Colonial History of South Carolina

French Santee, A Huguenot Settlement in Colonial South Carolina

September 4, 2015

French Santee, A Huguenot Settlement in Colonial South Carolina is in local bookstores and the response from our readers to all those years of research is gratifying! We thank you for your kind calls, emails and notes. We are pleased that we have provided so many of you with “a vivid image of our ancestors’ lives in colonial South Carolina” and that we have given you new links to pursue in your own genealogical lines.

As many of you have commented, it is a book rich in details – a book that can be dipped into and savoured over time. And the reader is not limited to reading just their own family’s history. The French settlement on the Santee River was a community of families dependent on each other for survival. There is much to be learned from all their stories – from that of Pierre Robert, who came from Switzerland and was the first known minister of French Santee, and Claude Philippe de Richebourg, the minister whose house became a fortress during the Yemassee Indian War.  It tells how Pierre Royer, a tanner who lived on Echaw Creek, and Pierre Couillandeau, a blacksmith on the Santee River, contributed to the settlement. It is the account of the elderly nobleman Sieur Arnaud Bruneau who fled France at the age of 77 to bring his son and grandson to a land of religious freedom. And of young Andre Rembert, a shoemaker, who with his wife Anne Bressan crossed the Alps on foot  and settled at French Santee where they raised at least nine children. It is the story of the strong women like Rembert’s daughter  Marguerite who raised a large family and buried three husbands in the wilds of Carolina. It is the story of how all of these men and women struggled together to build a new future far from their beloved homelands.

Genealogical Research in France

October 10, 2014

This past spring, we spent two weeks in France searching for Huguenot ancestors and the places they lived.  We began in Paris at the Societe de l’Histoire du Protestantisme Francais where the staff was very helpful – they have collected many records from the small villages and towns in France and are well worth a visit.

From Paris, we traveled to the Dordogne to see the Cave of Lascaux and we drove through the river valley lined with castles on almost every hilltop. We stopped in several small towns on our way to the coast looking for the villages our ancestors had left more than 300 years ago, stopping in Montigne, Mauze, Pons, Sepvret, La Granerie, La Mothe-Saint-Heray to name a few.

The most surprising thing we found was the architecture which remains from the 12th to 17th centuries – we have photographs of all the seventeenth century walls in all the towns we visited and we will share them with you in future blogs.

We spent a wonderful long weekend on Ile-de-Re, more time in La Rochelle at the departmental archives and then south to La Tremblade where we spent Easter and then to Bordeaux and home.

Visit the website of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina to see a more detailed account of our trip in the Huguenot Herald. There will be an even more in-depth article in Transactions #118 which will be out later this year.