One of the plats that I’ve included in this blog entry has intrigued me since I first came across it several years ago. It is the one for 756 acres surveyed on September 4, 1822 for Bennett Kittrell on Robert Swamp and the South Edisto River. The tract appears to be part of 1200 acres (represented by the dashed lines on the drawing at the end of this post) that was originally surveyed for Obediah Allen in April 1737.
This area along the South Fork of the Edisto River was being used for cattle raising as early as the 1730s as indicated by the one adjoining property noted on the Allen plat. John Hearn’s cowpen was located on the southeastern boundary of the Allen tract. As the cattlemen left the area when more of the land was claimed, timbering became another economic activity in river swamps like this.
Benjamin Curry was the surveyor for the Kittrell plat. Curry’s drawing shows the outlines of several fields in addition to Robert Swamp and the river. He also showed a road and a path. The road, which seems to be similar to what is today Cleckley Road, looks like it might be labeled “limbe” or “timbe” road, possibly for lumber or timber road. (Note: I have not checked with the archives to see if there is an original plat that may be more legible with regards to this term.) There is a path shown on the plat as coming into the “Old Field” but I’ve not found evidence of this path on any modern map of the area.
The railroad came across this land in the late 1800s. The 1913 soil map of the area shows a small cluster of buildings in the area of the “Old Field” along the rail line. Notice how the area of the Old Field corresponds rather well with the Rs soil type on the map. Did whoever first develop that field recognize the better soil or did the soil surveyor trace the boundaries of the field?
Now, back to the thing I find most interesting on the Kittrell plat, the set of parallel dashed lines marked “Race Ground.” Since surveying was not extremely accurate in the early 1800s, the Race Ground was probably located on the slightly higher ground just above the swampy area. What type of racing was done here?
I have an ancestor, Adam Davis Hare (1825–1895) who is said to have been very fond of horse-racing. He was actually expelled from Two Mile Swamp Baptist Church in 1849 for such activity, among other things. This church is located about eight miles from this site. Is this where my ancestor spent his time horse racing? Does anyone else have any family stories or traditions about horse racing in this part of Orangeburgh District? If you do, I would be delighted to hear from you.
While working with some colonial plats along Beaver Creek of the Congaree River, I became intrigued with a noticeable change in the road across the stream. Since roads and stream crossings played important roles in the lives of our ancestors, I decided to explore this particular change in more detail. It turns out that the older crossing on Beaver Creek was probably originally a part of the Cherokee Path.
The Cherokee Path, running from Charleston inland along the Santee and Saluda Rivers was well established by the time Amelia, Orangeburgh and Saxe Gotha Townships were settled in the 1730s. As settlers moved into these new townships, property was taken up along the path. As the maps in the drawing below show, several individuals claimed land (plats 1 through 4) in the 1730s where the trail crossed Beaver Creek of the Congaree River.
The first four plats, surveyed in the 1730s did not show the path. According to information at the South Carolina Genealogical Society’s website, by 1737 the trail had become a wagon road. By 1759 it was the road to Fort Prince George, the main staging area of the Cherokee Expedition of 1759. All of the traffic and supplies from the low country would have crossed at this point. A survey done in 1771 (plat 5) shows the road and, when placed on a topographic map, points to what was probably the original crossing at Beaver Creek.
Corbin’s Bridge is shown at this location on the 1825 Mill’s Atlas map. After becoming a public road in the mid-1700s, this route remained in use through at least 1922, according to the Lexington County soil survey map. (This area was made part of Calhoun County in 1908 but there does not seem to be an early soil survey map of Calhoun County available.) By 1944 the newer route had been established according to the topographic map of the area (Hopkins Quadrangle).
Notice the difference between where the original path crossed Beaver Creek and where today’s highway 176 crosses the stream. The newer route reflects choices made with twentieth century technology whereas the older route considered factors important to travel on foot or using old fashioned horse power. And just imagine what a parade of activity anyone living along this route during the colonial era must have been witness to.
Here is a link to a PDF file of this drawing: Beaver Creek Congaree Colonial Plats.
Getting Lost and Getting Wet
Since several of my last posts have touched on the topic of early roads in Orangeburgh District, I wanted to share a source that has given me some helpful insight into roads of the nineteenth century. Agriculture, Geology, and Society in Antebellum South Carolina, edited by William M. Mathew focuses on a diary kept by Edmund Ruffin in 1843 when he made an agricultural survey though the state. Anyone interested in a description of South Carolina, its people, agriculture and geology would probably find something of interest in this book.
Ruffin’s travels around the state took him through Orangeburgh District on two occasions. His descriptions of the roads, bridges and waterways of the area are quite interesting, at least to those of us who enjoy such mundane details! He describes both public and private roads. When traveling through Barnwell District towards Orangeburgh he followed private roads that were not much more than cart paths. These roads were apparently “altered continually by the extensions of clearings … and other causes which left the road scarcely distinguishable.” (page 146)
Ruffin’s experience crossing Cow Castle Swamp was anything but pleasant. He apparently did not realize how deep the water was when he started crossing it by the usual method of fording with his horse and wagon. He discovered that his wagon held water in better than it kept it out. Fortunately both he and his diary survived the wet experience to leave us with details of his travels.