the city was walled in as well as latter-day efforts to locate and, when possible, preserve the more than 300 year old structures.
Did you know that Charles Town was the only English walled city in North America? The fortification was built as a defense against the Spanish who were previously settled in Florida and thought all North America South of Virginia belonged to them. The wall facing the water along what is now East Bay Street was brick with the other three sides of the wall being earthen. The entire structure was laced with cannon placements. As the Spanish became less of a threat the walls were weakened over time by city expansion, landfill, hurricanes and devastating fires. In 1784 the fortifications were auctioned off to private owners and, in some cases the stonework became the foundation of private homes.