Cedar Springs Plantation  
CEDAR SPRINGS PLANTATION
Porcher Family
By Mr. F. M. Kirk
 
 
2 Black & White
  
 
     When Philip Porcher, of the Oldfield Plantation, St. Stephen's Parish, died in 1800 he left property assessed on the tax books at more than half a million dollars.  He and his brother, Peter, of Peru plantation, were two of the richest planters in this community. 
     Yet despite the wealth he left behind, Philip Porcher died with one great regret.  He did not have enough plantations in St. Stephen's to leave one to each son.  To one son he was forced to leave a plantation in St. John's.  This son was George, and the plantation Cedar Spring, still in possession of the Porcher family. 
     Philip was a grandson of the Huguenot emigrant, Dr. Isaac Porcher, one of the first purchasers of a lot in the French settlement at Jamestown. 
 
Santee Estates Flooded
     For three generations the Porchers had made their fortunes on plantations, deep in the heart of Santee Swamp.  To them St. John's was a barren desert, compared to the fertile lands along Santee.  And so it was with sorrow that Philip Porcher mourned the necessity of sending George out from the land of his fathers into St. John's. 
     Could the father have looked into the future he would have had no worries for George.  For the other three sons were forced to abandon their patrimonial estates in St. Stephen's and seek more profitable lands in St. John's.  Santee, with its freshets, drove out the planters along its banks and reclaimed the land for its own.  Santee will likewise claim  Cedar Spring and many neighboring plantations, with the constructions of the hydro electric development near Pinopolis, which will divert waters of the Santee into the Cooper River. 
 
Houses in Charleston Too
     Philip Porcher, who probably secured Cedar Spring shortly before the Revolution, seem to have had a genius for acquiring property.  Besides his St. John's Plantation, he owned several houses in Charleston, an immense tract in Craven County, and four hundred and sixty-four slaves.  His will comfortably settled each of his eight children. 
     The present house at Cedar Spring was built by George Porcher in 1804.  The building was enlarged to its present dimensions by his widow in 1825.  The architecture of the dwelling is typical of the period and of St. John's.  Built on the square design so popular in this section, the house is low to the ground and has the usual hip-roof.  While not ornate, the rooms are decorated with hand-carved friezes and mantels. 
     The house is situated in a large yard, covered with trees. 
 
Called Buffalo Licks
     The plantation, located eight miles from Pinopolis, was formerly known as Buffalo Hole, from the curious sinks to be found there and elsewhere in St. John's.  Professor Frederick A. Porcher, a son of the builder, who was born at Cedar Spring, writing in 1868, describes the depressions as follows; 
     "Hereabouts are several remarkable sinks in the earth, which were formerly supposed to be Buffalo Licks; afterwards extinct fountains.  They are caused, I believe, by the subsidence of the limestone substratum.  These bottoms are firm enough to support a man's weight, but although very deep, they never hold water, even after the heaviest rains.  I have frequently seen small holes made in this way.  They are refilled with great difficulty." 
     In several of these sinks, found at nearby Indianfield Plantation, attempts were made to plant gardens.  The gardens flourished for a while.  In a short time however, they disappeared completely. 
 
Teacher at College Here
     George Porcher married Marianne Gendron, widow of Gabriel Gignilliat, and daughter of Captain John Palmer.  Like his friend Philip Porcher, Captain Palmer who lived in St. Stephen's, also established a son in St. John's.  It was Captain Palmer's son Joseph, who built the mansion at Springfield, in Upper St. John's. 
      Frederick A. Porcher, son of the builder, was one of the most distinguished men in St. John's.  He was graduated from Yale University, and was for many years' professor of Bell Letters at the College of Charleston.  He was well known as a scholar, a teacher, and a writer.  His "Upper Beat of St. John's," written in 1868, is one of the most comprehensive accounts of the history of this section.  In 1836 he built Somerton House. 
     The second child of George and Marianne Porcher, was a daughter, named after her mother.  She died while studying music in Paris in 1849, and is buried in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise.
     In 1813, while visiting his plantation from Pineville, where he was then living, George Porcher was accidentally killed by his horse.  After the death of his widow in 1835, Cedar Spring descended to his son, John Palmer Porcher, a physician.  It was later bought from the widow of John Palmer Porcher's son of the same name, by the late Isaac de C. Porcher, said to have been the last surviving pure-blooded Huguenot in America.  It is now the property of his nephews, P. R. Porcher and R. D. Porcher. 
 
House Deserted Now
     No one lives at Cedar Spring now.  The last of the Huguenots was the last of his line to inhibit the estate of the Porchers in St. John's. 
     John Palmer Porcher, Jr. , died in 1864 at the age of twenty-eight.  Men lived tragically short in those days.  His widow, daughter of St. Stephen's G. Devaux, of St. Stephen's was left unprotected, with her little son, George, when Yankee raiders spread terror in St. John's. 
     In March of 1865 a party of Negroes, led by a black captain, rode up to Cedar Spring and commenced to search and rob.  One of the women in the house demanded what orders he had to search so closely.  For reply the Negro raised his gun and threatened to shoot her. 
     He asked about John Palmer Porcher and learning of his death a few months before, said that it was a good thing he had not been killed in the war, as they would have wrung little George's neck. 
     All meat and provisions on the plantations were seized and divided.  Portions were sent to Mrs. Porcher.  The Negroes dined in the house seated at their victim's table.  When he had finished his meal, the captain carried off a silver butter knife and spoon by which to remember the place. 
     In the field in front of the house, where Porchers have planted for generations, is a landing field where airplanes, roaring across the old house sites of Harbin, Goshen, and Woodlawn frequently come to rest.  From the piazza of ante bellum days, one may see a symbol of the present-a wind sock, flapping lazily in the breeze. 
 
 
CEDAR SPRINGS PLANTATION
Porcher Family
Plantation to Be Covered by Santee Lake was
One of Rich Philip Porcher Properties
Master Owned 464 Slaves