1514 - SALAZAR LANDS IN THIS AREA
1521 - SPANISH LANDING HERE BY QUEXOS AND GORDILLO
The first landing at Port Royal was by Pedro de Salazar, who was sent out of Hispaniola by Lucas de Allyon. Allyon sent other ships to this area in 1520 and came himself in 1525 to build the first fort in North America. He and most of his men perished during the first winter. The Spanish, nevertheless, used this area as a major anchorage in their explorations, and eventually tried to make it the center of their North American empire.
1562 - FRENCH LAND IN PORT ROYAL - ST. ELENA
On February 8, 1562, Capt. Jean Ribaut led a group of 50 French Huguenots who sailed from the Port of Havre De Grace, France. Three months later they sailed up a "mightie" river which they named Port Royal. Ribaut wrote that he had found ". . . no faurer or fytter place . . . the Porte Royall."
On what is now Parris Island, the French expedition built a fort named Charles Forte in honor of King Charles IX. Ribaut returned to France for men and supplies and left 30 settlers on the island. When Ribaut did not return by July, the settlers feared the worst. With the help of the native Indians they built a ship (the first ever built in the U.S.), and sailed for home. They floundered at sea, were picked up by English sailors and returned to France.
1565 - SPANISH FORTIFY ST. ELENA
A Spanish squadron was sent by Philip II to destroy the French colony. When they had destroyed the fort, they carried off the pillar set up by founder Jean Ribaut as a symbol of French domination, and returned with it to Cuba. One year later, they returned to St. Elena to establish their own military port. For twenty-one years, St. Elena was the capital of Spanish "Florida"
1607 - ENGLISH SETTLE VIRGINIA
1608 - FRENCH SETTLE CANADA
1629 - ENGLISH LAY CLAIM TO CAROLINAS
Charles I of England granted Sir Robert Heath the region comprising the two Carolinas, Georgia and much of Florida under the name Carolina, but no effort was made to colonize.
1663 - ENGLISH LAND AT ST. HELENA SOUND
Capt. William Hilton, who sailed from Barbados on the ship, Adventure, raised the first English flag over St. Helena Sound. Hilton Head Island was named in his honor.
Charles II of England gave the territory to eight of his friends in appreciation of their services in restoring him to the throne. They were known as the Lord Proprietors who began bestowing grants of land in Port Royal.
1684 - SCOTS LAND AT PORT ROYAL ISLAND
A ship with 148 Scotch Convenanters under Lord Cardross arrived at Port Royal and built Stuart Town. The town was burned by the Spanish in 1686. Cardross returned to Scotland and took the governmental seal of Stuart Town with him. 100 years later, his great grandson presented the seal to Thomas Pinckney, the U.S. Minister to the court of St. James. Today the seal resides in the Museum of Charleston.
1710 - THE TOWN OF BEAUFORT BUILT ON PORT ROYAL ISLAND
During this period of time the settlers had many difficulties with the Indians, the Spaniards and the French. They also had to contend with the pirates who infested the coast, hurricanes and epidemics of small pox and yellow fever which took hundreds of lives.
1715 - INDIAN WAR
The Yemassee War involved the Yemassees, Creeks and Choctaws, who were angry at the tyranny of the white traders. Only a few score colonists were killed, but the loss of property was terrific; the town of Beaufort was almost totally destroyed.
The tabby remains of Fort Frederick may be seen near the U.S. Naval Hospital in Port Royal. The town of Beaufort built its fort nine years earlier. It became the base for two scout boats which comprised the colony's entire navy.
1779 - REVOLUTIONARY WAR
Capt. Barnwell repulsed the British attack on Port Royal. Fort Lyttleton was built on the site of the old Scotch settlement of Stuart Town and was commanded by William Harden. Harden organized a voluntary artillery known as the "old B.V.A.", which is now the 1055th Transportation Company. This unit has seen service in every war the
Union occupation during the Civil War spared the Town of Port Royal from destruction. Gen. Thomas Sherman was quite content to ride out the war comfortably on Hilton Head Island. Consequently, except for a few unsuccessful forays a few miles north of Beaufort to attempt to sever the vital Confederate railway from Savannah to Charleston, the Greater Port Royal area remained a pleasant beachhead for the Union. Officers' families moved down form the North. The only evidence of war was the wounded who were collected and treated in the City of Beaufort. When the other - the fighting Sherman- came through some three years later burning and pillaging, he therefore spared the little historic town, destroying instead neighboring Hardeeville and McPhersonville just to the north on his way to Columbia.
