Saturday, September 23, 2006

Early Carolina Documents Discovered

The Scotsman reports that several important documents pertaining to the early history of the Carolina colonies have been found in the archives at Aberdeen University, Scotland. The papers, which include the first known map of Charles Towne (first permanent English settlement in what would become the Carolinas), were among a collection belonging to James Fraser, who tutored one of Charles II's illegitimate sons in the 1660s.

Fraser's cousin Jean Boyd sent along the manuscript description of Charles Towne after a visit there; the document is believed to date from about 1691, twenty years or so after the establishment of the settlement.

"It includes a description of Native Americans, plants, wildlife, the price of goods and the local cuisine. The map shows a handful of streets, two forts and houses scattered in the woods.

Historians spent months translating the French script, which describes the rivers being full of fish, with birds, including pelicans and kingfishers. The creeks, he says, are full of crocodiles, some 22ft long.

He also recounts trade with Native Americans involving swapping skins of bears, racoons, otters and foxes for guns, lead and gunpowder, knives, rum and tobacco."

A fascinating find!

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