The City Magazine Since 1975

Oyster History

1801


Rebecca Kitts, an 11-year-old orphan, begins to drown and is retrieved from the water with oyster tongs.

1812


A runaway slave named Jimmy is harbored by “oyster women” in the Fish Market according to a WANTED notice for his apprehension.

1823


David Truesdell buys up most of Sullivan’s Island and begins the state’s first oyster-farming operation. He opens the New York Oyster House (where 82 Queen stands today). He is said to guard “these young and artless creatures” at low tide “with a loaded blunderbuss” to protect them from theft.

1830


The “mill-pond oyster,” a natural byproduct of the lumber mills that once lined the Ashley and Cooper rivers, comes into vogue. Oysters attach to sinking lumber and are highly sought after as plump and sweet. This trend continues through the 1870s.

1856


An oyster farming company called “Carolina Planted Oysters” advertises in the Charleston Mercury “to furnish the trade or private families with any quantity.” 

1856


The French Coffee House advertises: “Now is the time for hearty lunch, For Oysters, Crabs, and Whiskey Punch. Let every gentleman remember This is the month of gay December.”

1858


Another oyster farm, Cooper River Oysters, emerges. The Charleston Mercury calls its product “the finest we have ever seen in Charleston, and can only be rivaled in size, fatness and flavor by the far-famed Shrewsburies.”