Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve 2013 - The Seventh Day of Christmas




Dear Friends,

      On this, the Seventh Day of Christmas, we mark both the Feast of St. Sylvester -4th C. Pope, who died Dec. 31, 335 and New Year's Eve.  Closely associated with the Emperor  Constantine, Sylvester was a great builder of churches.  Sylvester is also known as "Father Time."
      In one legend, the Emperor Constantine was cured of leprosy by the virtue of the baptismal water administered by Sylvester.  The Emperor, abjectly grateful, not only confirmed the bishop of Rome as the primate above all other bishops, he resigned his imperial insignia and walked before Sylvester's horse holding the pope's bridle as the papal groom. The generous pope, in return, offered the crown of his own good will to Constantine, who abandoned Rome to the pope and took up residence in Constantinople.
     This evening also marks New Year's Eve and the conclusion of 2013.   To mark the occasion, I've posted below a version of Auld Lang Syne - the poem by Robert Burns.  The performance is by Dougie MacLean from the album Tribute.   The dialect is Lowland Scots and the translation is included. 
May you all drink from the cup of kindness in the coming year!
Jennie
 
video

Friday, December 27, 2013

Keeping Christmas





       The sign in front of our local drug store  read "Christmas  1/2 off."  Momentarily, I wondered had happened to the other half.  John suggested it might have flown away with Rudolph.  We laughed, but the question lingered. 

     This day, Dec. 27th, is the Third Day of  Christmas and, no, Virginia, Christmas is not halfway over-- we are just beginning.  More and more, it seems that  the idea of Christmas as a Season of Twelve Days is dwindling and giving way to the Two Christmas Scenario . 

     The first could be called the Cultural/commercial Christmas which features Santa, the elves, non-religious Christmas music, Holiday programs, and much buying and selling of gifts.  The second could be called a Christ-centered or Christian Christmas and focuses on Christmas as the Birth of Christ - Jesus being the reason for the season.

     Cultural Christmas starts gearing up somewhere around Halloween  and, in some quarters, the beginning of October.  Decorations appear, music starts, and people are put in mind of the necessity to BUY presents for those for whom they care. On Dec. 26th,  Christmas trees are out in the street, the Christmas music and decorations are gone and people are pressing on to the next celebration - New Year's Eve and Day.  Also, "Christmas 1/2 off" notices promptly appear.

    Anticipation of the Christ-Centered Christmas begins in Advent - usually the last Sunday in November or the first in December.  Four Sundays are marked and, in our readings, we encounter some of the Advent people:  The prophets - Isaiah and John the Baptist; St. Nicholas of Myra (Dec. 6th); St. Joseph and St. Mary.  The themes of Advent are reflection, quiet anticipation and spiritual "house-cleaning" in anticipation of the coming of the King - not only as a newborn in Bethlehem but as the Great Judge at the end of time. 

    One way of staying focused on  a Christ-Centered Christmas is to keep the Twelve Days.  Below are some suggestions.  May you be blessed in Keeping Christmas this year.



Keeping the Twelve Days of Christmas

 

How strange and hopeful it is to cry NOEL in the heart of the winter darkness.  “So we banish the long nights with firelight and candles.  We defy the winter by festooning summer’s green from our rafters.  We spread our tables with the abundance of the harvest, all signs of God’s graciousness, signs of the bounty of heaven itself.  We gather around the sparkling tree of life and declare this place, no matter how humble, to be paradise.  We celebrate a birth, not a birthday.  Christmas is not Jesus’ birthday,  It is not an anniversary of something that happened long ago.  Christmas is the celebration of Christ, now, hodie, today.  The word for “today” is a key for entering into the mystery of Christmastide, for if Christ is born today that mean we can see and touch and hold Christ.  It also means we must feed and clothe and protect Christ, now, hodie, today.

One of the hallmarks of genuine Christian celebration is this combination of tremendous comfort and joy with tremendous challenge.  No wonder it takes so many days to keep Christmastide!  And no wonder we keep Christmastide by renewing our efforts to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, and to bring together neighbors and strangers alike to share in the feast of Christ.  Today Christ is born.  NOEL!  Hodie Christus natus est.  Noel! “


The Twelve Day of Christmas are a great time for continuing the celebration.  Try saving some gifts for these days.  Keep your decorations up.  Play and sing Christmas carols.  Invite friends over for Christmas cookies.  Be counter-cultural.  Celebrate with gusto!

