Taking the Back Roads

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Do you ever just feel like jumping in the car, rolling down the windows, and hitting the back roads?  Well that's exactly what we did on Saturday.  It was heavenly!  The roads were smooth, the scenery was breathtaking, and the historical sites were all around us as we toured through Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Barnwell counties.

Our first stop was in an adorable tiny town named Cope, SC.  Cope is located in Orangeburg county and has a population of less than 100...I'm pretty sure we only saw 2 people while we were exploring.
 Cope Depot, also known as the Manchester and Augusta Railroad Depot (1893).

 Bank of  Cope (1918).
 The Bank of Cope prospered during its 15 years at this location.  However, after President FDR's Bank Holiday in 1933, Orangeburg was left without a bank but have no fear the Bank of Cope saved the day.  "Under the cover of the night" the bank property was loaded onto a truck and off to Orangeburg it went to set up the Bank of Cope in Orangeburg.

 The inside of the bank.
 Old Cotton Gin (1930s)

After leaving this adorable town, we headed to Denmark.  I had been told if I ever found myself in Denmark, I should eat at Nelson's Wee Bake.  Before having lunch in Denmark, we decided to walk around the town to see what kind of historical sites we could find.

 This historic building was originally the AT&T Building (1923).

 The Denmark Tea Room (1894).  The Denmark Tea Room served meals to travelers who were staying at the Denmark Hotel.  The tea room has now been restored and is the Jim Harrison art gallery.  After walking around the town, we made our way to Nelson's Wee Bake.  Nelson's is a tiny walk-in/take out only place.  The lunch menu is limited (hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, etc.) because what they are known for is their desserts.  When I walked into Nelson's to my right were shelves with different types of homemade breads and to my left was a case full of homemade desserts...needless to say it smelled amazing in there.  Unfortunately, I had decided to make May a no sweets month so I had to pass on the sweets but the hot dogs we ordered for lunch were delicious.  I'll be sure to find myself in Denmark after May in order to try some of the delicious looking desserts!

We stopped by Voorhees College which is located in Denmark.  Voorhees College is a historically black college that was started in 1897 by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright.  Mrs. Wright had attended Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute.  She was so inspired by Booker T. Washington that she made it her mission to assist/provide education in rural areas for African-American children.  The campus is beautiful!  There are many historical buildings and beautiful green spaces.
 St. Phillip's Episcopal Chapel (1935).
 Booker T. Washington Hall (1905)
 Wright Hall.

Our next stop was Barnwell.  We made a quick stop at Barnwell State Park.  As I've mentioned before I'm on a quest to visit all SC state parks (which means getting stamps in my State Park book).  We had explored Barnwell State Park before but I had forgotten my state park book at home but this time I had my book and got my stamp...Yippee!!  After our quick state park trip, we headed into the town of Barnwell.  When Union soldiers came through SC in 1865, Judson Kilpatrick and his men made their way into Barnwell.  After they left, Kilpatrick referred to Barnwell as Burnwell since he had burned everything in sight (except one house where a woman was giving birth).  Union troops followed a 'scorched earth' policy on their March to the Sea.
 Dr. George R. C. Todd's House.  Dr. Todd was the brother of Mary Todd Lincoln.  He was a surgeon in the Confederate Army.
 Ryan House.  The Ryan House was used as the headquarters for the Union Army when they stopped in Barnwell on their March to the Sea.
 Gravesite of Brig. General Johnson Hagood (CSA).  He was also the Governor of South Carolina from 1880-1882.
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostle (1856).  Judson Kilpatrick (Union) while in Barnwell decided that this beautiful church was the perfect place to stable his horses.  He then proceeded to use the baptismal as the watering trough for his horses.

Side Note:  If you are interesting in learning more about Sherman's march through the Carolinas, I recommend reading A Carnival of Destruction: Sherman's Invasion of South Carolina by Tom Elmore.

Our last stop, of so we thought, was to Allendale county.  One thing I didn't check on before we hit the road was if any of the places we had on our list to visit were having any festivals.  Well sure enough, we were detoured when heading to Allendale due to them having their annual Cooter Festival...yep you read that correct their Cooter Festival.  But this was a blessing because the detour put us on one of the roads we needed to go down anyway so thank you Allendale's Cooter Festival!

Our first stop on the outskirts of Allendale was to Smyrna Baptist Church (1827).
 Smyrna Baptist Church was also known as Kirkland Church (named for the preacher at that time).  There is some drama that took place in this church which resulted in the excommunication of some of its members in 1827.  Apparently the members were excommunicated due to their differing views on communion as they believed that communion was open to everyone regardless of their denomination.  The members of Smyrna Baptist Church believed that communion was for their members only.

Interested in what happened to the excommunicated members????
Well they formed their own church, of course!

Antioch Christian Church (1835).

Dr. J. D. Erwin's grave.  He was the minister of Antioch Christian Church.

We decided to head into to Allendale although unsure as to what roads may be blocked due to the festival.  While there were several road blocks, we were able to find a way to see Miss Arnold's School House.
Miss Arnold's School House (1875).  

After a very full day of riding the back roads and exploring these great counties/towns, we decided to start our journey back to Columbia.  Well that is until we passed a sign for Rivers Bridge State Park and then a historical marker.  We definitely need the bumper sticker a friend told me about that reads, "this vehicle brakes for historical markers".  My mister has the same sense of adventure as I do so there was no discussion he just turned the vehicle around and off we went again to explore.

 Mizpah Methodist Church (1856).

