Pond Bluff Plantation  
Marion Family
By  Mr. F. M. Kirk
5 Black & White
Exterior & Interior
3 Black & White
         Pond Bluff, once the home of General Francis Marion, situated on a bluff of Santee Swamp, where the partisan leader so often made his elusive retreats, will be covered by the river he knew so well, if plans for the Santee-Cooper project materialize. 
     Located four miles east of Eutaw Springs in the Upper St. John's parish, the plantation is now home of  Joseph Palmer Simons and his sister, Miss Julia Simons, direct descendant of Colonel Keating Lewis Simons to whom the place was willed by the general's widow. 
     Pond Bluff is but one of the many historic plantations in Upper St. John's to be covered by the upper basin, according to plans for the development. 
     As one drives from Pinopolis to Eutawville on the old Congaree Road (Highway 46) , one enters Upper St. John's which became, in reality, an independent parish with the Church of the Epiphany (The Rocks) as its center in 1808.  Here, scattered along the Congaree Road, the River Road (Highway 45), and the Nelson's Ferry Road leading from Highway 46 across Highway 45 to the old ferry on Santee River, were the homes of numerous wealthy planters in days dating back before the Revolution. 
Indian Relics There
     Upper St. John's is interesting in the number of old plantations still owned by descendants of colonial owners.  Here many original royal grants are still in a highly- cultivated state.  Descendants of slaves often live on the same tracts as did their ancestors brought from Africa.  Most of the plantations have their burying-grounds.  Almost invariably Negroes are brought for burial back to the homes of their slave forefathers. 
     Like the rest of the parish, the history of Upper St. John's goes back to Indian uprisings long before the Revolution. 
     Indian relics are numerous in the section and the remains of an old Indian Village are to be found at Pond Bluff.  A burial urn was found on the village site a few years ago by the present owner.  He presented it to the Heye Indian foundation of New York. 
     The tract of land now known as Pond Bluff Plantation was granted by George II to James Flud in 1758.  It descended to William Flud, who transferred it to John Matthews.  The latter sold it to General Francis Marion in 1773. 
     Apparently the general made it his home from that time until his death in 1795.  Marion was born on the Goatfield tract near Cooper River in St. John's Parish in 1732.  As a child he moved with his family to Prince George Winyah.  He returned to Berkeley County about 1756.  He lived one year near Frierson's Lock, and he appears to have lived at Hampton Hill, a part of his brother, Gabrielle's, plantation, Belle Isle, St. Stephen's parish, where he and his widow are buried in the family cemetery. 
Marriage Unites Lands
      Marion probably moved to Pond Bluff immediately after purchasing it in 1773. His plantation adjoined lands of his cousin and future wife, Miss Mary Videau.  Thus, by the marriage of the owners, a large tract of  land was united.  The wealthy Miss Videau was a large land owner.  The last of her line, she had inherited all the property of her mother and of her two brothers.
     The elderly couple were married after the Revolution at Little Pond Bluff, a plantation which was adjacent to both the general's and his bride's estates.  It was then owned by Charlotte Ashby, a daughter of the general's brother, Gabrielle, and the widow of Anthony Ashby.  The wedding was a double affair, for the same evening Marion's widowed niece married her first cousin, Theodore Samuel Marion, the son of the general's brother, Job. 
     Pond Bluff derives its name from the topography of the land.  The name is doubly descriptive.  There is a pond near the house, which is set on a bluff of the river swamp.
     The original house in which Marion lived was destroyed about 1816.  It was located about fifty yards immediately behind the present dwelling.  It is described as a comfortable, one-story building.  The old house seems to have been standing when Mrs. Marion made her will, apparently in 1815. 
House Built Before 1830
     The present house was built for Colonel Simons' widow, Mrs. Annie Cleland Simons, between 1825 and 1830, by Joseph Palmer, of Springfield plantation.  The house, like the former, is a one-story structure.  The rooms are large and beautifully proportioned. 
     It was undoubtedly to Pond Bluff that General Marion was sent to recuperate from a broken ankle during the siege of Charleston, thus escaping capture with the fall of the city.  Marion's temperance was a fortunate thing for the cause of American liberty.  The story so often told is that he jumped from a second story window to escape a drinking party, breaking an ankle in his fall. 
     The jolly custom of the time was to lock all doors during a drinking bout until everyone was thoroughly drunk.  Marion, not wishing to get drunk, and unable to leave in customary manner, took the window.  He was sent to his plantation to nurse his ankle until he could report for duty, during which time the city fell into the hands of the British. 
     As the union of the elderly couple was without issue, each adopted an heir.  Marion adopted as his son, his grandnephew, Francis Marion Dwight.  Mrs. Marion adopted as her daughter the general's grandniece, Videau Ashby. 
    According to Marion's will, made in 1787, his property was to go to his widow.  At her death it was to descend to his adopted son, on the condition that he drop the Dwight from his name and become his namesake.  The will  was not properly executed and at his death he was judged intestate. 
Adopted Son Shared Out
     According to law, his widow inherited one-half the property of her husband.  The remaining half went to his nephews and nieces.  Inheritance, according to the law, extended only to children of the first generation.  Thus Marion's adopted son did not share in the inheritance of real property, as, being a grandnephew, he came one generation too late. 
     Mrs. Marion bought out most of the property of the other heirs.  At her death in 1816 one-half of her property went, by will to Rebecca Singleton, the daughter of her adopted heir.  The remaining half, including the house site, went to her relative, friend, and attorney, Colonel Keating Lewis Simons.  It has never passed out of the Simons family. 
     The rich, rolling, river lands of Pond Bluff have been cultivated successively and successfully from its earliest history. 
     Many interesting and conflicting stories are told of Mrs. Marion.  The story that the general always tossed his hat in the window before entering to learn her disposition is well known. 
     Another anecdote says the general was seen on a hot summer day walking back and forth in front of the house, bare-headed in the broiling sun.  A friend stopped and said: "General, it is terrifically hot out there in the sun, why don't you go in the house?" 
"Hotter in the House"
     Marion answered: "It's hot out here, but it's a d---d sight hotter in the house."
     After Mrs. Marion's death Little Pond Bluff was sold by Richard Singleton, who married her adopted daughter, to Governor James B. Richardson. It is probably now a part of the tract now known as Black Branch, owned by a Mr. Bryant, of Orangeburg. 
     Fate interposed to block General Marion's desire to perpetuate his name.  Francis Marion Dwight, his grandnephew and adopted son, who, at the general's request and by an act of legislature dropped his last name, in 1799 married Charlotte, daughter of Gideon Kirk, of Mount Pleasant plantation, St. John's.  She died the same year and he later married her twin sister, Harriet, and went to Mount Pleasant to live. From his marriage came eight children-all daughters. 
Marion Family
Francis Marion Plantation House in Berkeley County
Santee Dam Lake to Take in
Francis Marion's Plantation  
Pond Bluff House, on River Bluff, New Home
of Direct Descendants of Man to Whom
General's Widow Willed It