 Dec. 25 - The First Day - Today Christ is Born!
Dec. 26 – St. Stephen, deacon and first martyr.  Take food to a shelter.  Help the poor in some concrete way today.
 
Dec. 27 – St. John, apostle and evangelist.  Celebrate God’s love.  “Love one another” was John’s constant sermon.  Toast those named John or Joanna.
 
Dec. 28- Holy Innocents.  Turn off Christmas lights for today and remember Herod’s innocent victims as well as all innocent victims in our own time.
Dec. 29 – The Prince of Peace.  Pray for peace today.  Mend a quarrel or write a letter to elected officials.
Dec. 30 – Anna and Simeon – These were two senior citizens who welcomed the baby Jesus to the Temple.  Visit or phone some older people in your life today.
Dec. 31 – Sylvester, 4th c. saint. New Year’s Eve. Sometimes known as “Father Time”.  Have a party, blow horns, tell some favorite stories.
Jan 1. – The Holy Name of Jesus.  Eight days after Jesus was born, his parents named him.  Meditate today on the many names of Jesus Christ.
Jan.2 – Basil and Gregory4th c. bishops and teachers.  Remember to move your kings closer today. 
Jan. 3 – Praise to God!  Listen to Handel’s Messiah!
Jan. 4- Elizabeth Ann Seton – was a teacher who started one of the first Sunday School in the US.  On this day give thanks for our teachers – past and present.
Jan 5 – The Twelfth Day -- God is love!  Give hugs to all today!  (Twelfth Night Parties!)
Jan 6- The Feast of the Epiphany – This word means “to show forth” or revelation.  Celebrate the many ways Jesus is revealed – to the Magi, to us.  The star is the great symbol of Epiphany so do some star gazing tonight while wearing a crown.
 
                                               May you have a Holy Christmastide!

St. James Annual Epiphany Party

 
 
 
Please Join Us for
 
Follow the Star
 
at
St. James-Santee Annual Epiphany Party
 
Saturday, January 4
6:00 PM
 
Please sign up to bring a dish
 
at the Hurteau's
 
 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Gerrit van Honthorst, 1590-1656
 
 You and yours are invited to celebrate
the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ

     Christmas Eve - 6:30 PM
  Holy Communion, Homily, St. James Children and Youth Tell the Story of Christmas,  Carols,
            Organ and Hammered Dulcimer
                                                                                                                                                                                                      
 O Come, Let us Adore Him....the One who is the Light of the World!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Dear Friends, It is my prayer and hope that during this Thanksgiving time that you will stop to give thanks for our lives and for the many blessings - large and small- with which we are surrounded. Consider, too, being converted to a live lived in thankfulness every single day - for the beauty of nature, for the blessing of family and friends, and for the deepening flow of life's experience. Below is a lovely meditation by Brother David Steindl-Rast. It is entitled "A Good Day." Have a look and be blessed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

C.S. Lewis on Hope


This past Friday, we marked the commemoration of the life of C.S. Lewis,(1898-1963)  novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. Here is a quote of his that speaks to hope -- spes!


Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither.

--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 10

 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy All Saints Day !!

All Saints by Fra Angelico
 
 
A Prayer for All Saints (BCP)
 
Almighty and everlasting God, we give you most high praise and Hearty thanks for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all your saints, who have been the chosen vessels of your grace, and the lights of the world in their times: for Abraham, the father of believers, and Sarah his wife; for Moses the lawgiver, and Aaron the priest; for Miriam and Joshua, Deborah and Gideon, and Samuel with Hannah his mother, and for all the holy patriarchs; for Isaiah and all the prophets; for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God; for Peter and Paul and all the apostles; for Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene; for Stephen, the first martyr, and for all the martyrs; and for all your other righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and we beseech you that, rejoicing in their fellowship, encouraged by their examples, and aided by their prayers, we also may run with steadfastness the race that is set before us, and finish our course in faith; and that at the day of the general resurrection, we, with all those who are of the mystical body of your Son, may be set on his right hand, and hear his most joyful voice: "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Grant this, O Father, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate.

The most well-known hymn associated with All Saints Day is For All the Saints -- here are two performances with the words below..




 

 

                          Lots of brass and congregational singing with this one..



