Mrs. Joseph Manigault (Charlotte Drayton) by Edward Greene Malbone, c. 1801. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Pearl G. Manigault.

The Women of Drayton Hall: Ann Drayton, Rebecca Perry Drayton, and Charlotte Drayton Manigault

Drayton Hall is celebrating its legacy of remarkable women, past and present, during National Women’s History Month. Over the past three centuries, Drayton Hall has been home to generations of women who have distinguished themselves in remarkable ways. This month, we are highlighting the lives of three members of the Drayton family: Ann Drayton (c. 1680-1742), Rebecca Perry Drayton (1758-1840), and Charlotte Drayton Manigault (1781-1855). 

By Brittany Lavelle Tulla

We’re familiar with the men of Drayton Hall, but how much do we know about the women of Drayton Hall? The ones who maintained and protected Drayton Hall,  who kept the property going even during times of turbulence and chaos, and who were successful business women and entrepreneurs? Ann Drayton (c. 1680-1742), Rebecca Perry Drayton (1758-1840) and Charlotte Drayton Manigault (1781-1855) are names that deserve to be synonymous with the grandeur and strength of Drayton Hall.

Ann Drayton

Ann and Thomas, the parents of John Drayton, lived at what is today Magnolia Plantation. By 1719, Ann found herself a widowed mother of four. She chose not to remarry, and instead positioned herself within the ranks of the male planter elite with an objective to ensure a financial cushion for her young children. She served as manager of the family estate and by the time of her death in 1742, she had significantly multiplied her family’s properties, becoming one of the most successful female landholders of her time. It was Ann’s social status and financial holdings that allowed her children’s entry into the southern elite and ultimately set the foundation for her youngest son John to construct Drayton Hall. It was Ann who paid John’s outstanding property taxes, gave him twice the land his father bequeathed to him, and brokered his marriages into some of the most powerful families in the South.

Rebecca Perry Drayton

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From l-r: Miniature portraits of Rebecca Perry Drayton and her daughters Ann Drayton (1778-1830) and Susannah Drayton (1777-1810), c. 1787. Scanned images are from the exhibit catalog Henry Benbridge (1743-1812): American Portrait Painter.

In 1775 at the age of 60, John married 17-year-old Rebecca Perry, and Drayton Hall gained its youngest, and perhaps most significant, colonial mistress. Yet four years later, at the age of 21, Rebecca found herself a widowed mother of three. She managed Drayton Hall as the British army occupied its lands, and protected and ensured the survival of the estate her husband spent his lifetime creating.

Rebecca followed in her mother-in law’s footsteps and never remarried. By 1810, she had invested in over a dozen property holdings in Charleston. She was a renegade in a man’s world, claiming real estate in every corner of the city and even secured properties for her daughters and her slaves. She transitioned from a teenage bride to a commanding entrepreneur. A widow for over 60 years, she did not require the protection of a man or the law to expand the property holdings of her branch of the Drayton family tree.

Rebecca’s stepson Charles took ownership of Drayton Hall by the 1790s, and the environment manifested by both Ann and Rebecca became the background to childhood memories for Charles’ daughter, Charlotte. At the age of 19, Charlotte married Joseph Manigault, and she moved to a new residence on the peninsula, the Joseph Manigault House (c. 1802).

Charlotte Drayton Manigault
Mrs. Joseph Manigault (Charlotte Drayton) by Edward Greene Malbone, c. 1801. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Pearl G. Manigault.

Mrs. Joseph Manigault (Charlotte Drayton) by Edward Greene Malbone, c. 1801. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of Pearl G. Manigault.

Charlotte used art and her appreciation for the built environment as a respite from her domestic responsibility. She created valuable watercolors and sketches of her family’s Lowcountry plantations. Today, artwork and architectural descriptions from her diary provide us with some of the most accurate documentations of her family’s estate as well as other Lowcountry residences. She also carried on the Drayton women tradition of meticulously conducting business on behalf of her husband (who died in 1843) and sons, by meeting with clients, regulating finances, and surveying downtown markets. Today, her portrait welcomes visitors into the Joseph Manigault House, and its centralized placement is a well-deserved representation of the Drayton women influence.

