Shultz’s Story by Edwin J. Scott



1806 TO 1876.
Columbia SC, 1884. Reprinted R. L Bryan Co., Columbia SC, 1969

“However humble or obscure one’s life may be, he can hardly attain the age of eighty without witnessing and participating in some exciting and interesting scenes and becoming acquainted with many remarkable and distinguished persons. And when too old or infirm to serve his family or the community in any other way, he may, if blest with an ordinary memory, amuse or instruct them somewhat by recalling and recording some of the circumstances and transactions that have occurred in his time, together with the changes made thereby.”

In this delightful book Scott records general goings on in and about Columbia SC from 1806 (when the author was three) to 1876. Used copies are not common, and a 1969 reprinting by the Richland County Historical Society was insufficient, but worth looking for. pp. 25 – 28 are a strong source for Shultz’s suicide attempt, repeated without credit in Chapman’s History of Edgefield County.

“. . . . But before giving my recollections of Columbia and Lexington, I must devote some time to that extraordinary mechanical genius and practical engineer and financier, Henry Shultz, whose character and career were too strange and remarkable to be passed over without notice in a paper of this kind, although it may occupy considerable space.

“On returning from Augusta, I passed through Hamburg, which Shultz had just fairly started to build in the midst of a hideous swamp[1], which he had ditched and drained, opposite to Augusta, with the view of rivalling that city, by intercepting the large quantity of cotton and other produce that went there every year from our side of the river.

“Originally from the ancient free city of Hamburg, on the Elbe, he had come to Augusta some ten years previously,[2] with no capital but his head and his hands. Engaging as a day laborer on a pole boat, he soon began to build and run his own boats to and from Savannah. Then he erected the Augusta Bridge, on a plan of his own, which stood for fifty years or more,[3] uninjured by freshets that swept away others constructed by professional architects according to the most approved scientific principles.[4] In connection with his partner, John McKinne, he established the Bridge Bank of Augusta, and issued bills that, by their prompt redemption, obtained a wide circulation in the Southern States and were preferred by many people to all others. His banking house stood at the Augusta end of the bridge, on the north side of the street leading from it to and across Broad street, and at one time he owned a number of other houses on the same range. But difficulties arose between him and some of the other Augusta banks, and, after a long struggle, in which each by turns had the advantage, they managed to present more of his bills than he could meet, had them protested, sued on, and by a summary process, which he tried to resist, levied on, sold and bought in the bridge and all his other property in Augusta.[5] He struggled to the last, refusing to vacate the premises till dispossessed by main force, under an order of the Court,[6] and then resorted to the expedient of erecting a toll gate at the other end of the bridge, where he exacted payment from all passengers, until prohibited by an injunction from the United States Court, after prolonged and extensive litigation, in which Judge Butler, of Edgefield, and Richard H. Wilde, of Augusta, were opposing counsel.

“In a fit of desperation, on the day when this injunction was enforced, he attempted to commit suicide by discharging a loaded pistol in his mouth, but it happened to range upwards and outwards, so that the load came out between his eyes, frightfully mutilating him for the time, and leaving indelible marks of the powder in his face, yet, strange to say, he recovered, with his eyesight unimpaired. His Hamburg project proved measurably successful; the town grew and prospered for several years, enjoying an extensive trade, to the serious detriment of Augusta. The Legislature incorporated the place, Shultz being Mayor, and chartered the Bank of Hamburg, of which Wyatt W. Starke (Father of William Pinckney Starke, Esq.) was first President, and Hiram Hutchinson, Cashier.[7] But a fatality, caused apparently by Shultz’s violent temper, baffled all his efforts. A trunk was stolen from a wagon yard in the town, and he, as Mayor, had a young man from the country arrested on suspicion of having commited the theft. To make him confess, the Mayor ordered him to be severely whipped, in consequence thereof he died, and Shultz was indicted for murder, imprisoned many months at Edgefield, and narrowly escaped ending his turbulent and eventful life on the gallows.p[8]


A heavy Waterloo coat: Napoleon at Elba, 1815

“I saw him frequently while Autocrat of Hamburg, and long after when he haunted the halls of the Legislature vainly seeking redress or revenge for his losses in Augusta. A tall, erect old man, wearing a heavy Waterloo coat that reached his heels, and bearing, as it were, the brand of Cain on his forehead.[9]