1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest,

Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;

Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;

Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

3. O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,

Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,

And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

4. O blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

5. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,

Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,

And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

6. The golden evening brightens in the west;

Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;

Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

7. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;

The saints triumphant rise in bright array;

The King of glory passes on His way.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

8. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,

Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,

And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:

Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Psalm and A Meditation for All Hallows Eve 2013

All Hallows Blessings to You All! 

Two things ....

The first is a traditional piece of music for the feast of All Saints...

The second is a little hard to explain.  It's a video by Glen Scrivener, Church of England minister, poet and lover of the King James Version of the Bible.  He has a wonderful web site called King's English.  What's below is Halloween: Trick or Treat.  This is a rhyming explanation of what Halloween is truly about .  I find it wonderful and watched it twice through...Very nicely done..Have a look and see what you think!


De profundis  (Out of the deep...)





Psalm 130 is a traditional offering for All Hallows Eve and here is a very beautiful version by the
 choir of Kings College Cambridge, under the direction of Sir David Willcocks.  This dark lament, a Penitential Psalm, is the De profundis used in liturgical prayers for the faithful departed in Western liturgical tradition. In deep sorrow the psalmist cries to God (1-2), asking for mercy (3-4). The psalmist's trust (5-6) becomes a model for the people (7-8).

Text:

130 De profundis

OUT of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord : Lord, hear my voice.
2. O let thine ears consider well : the voice of my complaint.
3. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss : O Lord, who may abide it?
4. For there is mercy with thee : therefore shalt thou be feared.
5. I look for the Lord; my soul doth wait for him : in his word is my trust.
6. My soul fleeth unto the Lord : before the morning watch, I say, before the morning watch.
7. O Israel, trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy : and with him is plenteous redemption.
8. And he shall redeem Israel : from all his sins.


The second --

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Who Lives on Jesus Street?

Here is a great interview with Suzy McCall - founder of LAMB..Read and be inspired.  Suzy embodies freedom in Christ in a way that not many folks do...she truly does follow the Lamb wherever he goes...




Meet Suzy McCall, an American missionary in Honduras. The obedience of this one woman from South Carolina has radically changed the lives of thousands of people in Central America and the United States.

Suzy is the founder of The LAMB Institute, offering hope for new life – both spiritual and physical – in Flor del Campo, the slums of Tegucigalpa. LAMB serves up generous bowls of the Gospel of Christ, seasoned with unconditional love, to every soul passing through its doors. She lives out her ministry motto: follow the LAMB wherever he goes. Now, after only two decades of existence, LAMB operates a school, a children’s home, a safe house, a micro-loan program for cottage industries, and a teen outreach program for young boys on the streets.

The rest is here    (This link will take you to Pringle Franklin's Blog Living on Jesus Street)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Binding up Scattered Leaves


Dear St. James Santee Family and Friends,

“Media vita in morte sumus” – In the midst of life we are in death –is the title and first line of a Latin antiphon probably originating in France around 750 AD.   Luther made use of it as did our reformer, Thomas Cranmer, and it appears as an antiphon in the Book of Common Prayer.  It certainly expresses well the sense of sudden dislocation we feel when someone we love has died. 

In times of shock and grief, life and time itself seem to go on pause.  Quite often this happens in a sudden way.  In the silence, one becomes aware of the way the light is falling or of the sound of birds singing around us.  Time has slowed.

 Gradually, though, this gives way to the sense that life has gone on after all – babies are still being born, the buzz of classroom learning continues, factories still are producing and the mail is still being delivered.  At this point, we find ourselves drawn back to life itself and the necessity of choosing to live.

          The choice to re-embrace time and life can be made more easily when our hope for the future is glimpsed.    John Donne, English divine and writer (of “No man is an island” fame) contemplated mortality and hope at length.  Below is a passage I have found especially helpful in these past weeks of grieving the death of my father.  It is from his Mediation 27… (Emphasis mine)

 “….all mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”

         I look with hope to the day when all of the scattered pages are gathered and for grace-filled eternity spent in that “library where every book shall lie open to one another.”  Until that blessed day, my prayer is that we will love one another very, very well in the time we are given.

