While we were on our McCormick County Photo Trek we had trouble locating the old town of New Bordeaux. I had it on my list as a potential ghost town target, but finding the actual town was elusive. Since we’ve returned from the trip I’ve been able to find out a bit more information, but the exact location of the town remains elusive.
One of the best sources of information on the area is a 2006 archeological study of the French Huguenot towns of Jamestown, Purysburgh, and New Bordeaux. This report, sponsored by the LAMAR Institute of Georgia, is a short overview of the archeological findings at those sites. It describes the town as being located at the confluence of Little River and Long Cane Creek, which would put most of it under water now.
Current maps are a bit confusing. As mentioned in the previous post, there is a marker for the Huguenot Place of Worship. New Bordeaux has also been listed as being a few miles south of the monument, now within the Savannah Lakes Subdivision, and there is the current community of Bordeaux. Old maps are a bit clearer, and I think those are the best reference for the town’s location.
By the time Robert Mills’ 1825 Atlas of South Carolina was published New Bordeaux was long gone. That collection’s map of then Abbeville County, surveyed in 1820, only has an indication for “Old French Town” at the confluence of the two rivers.
This would put it right about where the monument is located.
Patrick Calhoun, for whom Calhoun Falls and Calhoun Mills are named, created a plat of the township of Hillsborough, which included the Calhoun land to the north of New Bordeaux as well as the surrounding area. That 1765 plat shows the town in about the same place as Robert Mills’ map.
The archeological survey describes finding artifacts along the banks of Clark Hill Reservoir at low water that are consistent with a Huguenot settlement. That leads me to believe that the monument is the correct place for the town, and not the Savannah Lakes area to the south. There were Huguenot settlers all over this area, but if you’re looking for a “town” I think this would be the best candidate.
The Huguenots that settled in the area left France because of religious persecution. However, they still longed for their homeland. They named their town “New” Bordeaux after that area of France, and attempted to build a European model of life. The Huguenots planted vineyards for wine production, and even attempted silk production. Those endeavors failed, but the ultimate undoing was the American Revolution. This disrupted their town, and dispersed the community throughout the wider area.
New Bordeaux is a true ghost town. It no longer exists. However, there is not much to see of the town. There are a few old road beds similar to the one Houston and I found. The Gallibeau House has been moved from its original location to Hickory Knob State Park, and it wasn’t even in the town limits originally. All that’s left are French names dotting the area and the monument, built long after the old town vanished.