The Legacy of The Plantation at Bull Point
Serene and secluded, the lush maritime forest of Bull Point has stood virtually untouched through the centuries since its discovery. Early records indicate that Bull Point was originally part of Tomotley Barony, a 13,000 acre Proprietary grant located in Prince William Parish. This original grant to Charles Edward in 1726 and one year later relinquished to Thomas Lowndes became one of Landgrave Edmund Bellinger Baronies.
The Bull Family saga began with the arrival of Stephan Bull, deputy of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, in 1670. In October of 1671, Bull assisted in the site selection for what would become the thriving port city of Charleston. Interestingly enough, his son, William, would help layout the city of Savannah sixty-two years later. Stephan Bull established Ashley Hall Plantation on the Ashley River, and upon his death in 1706, left a sizable estate to his three sons and daughter. The eldest son, William Bull, extended the family’s preeminence with his election to the Commons House of Assembly in 1706, and his appointment to the Grand Council by Palantine Lord Carteret. Called to duty during the Tuscarora and Yemassee Indian Wars, he served as a Captain in both conflicts.
A trained surveyor, William Bull assisted General James Oglethorpe in the laying out of the Georgia Colony and lent his skills to the plan for Savannah as well. From 1738 until his death in 1755, he served as Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina and between 1737 and 1743, Bull also served as acting Governor. Although fate was generally kind to the Bull family, members nonetheless suffered some of the tribulations of the times. The wife of John Bull, William’s youngest brother, was carried away by Indians in 1715 and never heard from again.
William Bull purchased the land including most of what would become The Plantation at Bull Point in September 1732. He named the tract “Sheldon”. Records surviving from this period are vague, but they seem to indicate that the neighboring Barnwell family owned at least part of Bull Point as early as 1735. It is certainly true that descendants of Colonel Nathaniel Barnwell owned land on the Point until the early 20th Century.
Lowcountry history, and Beaufort County history in particular, has always been inextricably bound to Sheldon, and the Tomotley Plantation of which it later became part. One of the Lowcountry’s most famous ruins, Old Sheldon Church, sits at the boundary of the old Tomotley Plantation. Organized and built under the leadership of William Bull, the church was burned in 1779 by Prevost’s army during the British offensive. Rebuilt in 1824, it survived less than half a century before falling to the torch once again during William Tecumseh Sherman’s march through the region.
Today, Old Sheldon Church Road leads to the gates of The Plantation at Bull Point Plantation. Visitors will find the land much as it was centuries ago. The unique natural beauty of Bull Point certainly makes it one of the great land assets of the Southeastern United States. The land includes more than 700 acres of high ground set amidst pristine salt marshes and a maritime forest of ancient Magnolias, Dogwood and Constitution Live Oaks. Deep rivers and miles of tidal creeks beg exploration, while interior fresh water lakes provide some of the most beautiful interior views. Even though sweeping marsh vistas surround the Island, civilization is within easy reach. Bull Point is located fifteen miles from historic Beaufort, South Carolina’s second oldest seacoast township. Hilton Head Island, Savannah and Charleston offer an abundance of recreational and cultural opportunities and are located less than an hour from Bull Point Plantation.
Preserved and protected though centuries of benign ownership, Bull Point will change very little in the years to come. Planning for the new homes includes strict preservation of the maritime forest and its native wildlife. A stewardship begun in the earliest days of the American colonies has been assumed and rededicated at the beginning of a new millennium.