Sunday, August 18, 2013

Visit to a Revolutionary War era home

Historical fiction author jessica james visits revolutionary plantation
Walnut Grove Plantation
As many of you know, I took a quick trip to South Carolina to research my new book on the Revolutionary War.

One of the interesting places I visited was Walnut Grove Plantation in Roebuck, S.C., home of Catherine "Kate" Barry, a heroine of the American Revolutionary War.

As you can see from the photo, this house is unlike the antebellum homes that are so prevalent in the South. This is more like a farmhouse, but was considered a mansion in colonial times because of its large size. Not quite shown in the photo is a White Oak tree stump from a 430-year-old tree that just fell in June 2001. The tree began growing about 1570, nearly 100 years before the founding of South Carolina!

Historical romance author jessica james visits walnut grove
Upstairs bedroom at Walnut Grove.
It's amazing to walk through a house with so much history!   Loyalist William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham killed three Patriot soldiers sheltered at the plantation in 1781, one of whom was recovering upstairs (perhaps in the bedroom shown in the picture to the left)?

Kate Moore was a daughter of Charles and Mary who resided at Walnut Grove, and was the eldest of ten children. She married Andrew Barry in 1767 at the age of 15, and was instrumental in helping to warn the militia of the coming British before the Battle of Cowpens in 1781.

Historical fiction author Jessica James visits walnut grove
The Keeping Room - where things like the family Bible
 were kept so they could be grabbed & saved in case of fire.
According to legend, she tied her toddler to the bedpost while she rode out to warn neighbors that the British were coming. She knew the Indian trails and shortcuts where almost no patriots lived.
Her warning helped to prepare the colonial forces to defeat the British governor, Cornwallis and his men and drive them north, out of the state. I visited the Cowpens battlefield as well as King's Mountain and Ninety-Six, so will write about them later.

Historical fiction author jessica james visits revolutionary plantation
Kate's tombstone.
Kate is buried in the family cemetery beside her husband, Andrew, who was one of the first elders of the Nazareth Presbyterian Church. The cemetery is located about a tenth of a mile from the house, and contains the remains of about 150 people, including the three patriots who were killed by Bloody Bill. Some of the sites are marked only with a small rock sticking up out of the ground. Others - like hers - are marked with a tombstone, but are unreadable due to the age.

 Visitors to Walnut Grove get to see a typical plantation kitchen, as well as Rocky Spring Academy, one of the first schools in the county. Outbuildings that are still located at Walnut Grove include the blacksmith forge, smoke house, wheat house, well house, dry cellar, barn, and reconstructed doctor's office.

Kate Barry was an ancestor of the actress Amanda Blake (1929-1989), remembered for the role of the red-haired saloon proprietress "Miss Kitty Russell" on the television western Gunsmoke. Blake placed a cameo-sized portrait of Barry owned by her family in the local history museum, where it still remains on display.

2 comments:

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I love these beautiful old homes. We've been through several in Vicksburg and Charleston has some fantastic tours. I especially liked Boone Hall Plantation. And the tour guide told such interesting stories about the house and owners. Thanks for sharing these.

Jessica James said...

Thanks for stopping by Beverly. Yes, Boone Hall was always my favorite - until I visited Nottoway in Louisiana! I love that house!

And I quote...

"[L]et us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died."
--Ronald Reagan at Pointe du Hoc, 1984