History of Edisto Island

Edisto Island’s historical legacy began with the imprint of the Edisto Indians – its first known occupants. The Spanish arrived in the late 1500s, followed by English settlers in the 1600s.

The English remained - first living off the sea, then cultivating money crops of rice and indigo. By 1790, planters turned to a long staple cotton, known as Sea Island Cotton – one of the finest cottons ever produced. It was this crop that brought great wealth to Edisto Islanders.

Many of the elegant houses and plantations remaining today are reminders of that affluent age. These private homes are put on tour once a year by the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society.

Resort development began on Edisto Beach in the 1920s, when beachgoers had to time their arrival to coincide with low tide in order to cross the marsh areas by driving on beds of oyster shells. They crossed over the dunes to the beach and drove along the ocean to their cottages, which had no electricity or running water.