Some Crazy Moments in Charleston History

The Lowcountry's history contains some great stories. Here are a few wild moments from the olden days of the Holy City.

House on Church Street after 1886 earthquake

The Earthquake

In 1886 magnitude 7 earthquake devastated the city of Charleston.
60 people died and the most of the buildings in the city suffered damage. It also destroyed railroad tracks and telegraph lines. One account claims that it wasn’t until the next day that a courier made it to Summerville and back and “brought back the cheering message that the world was not utterly destroyed”.

Some buildings are still effected 130 years later

A engraving of Blackbeard from 1724

Blackbeard's Siege of Charles Town

In 1718 Blackbeard blockaded Charleston’s harbor for six days.
His pirates pillaged ships and held the people onboard hostage. When he captured a high-ranking official he made a demand: he wanted medicine within two days, or he’d kill all the hostages. The people agreed to the demand and sent the captain a chest filled with medical supplies. And Blackbeard was good to his word releasing the hostages but keeping all their loot.

It was a big year for pirates in the Carolinas

The Cathedral of St. John & St. Finbar after the fire

The Great fire of 1861

Just a few weeks after South Carolina seceded from the Union, Charleston caught fire.
Around 9 pm on December 11, 1861, a fire started somewhere near East Bay and Hasell streets. Soon after 11 pm winds spread it six blocks to the south and the fire would continue to burn until 600 houses, all the public buildings, the market, and several churches were destroyed. Fire fighters blew up 14 houses along Queen street to try and stop the fire. Pictures from after the civil still show large parts of the city yet to be rebuilt from this fire.

A Charleston City ordinance from 1802 lets the fire department blow up your house

A Spanish Galley wrecked in a storm

The Hurricane that saved Charles Town

In August 1686 three Spanish ships had already destroyed Stuart’s Town (near Beaufort) and were heading up the coast to Charles Town.
But then a storm came off the Atlantic and grounded two of the ships and forced the other ship to turn back. The Hurricane destroyed most of the wooden buildings in Charleston. But it kept the town safe from pillaging and was named “The Spanish Repulse Hurricane”. That makes it the first named storm to hit the colonial coast, and the first recorded hurricane to hit Charleston.

The Spanish stopped on Edisto Island to pillage the governor's house first

These are just a few of the hundreds of weird and interesting stories throughout the history of Charleston.