HISTORY & CULTURE AT THE BLACK RIVER
A Storied Legacy
The earliest reports of Native American settlement in this region come from the area between the Black River and the lower course of the Pee Dee River. This area was claimed by the Winyaw, one of eight tribes in the region in the early 1500s. However, by 1715, the Winyaw occupied only a single village with a population of 106 individuals. References to the Winyaw disappear shortly afterward.
Europeans first claimed title to land along the Black River three and one quarter centuries ago. The property we now call the Black River Cypress Preserve was conveyed in 1698 through a grant from the Lord Proprietors, the group of British noblemen whom the king of England charged with ownership and management of the colony of Carolina.
Since then, the Cypress Preserve’s 1,000 acre-property has passed through 29 owners. From the early days of European discovery and colonial settlement through the economics of forest products and agriculture on the backs of an enslaved labor force, to today’s focus on environmental sustainability.
The region was a significant area of conflict during the Revolutionary War. It was here that General Francis Marion, the legendary “Swamp Fox,” led American patriots in dozens of skirmishes and small battles that contributed to America’s victory over the British at Yorktown.
Over the three centuries since Europeans arrived, the land around the Black River was exploited for timber, naval stores, indigo, cotton and tobacco. It was not until the 21st century that the area’s natural assets—flood control, water conservation and purification, biodiversity, and public recreation—became economic factors.