Myrtle Bank (Elliott) Plantation

Fast Facts:

General Information - Location – along Port Royal Sound

Owners -

  • Col. Tuscarora Jack Barnwell received original grant in 1717.
  • Bridget Barnwell Sams, his daughter, inherited.
  • Robert Sams, Jr., her son, inherited it in 1760; died childless.
  • William and Phoebe Jenkins Waight purchased the plantation.
  • Their daughter inherited it and in 1787 married William Elliott, who successfully developed long-stapled Sea Island cotton.
  • Elliott family for several generations.
  • Anne Elliott, widow of William, was unable to redeem after confiscation as court ordered the plantation sold to pay cash bequests in husband’s will
  • Daughters Anne and Emily bought it at sheriff’s sale in 1884 for $1000.  Some plots were sold to Negroes.
  • Harriet, sister of Anne and Emily, and husband Cuban General Ambrosio Jose Gonzales inherited.
  • In 1934 it was sold to Thorne and Loomis by Gonzales heirs.

Maps -    

    Hack, "Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, before 1861"

Bibliography -

    Holmgren, Hilton Head, A Sea Island Chronicle
    Jones, Stormy Petrel, N. G. Gonzales and His State
    Peeples, An Index to Hilton Head Island Names

Additional Information:

38BU1150

Also known as Point Place
Dolphin Head Drive

Myrtle Bank was a 1,000 acre plantation on Hilton Head's northwest corner.  The name was derived from the indigenous wax-leafed myrtle which flourishes there.  In 1787 William Elliott married Phoebe Waight, who had inherited the plantation and spacious house from her father.

William Elliott was the first to experiment with long staple Sea Island cotton and produced the first such crop in 1790.  He instructed other low country planters on seed selection.  Elliott continued his study and perfected the long staple cotton.

William Elliott II died en route from Hilton Head to Beaufort in 1808.  His son, William III, legislator, poet, sportsman, agriculturalist, author and playwright took over the nine family plantations and the family home in Beaufort.

Myrtle Bank remained in the family until 1934, when it was sold.  Ruins of the Myrtle Bank house with its massive tabby foundation and chimneys are visible at low tide, having fallen victim to erosion.  (c. 1960-70?)

South Carolina Institute of A & A original listing

"On 10 December 1717 Col. John ("Tuscarora Jack") Barnwell received the first recorded land grant on Hilton Head Island, 1000 acres later known as Myrtle Bank Plantation.  In 1724 he bequeathed 500 acres of it to his daughter, Katherine Barnwell Bryan...the other 500 acres to his daughter, Bridget Barnwell who married Captain Robert Sams...Bridget's son, Robert Sams, Jr., inherited Myrtle Bank Plantation in 1760 (Katherine was childless) and died childless, it was sold to William and Phoebe Jenkins Waight of Beaufort...their daughter, Phoebe, inherited Myrtle Bank and in 1787 married William Elliott, II who there first grew in 1790 the famous long-staple Sea Island cotton...great-grandchildren the Gonzales brothers who ultimately inherited Myrtle Bank Plantation. 

Peeples, Robert, Tales of Ante Bellum Hilton Head Families, p.1

"But the most important event that happened on Hilton Head in these years was the coming of William Elliott to Point Place, the old Barnwell grant....Here in 1790 he raised the first successful crop of the long staple cotton that would make the sea islands famous all over the world.  Sea island cotton - and the wealth  that went with it - opened a new era, a new way of living for the whole coastal area from St. John's Parish and the Santee River in Carolina to the Florida Everglades."

Holmgren, Virginia C., Hilton Head, A Sea Island Chronicle, p. 65

"For William Elliott's first crop at Myrtle Bank he bought 5 1/2 bushels of seed in Charleston at fourteen shillings a bushel, and he sold a large yield of long, silky-fibered cotton at 10 1/2 pence a pound....By 1799 sea island cotton fetched 5 shillings a pound in London and would go still higher."

Holmgren, p. 66

"...the real family home was often in Beaufort or Charleston.  The Elliott family home, called The Anchorage....stood....on Beaufort's Bay Street facing the water.  With these town houses to maintain....the island "Big Houses" were....more country places, ample and airy, not elaborate.  When the family moved out from town....it was a simple matter to load the boat with fine silver and linen, ..crystal....musical instruments...and anything else...to make life pleasant and comfortable."

Holmgren, p. 71

In the 1870s "some of the families had wills or proof of title recorded in other counties."  The local county seat, Gillisonville, was burned by Sherman. "The Elliotts....were able to regain almost all their former holdings."

Holmgren, p. 112

The Rev. Charles Pinckney returned to the island in 1874. "Almost nothing was left there to remind him of...Grandmother Elliott at Myrtle Bank.  The house itself had burned down. The lonely chimneys stood....Even the famous myrtle along the banks had vanished, and the banks themselves had been washed away in the violent sea storms that had added to the man-made destruction."

Holmgren, p. 115

"William (grandson) inherited the purchase-right to Myrtle Bank.  Wartime confiscation intervened and prevented purchase.  Some lots were bought by Negroes.  Sisters Anne and Emily bought Myrtle Bank at sheriff's sale in 1884 for $1,000.  Being unmarried they bequeathed it to the children of their sister Harriett and the Cuban patriot general Ambrosio Jose Gonzales.  Thorne and Loomis bought it from the Gonzales heirs in 1934."

Holmgren, p. 126

In 1787 William Elliott married Phoebe Waight, the charming, vivacious and beautiful heiress of 1000 acre Myrtle Bank Plantation on Port Royal Sound and there in 1790 successfully developed and grew the famous long-stapled Sea Island cotton which quickly supplanted rice as the basis of the fortunes of the anti-bellum southern planters.  He died en route from Hilton Head to Beaufort in 1808 and their remarkable son, William Elliott, III, planter of no less than nine great plantations, Phi Beta Kappa, recipient of an honorary degree from Harvard, M.A. from Cambridge, legislator, senator, poet, sportsman, agriculturist, author, playwright and Intendent of Beaufort, in which capacity he entertained the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825, became the owner of Myrtle Bank.  The plantation was redeemed after the confiscation and remained in the family until 1934 when Thorne and Loomis bought it.  The ruins of Myrtle Banks house with its massive tabby foundations and chimneys are still visible at low tide, having fallen victim to erosion.  (1972) 

Peeples, Robert E.H., An Index to Hilton Head Island Names (Before the Contemporary Development), p.13. (Elliott Plantation)

The site of the successful development of long-staple sea island cotton by planter William Elliott in 1790 was 1000 acre Myrtle Bank Plantation at the island’s northwest corner, named for the handsome indigenous evergreen tree, the waxed leaf myrtle, which flourishes here. Originally granted in 1717 to Col. Tuscarora Jack Barnwell who bequeathed it to his daughter Bridget, wife of Capt. Robert Sams, their son, Robert Sams, Jr., inherited it in 1760 dying childless. It was sold to William and Phoebe (Jenkins) Waight whose beautiful brunette daughter inherited it and in 1787 married William Elliott.  The plantation was a favorite seat of several generations of Elliotts and their heirs until 1934 when it was sold to Thorne and Loomis.

Peeples, p. 30.



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