POND BLUFF PLANTATION
By Mr. F. M. Kirk
5 Black & White
Exterior & Interior
3 Black & White
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
| 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
| 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
| 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
| 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
| 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
| 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.
POND BLUFF PLANTATION
Francis Marion Plantation House in
Santee Dam Lake to Take in
Francis Marion's Plantation
Pond Bluff House, on River Bluff,
of Direct Descendants of Man to Whom
General's Widow Willed It