~ brief history — 1673 ~

History  >  1767


Three years after Charles Towne was founded, records show a navigation aid on Morris Island consisting of a raised metal pan filled with pitch and set afire at night.

By 1673, the Charles Towne colony had authorized a light to be burned every night on a small sandy island, later named Morris Island, six miles southeast of Oyster Pointe at the mouth of the harbor. This simple beacon was a burning "fier ball" of pitch and ocum lit in an iron basket. Each ship entering and leaving the harbor paid a small tax to help support the beacon and its attendant.

What we know as Morris Island was actually three smaller islands divided by narrow creeks. The northern most island, named for Captain John Cumings, was Cumings Island or Cumings Point. The middle island was Morrison's Island and the third, farthest south, called Middle Bay Island. By the end of the 18th century, these creeks were silted-in forming one larger island. The name was shortened from Morrison's to Morris Island. The main channel into Charles Towne harbor near Morris Island was called Pumpkin Hill Channel, thought to be named after an early plantation there.

The "fier" baskets were utilized into the 18th century. By 1716, the keeper began to use huge tallow candles. The candles were a maintenance improvement over the "fier" baskets, but did not provide enough light or cast light far enough out to sea. Spider lamps burning fish oil soon replaced them.

History  >  1767