Blessings,   Jennie+

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hugo - Twenty Four Years Later

       On this day, Sept. 21, in 1989  Hurricane Hugo paid a call to the Lowcountry. He was not a gentleman and left twenty-seven souls dead in South Carolina, nearly 100,000 homeless, and somewhere around $10 billion in damages.  I remember as if it were yesterday and as one of the most frightening experiences of my life.  The storm came on a Thursday and over the next few days we crawled out of homes to survey damages.  We adapted to no electricity or running water.  On Sunday, I gathered with members and friends of St. Paul's , Summerville where I was serving as an Assistant to the Rector.  No electricity in the Church building but plenty of power abounded.  We were thankful to have survived, in prayer for those who had suffered loss, and holding on to each other.   Every year I am struck by the Collect of the Day which followed on Sunday the 24th of September.  It reads

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



This was not our home but the scene was similar.  Trees down everywhere - snapped off about twenty feet up. The landscape and homes trashed.  Two 90 pine trees came down into our house.  Not as bad as McClellanville and environs where the big surge tide came through but bad enough to never forget!

May we never need a Hugo to remind us to love things heavenly and to hold fast to those that shall endure. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Something Light! Animals Mistaken for Spies




From the BBC....

Egyptian authorities detained a stork last week on suspicion of espionage, mistaking its migration tag for spying equipment. In fact the stork was innocent - like a number of other animals falsely accused over the years of undercover work, writes Mohamed Madi.

In 2011, Saudi authorities arrested a high-flying vulture on suspicion that it was flying missions for Israel's famously ingenious Mossad agency. And a spate of shark attacks near the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2010 was blamed by one TV station on GPS-controlled predators planted by Israel in order to harm the Egyptian tourism industry.

Iran has also felt threatened by animal agents. In 2007 the Iranian army arrested a team of 14 "spy squirrels" found near a nuclear enrichment plant. Officials said they succeeded in apprehending the suspects "before they were able to take any action".

Read the rest of the story .....  BBC

I am especially interested in the team of 14 "spy squirrels"  - I am sure I have some at my house!

Thursday, August 8, 2013


The Blessing of the Backpacks
and Education Sunday

August 18, 2013 - 10:00 AM
followed by an Ice Cream Party

Everyone is invited  as we ask God to bless our students and teachers in the coming school year.

Please bring school supplies, paper goods (paper towels, tissue, toilet paper, napkins), drink boxes, and snacks.  These will go to Windwood Farm and the After School Program  of the South Santee Senior Citizens Center

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kingdom Rock Rocked!!!






  What did seventy Village kids and forty adults do the second week in July?  They visited Kingdom Rock where kids learn to STAND STRONG for God.  Many wonderful moments....check out our Facebook page for some more photos..  Thank you one and ALL! See you next year!

SJS Facebook Page

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Village VBS 2013 Is Coming!

         
              Kingdom Rock is on the Way!!!!




                            Village VBS - July 8-12, 2013 -- Save the Dates!

For More information and to register ..Click Here...  Village VBS 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pentecost Day 2013

Pentecost...
...is upon us. This coming Sunday, we will celebrate one of the great Feasts of the Church - the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Here is a contemporary rendition of one of the most well known hymns of Pentecost - Veni Creator Spiritus..(The English tranlation used below is found in our Hymnal - p.504)
 
 
 

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire, and lighten with celestial fire. 
Thou the annointed Spirit art, who dost thy seven-fold gifts impart.
 
Thy blessed unction from above is comfort, life and fire of love,
Enable with perpetual light the dullness of our blinded silght.
 
Annoint and cheer our soiled face with the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home:  where thou art guide, no ill can come.
 
Teach us to know the Father, Son and thee, of both, to be but One,
that through the ages all along, this may be our endless song:
 
Praise to thy eternal merit, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ascension Day 2013


Ascension Day seems to be fading from view - which is a significant theological loss. Always celebrated on the 40th day of Easter and always on a Thursday. Here is a little inspiration...

From a longer poem- Meditation 20-  by Edward Taylor- 1664-1729

 

God is Gone up with a triumphant shout:
The Lord with sounding Trumpets melodies:

Sing Praise, sing Praise, sing Praise, sing Praises out,
Unto our King sing praise seraphick-wise!
Lift up your Heads, ye lasting Doore, they sing,

And let the King of Glory Enter in.


Art thou ascended up on high, my Lord,
And must I be without thee here below?

Art thou the sweetest joy the Heavens afford?
Oh! that I with thee was! What shall I do?

Should I pluck Feathers from an Angells Wing,
They could not waft me up to thee my King.

