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Friday, December 9, 2011

Why I fell in love with Charleston, South Carolina!

Before I even set foot in South Carolina, there was something about Charleston that drew my affections. A mystique, an allure of romance and adventure that caught my heart long before I tread upon the city’s cobblestone streets. So when my publisher agreed to publish my trilogy, Charles Towne Belles, and more currently, my next release Veil of Pearls, also set in Charleston,  I just had to visit the city for myself (Research purposes, of course) and see if it was everything I hoped it would be.

I wasn’t disappointed. From the rush of the mighty Cooper River pouring into Charleston Bay, to the unique narrow houses with their open air piazzas stretching the length of the building, to the clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriages over the cobblestone streets, to the magnificent St. Michael’s church built in 1761, and the colorful gardens blossoming with Bougainvilleas, I was enthralled.







But the most fascinating thing I discovered about Charleston was that it was once a walled city, complete with moats and drawbridges. How cool is that? Combining the romance of the medieval castle with the untamed colonies. The colonist built the wall to protect their new homes from Indians, the Spanish, and of course Pirates, but in 1719 they soon outgrew the boundaries and the wall was slowly dismantled.  If you want to see a small part of the wall that still remains, visit the Watch Tower museum and take a tour of the dungeon.  (See picture above.. apparently, they still have pirates imprisoned there!)

Of course, being a pirate lover, the best part of the history for me was learning about the Charleston pirates.  Did you know Blackbeard and his crew once blockaded the entire city?  He captured several leading citizens and held them hostage on board his ship, not allowing supplies to enter or leave Charles Towne port. Finally after a few weeks of negotiation, Blackbeard released the hostages for only a few medical supplies and left. Lucky for Charleston since he was one of the most brutal of all pirates. 

Another of my favorite pirates is a lady pirate named Anne Bonny.  She, along with another woman pirate, Mary Reed, terrorized the Caribbean in the early 1700’s, but apparently Anne had her beginning in Charleston where she was often seen in taverns right alongside the men.  (She actually makes an appearance in my book, The Red Siren!)










But, my favorite Charleston pirate has to be the pirate they called “The Gentleman Pirate”, Stede Bonnet.  A wealthy and educated landowner on the island of Barbados, he abandoned his family and all his belongings to become a “gentleman of fortune”. They say he was not the best pirate, but he also wasn’t a cruel pirate either. He loved books and brought a whole library on board his ship.  In September, 1718, Bonnet was captured and brought to Charleston where, being considered a gentleman, he was given residence in the Marshal’s house instead of the dungeon while he awaited trail. Apparently, he was quite good with the ladies and somehow managed to get a hold of some women’s clothes which he quickly donned and then made his escape. Bonnet was recaptured shortly thereafter and, though found guilty, received several stays of execution as the result of pleas from city merchants and several doting ladies! Bonnet's friends were influential, but not enough to save him. The "gentleman pirate" was hanged at White Point in Charleston on December 18, 1718. Moral of the story, gentleman or not, don't become a pirate!!

All in all, my research adventure to Charleston was well worth the trip!

By MaryLu Tyndall, Welcome MaryLu as a regular contributor to Colonial Quills!!! This is MaryLu's first post on CQ.  

12 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this beautiful post, MaryLu! I love Charleston, too, having met the love of my life there, a Chicago suburbanite! That was 25 years ago.

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  2. Wow, I didn't know that, Carrie. How romantic!! Well, it is a very romantic city!

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  3. MaryLu, Oh, so happy you're here! Love this post, the rich history, the pictures, and your trademark writing style:) Makes me want to visit Charleston so badly. I heard not long ago (was this from you, Diana?) that Charleston wasn't able to rebuild after the Civil War for lack of funds and that's why so much of their history and architecture, etc. is intact. Their supposed loss was our gain!

    Like you, I've always been fascinated by pirates, especially the female ones, and never get enough of this sort of history. Your books are like finding buried treasure every time:)

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  4. What a great post, MaryLu! I visited Charleston in 2010 and LOVED IT! I am so fortunate to have a niece that lives there and we had such a great time touring the city. SO nice to have you at CQ! I am a newbie as well. ;-)

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  5. I loved reading this post about the pirates! And liked the Genteman Pirate a lot :)
    Thanks for this great post!

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  6. Oh I love this MaryLu! Charleston has always been my home away from home. For as long as I can remember, Charleston is where my family would vacation. I have many a wonderful childhood memory there.

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  7. Yes, that's true, Laura, and you really HAVE to visit Charleston, history lover that you are, and since I live about an hour and 1/2-2 hours away, you could just stop by Columbia, too.:)

    MaryLu, thank you for the wonderful post and pics! Loved all the pirate talk! I'm so wishing that I would have felt better at the time and we could have met there...I'm still regretting that.:( Congrats on becoming a contributor on this wonderful blog and I'm sooo looking forward to Veil of Pearls!

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  8. Wow, thanks, everyone!! Tis me pleasure to be here among such fine ladies and history lovers!! I hope we will all become fast friends!! And I do love Charleston.. would love to come back for another peek someday.. maybe we can meet then, Diana! Wish I wasn't on the other side of the country!! How did I end up here in CA? Oh yea.. I fell in love with my husband. Darn that crazy romantic in me!!! LOL

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  9. What a fascinating place to visit, full of historical adventure! Thanks for sharing these stories with us, MaryLu, and welcome to CQ!!

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  10. Thanks, Carla! So happy to be here. :-)

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  11. So happy to see you here, MaryLu! I love books set in Charleston and try to read them all! Daughter recently moved there!! I have learned so much about the area from those books! Look forward to reading your next one!

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  12. Oooh so exciting!! And beautiful pictures! I will definitely have to visit there someday :)

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