Horse Racing on Robert Swamp?
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.