South Carolina Explorers

third grade

Who Explored South Carolina?

In their visits to America, many explorers made settlements in, or traveled through, South Carolina.

Hernando de Soto

Hernando de Soto came from Spain. He led an expedition of about 600 men. They arrived on the coast of Florida in 1539. They were hoping to find gold and gems. He was disappointed to fins only pearls, seashells, copper, and mica.


In 1540, de Soto and his men traveled from Florida northward to the Appalachin Mountains. they were in search of gold and slaves. Instead they met the Cherokee tribe in South Carolina. The Spanish treated the Cherokee cruelly. But de Soto introduced the Cherokee to tools made of iron. The Cherokee had used tools made of stones and animal bones. The Cherokee traded food for tools with the Spanish explorers. The food saved the explorers, and they continued their journey. They left South Carolina and explored most of the Southeast.

Juan Pardo

Another Spanish explorer was Juan Pardon. He had 125 men in his expedition. They were in South Carolina in 1566. Juan Pardo was looking for gold and silver. He explored Parris Island at first and renamed it Santa Elena. He also tried to spread Christianity to the Native Americans who lived there.


Food was hard to find, so the men explored the mainland of South Carolina. They also knew that it would be smart to trade with the Native Americans. Pardo and his men traveled northwest. Snow in the mountains forced them to stay there. They built a series of wooden forts but had a difficult time. In 1568, Pardo decided to leave the area. He was not successful at making a settlement in South Carolina. The forts were attacked and destroyed by the Native Americans.

Jean Ribault

Jean Ribault was a French navel officer. He and a small group crossed the Atlantic in 1562 and landed in Florida. The Ribault led the group to Port Royal Harbor, which he named. The crew built a fort called Charlesfort on Parris Island. Ribault decided to travel to England for supplies. While he was gone, there was trouble. The settlers had trouble finding food. There were also problems with the Native Americans. Some of the colonists tried to sail home. Ribault tried to help the settlement when he returned, but he was killed by Spanish soldiers. French explorers did not return to South Carolina after that.

William Hilton

An English sea captain named William Hilton came to the area in 1663. He was one of the first English settlers. He claimed the island of Hilton Head, which is now named after him. Englishman in Barbadoes had sent Hilton on the expedition, hoping he would find good land to use for growing crops like the ones on Barbados. After Hilton made his discovery, English people moved to the area from Barbados.

Dr. Henry Woodward

Dr. Henry Woodward was another English settler. He was a surgeon. He came with an expedition in 1664. Woodward and his crew settled along the Ashley River. There they began the first English settlement in South Carolina - Charles Fort. Woodward explored the island parts of South Carolina. He learned many Native American languages. He also helped trade between the English colonists and the Native Americans. Woodward wanted to be friendly toward Native Americans.

What Did The Explorers Find?

Each region that the explorers saw had its own geography. The word GEOGRAPHY means Earth's climate, physical features, resources, and people. Hernando de Soto landed in Florida and then went north to South Carolina. The land he saw was full of forests. The climate in most of the regions he explored was mild. However, he also saw snow in the Appalachian Mountains.


Juan Pardo's and Jean Ribault's journeys were similar. Their expeditions were mainly near water. Pardo landed on Parris Island after crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The climate in this area was very mild. Jean Ribault traveled up the coast of Florida. After that, he went to Parris Island. William Hilton's expedition came across the Atlantic Ocean, too. He also explored an island with a very mild climate. Pardo, Ribault, and Hilton traveled mainly in the region of South Carolina called the Coastal Zone.


Dr. Henry Woodward was an explorer who saw lots of land. He first landed on an island after crossing the Atlantic. Woodward then crossed the Coastal Zone and continued inland. There he discovered many forests.