Beech Island is one of South Carolina’s oldest English settlements, dating back to 1685. Founded along the Savannah River, the community was originally called Savanna Town – also spelled Savanno Town – for the Native Americans of the Savanna tribe who inhabited the area before English settlers arrived.
In 1716 British settlers built Fort Moore to guard against Indian attacks from the bellicose Westoe tribe as well as those attempting to enter the colony from across the river. By 1730 the area became known as New Windsor, and land grants attracted more European settlers, particularly Swiss families.
The community was then called Beech Island, though the name’s origins are debated, as the area is not a true island. Some say the name was initially Beech Highland, as Fort Moore was built on a bluff, and that the first letter was later dropped; others claim the name refers to the town being surrounded by three creeks and the Savannah River. Now a destination for history buffs, Beech Island, with its old churches and majestic Redcliffe Plantation, attracts visitors to its storied town.