Oak Grove Plantation Rowesville Orangeburg County
— "The Big House" of Oak Grove Plantation, 1980s —
— © Theodore Guesnard Robinson, III —
(Do Not Use Without Written Consent)
Much of the information on this page regarding the Snelgrove family was contributed by Andrea Myers.
- Location Rowesville, Orangeburgh District, Orangeburg County
Located one mile north of Rowesville and eight miles south of Orangeburg
- Origin of name ?
- Other names St George, Chevilette, Roach
- Current status Original acreage has been subdivided and original houses no longer exist; all land privately owned
- 1757 Earliest known date of existence
The property was owned by Andrew Govan.
- 1771 Andrew Govan died. In his will he left his plantation, called "St. George," to his son, Daniel. The property consisted of 1,300 acres (3, p. 22).
- 1797 or 1798 Daniel Govan was killed when thrown from a horse. Daniel's widow, Louisa Robinson, married John Chevilette, and they continued to live on the plantation. Later, the property was officially given to Daniel and Louisa's daughter, Eliza Ann Govan, and her husband, Nash Roach
(2, p. 147).
- 1830s John Robinson purchased Oak Grove from Nash Roach (4).
The house on the property was considered too small for Johns's family so he began to build a larger structure (this house would later be given the nickname of "The Big House" by the Snelgrove family).
Before purchasing Oak Grove, John Robinson built several houses in downtown Charleston. One of the best known is the Aiken-Rhett House, built in 1817. John lost this house about 1825 due to financial hardship incurred after several of his ships and their cargoes were captured and burned by the French. Although not legally liable for the cargoes of cotton and indigo, he felt obligated to repay the planters for the loss of their crops, and in doing so was forced to sell the home to the Aiken family to raise the capital.
- 1845 John and his son, Murray, jointly owned Oak Grove (4).
- 1847 John sold Murray the plantation and forty-two slaves (4).
- 1849 John Robinson died. Murray and his wife, Felicia Jeane Hurtel, continued to live on the plantation and plant cotton until the Civil War. Murray was awarded a silver prize for raising the largest amount of cotton to the acre in South Carolina.
Henry Timrod, considered the "Poet of the Confederacy," tutored the Robinson children from 1854 to 1856. Timrod dedicated his poem Praeceptor Amat to one of the older daughters, Felicia (2, pp. 252-255).
- 1879 Murray's daughter, Felicia, and her husband, Edward N. Chisolm, purchased Oak Grove. The plantation consisted of 1,465 acres (3, pp. 23-24).
- 1880 Murray Robinson died at Oak Grove on February 7. He was buried at the First Presbyterian Church in Orangeburg.
"CAPT. MURRAY ROBINSON Old and respected citizen of Orangeburg ... in feeble health for several years ... Charleston was his native place. He also lived some time in Alabama, but Orangeburg was his adopted home. He was one of the founders of the old Agricultural Society of Orangeburg along with Dr. Elliott, Judge Glover, Rev. T.M. Legare, Col. Burton and others ... He always exhibited a taste for agricultural matters, and was a successful planter." (5).
- 1903-1945 Members of the Robinson family continued to make Oak Grove their home. The fields were worked by sharecroppers.
- 1945 Julian Q. Snelgrove purchased Oak Grove from the Estate of Edward N. Chisolm (3, p. 24). Sometime prior to this transaction, the original acreage tract was divided with Snelgrove purchasing approximately 400 acres including "The Big House" pictured above (7).
- 1940s The Snelgrove family lived in "The Big House" for a period of time then is was used for agricultrual storage such as seeds and fertilizer.
Andrea Myers, granddaughter of Julian Q. Snelgrove, recalls wonderful memories and family stories of "The Big House":
"...the walls in the entire downstairs could slide back so that the room could open up into a ballroom. As teenagers, my mother, aunts, and friends roller-skated around in the ballroom. Snelgrove family members have some of the architectural details that were in the house."
"It was told that in the old days, the two-story plantation home was a stop on the stage coach line...These stories traveled by word of mouth from [the previous owners] who sold my grandfather the property."
"There was also another story that many silver pieces that belonged in the house during the Civil War were discovered many years later at an excavation site in Columbia,...[it is unclear] if the silver was taken by Union soldiers or if the family removed it and buried it somewhere else for safe-keeping."
"My sister and my cousins used to play in The Big House when we were young. We were forbidden to go in there without an adult, but we snuck in anyway. It was a fun place that we loved dearly!"
- ? Julian Q. Snelgrove sold large house (not land) that John Robinson built (pictured above) and it was dismantled. A Coosaw Island sawmill owner brought the lumber. The heart pine lumber eventually went into other buildings and renovation projects in the Beaufort area (7).
- 1983 John C. Hewitt became owner of a portion of the divided Oak Grove. Hewitt made the one-story house on the property his home. This house burned and Hewitt rebuilt another one-story home (7).
- 1994 Hariett J. and Jimmie Fletcher Irick purchased the property from John C. Hewitt. Yet again, the one-story house that sat on this portion of the property suscumbed to fire and was built back (7).
- 1999 Upon the death of Julian Q. Snelgrove, his approximate 400 acres of Oak Grove Plantation were divided and transferred to his children, June S. Myers, Margaret Furlong, Jerry Snelgrove, George Snelgrove, and Hendrix "Buck" L. Snelgrove (7).
- Number of acres 1,300 in 1771; 1,465 in 1879; subdivided in the early 1900s
- Primary crop Cotton
- Chronological list Andrew Govan (1757-1771); Daniel and Louisa Robinson Govan (1771-1797); John and Louisa Robinson Govan Chevilette (Early 1800s); Nash and Eliza Ann Govan Roach (?-1830s); John and Murray Robinson (1830s-1847); Murray and Felicia Jeane Hurtel Robinson (1847-1879); Edward N. and Felicia Robinson Chisolm (1879-1945); Julian Q. Snelgrove (1945-1999); John C. Hewitt (1983-1994); Jimmie Fletcher and Hariett J. Irick (1994-Present) and June S. Myers, Margaret Furlong, Jerry Snelgrove, George Snelgrove, Hendrix "Buck" L. Snelgrove (1999-present,2009)
- Number of slaves 8 in 1790; 36 in 1845; 42 in 1847
- House The original house was one story with ten rooms. John Robinson considered the house too small so he had another larger, two-story house built on the property. This second house ("The Big House" pictured above) was later dismantled. The original one-story house burned in the 1990s.
References & Resources
- 30-15 Plantation File, held by the South Carolina Historical Society
- Daniel Marchant Culler, Orangeburgh District, 1768-1868: History and Records (Spartanburg, SC: The Reprint Company, 1995)
Order Orangeburgh District, 1768-1868: History and Records
- Marion Salley, The Writings of Marion Salley, The Writings of Marion Salley (Orangeburg, SC: Orangeburg County Historical Society, 1970)
Order The Writings of Marion Salley
- Will of John Robinson (on file at the Charleston County Library).
- The Orangeburg Times: February 13, 1880.
- The Orangeburg Democrat: February 13, 1880.
- Information contributed by Andrea Myers.