 

Lend mee thy Wings, my Lord, I’st fly apace,
My Soules Arms stud with thy strong Quills, true Faith;

My Quills then Feather with thy Saving Grace,
My Wings will take the Winde thy Word displai’th.
Then I shall fly up to thy glorious Throne

With my strong Wings whose Feathers are thine own.

 

 Here, too, are two images...the first from Giotto and the second from Dali...what do you make of them? 

 
And lastly, a performance from the choir of Wells Cathedral of Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise with text by Amos Bull and music by Charles Wesley.
 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Shepherd Sunday 2013

      Almost any Sunday could properly be named Good Shepherd Sunday, and, yet, the Sunday set aside for that special focus is the Fourth Sunday of EASTER.   Marion Hatchett tells us that "in many of the ancient baptistries Jesus was depicted as the Good Shepherd."     One can imagine many reasons this could be the case but that which comes most readily to mind right now is Paul's discussion about Baptism in Romans, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried there with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6.3-4)..Easter, and Easter Eve in particular, have long been "the" times for Holy Baptism.

      Another place this imagery appears is in the catacombs and in other burial places.    See this image



This appears in the center of the ceiling of the "Velatio" cubicle in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome.: the Good Shepherd (also sheep and doves with olive branches in trees).  It dates from the second half of the 3rd century.

Here is a modern "shepherd" image that I love.  It's by Jeremy Lundmark.





Birth and death are both times when it can help us to remember that the Good Shepherd leads us not only on the mountain of life, but also through the valley of the shadow of death.  Below is a 2011 performance by the Wells Cathedral Choir, Somerset - under the direction of Matthew Owens-  of Howard Goodall's very beautiful setting of the Twenty-Third Psalm.  May you be blessed.

video

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Brick Church Sunday is THIS Sunday - April 7th



Everyone is cordially invited to attend our annual Brick Church service -  11:00 AM  this Sunday.  Service is followed by a covered dish picnic.  We welcome the Rev. Richard I. H. Belser as our preacher this year.

Rick is a Columbia native who was baptized, confirmed and ordained at Trinity Cathedral. He was graduated from Washington and Lee Univ. (1964), served as a 1st Lt. US Army (1964-66); and trained for the ordained ministry at Virginia Theological Seminary (1969). Fr. Belser served as Vicar, St. Paul's, Fort Mill, SC (1969-73); Assistant, St. John's, Shandon, in Columbia, SC (1974); Rector, St. John's, Johns Island, SC (1974-85); and , Rector, St. Michael's, Charleston, SC (1986-2007). He is married to Anne Holcomb Belser. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Since retirement in 2007, Rick has served as interim at Episcopal, Lutheran, and Anglican churches; and taught pastoral care two semesters for the Alexandria School of Theology in Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Christ is Risen!

   A Blessed Eastertide to You!
 
Easter Morning by Chinese Artist - He Qihttp://www.heqigallery.com/


May you and yours fully realize Christ's mighty Resurrection Power in your life!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Finally - A Life of St. James Santee

Vicar's Note:  Many friends have inquired about the inspiration for the name of St. James-Santee.  At long last, we can shed some light on our namesake - Ap. 1, 2013.
(Okay, we can now admit that this was an April Fool's Day post - ed. 4/5/13)


 Life of St. James Santee by Bruneau Chastaigner
 



Recent research on the first settlers of St. James Santee Parish has uncovered interesting information about the French Protestant refugees who sailed up the Santee River in January, 1687 and established a settlement on a 25 foot high limestone bluff about 25 miles from the mouth of the river.

Even more exciting for the Parish and the congregation is the identity of the person for whom the parish was named.  Congregants and historians have long pondered the identity of St. James Santee and we can now say with certainty and assurance who he was and give a brief biography of his life.

As is true for a number of the early French Protestant immigrants, it is often difficult to find documentation for their lives, beyond a few mentions in deeds and other documents.  However, recent excavations of an Indian settlement located in the wilds of Hell Hole Swamp have yielded tantalizing clues as to the life and death of an eighteenth century man who until this discovery had been hidden in the mists of time.  We will begin with what was known before the startling discovery in Hell-hole Swamp. [1]