The lives of these women clearly attest to how a mother, a wife, and a daughter drastically strengthen the mosaic of the historic landscape and architecture of Drayton Hall and ultimately the American South. Together, they established, advanced, protected, and conserved the memory of the Drayton estate. Their legacy stands the test of time.

BVL logoBrittany Lavelle Tulla is owner and lead researcher of BVL Historic Preservation Research, a Charleston-based historic research firm dedicated to embracing and preserving historic places through researching and profiling the history that shapes them. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Historic Preservation and Community Planning at the College of Charleston and the national research consultant for the Charleston World Heritage Coalition. Brittany received a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation from the College of Charleston/Clemson University joint graduate program, where she completed her thesis “The Making of a Legacy: The Drayton Women and Their Influences on the Lowcountry Landscape and Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Charleston.” Drayton Hall stole Brittany’s heart from the moment she walked on the property. Its history and landscape has been woven into every fabric of her life, and in 2013, she got married on the banks of the Ashley River at Drayton Hall.

Feb. 21 Lecture by GWM at MTW - photo by Fred Tucker_181

Photos from the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series

On February 21, Drayton Hall President and Executive Director Dr. George W. McDaniel presented “Towards a More Complete History: Connecting Places and People by Engaging Descendants” at the highly acclaimed Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series (MTW). McDaniel’s presentation featured a Q&A session with Drayton Hall descendants Rebecca Campbell and Catherine Braxton.

The theme of this year’s series was Curating Black America: Celebrating the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Remembering Dr. Clement Alexander Price. Dr. McDaniel dedicated his speech at the National Preservation Conference’s Historic Sites Luncheon to his friend and colleague Dr. Price, who passed away last fall. Dr. Price had invited Drayton Hall to participate in the MTW lecture series.

Leading scholars from around the country gathered at the MTW lecture series to discuss the role of cultural institutions in preserving and curating African American history. Fellow speakers included Lonnie Bunch, inaugural director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and former Drayton Hall Site Advisory Council member; Bob Stanton, former director of the National Park Service; Spencer Crew, Robinson Professor of American, African American and Public History at George Mason University; and Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian.

In regards to Drayton Hall’s presentation, Assistant Professor of History and American Studies and Associate Director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark Mark Krasovic said, “Drayton Hall exemplifies an ethic of inquiry and revision that [George, Catherine, and Rebecca] spoke to so beautifully. It was a master course in the relative variability of historical knowledge and the commitment to pursue the truth nonetheless.”

MTW Lecture

Deeply committed to history and historic preservation, Rebecca Campbell and Catherine Braxton shared their family’s history with the audience. According to their family’s oral history, their ancestors were brought from Barbados to the Carolina colony by the Draytons in the 1670s as enslaved people. From l-r: George McDaniel, Rebecca Campbell, and Catherine Braxton. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW Lecture by Fred Stucker

“Too often history seems to be taught as something far away, but with historic sites, history is up close and personal, its presence can be felt,” said George McDaniel in his presentation. “At historic sites, we can also try to make history real to people, to make them care, so they feel more connected to themselves and to the wider humanity we share with one another.” Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW Lecture by Fred Stucker

“[George, Catherine, and Rebecca] provided such an in-depth exploration of southern plantation life at Drayton Hall that was riveting and remarkable for its personal ancestral perspectives by Rebecca and Catherine,” said Marisa Pierson, Senior Program Coordinator of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark. “It was one of the most memorable presentations I have witnessed in all the years the institute has been mounting this prestigious program.” Shown above: Catherine Braxton. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW lecture, photo by Fred Stucker

Over 800 people attended the 35th Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series at Rutgers University-Newark. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Rebecca Campbell, photo by Fred Stucker

Rebecca Campbell speaks to the audience about her family’s connection to Drayton Hall. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

MTW Lecture by Fred Stucker

George McDaniel with fellow presenter Lonnie Bunch, inaugural director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and former Drayton Hall Site Advisory Council member. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Lonnie Bunch, photograph by Fred Stucker

Lonnie Bunch was named the 2015 Marion Thompson Wright Lecturer. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Photo by Fred Stucker

From l-r: Mark Krasovic, Assistant Professor of History and American Studies and Associate Director of the Clement A Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University-Newark; Lonnie Bunch; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Mary Sue Price; Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark; George McDaniel; and Robert Stanton, former director of the National Park Service. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

Audience at MTW. Photo by Fred Stucker.

