In Texas the word "Bonham" refers to the name of a town, schools and streets; all honoring a hero of the Alamo. Many South Carolinians may not know that Bonham is one of their own who probably was born right here at the Bonham House (sometimes referred to as Flat Grove), located in present day Saluda County. Here's a short timeline of the family who lived here, all of who were part of some of the most critical times in American history.
I was just returning from a kayaking trip on the Savannah River. Our return trip took us on US 301 through Allendale and Barnwell. As we passed through these towns, we were amazed at the number of old motels, some abandoned and some still doing a bit of business, as well as abandoned tourist spots along the way. I knew it had to have once been a major thoroughfare, now bypassed by I-95, but I wanted to know more about it. What was the history? How did this highway through one of the most isolated parts of South Carolina become such a major route? The answer turned out to be much more interesting than I could have possibly imagined. Here’s the story about how Highway 301 became known as The Tobacco Trail, one of the most important north-south routes along the Eastern Seaboard.
Around 1696, 50+ Congregationalists from Ipswich, Massachusetts arrived in present-day Charleston. They settled 15 miles north in a community they called Wappetaw, the local Native American word meaning "sweet water." The reason for this big move may never be known for sure, but one theory suggests they were disaffected from New England society because of the Salem Witch Trials, since Ipswich is adjacent to Salem. Though certainly a sensational story, the fact is that there are many reasons why New Englanders might have headed south. The Massachusetts Bay Colony had grown, and the search for more land was common. Also, simply spreading the church is also a consideration. Whether one or all of these reasons are at play, here's a factual timeline of the Wappetaw settlers, their church, and the mark they made on our cultural and historical landscape here in South Carolina.
Located within just a few miles of one another are two of the finest antebellum homes in South Carolina. While the names of Gibbes, Drayton, and Pinckney are most famously remembered among the Charleston elite, these families also ventured into the rugged Backcountry to grow their fortunes and raise their children at places like Woodburn and Ashtabula. These grand homesteads are now open to the public as meticulously maintained house museums and striking reminders of an era gone by.