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History of the German Settlements and of the Lutheran Church in North and South Carolina

G.D. Bernheim
Philadelphia: The Lutheran Book Store

Section 9. The Swiss colony at Pursyburg, S.C., A.D. 1732.

In Beaufort County, S.C., some thirty miles inland from the seacoast, and situated on the east bank of the Savannah River, there was once a flourishing German town and colony, named Purysburg. The inhabitants came from Switzerland, and under circumstances very similar to those of the settlers of Newberne, N.C.; for, what De Graffenreid and Mitchell were to the colony on the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers, that Purry, Richard, Menron and Raymond were to the Swiss settlers on the east side of the Savannah River.

In the year 1731, "John Peter Purry, of Neufchatel, in Switzerland, formerly a Director-General of the French East-India Company, having formed the design of leaving his native country, paid a visit to Carolina in order to inform himself of the circumstances and situation of that province. After viewing the lands," and satisfying his own mind, by means of personal observation, of the fertility of the soil, eligibility as to climate and situation for a settlement of his countrymen, "he returned to Britain. The government there entered into a contract with him, and agreed to give him lands, and four hundred pounds sterling for every hundred effective men he could transport from Switzerland to Carolina." (Mills' Statistics of South Carolina, page 369.)

While Mr. Purry was in Charleston, he drew up the following flattering account of the soil and climate of South Carolina, and of the excellency and freedom of the provincial government, and on his return to Switzerland published it among the people. It reads as follows:


There are only two methods, viz.: one for persons to go as servants, the other to settle on their own account.

1. Those who are desirous to go as servants must be carpenters, vine-planters, husbandmen, or good laborers.

2. They must be such as are not very poor, but in a condition to carry with them what is sufficient to support their common necessity.

3. They must have at least three or four good shirts, and a suit of clothes each.

4. They are to have each for their wages one hundred livres yearly, which make fifty crowns of the money of Neufchatel, in Switzerland, but their wages are not to commence till the day of their arrival in Carolina.

5. Expert carpenters shall have suitable encouragement.

6. The time of their contract shall be three years, reckoning from the day of their arrival in that country.

7. They shall be supplied in part of their wages with money to come from Switzerland, till they embark for Carolina.

8. Their wages shall be paid them regularly at the end of every year; for security whereof they shall have the fruits of their labor, and generally all that can be procured for them, whether movables or immovables.

9. Victuals and lodgings from the day of their embarkation shall not be put to their account, nor their passage by sea.

10. They shall have what money they want advanced during the term of their service in part of their wages to buy linen, clothes, and all other necessaries.

11. If they happen to fall sick, they shall be lodges and nourished gratis, but their wages shall not go on during their illness, or that they are not able to work.

12. They shall serve, after recovery, the time they had lost during their sickness.

13. What goes to pay physicians or surgeons shall be put to their account.

As to those who go to settle on their own account, they must have at least fifty crowns each, because their passage by sea and victuals will cost them twenty to twenty-five crowns, and the rest of the money shall go to procure divers things which will be absolutely necessary for the voyage. (Carroll's Collections, vol. ii, pp. 121, et seq.)

Here follows also, from the same author:


The King of Great Britain having about three years ago purchased this province of the Lords-Proprietors thereof, has since studied to make agriculture, commerce, and navigation flourish in it. His Majesty immediately nominated Colonel Johnson, a worthy gentleman, to be Governor thereof; who, at his departure for Carolina, received divers orders and instructions, &c. His Majesty further grants to every European servant, whether man or woman, fifty acres of land free of all rents for ten years, which shall be distributed to them after having served their master for the time agreed on.

In consequence of these instructions, Mr. Purry was permitted to go and choose on the borders of the river Savannah land proper to build the town of Purysbug upon; and having found it such as he wished, the government made him a grant thereof under the great seal of the Province, dated 1st September, 1731, and at the same time published throughout the whole country a prohibition to all sorts of persons to go and settle on the said land, which is already called the Swiss Quarter.

In order to facilitate the execution of this undertaking in the best manner, the Assembly granted to the said Mr. Purry four hundred pounds sterling, and provisions sufficient for the maintenance of three hundred persons for one year, provided they be all persons of good repute and Swiss Protestants, and that they come to Carolina within the space of two years.

The river Savannah is one of the finest in all Carolina, the water good, and stored with excellent fish. It is about the largeness of the Rhine, and there are two forts already built upon it, which the Indians have never dared ot attack.

The town of Purysburg will be situated thirty miles from the sea, and about seven miles from the highest tide. The land about it is a most delightful plain, and the greatest part very good soil, especially for pasturage, and the rest proper enough for some productions. It was formerly called the great Yemassee Port, and is esteemed by the inhabitants of the Province the best place in all Carolina, although never yet possess but by the Indians, who were driven from thence by the English several years ago, and have never dared to return thither. All sorts of trees and plants will grow there as well as can be wished, particularly vines, wheat, barley, oats, pease, beans, hemp, flax, cotton, tobacco, indigo, olives, orange trees, and citron trees, as also white mulberry trees for feeding of silk-worms.

The lands will not be difficult to clear, because there is neither stones nor brambles, but only great trees, which do not grow very thick, so that more land may be cleared there in one week than could be done in Switzerland in a month. The custom of the country is, that after having cut down these great trees, they leave the stumps for four or five years to rot, and afterwards easily roots them up in order to manure the land.

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