Pineville, a historic refuge
In 1700, John Lawson, surveyor- general for North Carolina, traveled from Charleston up the Santee and Congaree Rivers, across to the Waxhaws (York County now), and eventually to Pamplico Sound - a journey of 1,000 miles that took him over two years. His report of 1711 includes detailed descriptions of Indians, settlers, animals, and plants he saw.
As Lawson paddled up the Santee River, he encountered a hurricane that toppled cypress trees blocking his way. The friendly Indians, who were already showing signs of small pox contracted from Spanish and French explorers, gave his party of eight plenty of food, including 40- pound turkeys, possums, and corn.
The Englishmen and their Indian guides slept in native huts, which Lawson said were full of fleas and smoke from all- night fires. Many nights they were awakened by howls of panthers, tigers, wolves, and other beasts.
One place Lawson visited just beyond the Santee swamp was on high ground near the Cherokee Path. It was surrounded by springs issuing from depressions full of iron- laden rocks. Nearby were freshwater ponds. Could this have been Eutaw Springs? Could this have been Lawson's Pond?
In 1794, Capt. Peter Gaillard bought property in the same area at the junction of the Congaree River Road (old Cherokee Path), the Santee River Road, and Nelson's Ferry Road. He named his plantation The Rocks. By 1799, he was producing the first successful cotton crop in South Carolina.
The land adjacent to The Rocks was purchased by Philip Porcher of Oldfield Plantation soon after 1800. He named it Lawson's Pond Plantation. It became a working cotton farm with numerous slaves and farm animals and had a value of $42,908. Philip died in 1817 and left the land to his son, Charles Cordes Porcher (1801- 1877). In 1823, Charles married Rebecca C. Marion and built a house on the plantation.
The house, typical of Santee River homes, had two single front doors and a hipped roof. It was constructed of black cypress and put together with wooden pegs. Two floors and an attic rested on heavy, seven- foot brick foundations. The mantels and doors were carved using gouging tools. The first floor grand piazza flanked the front and left side of the house. Each of the eight rooms had a fireplace feeding two brick chimneys.
When the Fever of 1833 hit Pineville, 12 miles east of Lawson's Pond, Capt. Peter C. Gaillard and Dr. Thomas W. Porcher moved to the area and built a summer house they cpainlleed t rEeuetaw (Cherokee for ). The Village of Eutaw grew up as more "refugees" moved from Pineville.
Charles Porcher farmed the 1,000- acre Lawson's Pond Plantation and in 1860 it produced 150 bales of cotton with 110 slaves. Rebecca died in 1827, and her only child died in infancy. Charles died in 1877 without a will.
At the estate sale in 1879, Samuel Russell purchased the dining room furniture, a massive secretary with brass claw feet, and a wrought iron candelabra. John J. Cross purchased a Federal gold clock, a maple wardrobe, and a mahogany chest of drawers.
Because of Porcher's outstanding debt, his real estate, Lawson's Pond Plantation, passed in 1880 as a marriage settlement to Peter J. Couturier (1839- 1890) and his wife, Elizabeth (1838- 1898). The Couturier home at Moss Pond Plantation had burned earlier, and they were living at Windsor Plantation at the time.
Peter J. Couturier left the plantation to his son, Elias Francis Couturier (1869- 1932). Elias married Anna Sinkler Gaillard (1879- 1918) in 1902. They had six children. His second marriage to Sarah S. Kirk produced no children.
In the late 19th century, Lawson's Pond Plantation was the site of fairs held by the Black Oak Agricultural Society. Whole oxen were barbecued in large pits for the occasion.
During the earthquake of 1886 that demolished Charleston, one of the chimneys on the Lawson's Pond house was damaged. It was repaired by Elias F. Couturier.
(Much of this information
came from Historic
Ramblin's Through Berkeley
by J. Russell Cross and A
Survey of The Early Buildings
in The Region of the
Proposed Santee and
Pinopolis Reservoirs in
South Carolina, 1939, by Thomas A. Waterman.)
(Next week: Lawson's Pond