South Carolina’s Edgefield District, as originally laid out in 1785, stretched from the Georgia border on the Savannah River, east to the Saluda River. Eventually, the district was divided into five separate counties, including today’s Edgefield County. John A. Chapman's 1897 work, Edgefield County from the Earliest Settlements to 1897. As was the custom at that time, the subtitle of the book goes into some detail: BIOGRAPHICAL AND ANECDOTICAL; WITH SKETCHES OF THE SEMINOLE WAR; NULLIFICATION; SECESSION; RECONSTRUCTION; CHURCHES AND LITERATURE; WITH ROLLS OF ALL THE COMPANIES FROM EDGEFIELD IN THE WAR OF SECESSION; WAR WITH MEXICO AND WITH THE SEMINOLE INDIANS.
After an overview of early settlement in Edgefield, Chapman relates the story of Isaac and Mary Gould, whose family was slaughtered by guests they had taken into their home for the night. Mary was able to describe the incident in a deposition before dying of her injuries:
For many years before there was any permanent settlement the whole upper country was traversed by roving traders, who bought skins and furs from the natives and made large profits by the trade. Beavers, buffaloes, bears, and other animals, whose skins were very valuable, as well as wolves, catamounts, and wild cats, were quite as plentiful as squirrels and rabbits are now. There were also many wild deer, and at one time the exportation of skins from the State, or colony, ran up as high as to two hundred and fifty thousand a year.
As far back as the year 1690, some time before the English settlers on the Ashley knew that there was such a people in existence as the Cherokees, a man named Daugherty, a trader from Virginia, lived amongst them for purposes of traffic. From his time many adventurers, in search of trade and fortune, frequented all the towns and war-paths of the nation. This trade, for some years, was very profitable, for the Indians knew little or nothing of the value of their goods, and for a few showy trinkets, and gems of small value, the trader on the Savannah, or the Catawba, could procure peltries which he could sell in Charleston for many times their cost.
One of the first settlers of the upper country, Anthony Park, who lived to a very advanced age in the adjoining County of Newberry, travelled in 1758, several hundred miles among the Indians to the west of the Alleghany Mountains. And even then he found several white men who said they had lived among the natives as traders twenty years; some forty or fifty, and one as many as sixty years. One of these traders had upwards of seventy decendants then living in the nation. These traders were mostly Scotch or Irish. These men, however, were not settlers, in the proper sense of the word, although they had lived for so many years in the nation. They were only transient persons; pioneers of the true settlers, living in the wilderness for the purpose of traffic—a love of adventure, and a desire to be rid of the restraints of civilized life. The territory of Edgefield was traversed, time and again, by these adventurers, as it lay in the direct line of route from Charleston and the Edistos to the rich, game-abounding country about Ninety-Six and the country above.
From the best information obtainable, we find that the earliest permanent settlements within the limits of Edgefield County were made about the year 1748. Ninety-Six was settled about that time. In May, 1750, a party of Monangahela Indians, led by a Cherokee guide, passed down the Savannah to attack the Euchees, who were friends of the English. These Euchees lived about two miles below Silver Bluff. The Monongahelas were defeated and fled, the Euchees pursuing. They passed through the pine woods about ten miles from where Hamburg now is, moving in a direct line for the then weak settlement of Ninety-Six. The pursuit was so close that the fleeing Indians were compelled to throw away their guns, blankets, and plunder. They avoided Ninety-Six and did not stop running until they reached the Cherokee towns.
We find that one year later, May 7, 1751, Mrs. Mary Gould, called by Captain John Fairchild Mrs. Cloud, living on Little Saluda River, was severely wounded by two Savannah Indians, who killed her husband and children and a young man who was sleeping on the floor. These murders were committed treacherously, the savages having entered the house in a peaceable manner and having been kindly entertained by Gould and his wife. Several distressed families in that neighborhood then deserted their homes and retreated down the country to the Congarees to avoid the Indians. In August of the same year Capt. Fairchild informed the Governor, James Glen, that he had ranged with his company as high up as Ninety-Six, and had built near that place a fort of puncheon logs for the protection of the people of that settlement. That fort was built on the north banks of John's Creek, where a flourishing civilized settlement was founded contemporaneous with the first ever planted in any part of Ninety-Six District.