Life East of the Cooper
By Larry Kobrovsky
People keep coming to the East of the Cooper for our wonderful quality of life and our quality schools. We are also blessed with some of the most stunning natural scenic wonders of unspoiled natural habitats that exist anywhere. It is our duty to preserve and protect these areas, just like our forebears did for us.
The Francis Marion National Forest, named for the Revolutionary War hero, “The Swamp Fox” Francis Marion, is located entirely in the East Cooper area of Charleston County and in neighboring Berkeley County. McClellanville and Awendaw are surrounded by forest.
My own favorite activity is to canoe or kayak the Wambaw Creek. I still remember my first time paddling through the black water flowing past prehistoric-looking ferns and huge cypress trees. The hooting of owls and not seeing another human being adds to the sense of solitude.
The Santee Coastal Reserve, off South Santee Road just north of McClellanville, also offers an opportunity to hike through a forest of pines and magnificent oaks, with nothing but the sounds of birds and the wind rustling through the trees to accompany you.
The Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge holds a special place for my wife, Susan, and me. Susan is the daughter of the Rev. J.O. McClellan, Jr., who as a young man was part of the Civilian Conservation Corps crew who helped build the impoundments that led to the creation of Cape Romain as a natural wildlife refuge.
Bull Island, the largest of the barrier islands within the refuge, provides an opportunity for all of us to experience what our ancestors saw when they first arrived here in the 1600s: wilderness of mature forest, sandy beaches and abundant wildlife.
Stephen Bull, for whom Bull Island is named, enters into our family history. John Archdale, who served as the British colonial governor of North Carolina and South Carolina in 1695 and1696, appointed Stephen Bull to negotiate a treaty with the Native Americans living on the coast of North Carolina. In 1696, John Whilden, from whom Susan is descended, was part of a colony of 52 leaving Salem, Massachusetts, after the Salem Witch Trials; they became shipwrecked at Cape Fear, North Carolina during a hurricane. Because of the treaty of friendship, the colony of 52 were brought to Sewee Bay in safety and founded the Wappetaw Independent Congregational Church. Many of the descendants of these 52 settlers have lived East of the Cooper ever since.
East of the Cooper is home not only to some of the fastest growing communities in the entire country but is also home to some of the best-preserved wilderness areas anywhere, and families who have lived here continuously since the 1600s.
We are a mix of all the above. It is our responsibility to preserve and protect what we have inherited for our children and our children’s children.
Larry Kobrovsky previously served as a member of the Charleston County School Board and as chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party. He currently represents District 2 on Charleston County Council. He is married to Susan and has two children and five grandchildren. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.