The Heads of the Two Toms in 1745

September 20, 2018

Has this ever happened to you: There’s a knock at your front door late at night. You open the door to find a messenger with a letter and a soggy burlap bag. You open the letter—it’s news about a series of recent murders. You look inside the ...

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Murder at Four Holes Swamp in 1744

September 7, 2018

Today’s story begins in the summer of 1744, when the government of South Carolina was shocked by the news that two Native American men of the Notchee tribe had murdered several Catawba Indians in cold blood. Fearing a general Indian war, the gov...

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Squeezing Charleston Neck, from 1783 to the Present

August 31, 2018

Over the past three centuries, the definition of Charleston Neck, a geographic feature I introduced in last week’s episode, has changed radically. It once encompassed the entire tongue of land between the rivers Ashley and Cooper, but the steady...

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Grasping the Neck: The Origins of Charleston’s Northern Neighbor

August 24, 2018

How well do you know “the Neck”? Perhaps you know a bit, and you’re open to learning more about its history and its present challenges. Or perhaps you’re confused by this strange anatomical reference and have no clue what I’m talking abo...

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The Great Memory Loss of 1865

August 17, 2018

This week, in honor of the 235th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Charleston (13 August 1783), I’d like to draw your attention to a little-known but incredibly important fact about the history of this city. During the early days o...

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Benne Seeds in the Lowcountry

August 10, 2018

For most folks in the Lowcountry, the word “benne” brings to mind images of benne wafers, those small, sugary, brown discs that you’ll find in local shops marketed as one of Charleston’s signature treats, if not the signature treat of the ...

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The Watch House: South Carolina’s First Police Station, 1701–1725

August 3, 2018

South Carolina’s first police station was a brick “Watch House” constructed around 1701 at the intersection of Broad and East Bay Streets in Charleston. Built to shelter both the town’s nocturnal watchmen and the lawbreakers they caught on...

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I am the Trickster: The Resurrection and Burial of Charles Barker Nixon

July 27, 2018

After last week’s cliffhanger, we now return to the story of Charles Barker Nixon, a traveling magician and escape artist who came to Charleston in 1876 to be buried alive for the amusement of a crowd of spectators. This week we’ll witness his...

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The Slippery Enchanter of 1876: Charles Barker Nixon

July 20, 2018

Charles Barker Nixon, an itinerate magician who once styled himself “the Slippery Man,” came to Charleston in the summer of 1876 to present the most elaborate and dangerous illusion of his career. Over the course of a few weeks, this flamboyan...

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Demilitarizing Urban Charleston, 1783–1789

July 13, 2018

For the first century of its existence, the urban landscape of Charleston was dominated by an evolving ring of fortifications designed to protect the city against potential invasion by Spanish, French, and later British forces. Our provincial legi...

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