I just discovered that my ancestor, Patriot Samuel Rosamond, bought two homes on Bay Street in Charleston in 1786. This makes us one of the Southern Gentry, we making one of the earliest real estate deals as a Free Nation.
It gets better!
Samuel Rosamond was on the State Commission to build canals around the city of Columbia that was designated the State Capital. It was going to be an ideal city where barges carried cotton downstream from the plantations. The State allotted a million dollars to the project which might be one of the largest civic real estate improvements since we became a Democracy.
There were several plantations owned by the Rosamond family. Our cotton ended up in Charleston. Samuel was able to sit on his terrace on the shore and watch the large ships bringing his cotton to one of the greatest cities in the South.
Rosamond, Samuel Mortgage For Two Lots In Charleston, One Low Water Lot On Bay Street And Cooper River, And The Other High Ground Lot On Bay Street, Both Lots Purchased From Christopher Williman. (Plat And Appraisement)
East Bay street was originally called Bay Street or The Bay. According to Ramsay, the first houses were built along the waterfront. The early grants described lots as bounding east on Cooper River. lt was literally true, as there was nothing to the east of East Bay but marsh and water. From the settlement of the town, East Bay was the center of a growing commerce. As commerce grew and the town grew, so did the number of wharfs or “bridges” as they were called. With the buildup of land east of the town wall on curtain line, short streets were laid out east of East Bay and office buildings and warehouses were built on the street and wharfs. Most of that development occurred after the American Revolution. During the colonial period, the east side of East Bay was fortified, from Granville’s Bastion on the South to Craven’s Bastion on the north. The west side of the street was lined with buildings, stores below and residences above, while the wharfs projected to the east of the curtain line. East Bay crossed a small swamp at the foot of Queen Street and crossed a drainage canal at present-day Market Street via the Governor’s Bridge, whence it continued north to Colleton Square and the other suburbs. Above the Governor’s Bridge it was known as East Bay Continued as far as Laurens Street, where it was known as Front street or So-Be-lt Lane.
State Senator John Lewis Gervais of the town of Ninety Six introduced a bill that was approved by the legislature on March 22, 1786, to create a new state capital. There was considerable argument over the name for the new city. According to published accounts, Senator Gervais said he hoped that “in this town we should find refuge under the wings of COLUMBIA”, for that was the name which he wished it to be called. One legislator insisted on the name “Washington”, but “Columbia” won by a vote of 11–7 in the state senate.
The Seibels House, c. 1796, is the oldest in Columbia.
The site was chosen as the new state capital in 1786, due to its central location in the state. The State Legislature first met there in 1790. After remaining under the direct government of the legislature for the first two decades of its existence, Columbia was incorporated as a village in 1805 and then as a city in 1854. Columbia received a large stimulus to development when it was connected in a direct water route to Charleston by the Santee Canal. This canal connected the Santee and Cooper rivers in a 22-mile-long (35 km) section. It was first chartered in 1786 and completed in 1800, making it one of the earliest canals in the United States. With increased railroad traffic, it ceased operation around 1850.
The commissioners designed a town of 400 blocks in a 2-mile (3 km) square along the river. The blocks were divided into lots of 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) and sold to speculators and prospective residents. Buyers had to build a house at least 30 feet (9.1 m) long and 18 feet (5.5 m) wide within three years or face an annual 5% penalty. The perimeter streets and two through streets were 150 feet (46 m) wide. The remaining squares were divided by thoroughfares 100 feet (30 m) wide. The width was determined by the belief that dangerous and pesky mosquitoes could not fly more than 60 feet (18 m) without dying of starvation along the way. Columbians still enjoy most of the magnificent network of wide streets.
South Carolina State House from the 15th floor of the Main and Gervais Tower.
The commissioners comprised the local government until 1797 when a Commission of Streets and Markets was created by the General Assembly. Three main issues occupied most of their time: public drunkenness, gambling, and poor sanitation.
As one of the first planned cities in the United States, Columbia began to grow rapidly. Its population was nearing 1,000 shortly after the start of the 19th century.