Many lovely homes were built in Port Royal, including several that are still in existence and are listed as historic buildings. Two churches were built, both of which still stand; Port Royal Union Church on 11th Street and the Zion Baptist Church on 15th Street. Mercantile buildings were constructed (including the F.W. Scheper store which still stands), two drug stores; dry goods stores; a blacksmith shop; an excellent bakery was in the Masonic Lodge Building that is now the Last Chance Saloon; and SEVENTEEN BARS! There was a magnificent hotel called The Tavern built on the waterfront. Many newspaper articles of the day mentioned fist fights and brawls. Train arrivals and departures were so frequent and the population so dense that many a pedestrian accident occurred on the rails.
1891 - PARRIS ISLAND BECOMES NAVY YARD
Yet another boost to the economy of Port Royal was brought about by the efforts of Congressman Robert Smalls. A U.S. Naval and coaling station with a 120 x 150 ft dock was built on nearby Parris Island. The naval yard brought great ships into Port Royal Harbor including the USS Texas, the USS Indiana, and the ill-fated Battleship, USS Maine.
1893 - DISASTROUS HURRICANE HITS
The great hurricane and tidal wave of August 27, 1893, was responsible for the loss of thousands of lives in Port Royal and the surrounding vicinity. Streets and railroad tracks were washed out and most of the equipment at the phosphate mines was destroyed. A yellow fever epidemic followed, causing more loss of life.
Economic calamity soon followed the natural disasters. Phosphate exported from South Carolina was so heavily taxed due to corruption in the State government that companies moved to Florida for their supply, and Port Royal phosphate industry closed down. In 1902, the Secretary of the Navy moved the Naval Yard to Charleston, cutting much business to the Port Royal dock. Shortly after the decline of the Naval Yard, the railroad business also began to decline. The railroads removed the cotton compress and the train elevators from the yards, while convincing their lumber interests to deal with them at another location. Stiff tariffs diverted business to Charleston and Savannah. Finally the internal combustion engine brought the trucking business to South Carolina, taking away what was left of the railroad business in Port Royal. It wasn't long before Port Royal began to look like a ghost town.
1920s - 1930s - 1940s BRINGS NO CHANGE
A few small industries in Port Royal prevented it from disappearing completely. In 1922, shrimping on a large scale came in, and in the 1930's Blue Channel Corp., a seafood packing firm, moved into town. The Marine Corps Recruit Depot on nearby Parris Island, expanded in the 1940s, providing more employment in the area.
1959 - NEW PORT TERMINAL BUILT
The South Carolina State Ports Authority declared Port Royal an active port and provided the necessary funding to dredge the turning basin and build the transit sheds and berthing space. The Port Authority leased the facilities to the Port Royal Clay Company which exports Kaolin, a raw material used in the manufacture of porcelain and paper which comes to Port Royal from Georgia.
SLOW GROWTH IN A QUIET TOWN
The sleepy town reflected in the 1960 census had a population of 793, while the census in 1970 showed 2,865. Current population stands at 3,500.
1976 - BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
The Town of Port Royal was declared an official Bicentennial Community. Events during the celebration week included a parade, carnival and visit from the Spirit of 76 Train. Today Port Royal is again expanding its horizons with a new shine to the old town. The many historic building are being restored and improved to compliment the new homes and office buildings that are being built to echo earlier styles. Port Royal's hiking trails and scenic boardwalk add to the flavor of the town that seeks to be a modern walking community.
1994 - USS PORT ROYAL CG 73 COMMISSIONED IN SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
1995- DOVER, KOHL & ASSOCIATES PRESENT TO THE PUBLIC THE MASTER PLAN FOR THE TOWN OF PORT ROYAL, SOUTH CAROLINA
1996-1997 REDEVELPMENT BOOM
The Town undergoes dynamic changes due to annexations, construction of new civic buildings (to include the Senior Citizen's Center, new Town Hall, new Fire Station, new Post Office), and construction of new residential homes. With the birth of arts and historic renovations in the Town, Port Royal welcomes new visitors daily from all over the country.