Stories about descendants of the first European explorers to establish a foothold in Carolina have long abounded – stories centered around a cabin boy who was part of the garrison left at Charlesfort (located on what is now known as the Parris Island Marine Corps Facility near Beaufort, SC) when Jean Ribaut returned to France in 1562.  All that was known of this young lad, named Jacques and aged about 14 years when his compatriots set sail for France the following year in a makeshift boat, is that he had been sent to stay with Native Americans near Charlesfort, in an effort by the desperate French garrison to remain on friendly terms with the neighboring tribes who were being influenced by Spanish conquistadors, notably Hernando de Manrique de Rojas who commanded the Spanish force in Cuba.  With Jacques was another young French Protestant boy named Henri.[2]

The two young French Protestants, whose surnames have never been found, had been with the Native American tribe for about two weeks when he and several young tribesmen were sent inland to undergo cleansing rituals pursuant to their being accepted as full adult members of the tribe.  A few days after the young men had left the settlement, word arrived that that they should return to Charlesfort, but by that time even the most valued Native American scouts could not find their trail – a heavy rain had washed out all trace of it and what was left of the French garrison set sail without its youngest members. Later that year Hernando de Manrique de Rojas commanded the Spanish ships which were sent to destroy the remains of Charlesfort.  In this they succeeded and reports of the expedition include one passage which refers to their discovery and apprehension of a young French boy whom they found living near the fort.  He was taken by the Spaniards and his fate is unknown.  The Spanish records make no mention of his name or of another European boy.[3] 

 Until the recent discovery of a worn dispatch case in a shell midden on a small knoll in the depths of Hell-hole Swamp the above is all that was known of young Jacques, abandoned in the wilds of pre-Colonial Carolina before the land even bore that name.  The notes and memoir contained in the dispatch case have changed that and its discovery adds immensely to the early history of South Carolina.[4]  The existence of the shell midden was long-suspected, but was only discovered by hunters last fall.  Its excavation is on-going, under utmost secrecy to protect the delicate nature of the work, but the contents of the dispatch case have been shared with the Parish of St. James Santee due to the details and their intimate connection with the history of this place.

The aforesaid dispatch case contained, wrapped in well-greased bearskin, a small notebook written in French.  With it were found several letters which offer corroboration of the story which follows.  The quotes from the notebook and letters have been carefully transcribed and are as accurate as such items can be under the circumstance.  Future study may help with some of the more obscure passages, but in the interest of public disclosure it is imperative that this finding be made known now.[5]

The notebook found in the dispatch case includes entries made by several different hands beginning with a short entry dated “Fall, possibly October, 1563,” evidently written by someone in a state of great emotion, as its contents show the writer must have been.  The entry, translated from the French, is as follows.  “Henri was taken by Spanish soldiers last week – I watched, but could do nothing to save him – they burned the fort, what remained of it and left with Henri. I am alone here, except for my native companions, on whom I now depend for my life.” 

The next entry is dated “Summer 1567, possibly August,” and reads as follows,

 

I have kept track as best I could of the years, but the months and days escape me – I estimate them by examination of vegetation and stages of the moon, things I scarcely noticed until my stay here.  I write because I have heard news which should distress me, but which comes as a relief in some way.  Until now, I have not seen the need for writing – now I thank my Lord that I was taught my letters by my loving parents and continued my learning by keeping the ship’s log for our Captain and writing letters for the crew members. Several months past, spies from the Westoes were captured – I know because I was with the party which captured them.  I learned that a French fort built leagues south of this place some years past, the news kept from me until now for fear I would try to escape to them, was attacked by Spanish forces some two years past and the French garrison massacred. The Spanish then rebuilt the fort and another one, both of which were recently, not two moons past, attacked and destroyed by a French fleet, identified by me as the Westoe captives described the flags, colors and armor.  Having passed some four years with this tribe and being now held in regard and esteem by them, having married by their custom and now being father of two young children, I have cast my lot here and find myself strangely relieved to have escaped the need to decide between my former life and this one now afforded me – and at peace.  I have not abandoned the faith taught me by my dear parents, nor shall I abandon my heritage.  I have somewhat learned the language of my new people, but I speak French to my wife who has learned a little of it and I will continue to do so with my children. My Bible affords me great solace and is the only item I have left from my former life.  Until this incident, I did not see the need for writing, but I now understand that, if not in my time here, at some time in the future this story may bring solace to others.

My first son, named Henri for my lost former companion, was born a year previous in the fall of 1566.  He came to being in the settlement camp of the Cassiqe of Kiawah with whom we have friendly relations. 

