Sometime after 1701, Joseph Child and a group of enslaved Africans began the arduous task of clearing swamps, digging ditches, building embankments, and constructing fields to grow rice at his new Windsor Hill Plantation. At the heart of their efforts was the fundamental need to control water and make the land arable. Around the same time, Joseph’s neighbors Thomas and Sarah Barker and Joseph Hasfort began to try their luck with this new commodity. Their plantations were home to some of the earliest rice fields in the Carolina Colony.
Nearly 300 years later, remnants of these water controlling marvels are still present along Palmetto Commerce Parkway Extension. These canals, dams, and ditches stand in quiet testament to the determination, knowledge, and hard work of the colony’s first residents, both free and enslaved.
In 2008, Charleston County began work to extend Palmetto Commerce Parkway from Ladson Road to Ashley Phosphate Road. This new road alleviates traffic congestion on Dorchester Road and Interstate 26. Before road construction began, Charleston County sponsored an archaeological survey of the project corridor to ensure that important archaeological sites associated with the historical development of the county would not be disturbed by the road construction.
Archaeologists were excited to find remnants of a system of inland rice fields that once were part of Windsor Hill Plantation and Woodland Plantation.
Charleston County worked with the South Carolina Department of Archives and History to develop a plan to document and protect these important historical features. The following projects, including this website, were developed as part of this plan:
- Inland rice field study
- Wayside Sign
- Video presentation
- Photographic Documentation
Explore and learn how rice, grown with the knowledge and labor of thousands of enslaved Africans, created the Carolina Colony, how the technology for growing rice evolved, how rice influenced the culture and traditions of the Lowcountry, and how Charleston County works to protect and preserve important archaeological and historic resources in our community.