About Charleston Time Machine

The Charleston Time Machine is an imaginary time-travel device created by historian Dr. Nic Butler. It uses stories and facts from the rich, deep, colorful history of Charleston, South Carolina, as a means to educate, inspire, amuse, and even amaze the minds of our community. By exploring the stories of our shared past, we can better understand our present world and plan more effectively for the future.

The Charleston Time Machine is piloted by Nic Butler, Ph.D., an interdisciplinary historian with an infectious enthusiasm for Charleston’s colorful past. A native of Greenville County, South Carolina, Dr. Butler attended the University of South Carolina before completing a Ph.D. in musicology at Indiana University. He has worked as archivist of the South Carolina Historical Society, as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston, and as an historical consultant for the City of Charleston. 

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Recent Trips in Charleston's History

  • Remembering Rhettsbury

    One of Charleston’s least-remembered eighteenth-century neighborhoods was a suburban plantation known as “The Point,” then “Rhett’s Point” or “Rhettsbury,” and later, “Trott’s Point.” This tract, which encompassed approximately thirty-five acres between King Street and the Cooper River, was assembled in the 1690s by Jonathan Amory, expanded in 1714 by William Rhett, and subdivided in 1773 by the husbands of Rhett’s great-granddaughters. Most people today think of this property as comprising the southernmost part of the neighborhood called Ansonborough, but it has a history and identity of its own that deserves to be remembered.

  • South Carolina’s War Against Beasts of Prey, 1693–1790

    To secure the natural landscape for colonial settlement, South Carolina’s early government offered bounty money to white, black, and Native American hunters for destroying “beasts of prey” that menaced settlers, crops, and livestock. Commencing in the coastal Lowcountry in 1693 and spreading westward to the Piedmont, bounty hunters pursued panthers, wolves, bears, and bobcats to extirpation by 1790.

  • Recall Their Names: The Personal Identity of Enslaved South Carolinians

    The records of early South Carolina contain thousands of personal names applied to many generations of people held in legal bondage. By sampling this body of names, we detect trends and evidence of resistance that help us understand their experiences and acknowledge the personal identities of the men and women who once formed the state’s enslaved majority.

  • Nicholas Trott’s Forgotten Charleston Residence

    The house of Nicholas Trott, one of the most important figures in colonial South Carolina, disappeared more than two centuries ago, but its former site is now part of a popular venue. The discovery of a trash pit in what was once Trott’s back yard unearthed curious artifacts that provide a new window into the narrative of early Charleston.

  • The Myth of “Trott’s Cottage”

    Did South Carolina's cantankerous Chief Justice Nicholas Trott (1663–1740) really live in a small house on the south side of Cumberland Street, or is there some flaw in this popular tale? The definitive answer lies buried in the archival record, where we find the details of a romantic story spanning 300 years.

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Listen to the Podcast

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Don't know how to get a podcast? Let us help! 

Think of a podcast as a radio show that you can get on the internet and listen to, pause, restart, and skip through anytime you want. You have a couple options: You can listen to a podcast through a website like CCPL's, which is called streaming; or you can download the podcast, which means it is saved to your phone, tablet, or computer so you can listen to it anytime -- even without an internet connection. 

To stream the Charleston Time Machine: Visit the Time Machine page and either choose an episode from the player above or choose which story you want to know more about. In each story we embed a player of that episode so you can listen as you read. 

To download: Use an app and it will be delivered each week to your phone, tablet, or computer. You'll get a fresh Time Machine podcast every Friday afternoon! We offer downloads through services you may have heard of before: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and Tune In. Just click on the icon above of the service you want to use and click the subscribe button. It's that easy! 

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