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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Parris Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

The First Inhabitants

 
 
The First Inhabitants Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, June 26, 2009
1. The First Inhabitants Marker
Inscription.
Parris Island Pre-History
The first inhabitants of Parris Island were American Indians. From about 6,000 BC to 500 AD, these stone age people traveled throughout the southeast staying along the coast for only part of the year. Starting around 500 AD, they began to settle along the coast in semi-permanent communities. The American Indians lived by gathering food, hunting game, fishing, harvesting shellfish and some subsistence farming. Then, in the sixteenth century their simple lifestyle was totally disrupted by the arrival of Europeans looking for riches, slaves and settlement sites.

Arrival of the Europeans
Parris Island and Port Royal Harbor have long been associated with the European settlement of North America. Twenty-two years after Columbus made his first landfall in the Caribbean, Spanish seafarers were exploring the southeastern coast. The Spanish called the region Florida and in 1521, Spanish vessels entered the sound off Parris Island and captured Indian slaves. In 1526 the Spanish named the region around Parris Island Santa Elena (St. Helena). Later that year a settlement attempt failed and the Spanish ceased the colonial ventures in the southeast until the 1560's when French incursions drew the back to Santa Elena.

Charlesfort
The threat to the
Route of the Spanish Treasure Fleets </b>(Far left side of marker) image. Click for full size.
By The First Inhabitants Marker
2. Route of the Spanish Treasure Fleets (Far left side of marker)
Left picture caption:"Santa Elena was located along the route taken by Spanish treasure fleets as they sailed back to Spain."
Right picture caption:"Europeans began exploring the southeastern coast in 1514. In 1521, a Spanish expedition entered what is today Port Royal Sound and made contact with local inhabitants."
Spanish domain came from a French squadron led by Jean Ribaut who was searching for possible settlement sites for French Huguenots (Protestants) who wished to leave their Catholic dominated homeland. In May 1562, after exploring the coast northward from the St. John's River, Ribaut arrived at Santa Elena, which he named Port Royal. Impressed with the natural qualities of the harbor, Ribaut erected a stone column claiming the land for his king, Charles IX. He then constructed a small fortification known as Charlesfort on Parris Island. The fort was to serve as an outpost until Ribaut could return from France with more men and supplies. When Ribaut sailed away in June he left behind a garrison of 26 men. Though he promised to return within six months, political unrest in France delayed Ribaut, and the men at Charlesfort, suffering under the control of a harsh captain, mutinied, killed their commander, constructed a vessel and sailed to France.

The Battle for Florida
When Spanish authorities in Cuba learned of Ribaut's fort, a warship was sent to search for the French. By the time the vessel reached Santa Elena the French garrison had already evacuated. The Spanish located and destroyed the abandoned Charlesfort and returned to Cuba.

In 1564, the French Huguenots returned to Spanish Florida and constructed Fort Caroline on the St. John's River.
In 1562 an expedition of French Huguenots led by Jean Ribaut landed on Parris Island. image. Click for full size.
By The First Inhabitants Marker
3. In 1562 an expedition of French Huguenots led by Jean Ribaut landed on Parris Island.
To end the French presence in Florida the Spanish King, Phillip II, hired Pedro Menendez to drive the French from Florida and to establish a series of colonies along the southeastern coast. During the fall of 1565 Menendez established a base at St. Augustine and then in a whirlwind campaign he captured Fort Caroline and eliminated the French presence in Spanish Florida.
 
Erected by U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
 
Location. 32° 18.365′ N, 80° 40.533′ W. Marker is in Parris Island, South Carolina, in Beaufort County. Marker is on Belleau Wood Road, on the left. Touch for map. On Belleau Wood Road Circle, alongside the Spanish Memorial. Marker is in this post office area: Parris Island SC 29905, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Aqui Estuvo España (a few steps from this marker); Jean Ribault Monument (a few steps from this marker); Fort San Marcos & The Ribaut Monument (a few steps from this marker); Fort San Marcos (a few steps from this marker); Charlesfort-Santa Elena Site (a few steps from this marker); Parris Island Indians (a few steps from
Reproduction of a French map showing the construction of Charlesfort image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud
4. Reproduction of a French map showing the construction of Charlesfort
this marker); Parris Island Lighthouses (within shouting distance of this marker); Northern Most Known Bastion of Spanish Florida (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Parris Island.
 
More about this marker. At the top center of the marker is a picture of an American Indian. It's caption reads: "When Europeans arrived American Indians of the Mississippian culture inhabited Parris Island."

At the bottom center of the marker, the picture caption reads: "In 1526, the Spanish named the sound off Parris Island Santa Elena (St. Helena)."
 
Regarding The First Inhabitants. In 2005 Ribault was featured in the "Conquest of the Southeast" episode of The History Channel's documentary miniseries Conquest of America.
 
Also see . . .  Jean Ribault, From Wikipedia. This site includes a detailed history of how Ribault and 350 of his men died as a result of Menéndez "brilliantly but horrifically carried out his orders to wipe out the French incursion." (Submitted on August 8, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 
 
Categories. LandmarksNotable PlacesSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 8, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,693 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 8, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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