“At Shultz’s death he left a will bequeathing all his right, title and interest in the bridge to his friends Jones and Kennedy.[10] They employed Carroll & Bacon of Edgefield to look into the matter and were advised by their counsel to invoke from the Legislature the right of eminent domain on the part of this State in one-half of the Savannah River, and to grant them the privilege of erecting a toll gate at the South Carolina end of the bridge. This was done, and when the President of the bridge company in Augusta threatened to demolish the South Carolina toll gate by firing a cannon at it, Jones replied that two could play at that game, reminding him that Shultz had left a couple of old cannon on the hill in Hamburg, which was six hundred feet above Augusta, and that he would certainly return the fire. Finally the case was compromised by the Augusta owners paying ten thousand dollars to Shultz’s heirs under the will. His famous anti-climax toast, given when we were trying non-intercourse as a remedy for the tariff, was: “Freemen’s rights and homespun.” And this reminds me of some other toasts . . . .”

NOTES by the author of this blog. Source is Charles Cordle – 1940 unless otherwise stated.

  1. The first construction in Hamburg was in 1821.
  2. Shultz arrived in Augusta in 1806.
  3. The bridge actually lasted 75 years until destroyed in 1888. Augusta Chronicle, 12 Sept 1888, p 1 col 6.
  4. While Shultz was instrumental in pushing the project, the bridge was designed and constructed by a talented ‘Mechanic’ named Lewis Cooper. It was heavily damaged in 1840 and in 1852 but fully repaired. Augusta Chronicle, 1 October 1817 p 3 col 3, 30 May 1840 p 2 col 1 and 31 Aug 1852 p 2 col 3.
  5. Planning to return to Germany, Shultz had sold out before the Bridge was lost to the Bank of the State of Georgia, but returned in a conscientious attempt to remedy investor’s losses.
  6. 3 March, 1821. Mr. Wilde and Mr. Samuel Hale physically ejected Shultz from the Georgia toll gate. William Lamkin, the Sheriff of Richmond County (GA) enforcing the order, considered their conduct ‘oppressive in the extreme, exhibiting a settled hostility to Mr Shultz.’ Hamburg Journal, 23 July 1842, original at South Caroliniana Library. Both Wilde and Hale were prominent Augusta citizens. Wilde had already served a term in Congress and had also been elected to Attorney General of the State of Georgia, later in 1821 was Judge of the Mayor’s Court of Augusta, and would serve several more terms in Congress. He is almost equally remembered for his 1820 poem ‘My Life is Like the Summer Rose’. Hale was a bank officer and for ten years in the period 1827-1839 Mayor of Augusta. Charles C. Jones Jr., Memorial History of Augusta.
  7. Notes of the first Bank of Hamburg were signed by J Tillman, Cashr and Henry Shultz, Prest. An 1849 note from the second Bank of Hamburg is signed by Hutchinson, Prest. Hiram Hutchinson is listed as such in a Directory published in the Hamburg Republican, May 15, 1850 p.4., original at South Caroliniana Library.
  8. Shultz was convicted of manslaughter, and received the not-unusual sentence of six months imprisonment and that he ‘then be branded on the brawn of the left thumb with the letter m’. Edgefield County Court Minutes of General Sessions, 1826-1837, WPA Project 165-35-7172, 25-26.
  9. This quite likely refers to the wound from his suicide attempt.
  10. A 23 Jan 1852 Letter of Administration declares Shultz to have died intestate, and grants James Jones and Jos. J. Kennedy full power in Shultz’s estate. Edgefield County Loose Papers