The audience applauds Drayton Hall’s presentation. Photo by Fred Stucker, courtesy of Curating Black America: the 35th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, Rutgers University-Newark.

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From l-r: George McDaniel, Mary Sue McDaniel, Maria Bunch, and Lonnie Bunch.

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From l-r: Mary Sue McDaniel, Allison Rea, Catherine Braxton, Rebecca Campbell, Lonnie Bunch, Spencer Crew, Maria Bunch, and George McDaniel.

The goal of Drayton Hall’s presentation was to enrich the human connection to historic places, objects, and images of Drayton Hall by asking descendants to share their thoughts. Since these descendants did not grow up at Drayton hall, they do not have first-hand accounts, but the places, objects, and documents that were shown resonated deeply with them, and personal reflections connected with the audience, as shown by the photographs. This was the first time that descendants from a historic site had participated in the MTW lecture series, and the audience consisting of historians, museum professionals, and lay people, responded very positively.

A Trip Back in Time: The Old Georgetown Road

By Jessica Garrett

One sunny morning in October of 2012, I crossed the Ravenel Bridge from Charleston into Mt. Pleasant, and I kept driving until I reached the banks of Jeremy Creek in the village of McClellanville.

Old Georgetown RoadI had traveled there to meet with Selden “Bud” Hill, director of McClellanville’s Village Museum, and Michael Prevost, president of White Oak Forestry and board member of Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. Bud and Mike had told me that they were interested in getting a 6.6-mile portion of a nearby road—the Old Georgetown Road, often referred to as the King’s Highway—listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a means of preserving the road in perpetuity. This was in the suggestion of none other than Drayton Hall’s executive director George McDaniel, who had met with Mike and Bud to discuss the road’s preservation the year before.

That morning Bud and Mike introduced me to the road’s long history: to its origins with the Sewee Indians and its use as a trading path; to a number of great South Carolinians who lived along it like Edward Rutledge, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Lynch, Jr, the youngest signer of the Constitution; to its role in the Revolutionary War under the command of the “Swampfox,” General Francis Marion, and in the development of St. James, Santee’s economy; and to its use as part of the official north-south post route as early as 1773, a route traveled by the nation’s first president on his 1791 “Tour of the Southern States.”

Then we hopped in Mike’s Ford F250. We headed west, out of the village of McClellanville, and north on Highway 17. We turned off on Rutledge Road and traveled for about a mile before we turned left onto a lonely dirt road, surrounded only by the forest. This was it. This was the Old Georgetown Road.

And what struck me right then was that you didn’t have to close your eyes to imagine what the road looked like in the 18th century. The road and the longleaf pine forest looked just like the first descriptions I had read: when George Washington described it as “sand and pine barrens, with very few inhabitants,” as he traveled the road during his 1791 tour of the southern states (Lossing 1860, 181); and when Archibald Rutledge, the nation’s first poet laureate described the St. James, Santee Episcopal Church, built along the road in 1768 as “a shrine in the wilderness, flanked on three sides by the immense loneliness of the pine forest.”

St. James ChurchStanding in the ancient church only enhanced the sense of timelessness I felt. Often called the Brick Church at Wambaw, it is built in the Georgian style with pedimented porticos supported by four round columns of brick and offering tall wooden box pews in the interior. It is sparsely beautiful, and its architecture, craftsmanship and state of preservation seem to beckon stories from centuries past to come forth and mingle with the present.