J. J. Brabham, a signer of the secession ordinance.

We then made our way to Rivers Bridge State Historic Site located in Ehrhardt (& yes I received another stamp in my state park book).  Rivers Bridge is a preserved Civil War battlefield.  This was a 2 day battle that took place in 1865, where Confederate soldiers were trying to hold off Union soldiers from advancing through the South.

Rivers Bridge is a beautiful place to visit and is packed full of history.  There are several wayside signs throughout the park that give information about the battle that took place.  One of the wayside signs provides information about the post-Civil War reunions that continued through the 1960s at River Bridge.  There was a quote on the sign that really spoke to me about one of the reunions, it read "It is the greatest annual gathering of the South, this voluntary meeting of the thousands to pledge unwavering loyalty to the truth of the past and the duty of the future" - The Barnwell People, May 4, 1899.  

This adventure will go down in the books as one of my very favorite days!  I hope you'll decide to get in your car and explore the back roads, you won't regret it.

Happy Travels,

High Hills of Santee

Monday, April 30, 2018

Snack bags, check.  Baked goods to-go boxes, check.  Water, itinerary, birthday cake, check.  A family adventure day was in order to celebrate my parents birthdays.  My Daddy is the history person and my Mom is the architecture & nature person so where we would go was easy...Millford Plantation and Swan Lake Iris Gardens.  Have you been to Millford Plantation and/or Swan Lake Iris Gardens?  These places are breathtakingly beautiful!

Millford Plantation is located in the High Hills of Santee.  The High Hills were given this name in the 1700s.  This area saw a lot of Revolutionary War action but not much Civil War action.  The High Hills is a great backroads area, I mean who doesn't like getting off the interstate and actually seeing history.  My mister and I arrived in the area a little early in order to explore the St. Mark's Episcopal Church.  This church is located off SC Hwy 260 and right across from the dirt road we would turn on in order to reach Millford Plantation.

 This Gothic Revival style church was built in 1855, previous building was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War.  The land was donated to the church by the Manning and Richardson families, prominent families in the area during this time period.

After visiting this gorgeous church, we made our way down the long dirt road that leads to a magnificent piece of property.

 Before the history of Millford Plantation, can we take a minute to check out how cute my niece is with her Nana...I mean cutest kiddo ever!

 Side view of Millford Plantation.
 There was some construction taking place on the front of the mansion so I wasn't able to get a really great photo of the front so you'll just have to go for a visit to Millford Plantation.
  The view from the front porch.  I was already daydreaming about having breakfast on the front porch, curling up with a good book mid-day, then watching the sunset all from the front porch with this fantastic view.
Miniature version of Trinity Episcopal Catherdal.  The Hampton and the Manning families attended Trinity and are also buried in Trinity's cemetery.
Millford Plantation was the 'starter' home for the newlywed couple, John Laurence and Susan Hampton Manning (daughter of Wade Hampton I).  Millford cost an estimated $125,000 to build in 1840!  A majority of the funds to build Millford came from Susan's inheritance as her father had passed away in 1835.  She and her husband were 22 when building this dreamboat (I just can't imagine that)!  The land was land inherited by John L. Manning from his Richardson grandparents.  Of course while building the mansion, they started thinking of furnishing the inside so of course their first choice was Duncan Phyfe...I mean who doesn't want their entire home furnished with Duncan Phyfe furniture?!?!  John Manning went to New York and put in the largest single order to day of Duncan Phyfe pieces, 40 pieces.

Okay, are you ready to go inside?  Here we Duncan Phyfe go!
 The end.  I kid, there's way more photos!
Portrait is of Susan Frances Hampton Manning.  Susan Frances Hampton Manning will only live in this house for a few years as she dies in child birth (in the Hampton-Preston Mansion in Columbia).  Grecian Couch (1841).  The Grecian couch is original to the house and would have been 1 of 2 Grecian couches that were owned by the Manning family.
 Portrait on the left is of Henry Clay.

 The molding!!!
 A Duncan Phyfe piece.

 A couple of 'subtle' ways they displayed their wealth were their 16 ft. ceilings and having armchairs that went all around the table instead of just the head of the table.  The armchairs are made of mahogany and 12 of the 14 are original to the property (1841).
 Family silver.  One of these pieces, from what I could tell, are monogrammed.  I really appreciate that having items monogrammed in the 1840s (& possibly before...maybe the history of monogramming should be my next study) is still popular in 2018.
 Another view of these beautiful armchairs.

 John Laurence Manning.  A few years after his wife, Susan Hampton Manning, passes away he remarries and continues to live at Millford.  He and Susan had 3 children together and he will go on to have 4 more children with his second wife.

 The semi-self guided tour is the one floor only.

Richard Hampton Jenrette purchased the mansion, along with 400 acres, in 1992.  He restored the mansion and donated it to Classical American Homes Preservation Trust in 2008.  Other homes that Mr. Jenrette had restored are Estate Cane Garden (St. Croix), Ayr Mount (Hillsborough, NC), Edgewater (Barrytown, NY), Roper House (Charleston, SC), and George F. Baker Houses (New York, NY).  Mr. Jenrette passed away last week and will surely be missed.  A huge thank you to Mr. Jenrette for preserving these great pieces of history and opening them to the public for us all to enjoy.

After leaving Millford Plantation, we head to Swan Lake Iris Gardens.
 My niece, the coolest kiddo at Swan Lake!

Needless to say we had a great family day celebrating my parents birthday!

Happy Travels,