Royalty, Swiss, Native Americans, a governor, a publisher and agriculture were prime influences of the oldest inland settlement in the United States. This historic area rests along the Savannah River where “Cotton is King” Governor, James Hammond, left a legacy, Redcliffe Plantation, gracing the landscape of Beech Island, SC. Read the latest Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site Newsletter.
Still, a more famous personality came to the Beech Island area whom became the “godfather of Soul’ and the “hardest working man in show business.” Mr. James Brown made Beech Island his home for many years.
Home of "The Godfather of Soul" James Brown
Born in Barnwell, SC and raised in Augusta, GA., the late James Brown lived his fascinating life in Beech Island, SC.
A singing career that spanned 50 years, Grammy Award winning Brown’s musical innovation has had a profound influence on popular music styles around the world, including funk, rock, Afro-pop, disco and rap. A charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The fascinating film “Get On Up” is about Aiken County’s very own legend, Mr. James Brown!
As home to the oldest inland settlement in the United States, Beech Island may be the most historical area of Aiken County. In 1730, the Royal Governor of South Carolina ordered eleven Townships to be laid out in South Carolina. One of these was Beech Island.
Researchers believe there are prehistoric, Indian, Colonial and antebellum sites in the area. The population is made up of several nationalities including German, Scotch-Irish, English, African and French.
The Beech Island Historical Society has information on Savanno Town, the oldest settlement in Aiken County, which began in 1685. Here, you can learn of the British occupation of George Galphin’s plantation house (trading center), and of Silver Bluff Missionary Baptist Church (1750) – the 1st black Baptist church in America.
Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site is a grand historic home site in Beech Island, completed in 1859. It was the home of South Carolina Governor James Henry Hammond, three generations of his descendants and numerous African-American families.
Redcliffe is the only plantation home open to the public in Aiken County, SC. Redcliffe provides a setting for exploring the experiences of the enslaved, as well as the larger institution of slavery and reflects the historical experiences and impact of the white and black families who lived and worked at the site. The extant slave quarters, mansion, and iconic lane of magnolia trees planted in 1860 serve to highlight the plantation’s rich and varied history.
Beech Island Agricultural Barn
This 1800’s barn was built by Luther Hankinson out of bricks from his own factory in Hamburg, SC. Recently renovated, it serves as an Agricultural Museum and Gift Shop. Stop by and discover the importance of agriculture in Aiken County!
Zubly Cemetery dates from 1790 when David Zubly, Jr. was buried on the site. The Zublys were among the many Swiss settlers who came to the New Windsor area in the 18th century. It is the oldest cemetery in Beech Island, and is listed on the National Register of Historic places.
James Brown Discography
Studio albums: 71
Live albums: 14
Compilation Albums: 49
Video Albums: 7
Music Videos: 10