4 thoughts on “Shultz’s Story by Edwin J. Scott

  1. The life of Henry Shultz alias Klaus Hinrich Klahn
    as published in the annual proceedings for local history from Oldenburg in Holstein/Germany, contribution no 36 in volume 9 , 1965, p 245 – 249.
    Title: „Ein Dahmer wurde Städtebauer an der Savannah“ (citizen of Dahme built city at the Savannah)
    Author: Irene Voigt Lassen, Eutin /Translation: Jürgen Möller, 2016
    It was in the year 1805, a turbulent and hard time (Napoleon wars) even in Holstein. At this time a young fellow, named Klaus Hinrich Klahn, emigrated to Amerika, and nobody knew that he by his go-ahead spirit and efficiency should make a fortune.
    He was the child of poor people in the village of Dahme at the Baltic coast. His education was limited to what the teacher in Dahme could teach him, which means basic reading, even less writing and the basic multiplication table. It must have been the latter that founded his career, as he became a city founder in the far away America. Due to reasons that are difficult to establish today, he changed his name to Shultz (we believe this happened when he left his debtors in Wismar and enrolled to become a Danish marine in Hamburg). It seems that „a light of appearance and Being has been lit in the soul of this boy, probably due to sailors of which there were many in the village.” About his childhood in the village Dahme we know nothing, how should we?
    Only one thing is certain, he left home directly after his confirmation at the age of 16 and walked to the city of Lübeck (about 45-50 miles) to try his luck. He did not write home, probably the postal charges were too expensive, so they did not hear much about him in Dahme. Only now and then they heard that he had acquired skills in commercial transactions, until he, years later, suddenly appeared again in the village.
    He had grown into a well educated young man and started immediately with transactions between friends and fellow countrymen. As we know the department of Cismar is a granary of Holstein, delivering grain seeds and clover in large amounts to Lübeck and Mecklenburg. For a longer period of time young Klahn did run a shipping company out of Dahme before he relocated to Wismar, on the other side of the Lübeck bay. He also acquired some quite important property there and had commercial relations to important trading houses in Lübeck. So he could have made it as people say, but unfortunately the scourge of war did cross his plans. At this time the armies of Napoleon had flooded Europe inclusive the province of Mecklenburg. General Blücher retrieved to Lübeck and following the french occupation many business went broke. So also with our young Klahn, who could not satisfy his debtors. The trading houses in Lübeck had advanced him money and his fellow countrymen did not get paid for their clover seeds. All trade had been stopped. Inswtead there were „contributions“ of reketeering height. So our young man from Dahme consigned all he owned to his debtors, which did not get much out of it as only foreigners were paid out. Our Mr. Klahn disappeared and nobody did hear from him for some 14 years. But like a „shining star“ he did appaer again in America, on the banks of the Savannah river, just at the time when his cloverseed debtors did lose all hope to get their money back.
    Only by pure accident captain Burmester from Altona (Harbour of Hamburg/ Germany) met Klaus Hinrich Klahn on the Savannah river, a waste area where the debugged Dahme boy should built his city Hamburg. This accidential meeting was even worse when it showed that captain Burmester also came from Dahme, so they opened their hearts and had a lot to tell each other. The former Klahn, now named Shultz, passede on some news with the captain, a letter to the relatives at home and some 18 barrels of tobacco, the returns of which to satisfy the debtors of the escapee, including the interest for some 14 years. The rest was for his here sisters, as his parents already had died. Each of them received 400 Reichsbanktaler (a danish currency, Schleswig-Holstein belonged at that time to Denmark), which was an unusual sum in these times of poverty. In his letter the emigrant only told about some lucky business, but the captain talked about hundreds of thousands of dollar Shultz was said to have. Now the small village of good old Dahme went upside down. A nephew of Shultz, named Langbehn, also he a sailor, could not keep staying at home, but was sailing over the ocean to make his fortune and it was said that he was welcome over there.
    The nobody heard anything for two years, but the excitement in Dahme was still on a high level. Now everyone wanted tob e a relative of Shultz, numerous so called debtors from Mecklenburg arrived, pretending to have demands which they tried to get from the relatives. Finally in 1818 more detailled letters arrived from Amerika, including an order for some 10 000 Taler for his sisters. In addition one ducat coined at the bank of Shultz, a bank note of high value and a portrait of Shultz. Finally the now could hear the story of the former Klahn.
    He wrote that he could not bear the damage that was inflicted on his fellow countrymen against his will. He sneaked off to Hamburg to be recruited as Danish marine. (Most probably he did this already under the nme of Shultz). But this did not suit him and already during the first eight days in Copenhagen he did steel of with an American boat. As he had no money he was kept in slavery for two years. Before this time ran out, the captain did sell him as a slave to a cotton plantation. Already during this time he had the possibility to save some money. When put into freedom again he looked around in the country and saw the little town of Augusta at the Savannah river had a good position for trade, but was missing locations. With the saved money he built a small house that he could sell with large profit. Encouraged by this he did raise more buildings and more, so that Augusta became an important trading spot. He employed some 30 – 40 construction workers. Later he did even built a bridge to make the access to the market more easy for the northern citizens. The bridge toll did generate a very good income, but also a lot of envy, so some people of Augusta did light up his house. His next goal was to establish a bank, which he also did. Now, he had the intention to return to his home country as the climate in Augusta became more and more unhealthy. In order to come back he asked his relatives to clear the situation with the danish government in Copenhagen regarding his desertion. Money should not be a problem as he was withdrawing capital from halve of his assets leaving the rest to his compagnion. But mainly he asked for available estates in the area of Cismar/ Dahme and the prices to pay for them.
    Now there was no other topic so intensively discussed than the return of emigrant Shultz. The main speculation was about how much money he would bring with him. The hope for a flood of money did catch all inhabitants of Dahme, well all of the country. But the bail out of the desertion penalty did run into problems as there was no one registered under the name of Klahn.
    Suddenly, to the surprise of everyone, nephew Langbehn appeared, fancily dressed, with golden watch and golden chains and a lot of money in his pocket. He claimed to be the messenger of his uncle and showed some identification, but no presents or money. When he heard that there were still some unsatisfied debtors in Mecklenburg he claimed back some of the money given to the relatives and went over there to solve remaining problems. Soon he returned and said that all could be cleared using the amount of 200 Taler.
    Since then (we are talking about 1821) no one ever heard anything about the emigrant Klahn alias Shultz again. Everything was covered by darkness and reasons for this were looked for. Some said that the taking back of money to satisfy Mecklenburg debtors was a test oft he relaitves attitude and that they had failed. Others thaught that bad advisors had influenced Shultz, but no one knew about his problems at that time. Anyhow, as soon as the nephew got the pardon from the military court in Copenhagen he returned to Augusta. Shultz had now cleared all of his problems in the old continent in an honorable way.
    The poor relatives still had to fight with numerous mercenaries showing rotten bills and hand written notes. Some even went to court against the family Klahn.
    Seven years later nephew Langbehn tuned up in the village again. He had a lot of money and bought a nice estate and married a girl from the neighbourhood. Here he spent his life never talking about his uncle again. Some eople said that he had separated from his uncle, that had been thrown back by risky speculations, two years earlier. Nothing about the murder charge or the suicide attempt. So now all hope for further money was gone.
    Finally, by accident, the Dahme people got some news via the duke Bernhard of Sachsen-Weimar. The duke made a journey thru Northern America in 1825-26 and wrote a book about this, mentioning our Klahn/ Schultz. He described the city of Augusta and the bridge over the Savannah river. The city was a well frequented storage and shipment place for cotton, turning around some 15-20,000 bales of cotton annually down the Savannah river. On the left banks of the river, belonging to South-Carolina a man named Shultz had raised a new city. He heard that the people of Augusta had let that man down, when he ran into financial problems, in spite of that man having done so much for the city. He called this new city Hamburg, built to compete with Augusta, built by revenge. He describes this man as an excellent entrepreneur. The little city, built 1821, had already 400 inhabitants, that lived in nice white houses. He also saw a small house with the sign “bank” and thought this sounds interesting, a Hamburg bank. Went in and made the acquaitance of Henry Shultz, a German coming from Holstein. He seemed to be a very efficient and entrpreneurial man. Several times he had lost a considerable fortune by hazardous speculations, but seemed to do well now. He is the first mentioned and most remarkable man in Georgia.

