Calhoun County Museum & Cultural Center
The History of Calhoun County and South Carolina Presented with a Southern Flair
Calhoun County Historical Sites
   Part of an old Indian Path which ran from Charleston to the Congarees, from the Congarees to Ninety Six, and then from Ninety Six to Keowee and Cherokee Indian Country.

   This old Indian path became the most noted route to the Cherokee Country and eventually became the chief highway of the province and state.

   The part in Calhoun County led near Sandy Run Lutheran Church and Haig’s Hill and down to the “Russells” near “Amelia” which would be near where state secondary road #43 today crosses Halfway Swamp Creek.
Cherokee Path
James A. Dantzler House
   This old, antebellum mansion built in 1854-1857 has been long unoccupied. One room, the large, high-ceiling parlor, is being restored to its former beauty. Dantzler family papers dating back to the 1840s and kitchen utensils that belonged to Captain Dantzler’s uncle, David Houser of Houser’s Stagecoach Inn, were exhibited in another room in 1970.
   This dwelling was built about 1850 by Jacob M. Dantzler or his son Colonel Olin M. Dantzler. It has the distinction of being the oldest house in St. Matthews.
Dantzler - Crutchfield House - East Bridge Street, St. Matthews, SC
Fort Motte Town Site
Gillon’s Retreat
   There was a village here in 1850; however, surrounding the town is a series of large plantations dating to the colonial period. In 1875, Fort Motte was incorporated and by 1907, was a flourishing town with a post office, stores and two banks. Today only a remnant remains of a thriving economy. The town jail has a cornerstone listing the town officers of 1907.
   Commodore Alexander Gillon “settled on the Congaree River near Totness in St. Matthews, Orangeburgh District” in 1787. He named his home “Gillon’s Retreat” and spent a great deal of time and money “embellishing the house with taste and elegance.” The garden, planned with the aid of his wife’s father, Reverend Henry Purcell of Charleston, was equal in beauty to the house. The mansion was constructed along the same lines of most architecture of the period. The building was raised high off the ground with the bottom section being used as a kitchen and the upper section as living quarters. The upper part of the house had a wide piazza; a large hall ran from the piazza into all the inside of the house, and the bedrooms opened into the hall. There were tall, white columns on both the upper and lower sections of the house. The columns were not ornate, but rather demonstrated the simple beauty of the Greek revival which was taking place in architecture of that time.

   Before moving to this area, Commodore Gillon served as the first Commodore of the South Carolina Navy and commanded the frigate South Carolina. A wealthy mercantile shipper-trader in Charleston, he organized the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, serving as its first president. Mr. Gillon served in all phases of public life, including Congressman from the Second District.

   Gillon died at “Gillon’s Retreat” in 1794 and was buried on the property. When he died, he still owed money from the losses he incurred during his term as Commodore of the South Carolina Navy. One of his creditors’ sons obtained judgment and sold “Gillon’s Retreat”. The creditor’s son, a Buyck of Amsterdam, bought into the property and the plantation remained in the hands of the Buycks for generations after. The mansion was destroyed by fire, probably during the Civil War.
   The Cherokee Path passed near here. It was named after George Haig, an Indian trader and Deputy Surveyor General. Haig surveyed many of the early land grants in the area in the early 1730’s and 1740’s. He was killed by an Iroquois raiding party in 1748.

