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Johns Island was originally inhabited by nomadic tribes of Native Americans such as the Kiawah, who survived by hunting and collecting shellfish. By the time Europeans arrived in the area, these tribes were already settled and farming off the land.
By the 1670s, white colonists had developed scattered settlements near the water on Johns Island. Maps dating from 1695 and 1711 show plantations established on the banks of the Stono River. During the colonial period, the main crop produced was indigo, prized for its rich blue dye.
The slaves crossed the Stono River and gathered more followers as they began to walk overland to Spanish Florida. The runaways encountered Lieutenant Governor William Bull and four of his comrades also traveling on the road.
Seeing the situation at hand, Lieutenant Governor Bull and his companies rallied other plantation owners to help put down the uprising. The planters swept through the countryside, attacking slaves, killing all who could not prove that they were forced to join the march.
The American Revolutionary War arrived on Johns Island in May 1779 as a body of British troops under the command of General Augustine Prevost. General Prevost established a small force to remain on the island, headed by Lieutenant Colonel John Maitland. More troops landed on Seabrook under the command of Sir Henry Clinton. Sir Henry Clinton, more soldiers, landed on Seabrook Island, beginning February 11, 1780. Charleston surrendered to British forces on May 12, 1780; the occupation lasted until December 1782.
The Battle of Bloody Bridge, also known as Burden’s Causeway, occurred on Johns Island in July 1864. The site of the battle is off River Road, just north of the Charleston Executive Airport. On July 2, 1864, Brig. Gen. John Hatch’s Federal troops landed in the Legareville section of Johns Island.
The Angel Oak is a living Southern live oak tree located on Johns Island. Estimates of the tree’s age range from 400 to 1500 years old. The oak is 65 ft (20 m) tall, with a trunk circumference of 25.5 ft (7.8 m).
Despite the widespread belief that the Angel Oak is the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River, many bald cypress trees throughout the south are bald baldbald cypress trees throughout the south that are hundreds of years more aged.
The Angel Oak stands on the part of the land given to Jacob Waight in 1717 as part of a land grant. The City of Charleston acquired Angel Oak in 1991.
Today, Angel Oak Park provides visitors a close look at the tree. The park area is complete with a gift shop and picnic tables.