Goose Creek settlers were founding fathers of Deep South

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

Stefan Rogenmoser/Gazette The St. James Goose Creek Church off Vestry Lane is designed with Barbadian architecture.

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Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler introduced a new take on local history to the public for the first time on Feb. 21.

The Goose Creek Men were the founding fathers of the Deep South.

That’s what Heitzler told a group of Military Officers Association of America members gathered at American Legion Post 166.

The forefathers of the Deep South were English plantation owners who came to Goose Creek from their Barbados colony. The Barbadian values they implemented on the Deep South were the mores of an elite class ruling over a great amount of servants, with no middle class, Heitzler said. These men controlled Goose Creek for the area’s first 50 years.

They arrived by sea in 1670 and 1671. After brief season on the banks of the Ashley River, they explored beyond the thin salty soils of the Charleston peninsula and claimed the forests and wetlands bounding a “Broad Stately Creek” later named Goose Creek in southern Berkeley County.

This planting community dominated the Indian animal skin and slave trade and created proxy Native American armies.

They came here to make money, Heitzler said.

Other North American settlers came for reasons such as religious freedom, replicating rural English manor life, seeking liberty and freedom or seeking the wilderness to escape persecution, Heitzler said.

Barbadian settlers did not share Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper’s dream of a perfect society, but rather wanted to make their own fortunes at any cost, according to an essay by Henry Fraser, a Barbados ambassador and University of the West Indies professor who visited Goose Creek recently.

The Spanish pushed in from Florida. The French settled Mississippi. The Goose Creek Men were the tip of the spear of the British empire, Heitzler said.

The Barbados economy had great affluence earned on the backs of slaves, Heitzler said.

The Barbados colonists were known to live ostentatious, wealthy lives. Barbados was the oldest, richest and most densely populated colony in British America. It earned a reputation for immorality, arrogance and excesses of its leaders.

“A gentry here doth live far better than do ours in England,” philosopher John Locke said, adding, “They endeavored to rule all.”

Captain Thomas Walduck wrote in his ship cabin log, “Upon all the new settlements, the Spanish do make, the first thing they do is build a church; the first thing the Dutch do upon a new colony is to build them a fort; but the first thing the English do, be it in the most remote parts of the world or amongst the most barbarous, is to set up a tavern or drinking house.”

Heitzler also cited a historic document that says the Goose Creek Men would no do anything without a bottle of rum.

Barbados is about half the size of Berkeley County, Heitzler said. When rum became an industry, planters looked for places to grow sugar cane.

In Colin Woodward’s 2012 book “American Nations,” he writes, “Those immigrants to Carolina were the sons and grandsons of the founders of Barbados, the richest and most horrifying society in the English speaking world.”

The sons and grandsons of the English who settled Barbados took their agriculture to Goose Creek.

Heitzler said this concept originated from the Woodward book. But he said Woodward gets it wrong in saying the men were from Charleston.

“They landed in Charleston but settled in Goose Creek, Heitzler said. “Those were the guys who came from Barbados.

“What bothers me is the Goose Creek Men were the founding fathers of the Deep South. Intellectually, I’m proud. Emotionally, I’m ashamed.”

Heitzler said the Deep South turned slavery into racism. Before that the Irish and Scots were slaves. Then Indians were used as slaves.

“We know a lot of bad things happened in the Deep South,” Heitzler said. “What are some good things that come from the Deep South?”

The noble second sons bought knighthoods, lobbied parliament for privileges, sent their children to England for school, imposed onerous property requirements to vote, used indentured servants until no more dared immigrate, used Scottish and Irish prisoners of war until the supply vanished, and kidnapped children until the word “babadosed” in the 17th century meant the same as “shanghaied” in the 20th century.

The Goose Creek Men created a carbon copy of the West Indian slave state left behind in Barbados.

They had opportunities for enormous profits by creating an unadulterated slave society that spread across the Carolina lowlands, overwhelmed the utopian colony of Georgia and spawned the dominant cultures of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, eastern Texas and Arkansas, western Tennessee, north Florida and southeastern North Carolina.

The culture they implanted was based on radical disparities in wealth and entrenched wide disparities in power. They were commanded by a tiny elite demanding total obedience and enforced by state-sponsored terror.

They were set on a collision course with the communities of the North, and divided the United States to this day, Heitzler said.

“Remnants of the Civil War still resonate today,” Heitzler said. “We can see it in our politics. We could see it in the Civil Rights Movement.”

Some of the Goose Creek Men were Thomas Smith, Arthur and Henry Middleton, James Moore, John Yeamans, Peter St. Julien, George Chicken, John Newe, Robert Daniel, Ralph Izard, Robert Gibbes, Maurice Matthews and Nathaniel Johnson.

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