   It was George Haig who surveyed on December 10, 1741, a grant of land made to Mrs. Mary Russell (wife of Charles Russell), to be held in trust for her children.
Haig’s Hill
Heatly Hall Cemetery
   A monument erected here by Ann Heatly Reid Lovell has inscriptions for the following people: her father, Captain William Heatly; her mother, Mary Elizabeth Heatly; her grandmother, her infant son, her brothers and sisters, and others. The site must date back to the late 1700s.
   Built by Squire W. A. Hennon in 1855, it is similar in architecture to Olin M. Dantzler’s summer house. Squire Hennon was the first large merchant of St. Matthews. In the 1880’s, the house was reoriented to have a second story (facing Church Street) using Victorian decoration. The second story had two rooms facing Church Street. In the early 1900’s, R. D. Zimmerman purchased the property from the Cain Family. Mr. Zimmerman hired Architect Johansin who squared off the upstairs and made the front of the house to face Railroad Avenue using Greek Revival and using the massive, handsome columns of today. The door facings appear to be original to 1855 - the doors are new; also the window facings appear to be the original. The remodeling was completed prior to 1908.
Hennon - Zimmerman House - St. Matthews, SC
Jericho Methodist Church
David Houser Stagecoach Inn
Lang Syne
   Begun in 1824 and finished in 1829 by David Houser, the structure served as a tavern and horse-changing station in stagecoach days. An antebellum dutch oven and smokehouse are in the yard.
   The slave gallery and the partition once separating the men and women were removed from this structure in 1890. With this exception, the building remains much as it was before the Civil War. A previous meeting house had been erected here on land obtained from Jacob Felkel.
   The dwelling is located on land which was developed into a thriving plantation by Ann Heatly Reid Lovell, daughter of Captain William Heatly, and her nephew Langdon Cheves. Cheves was a member of the United States House of Representatives in 1810, and president of the Bank of the United States of America. The presently-existing white framed house at Lang Syne was built in 1901. It has a fine entrance with elliptical fanlight. The simple portico has four square columns and a fanlighted pediment. The gable roof is of green tile. The house was formerly the home of writer Louisa Cheves McCord, daughter of Langdon, and also Julia Peterkin, Pulitzer Prize winner.
McCord’s Ferry Site
   When John McCord bought the site from John Joyner in 1766, a public ferry came into operation. McCord’s wife Sophianisba Russell McCord was a daughter of Captain Charles Russell. Sophianisba, left at the ferry with her son during the Revolution, instigated and participated in the many troubles that beset the British on their ferry crossings.
   This home was named by its builder, Colonel William Russell Thomson, for its location. The site was “Midway” between Bellebroughton, his mother's plantation, and Belleville, his boyhood home. The original home, built about 1780, is now the rear of the structure--the front section was added in the 1850’s when the house was remodeled. At that time, fourteen rooms were removed from the original home and materials salvaged from the alterations were sufficient to build two other homes.
Cave Hall
   An unusual beauty spot upon which a series of caves is located in the Southeast Basin of South Carolina referred to in South Carolina Geology as the Lower Pine Belt or Savannah Region. The area is a part of the Santee Marls which form the lowest member of the calcerous strata of the Charleston Basin. It falls in the Pleiocene and Post Pleiocene Periods.

   Cave Hall, also called Wright’s Bluff, is on the Santee River, the waters of Halfway Swamp, and Bull Bluff Creek. It traverses Clarendon County to its northwest corner and was granted to the Honorable Chief Justice Robert Wright in 1735 and comprised 2,000 acres. It was sold by Wright’s estate in 1755 to Moses Thomson. Thomson sold 1400 acres of the tract, keeping 600 acres called Cave Branch which ran next to the river.
It was on this tract that Moses Thomson established his Cave Hall plantation. His grandson, William Russell Thomson either inherited or bought the place. William Russell Thomson, son of Colonel and Mrs. William Thomson was born April 22, 1761 and died in 1807.

   Not a great deal is known of Moses Thomson, who bought Cave Hall. However, the prominent life of William Russell is well documented. Moses’ son, Colonel Thomson, established Belleville, which helps to explain why the grandson settled Cave Hall.

   William Russell Thomson was an officer of the American Revolution; Justice of the Peace for Orangeburgh District, 1785; manager of election for St. Matthews Parish, 1786; elected to South Carolina House of Representatives, St. Matthews Parish, 1790; appointed Ordinary of Orangeburgh District by the Legislature, October, 1791; elected Sheriff of Orangeburgh District by Legislature, December, 1794; and was an unsuccessful candidate for State Senator in 1800.

   As a young man of seventeen years, William Russell Thomson was captured by the British and held captive at Belleville along with his father. Colonel Thomson was removed to Charleston where he was held prisoner in the Provost Custom House while young Thomson continued to be held prisoner at Belleville.
William Russell Thomson married Elizabeth Sabb who was born at Bellebroughton June 27, 1761, and died at Totness on November 8, 1838. Apparently, after the death of William Russell, Cave Hall was no longer a Thomson residence, since Elizabeth Sabb Thomson left there sometime after his death.

   We do not know the location of the house site—a site which would prove to be one of the earliest in the county.
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This site is funded by the SC Arts Commission, which recieves funding from the NEA, as well as, the Calhoun County Council, and the Friends of the Calhoun County Museum.
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Calhoun County History
Formation of Calhoun County
Calhoun County Historical Sites
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The Devil's Track
History of Cameron
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Calhoun County Chronology
The Purple Martin Festival
Senator L. Marion Gressette
County and Cultural History