Spring, 1568 - my second son, named Jacques, was born in our settlement some seven days journey north of Charlesfort from where we moved when the Spanish began building a fort there.  It is part of the land traversed by the Kiawah and Sewee in their movements during the year.

Autumn, 1570 – my daughter, named Isabella for my mother, was born.  Both she and my first-born son Henri died some months later, before the real cold began. They were accorded the rites according to the custom of my tribe, their bones now placed in jars beneath the soil of my new land.  I said prayers over them as best I could in my native language.

1581 – my wife died in the hottest part of the year.  She was a true Christian, although not baptized as such.  My son Jacques is now about the age I was when I left my family in Languedoc and sailed for this land.  He is ready to become a man according to the custom of our people.  I have taught him my native language as best I can and to write and read from the book of Holy Scriptures which I have had with me since I left France.  serves us well.

1591 – my grandson Jacques was born – he has the same red hair of my grandfather and my son Henri.

1594 – the birth of my granddaughter Isa.

 

            There are more entries in the same hand until the following entry, “Spring 1601, my father Jacques died this morning during our yearly gathering with the Kiawah.  My family is now settled north of here on the banks of Bowat, south of Avendebaw, home of my dear wife and birthplace of our son Jacques.  I have tried to continue the teachings of my father.  My daughter learns well, but Jacques is not as attentive.”

            This entry is followed by an entry which is thought to read as follows.  “My first son, named Henri for the lost son of my grandfather, was born during the great storm of 1635.  He lived two days and followed his mother.

My second son, named Jacques for my grandfather, my father and myself, was born during the coldest season in 1638.”  These entries were both written in a third hand, much less legible than the former two.

The third writer made several more entries and then recorded that his father, Jacques, son of Ribaut’s cabin boy, died during a hurricane in the year 1640, possibly during the month of September, while his tribe was camped at a settlement some 15 miles inland from the mouth of the Santee River, as best as can be determined from the sketchy notes and drawings in the notebook. 

From other entries, it appears that the third writer married at least twice, and possibly three times and that his children were born and lived on the Santee.  His entries continue until the final one in his hand which is as follows, “In the year 1670 during the time when the trees are greening and the wild turkeys raise their young, three large ships such as brought my grandfather to this land, as was told to me when I was young, entered the big Sewee waters.  I saw them with my son Jacques and my grandson Jacques.  They all spoke a different language than that taught me by my father and grandfather, but there was one who answered me when I addressed him with the words of my grandfather.   They left to live below us with the Kiawah tribe.  We remain with the Sewee, the tribe of my mothers.” 

            Following this and entered in the fourth hand found in the notebook is, “I, Jacques of the Sewee, record the death of my father, Jacques, during the time when the river ran high between the great cold and the great heat in the year 1671.”  The next entries appear to record various excursions made to “a settlement begun by the new people near our Kiawah allies.” The fourth writer includes descriptions of “waters full of the white ones large vessels” and alludes to problems between the “white ones” and his people. 

Several pages of the notebook are badly damaged at this point and will need to be conserved before there is any hope of deciphering them, if that is even possible.  The legible entries begin again with the following, “1681, at the time the bear disappear before the deep cold comes, my mother followed my father, my wife followed them and took with her my son and daughter.  I do not know who will be the guardian of this story when I follow my wife and children.  I am now some 46 years of age according to the way my father taught me.  I will try to maintain contact with the white ones who speak my father’s language who arrived in this land in a great warship two seasons past.”

Other damaged pages follow and then the entry, “The white ones have arrived on our land, sailing up the Santee in a small vessel, they were first only 7 or 8, but more followed – they have settled north of our main village and were fearful of us until I met with them and hailed them in their tongue which is the language of my fathers.  They marveled at my red hair and my knowledge of their language and customs, even more when I read my fathers’ entries to them.  They had heard of Ribaut and the Spanish forts and told me many things I did not know.  The have books like my Holy Scriptures and were astonished when I showed them mine.  They invited me to join them in their settlement, called Jamestown, they say it is the same as my name, but in another tongue and named for a great king who lives beyond the great salt waters from where come the storms and which bring the big ships.  Our king, whom they call Jeremie, was hesitant to trust them, but they have kept their word some ten years now and have not ventured past the waters of Wambaw or encroached on our settlement there. It is true that one of their elders, a man called Arnaud Bruneau, for they have two names and I am known to them as James Santee, requested permission to use the island located at the mouth of Santee for his own – we were willing since there are many other island we can use to make our salt and that is what he want to do – he said the land reminded him of his home across the great waters.  I have chosen his son as the guardian of my family story and he assures me he will guard it well.”

