The up-and-coming West Ashley neighborhood in Charleston is known for its lively bars, unique restaurants and beautiful oak trees.
Located west of Downtown Charleston and across the Ashley River, West Ashley’s location explains the name. Folks of all demographics flock to the West Ashley district in search for a vibrant and scenic place to call home. With the majority of homes in the area being mid-size family homes and close proximity to both Downtown Charleston and the beaches, families are finding this area a great place to live.
But many don’t understand the significant history of the area, namely its plantations.
With 20 plantations located within the town limits (West Ashley is not considered its own city), there is plenty of South Carolina history to absorb while visiting or driving through the area.
Plantations originated in South Carolina in the 1670s, when English planters began to migrate from Barbados to what is now known as Charleston. They founded the city, which was then called Charles Town, and set up large plantations along the outskirts.
During this time, an estimated 2,000+ plantations appeared in South Carolina; most of them located in the Lowcountry. Many of these plantations were located along the Ashley River or on the sea islands, such as Wadmalaw Island, Edisto Island and Johns Island.
Most of these plantations existed to farm rice and indigo, which grew well in the Lowcountry’s swampy marsh waters. In the 1800s, cotton became a popular crop on the plantations as well. These plantations became profitable for South Carolina; unfortunately, at the devastating expense of cheap labor by African American slaves.
At the beginning of the American Civil War, the plantation system that made South Carolina, namely Charleston, so popular came to an end. The South lost the war, and slavery was abolished. Many