Last night, the SC250 Commission began their 2-day quarterly gathering at Clemson. The commission was chartered by the SC General Assembly in 2018 and its mission is to celebrate and promote South Carolina’s role in the American Revolution by educating, engaging, and inspiring South Carolinians and visitors, telling the stories of all people at the time.
The evening was kicked off with a meet & greet and light reception at Clemson, with a tour of Fort Rutledge, Hopewell House, and the Old Stone Church, all within a few minutes distance by bus.
Charles Baxley, Chairman of the Committee, kicked off the festivities showcasing efforts to unearth stories that have been forgotten that our children and visitors need to learn about. Clemson is blessed with amazing Revolutionary War sites, and he applauded their efforts at discovering and interpreting them. The Cherokees settled throughout the Upstate and Lake Keowee was an indigenous settlement dating to before the Mississippian culture period from approximately 800 AD to 1600 AD. Tremendous tales throughout history exist here, from the Hopewell Treaty to the Battle of Esseneca.
The commission seeks to also document the trading path between the Cherokee and early South Carolina settlers. To this day, landmarks on colonial maps still exist. For instance, the Cherokee trading path crossed a series of streams named by the early traders for their estimated distance from the Cherokee’s principal village of Keowee. Three and Twenty, Eighteen Mile, and Twelve Mile creeks are still on the maps along with Six Mile named because it’s six miles from Keowee. Much of the path is underwater below Lake Hartwell which was built in the 1960s. The group plans on using GPS to map out a modern road map.
Following the brief talk, the commission held a tour of Fort Rutledge, Hopewell House, and the Old Stone Church.
At Fort Rutledge, Clemson students are looking to find relics and walls from the original Fort. In 1776, Major Andrew Williamson, considered by some to be the first major double agent in America, was ambushed by Loyalists and the Cherokees. Here, Francis Salvador, a Jewish-American patriot and the first Jewish-American to be elected to public office in the Thirteen Colonies died. Following this, Williamson build a log fort. In 1780, this fort was surrendered to the Loyalists. In 1908, the Daughters of the Revolution placed a replication marker on the spot which is currently maintained by Clemson.
At Hopewell House, author and professor Rod Andrews Jr provided some history around the home of Revolutionary War figure Andrew Pickens and his wife Rebecca Calhoun Pickens, cousin of John C. Calhoun. Pickens had slaves, and one of his slaves named Dick served with him at Cowpens. It was said that Pickens stipulated in his will that his slaves would be freed from slavery and provided with tools, animals, and acreage to farm. This did not ultimately happen.
Old Stone Church was built from 1791 to 1802 and was constructed of field stone and mortar. Early members were Robert Anderson and Andrew Pickens who are both interred here. Their graves were restored recently by the Sons of the American Revolution.
State Representative Neal Collins is on the commission and heads the Education Committee. “There’s so much history all around us that not all South Carolinians are aware of.” As the Sestercentennial approaches, check out https://www.southcarolina250.com/ to learn more.