German-Swiss Immigrants to South Carolina


The first sixty years of history in the Province of South Carolina shows that colonists either settled on the coast or in the immediate vicinity. To induce settlers to the undeveloped "backcountry", a wilderness inhabited by only a few white traders and Indians, eleven townships were formed to be called The King's Bounty Land.

Each township containing 20,000 acres, encircled by a strip of land six miles wide to be held for future exapansion. One decision that was to leave a deep impress upon the character of the South Carolina people was that which extended these land rights to Protestants of Europe. This meant that would have a heritage from the German and Swiss nationalities.

The plan of Jean Pierre Purry of the firm Purry et Compagnie in Neuchatel to found a colony in Carolinia and a list of its German- speaking settlers is detailed in the South Carolina Historical Magazine (October 1991). A steady migration from Switzerland to other Carolina townships also began, the Swiss for economic reasons and the German refugees from religious persecution. This migration was encouraged by extravagant accounts of the land in America. While other nationalities also settled in the townships, it was the Swiss and Germans that composed the greater number of these first settlers.

The following list of immigrant ships that will indicate the strength of the migration of German-speaking families into Caroilina during this period.

1732 Purry's first party.
1732 (Dec 2) 50 Palatines expected.
1733 (July) 25 Salzburgers for Purrysburg.
1734 (November) 260 Swiss for Purrysburg.
1735 (July) 250 German Switzers.
1735 (July) 200 German Palatines.
1735 (July) 250 German-Swiss
1736 (October) A Great Number (170) of German Swiss People.
1737 (February) Above 200 Switzers out of the canton of Tockenburgh
                including Rev. Hans Ulrich Giessendanner and his nephew
                Rev. John Giessendanner, the first pastors of Orangeburgh.
1744 Captain Ham's ship, which brought over some Swiss from Bern.
1744 (December) Capt. Brown's ship with 100 Palatines.

It was during the fourth decade of the eighteenth century, that German-Swiss emigration reached its peak. A Bernese official of the time coined for it the fitting expression "Rabies Carolinae."