2007-07-06 / Travel

Pineville, a historic refuge

Part 16: Antebellum social life
By Warner M.Montgomery Warner@TheColumbiaStar.com

This late 18th centur y map shows Mur ray's Ferry in green, Pineville in blue, and Pooshee Plantation in red. The distance from Pineville to Pooshee is approximately six miles. This late 18th centur y map shows Mur ray's Ferry in green, Pineville in blue, and Pooshee Plantation in red. The distance from Pineville to Pooshee is approximately six miles. Between the War for Independence and the Civil War, the inhabitants of Pineville lived off the land. St. Stephen to the east and Eutawville to the west were but stops along the River Road. The Santee River could be crossed from the River Road (now Hwy 45) at Murray's Ferry (now Hwy 52) to go to Kingstree or Nelson's Ferry (now the Lake Marion Dam) to go to Camden, both ferries owned by Theodore Gourdin and operated by his sons.

Moncks Corner was 22 miles south via the Santee Canal or the Black Oak Road (both now under Lake Moultrie). From Moncks Corner, the people of Upper Berkeley County could travel the remaining 23 miles to Charleston, the mother city, on the Cooper River or the Charleston Road, (nicknamed The Road to Civilization). The trip on the Santee to Georgetown was more arduous as was the trip north to the new capital city of Columbia.

The planters of Pineville were cotton farmers. Indigo and rice were no longer profitable. They were simple farmers connected by Huguenot lineage, intermarriage, and the demands of survival in a rich but harsh land. Ironically, the planters and their families abandoned Pineville during the heat of the growing season for the markets of Charleston, New England, or Europe.

Pooshee, a plantation near Pineville, was originally a grant of 1,000 acres to Pier re de St . Julien. Rene Ravenel and Henry Le Noble later made it their home. The house, first built in 1804, was large, two full stor ies high with a broad low hipped roof with two gabled dormers. The wings in this 1939 photograph were not or iginal. The interior of the house was badly damaged by fire and largely bereft of its trim. The house was demolished, and the land flooded by Lake Moultrie in 1939. Pooshee, a plantation near Pineville, was originally a grant of 1,000 acres to Pier re de St . Julien. Rene Ravenel and Henry Le Noble later made it their home. The house, first built in 1804, was large, two full stor ies high with a broad low hipped roof with two gabled dormers. The wings in this 1939 photograph were not or iginal. The interior of the house was badly damaged by fire and largely bereft of its trim. The house was demolished, and the land flooded by Lake Moultrie in 1939. There was no village market, only a small store and post office, so each planter grew his own foodstuffs, raised his own animals, killed his own bushmeat, caught his own fish, made his own tools, and built his own homes…with the labor of his slaves and servants, of course.

The families shared the produce of their farms, meat in particular. Once a week, a calf was butchered and veal was shared among six or eight families. The owner of the calf was rewarded with the head, which was made into calf 's head soup and shared by all that night. On another day, a lamb or pig (shoat) was slaughtered and divided among many families, some of whom hung up their portion in a smoke house for future use. On a third day of the week, a cow was killed and the beef was likewise distributed.

Each plantation had its own poultry and supplied its own needs in chicken, turkey, duck, and goose. Guinea fowl were raised to keep down lice and ticks in the yard. Peacocks decorated many plantation yards.

On a typical day, breakfast was served at sunrise, then the planters and the slaves went out to the farms, which were generally three to five miles away from the plantation house. They rode horses or horse carts to the fields. Oxen and mules were the preferred beasts of burden. The master returned home for the midday dinner prepared by the servants (house slaves). The workers ate in the fields. Both took an early afternoon siesta before resuming work.

The master's siesta was usually taken on a long bench on the piazza (porch) of his home. Here the breezes were more likely to cool the body and keep the bugs moving. He awoke to the refreshing scent of hot tea and cakes. A few words with his lady and children, then he was off to the fields again.

(Next week: Social life continued)

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