    Jürgen Möller

    • Hello Jürgen, I have only now seen your post with the incredible story of Klaus Klahn. What a thunderbolt! Every effort to reach back to Shultz’s life in Europe has failed, and it seems that was exactly as he intended. THANK YOU so much, and you are even so kind to provide a translation.

      I assure you, no one on this side of the ocean suspected any of this. A researcher would have traveled to Hamburg DE, and found nothing. Even his birth date has been confused. We do have one report that he came to America as a ‘Leichtmatrose’, or ordinary seaman, linking with the article you give.

      It will take some time to digest your information, in the meantime your post is approved for anyone to see, and make of it what they will. Again, thank you very much.

  2. Thank you Peter.
    Finally we learn more about Claus Hinrich Klahn/ Henry Shulz in America and you get some info about his german background.
    Some additional info from the books of the parish “Grube” in Holstein:
    Claus Hinrich Klahn was born on 10-th October 1776 in Dahme (Holstein). He was the son of the worker Hans Klahn and his wife Abel Margaretha, born Paustian. This is witnesses by the honorable Hans Heinrich Schlichting, Claus Bahr and Catherina Ehlers, all from the village Dahme.
    Klaus Hinrich Klahn was confirmed in 1792 and left Dahme for Lubeck in spring 1793.
    So now we know that he died at age of 75!

  3. Pingback: Henry Shultz Unmasked! | Henry Shultz and his Town of Hamburg, SC

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