What makes the Old Georgetown Road even more remarkable than its historical appearance is that this 6.6-mile section of the Old Georgetown Road is one of the last and longest continuously unpaved public portions of the 1,300-mile pre-Revolutionary road that connected Charleston, South Carolina to Boston, Massachusetts (Dollarhide, 1997, 1). As local resident David Doar recounted in his 1907 Sketch of the Agricultural Society of St. James, Santee, “From the earliest of times until the railroad was established the road running through the Parish formed one of the links which made the most direct route of travel from Charleston to the North, then our people were in the world, for all who were bound to the most settled part of the United States had to pass this way” (Doar, 1907, 26).

The first to “pass this way” were the Sewee Indians. Your mind’s eye doesn’t need much convincing to narrow the road and transform it into the Sewee’s Broad path. There you can see the Sewee laden with goods they had derived from the deer and bear they had hunted—from skins to fishing line and glue—would trade with the tribes like Kiawah, Stono, Edisto, Ashepoo, Combahee, Wimbee, Coosa, and Santee to the north and west. (Miles 2004, 10). No bears to fear (or hunt) today, but walk no more than ten feet and your steps can become as slow and deliberate as the British explorer and naturalist John Lawson’s as he journeyed throughout the region in 1701 learning from the Sewee and the new French Huguenot settlers, most of whom Lawson notes, “follow a Trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that Interest” (Lawson, 1709, 12). Despite the vast wilderness he encountered on his travels, Lawson still referred to the Old Georgetown Road—then, in 1701!—as “the Road from Charles-Town, and the rest of the English Settlement”. Even in these early colonial days, the road was more of a highway that connected all of the English colonies than the sandy path it appeared to be.

About a third of the way along the road, south of Rutledge Road, is Jones Pond (which is not a pond at all). It is one of South Carolina’s unique Carolina Bays, an unexplained, isolated wetland. Here the sun, clouds, fresh water, and cypress limbs are tangled together, the line between reality and reflection hard to determine. Jones Pond is at once peaceful and a little spooky, and no doubt part of British General Banastre Tarleton’s inspiration for the nickname he gave to General Francis Marion, the “Swampfox.” Look closely at the clumps of marsh grass and cypress, and Marion appears, crouching behind them ordering General Peter Horry to “move to Wambaw, where forage can be had….as your new position at Wambaw will be more secure, your men will not be so much harassed. I wrote to you in my last that no boats or persons should pass from or to Charles Town without you or my passport.” In Carolina Bays like this one, Marion hid and protected his men, all while ensuring that the only route to Charleston—the Old Georgetown Road—remained blocked to the British. Old Georgetown Road
Of course, travelers from Drayton Hall no doubt “passed this way” too. While researchers have not found documentation, if William Henry Drayton, John Drayton’s oldest son, travelled overland to Philadelphia after being elected to serve in the Continental Congress in 1778, he would have taken this route. Just ten years prior, a British surveyor had described the road as “very good, but sandy in a few places” and no doubt that same streetscape would have greeted William Henry Drayton. Along with him might have traveled his young, inquisitive, and very bright son, John, born in 1766, who attended school in New Jersey while William was serving the nation in Philadelphia. Would he have enjoyed stopping at the taverns along the way or feeling the water under his feet as they ferried across the South and then the North Santee? Later, John would become a regular traveler along the road. He and his wife Hester Rose Tidyman owned Hopeland plantation, located on Memim Creek, a tributary of the North Santee River. John served as governor three times, and as governor’s duties demanded, he would have journeyed south along the road to travel to Charleston and Columbia. In his internationally acclaimed book, A View of South Carolina, as Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns, and in his Carolinian Florist, this astute observer and writer described the flora, fauna, and agricultural practices one would have seen in the region.

