Media Coverage

Jehossee Island’s history in South Carolina

preservation-admin , March 15, 2021

View the original CHStoday article here

Double Oak Avenue | Photo via Preservation Society of Charleston

Enter: Jehossee Island — an uninhabited, unoccupied + undisturbed former rice plantation located on the Edisto River. The area has potential to contribute to the modern understanding of pre-Civil War rice cultivation in the Lowcountry.

The Preservation Society of Charleston is currently working with others to document Jehossee Island and secure funding for the stabilization + preservation of at-risk structures on the land

Jehossee Island overseer’s house (c.1830) | Photo via Preservation Society of Charleston

History behind the land

  • One of the most productive rice plantations in the south with one of the largest enslaved populations
  • Prominent planter families owned 4,000+ acres in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Owned by the Drayton family between 1776-1824 
  • Gov. William Aiken Jr. began ownership in 1830

Rice Production

  • Relied on major canals, fields, berms, dikes, rice trunks + a brick chimney
  • Relied on the labor of 700-1,200 enslaved people between the 1830s-1860s
  • Site included 84 wood-frame houses, a church, a hospital, a store + more
Rice chimney ruin | Photo via Preservation Society of Charleston

What still stands today

  • Ruin of the chimney used for rice cultivation 
  • 1830s overseer’s house 
  • Portions of brick foundations of former buildings
  • Most of the landscape remains unaltered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now owns Jehossee Island, and there is potential for the study of resources above + below ground on the land. Learn more about the history and ways to help sustain and protect the historic island here.