There are several other entries, alluding to problems between the Native Americans and the immigrants, but the writer was insistent that it was English settlers who were causing problems, not the French Protestant immigrants.  He mentioned his having rescued “my friend Paul’s nephew Henri, a name in my family also, from being bitten by a large alligator while the boy was playing in a pirogue which capsized near the mouth of the Santee when he was with his uncle and grandfather.  From other entries and from several of the letters, written in good French, but signed with an as yet unidentified anagram, it appears that Jacques Santee quickly became a good friend to the French Protestant settlers on the Santee River, helping them learn the land and how to hunt, as well as interceding for them when there were problems between them and the local tribes.

The entries end abruptly, but one very fragile letter written in French and dated Santee, 2 Apr 1699 provides at least a partial explanation of what became of Jacques Santee.  It, too, ends with the cryptic anagram which has yet to be deciphered.  It reads, in part, “My good friend and fellow Christian, Jacques Santee, has gone – his tribe is decimated and almost extinct – how I grieve for him and them.  He was a true Christian – amazing to find him here when we arrived on these foreign shores – welcomed by him in our native tongue, albeit a bit garbled and old-fashioned, and shown every courtesy by him and his fellow, I cannot call them savages as do the English, they were every bit as fine as we, better in some instances, especially the last.  Jacques Santee, a saintly man who knew the Holy Evangelists better than I myself; who quoted them in his daily life and had taught his fellow beings to honor them and fear the Lord, our Saviour – what an incredible man to find here in these wilds.  He taught me how to hunt the deer and wild turkey, how to fashion a call to bring them close, how to tickle fish from the sweet flowing rivers and creeks, to make and then use a small pirogue made from the trees which rise in the swamps.  He laughed and wept with me – an older, wiser man than I who had seen much hardship, who watched the young men of his tribe paddle down the Santee and into what they know as the Great Waters, seeking redress for wrongs done them by unscrupulous, greedy traders – and then his death at the hands of a Spanish war party which happened on him while he was helping some of our elders harvest salt flowers [fleur de sel] at the mouth of the Santee on Bruneau’s Island.  I did as he asked and buried his journal and the letters he held dear, adding this to it, on the hummock we happened upon one fall afternoon while hunting and musing on the mysteries of life.  I wrapped the whole in greased bearskin to ward off the damp and sealed them inside the dispatch case I brought with me from France.  His body was taken by the old women and children of his tribe to be ritually stored with the bones of his family, of which he was the last remaining member.  They gave me a lock of his hair – he wore it long – a huge mane of red which reminded me of my neighbor’s son in Languedoc, whose name escapes me at the moment. Jacques Santee – he taught us well and was a true saint – holding fast to the beliefs passed down to him by his father from his father and grandfather – a true Protestant and believer, untainted by the heresies around him – he not only led me home through the dark and treacherous swamps and poccosins we traversed, he conversed with me concerning my thoughts and beliefs and held me fast to the true Religion, though his was far stronger and more sure than my own.  I hope to honor his memory by persuading the elders to name our church after him – and if we are able to work with the English and retain our beliefs as members of the one, true Religion, to continue his memory in the name of this land – St. James, Santee – they need not know it honors one they would have called a savage, but whom I know to have been a Christian man, a saint as we are all called to be.[6]





[1] The following information concerning Charlesfort and the French, Spanish and Native Americans is taken from documents located in the archives on the Caribbean island of Mentira.  MeNTira -A3E789 – folio 2BS3.


[2] MeNTira –A3E789 – folio BS 3-4.


[3] MeNTira – A3E789 – folio BS 5-6.


[4] MENsonGEs et Maudits Pensees – BS.


[5] The dispatch case and its contents are still being studied by researchers and historians in the Hell-hole Swamp Museum and are not yet available to the public. The story which follows was written using the information contained in the contents of the case. 


[6] We are most grateful to the Hell-hole Swamp Museum for sharing this information with us.  Please note that the spelling in the notebook is quite difficult to decipher and in some cases almost illegible.  It is being examined by scholars and historians and subjected to DNA tests to prove its authenticity and anyone who believes this is a true April Fool or a Poisson d’Avril as Saint Jacques would have said.