Long before Jews arrived in today’s northern Berkeley County, the area south of the Santee River served as a refuge from religious persecution for a portion of the French Protestants actively recruited by the English Proprietors of Carolina after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The Huguenots, as they came to be called, some of whom had been wealthy landowners in France, were drawn to Carolina by the promise of religious freedom and large estates, advertised in glowing terms by the Lords Proprietor, who envisioned profits from trade generated by an agricultural colony. By the mid-1700s, dozens of rice plantations, cultivated by enslaved Africans, had been established along the Santee. In this region, about 50 miles north of Charleston, a town grew up around historic St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, erected in 1767, now a national landmark. In 1871, the town was incorporated under the parish name of St. Stephens, which was officially changed to St. Stephen in 1952.