2007-10-19 / Travel

Pineville, a historic refuge Part 30: St. John's Hunting Club

By Warner M.Montgomery Warner@TheColumbiaStar.com

The first meeting of St. John's Hunting Club was held at Dr. Henry Ravenel's Woodboo Plantation. The plantation was flooded by Lake Moultrie in the late 1930s. This house, the Woodboo Summer House, was moved to Pinopolis in 1846. It survived the Santee- Cooper flooding but burned in 1981. (Information and photograph from Plantations, Pineland Vollages,                 Pinopolis and Its People by Dr. Norman (Pard) Walsh.) The first meeting of St. John's Hunting Club was held at Dr. Henry Ravenel's Woodboo Plantation. The plantation was flooded by Lake Moultrie in the late 1930s. This house, the Woodboo Summer House, was moved to Pinopolis in 1846. It survived the Santee- Cooper flooding but burned in 1981. (Information and photograph from Plantations, Pineland Vollages, Pinopolis and Its People by Dr. Norman (Pard) Walsh.) On May 1, 1800, 14 planters gathered at Woodboo Plantation between Moncks Corner and Pineville to organize the St. John's Hunting Club: George Porcher of Cedar Springs (provided the meal) Gen. William A. Moultrie of Northhampton Stephen Mazyck of Woodboo Col. John Christian Senf, chief engineer of the San tee Canal George B. Artrope Paul de St. Julian Ravenel of Hardput Col. Thomas Porcher Sr. of Ophir Peter Porcher of Chelsea Capt. Henry Ravenel of Brunswick Peter R. Witten of Liberty Hill René Ravenel of Pooshee James Gray Weare of Cedar Grove Stephen Ravenel of Hanover Daniel Ravenel of Wantoot. Regular membership, held to only 90, was offered to planters and their sons within ten miles of the club house and certain officials such as Col. Senf who had just opened the Santee Canal. Non- resident membership was opened to those who lived within 200 miles. Emeritus status was made available to those who had been regular members for over 20 years.

Despite its name, the club was a social organization quite unrelated to hunting. The central event of each meeting was the twice- a- year dinner provided by individual members in rotation, according to precise directions laid out in the rules of the club. Simple enjoyment was the only reason to attend.

To assure a continuity of exclusive membership, a waiting list was instituted. Members could nominate gentlemen over the age of 18 or sons and grandsons of members over age 10 to the waiting list. No one could nominate himself. Once on the waiting list in chronological order, the nominee had to be approved by the Board of Stewards, then elected by the regular members according to these priorities: 1. Lineal descendants of members 2. Lineal descendants of the families of St. John's Parish prior to 1860 3. Being on the waiting list.

Three negative votes would deny acceptance.

All officers were required to be lineal descendants of the families of St. John's Parish prior to 1860. The regular member with the longest membership was made president for a five- year term. Seven men were elected as the the Board of Stewards for seven- year terms. Stewards elected their own chairman. The secretary- treasurer and the archivist were elected by regular members for four- year terms.

Dues were established as were fees for guests. A member could bring no more than two guests who had to be over age 21. Guests had to sign the guest book.

Meetings were set for the first Saturday in May and the first Saturday in October. Procedure was governed by Roberts Rules of Order, Revised. Anticipating lengthy and/or politically- oriented toasts, the rules stated that only two toasts were permitted at the meeting:

1. To the St. John's Hunting Club by the president, and

2. To the President of the United States by the vice president (past president).

Since 1800, there have been about 450 regular members of the St. John's Hunting Club. Some of the more recognizable members have been

• DuBose Heyward, author of Porgy, • Francis Marion Jr., nephew of Gen. Francis Marion, • Bernard Manning of Columbia

• Cravens Ravenel of Columbia

• Arthur Ravenel Jr., namesake of Cooper River bridge,

• Dr. David Rembert of Columbia • Dr. James Rembert of Charleston • Dr. Yates Snowden, USC professor history (d.1933), • Dr. Bill Cain of Columbia • Dr. Richard Porcher of Mt. Pleasant, and • Henry Porcher of Columbia

(Next week: St. John's Hunting Club, 2007)

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