It’s not a dirt row-ud now. It’s what an Edisto islander once called one of those newly paved main roads. In dialect so distinctive of the sea islands, Point of Pines Road would have been called a “rock row-ud” once it was paved. The road begins now, off of Highway 174, at Store Creek, near where a small section of old Kings Highway also intersects, as Wescott Road. At the end of the long, narrow, east facing road is one of the largest privately owned parcels of land on the island. It fronts the North Edisto River, and on this land are the oldest ruins on Edisto, thick slabs of tabby
that remind us that Paul Grimball, in 1683, received a grant for 1290 acres of land. He and his family were the first documented white settlers on the island.
Before the English arrived, the story is an even more fascinating tale, that of the ‘Edistowe’ Indians, a peace loving, gentle tribe, who were eager to befriend the English, hoping that they would help defend against the more aggressive tribes nearby. The ‘Edistowe’ surely had first picked this favored spot favored before the English arrived.
The story, which starts at ‘the Point of Pines’ is illustrated in the Narratives of Early Carolina 1650-1705 by Alexander Salley. Captain Robert Sandford, and a small company of (gentle) men arrived on Edisto Island, from Barbados, in the year 1666. They begin at a beach near where the vessel anchored. According to Gene Waddell, author of Indians of the South Carolina Lowcountry 1562-1751, he thus was probably at the Point of Pines, which is the only beach of the North Edisto for eight or more miles beyond Ocella Creek, and which is about four or five miles inland or near where Sanford first saw the Indians from the Edisto village.
“… here a Capt. of the Nation named Shadoo was very earnest with some of our Company to goe with him and lye a night att their Towne (which) hee told us was but a smale distance thence. I being equally desirous to knowe the forme manner and populousness of the place as alsoe what state the Casique held (fame in all theire things preferrring this place to all the rest of the Coast,… foure of my Company… Lt: Harvey, Lt: Woory, Mr. Thomas Giles and mr. Henry Woodward forwardly offring themselves to the service… haveing alsoe some Indians aboard mee who constantly resided there night & day I permitted them to goe with this Shadoo they retorned to mee the next morning (with) great Comendacons of their Entertainment but especially of the goodness of the land they marcht through and the delightful situation of the Towne. Telling mee withall that the Cassique himselfe appeared …(his state was supplyed by a Female who received them with gladnes and Courtesy) … – they alsoe assureing mee that it was not above foure Miles off, to goe and see that Towne, and takeing with mee Capt George Cary and a file of men I marched thither ward followed by a long traine of Indians of whome some or other always presented himselfe to carry mee on his shoulders over any the branches of Creekes or plashy corners of Marshes in our Way. This walke though it tend to the Southward of the West and consequently leads neere alongst the Sea Coast….
So where was this round house, and ‘town’ of the Edisto Indians on Edisto Island? Professor Waddell surmises, “At this point Sandford has supplied enough information to determine the approximate location of the chief village of the Edisto. He set out from at or near the Point of Pines and traveled along a path in roughly a WSW direction for about four miles. This would put him at or just beyond the site of the present junction of Edisto, South Carolina which is on the headwaters of Store Creek and is near the center of Edisto Island. From the Point of Pines, the northern edge of two strips of marsh form nearly a straight line running in a WSW direction; he seems to have closely followed its “plashy corners.” Although the Indians he first encountered said their village “was within on the Western shoare somewhat lower down towards the Sea” ) …their village could not have been on the South Edisto. This part of Edisto Island is eight to ten miles across, so Sanford had to be near its middle. The Indians must have meant that the only access to it “within” by water was from the west side of the Island. When Sandford finally got through to the west side and on the South Edisto River “ome from the Town by Land (emphasis added) indicating that the town was some distance inland.”
I cannot help but think, each day when I pass this spot, of this story of my ancestor, Henry Woodward, who, eager to do so, stayed on Edisto Island, learning the customs and languages of the Indians, even after he was captured mid-stay by the Spanish, and taken to jail in St Augustine. Shadoo, a “Captain of the Nation” eagerly got on Sandford’s ship in a sort of cultural exchange, and returned with the English to Barbados, as he had some years earlier with explorer William Hilton.
Henry Woodward returned to South Carolina with the ship Carolina, and the earliest colonists, having hitched a ride from Nevis, after a stint as ship’s surgeon with the pirate Robert Searle from St. Augustine, who had freed him in St. Augustine. He would go on to establish the trade with the Indians of South Carolina and to travel extensively making connections with the Native Americans. It is through his efforts that the colony survived. The Native Americans who call themselves The Edisto (they were also known as the Cusabo) say Henry Woodward is the man they would most like to interview now. And at his death, the story is that a long trail of Indians carried him home on a stretcher, ill, to die at home, on land just north of this place called Edisto Island.