Posted by: Sunset Rentals | August 29, 2011

A History of Hilton Head

Hilton Head vacation rentalsLook no further than your surroundings when you visit Hilton Head for evidence of the island’s past. Native American tribes influenced the names of countless features of the Lowcountry from Daufuskie Island, meaning “land with a point” to the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto (ACE) Rivers. From unearthed discoveries, it appears that people have enjoyed the beauty that is Hilton Head for some 10,000 years!

European explorers discovered another island near Beaufort in 1525, and in 1663 William Hilton, an English Sea Captain came upon the island claiming it for England, and, of course, naming it after himself: Hilton’s Headland.

In 1670, Europeans colonized Charleston (Charles Towne), and nearby Beaufort was chartered in the early 1700’s. In the 1700’s and 1800’s, the island was inhabited by shipbuilders, cotton growers, plantation overseers and slaves.

During the Civil War, Fort Walker was built on Hilton Head to protect Port Royal from the union. On Nov. 7, 1861, the battle of Port Royal took place and some 13,000 union troops entered the island. A hurricane hit the island in 1893, destroying many of the island’s original structures.

The Hilton Head we know today emerged around 1956 when the first bridge to the island was built. The bridge brought with it those looking for a relaxing getaway. Around that time Charles Fraser foresaw that Hilton Head could become a great resort community while preserving the natural beauty of the island. Fraser developed the island’s first planned community, Sea Pines. And, as they say, the rest is history!

To get an up close and personal view of the island’s history, check out some of these landmarks, as suggested by

  • Baynard Ruins in Sea Pines
  • Ruins of Braddock’s Point Plantation House
  • Steam Cannon at Port Royal
  • Cotton Hope Plantation
  • Fort Mitchell, overlooking Skull Creek
  • Rose Hill Plantation House, just over the bridge
  • Zion Cemetery
  • Baynard Mausoleum, the final resting place of many Revolutionary War soldiers

*Information sourced from and the Town of Hilton Head

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