Charleston-Savannah Trail

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The Charleston-Savannah Trail (also known as part of the King's Highway) connected the South Carolina colonial town of Charleston with the colonial Georgia town of Savannah on the Savannah River in what is now Chatham County. Charleston was the largest European settlement in South Carolina, its capital, on the King's Highway, and the start of several other trails. Savannah was the earliest, the largest, and the original capital city of Georgia, established in 1733. Several other trails eventually radiated out from Savannah. The Charleston-Savannah Trail was probably opened to European settlers in the late 1730s. It began in Charleston County, South Carolina Genealogy and ended in Chatham County, Georgia Genealogy. The length of the trail was about 120 miles (193 km).[1]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Charleston was founded in 1670 by English and African immigrants from the Caribbean island of Barbados. Savannah was established in 1733 by colonists directly from England,[2] and a few months later Sephardic Jews.[3] Because of swamps, rivers, and forests there was probably a delay of a few years before a trail between the two colonies was constructed. The Charleston-Savannah trail served as an extension of the King's Highway. Later in 1856 a railroad was built between the towns which played a significant role in the United States Civil War, 1861-1865.

As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.

Route[edit | edit source]

The first European colonists settled in counties along this trail (north to south) as follows:[4]

Connecting trails. The Charleston-Savannah Trail links to other trails at each end. The migration pathways connecting in Charleston, South Carolina included:[5]

The migration routes connecting in Savannah, Georgia included:

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the old Charleston-Savannah Trail start in Charleston. Drive west on US-17 South to I-95. Merge onto I-95 South/Jasper Highway to just past Hardeeville. Take Exit 5 onto US-17 South to Savannah.

Settlers and Records[edit | edit source]

The first colonists in each county along what became the Charleston-Savannah Trail arrived before the trail existed, usually by way of the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, some of the new arrivals and settlers after the late 1730s may have used the Charleston-Savannah Trail and even the King's Highway.

No complete list of settlers who used the Charleston-Savannah Trail is known to exist. Nevertheless, local and county histories along that trail may reveal pioneer settlers who arrived after the late 1730s and who were candidates to have traveled the Charleston-Savannah Trail from the Charleston, or the Savannah areas.

For partial lists of early settlers who may have used the Charleston-Savannah Trail, see histories like:

in Charleston County, SC:

  • Thomas Petigru Lesesne, History of Charleston County, South Carolina: Narrative and Biographical (Charleston, South Carolina : A.H. Cawston, c1931) (FHL Book 975.7915 D3L) WorldCat entry.

in Colleton County, SC:

in Beaufort County, SC:

  • Lawrence S. Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers, Jr., The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina : University of S.C., c1996) (FHL Book 975.799 H2r) WorldCat entry.

in Jasper County, SC:

in Chatham County, GA:

External Links[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 848. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  2. Faye Dyess, "Passengers of Ship Ann" in rootsweb at (accessed 27 March 2011).
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "History of Savannah, Georgia," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,,_Georgia (accessed 27 March 2011).
  4. South Carolina - The Counties, (accessed 22 March 2011).
  5. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 847-61. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002) WorldCat entry., and William E. Myer, Indian Trails of the Southeast. (Nashville, Tenn.: Blue and Gray Press, 1971), 12-14, and the book's pocket map "The Trail System of the Southeastern United States in the early Colonial Period" (1923). (FHL Book 970.1 M992i) WorldCat entry.
  6. "South Carolina Counties and Parishes - 1740" in The Royal Colony of South Carolina at (accessed 22 April 2011).
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "History of Augusta, Georgia," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,,_Georgia (accessed 27 March 2011).