The great barrier islands of South Carolina have long been a fertile source
of history and folklore. Dataw Island's first visitors arrived
around 2500 B.C.; these early tribes of wandering Indians
returned frequently to the island, drawn by the bountiful
supplies of game and shellfish.
Dataw Island greeted the Spanish Europeans in the early 1500s. Captain Pedro de
Salaza discovered the area in 1514, which establishes Beaufort
the second landing in the new world by the Europeans, preceded
only by Ponce de Leon's founding of St. Augustine, Florida,
just one year earlier. Over the course of the next 200 years,
the English gradually replaced the early Spanish settlers.
In 1685, Caleb Westbrook, an entrepreneurial Scotsman, established
a trading post on Dataw Island, trading with the Indians for
deerskins, a valued commodity in England.
Slow, but steady settlement of the area continued through the
pre-Revolutionary War years. With the beginning of the Plantation
Age, the great sea islands of South Carolina became the "Newport
of the South", with large, opulent homes financed by
the enormous cash crops of indigo, used for cloth dying, and
sea island cotton, the finest in the world. In the late 1700s,
William Sams selected Dataw Island as the site for his indigo
fields which later became Sea Island Cotton fields. The remains of the family's magnificent
tabby home are a carefully preserved treasure today.
The Civil War heralded the end of a gracious and privileged lifestyle and
for over 100 years Dataw Island was a quiet hunting preserve.
The acquisition of Dataw Island by Alcoa Properties, Inc.,
in 1983, assures that the next era of the island's history
will be recorded as the sensitive and responsible development
of one of the more beautiful islands in this part of Eden.