Before Drayton Hall
From Native Americans to early colonists
The first people to live at Drayton Hall were Native Americans. Place names — especially the names of rivers such as the Edisto, Wando, Santee, and Ashepoo — recall the tribes who were in the region when the Europeans came. Pieces of hand-formed pottery, stone projectile points, oyster shells, and animal bones begin to reveal what these people ate and some of the activities they enjoyed, but no buildings or traces of buildings survive.
In 1670 the colony of Carolina was founded. Among the tribes that greeted the English were the Kiawah, whose village was located along the Kiawah River and close to the first Charles Town settlement, along with the Kussos, Edistors, Etiwans, and Seewee. Eventually, the English started calling the Kiawah River the Ashley, after Anthony Ashley Cooper, one of the eight Lords Proprietor of the Carolina Colony.
Drayton Hall is located only a few miles by river from this early colony. The land on which the house now stands would have provided timber products for the early colonists and would have likely served as a hunting ground as well. Timber eventually gave way to food crops which gave way to ranching. Cattle would have been raised African style along the River Road and the cows and crops taken to market by boat.
Archaeological investigations have revealed that the pre-Drayton dwelling house lies just off the northwest corner of the land-front elevation. Future investigations are planned to learn more about this pre-Drayton house and the people who lived there.