William Henry Drayton’s niece, Charlotte Drayton Manigault, surely traveled along the Old Georgetown Road “to the North” in the 18th and 19th centuries too. Charlotte was the daughter of Charles Drayton, third owner of Drayton Hall, and she married Joseph Manigault. While they lived “in the city” at the house known today as the Joseph Manigault House (owned and operated by the Charleston Museum), they also owned a plantation called White Oak on the north bank of the North Santee River and not far from her cousin, Gov. John Drayton. Perhaps her father, Charles Drayton, headed north to visit her from Drayton Hall on occasion. Maybe the extended Drayton family came together at St. James, Santee Episcopal Church. Their travels would not have been solitary for with them would probably have been their slaves, serving as carriage drivers, footmen, or grooms for the horses, and who might have used the trip to bring news back to the enslaved community at Drayton Hall.

The Draytons’ use of the road seems even more certain when you consider who else chose to journey down it in 1791. Indeed, the nation’s first president George Washington selected the road as part of his “Tour of the Southern States.” According to his biographers, Washington was a meticulous planner: one biographer writes, “he had mapped the route, calculated the mileage, estimated the rate of progress, and planned the length of his stop at each town” (Lipsomb, 1993, 2). If the road was dependable enough for our first president, then surely it was the one South Carolinians along the coast would have used. Perhaps, too, this is a reason to start calling the road “The President’s Highway” instead of the King’s Highway.

For a road so important to the burgeoning nation, it’s decidedly off the beaten path today, and of course that is no doubt why it remains so well preserved. As soon as Route 40 (modern-day Highway 17) was completed in 1929, it became the primary way to travel between Charleston and Georgetown. As a Mrs. W.S. Allan wrote in her April 1930 presentation, entitled “The Kings Highway,”—a moniker that seems to have become common only in the 20th century—this new route “after the manner of modern highways, demonstrates its belief in the geometric axiom that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, by leaving the old winding King’s Highway at times for a shortening of the road” (Allan, 1930 12).

Mrs. Allan’s speech reveals something new about the Old Georgetown Road: the road, preserved and un-updated, even if rarely traveled, could serve as a means to evoke the state’s past. Her description of the route is more of a timeline than a narrative—connecting the individuals who were born at or lived in the plantations along the road and important events in South Carolina history. In her description of Eldorado plantation, for example, Mrs. Allan not only mentions it was built by General Thomas Pinckney, but she also tells the story of how Pinckney’s marriage to a daughter of Rebecca Motte connects this site to the “patriotic burning of her home at Fort Motte to prevent its falling into enemy hands” (Allan, 1930, 8). She is proud of her heritage and of the places that ignite passion for local history.

In truth, Mrs. Allan captures the emotional side of heritage tourism—of connecting to the past through travel—which continued to bring people like her to the Old Georgetown Road in the first half of the 20th century. Her conclusion is full of nostalgia and love for history as she writes “But oh! For those who can sense it, the glamour of the past is still there over it all as surely as the gray moss on the age old oaks along ‘The King’s Highway’” (Allan, 1930, 18).

photos from the celebration of the designation of the King’s Highway

The King’s Highway was added to the National Register of Historic Places last October. The ceremony was held at St. James Santee Episcopal Church on Oct. 19th. L-r, first row: Eric Emerson, Jessica Garrett (author), Bud Hill, Michael Prevost. Second row: The Rev. Jennie Olbrych, Drayton Hall Executive Director George W. McDaniel, Elizabeth Johnson.

And it is Mrs. Allan’s conclusion that brings me back to present day, or at least near present day. For it is was on a sunny Sunday afternoon this past fall, on October 19th, that a group of forty or so South Carolinians gathered at the St. James, Santee Episcopal Church to celebrate the addition of the Old Georgetown Road to the National Register of Historic Places. Bud Hill, Mike Prevost and George McDaniel were back together in the very place where they had first discussed how to preserve the road in perpetuity. Also at the ceremony was Eric Emerson, Director of the SC Department of Archives and History and advisory council member of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust. Eric’s agency helped craft an application that gained approval first at the state level, eventually at the national level.

Together with local residents, we commemorated the history of the Old Georgetown Road, and we celebrated its preservation. More than that, though, we reveled in the fact that because the Old Georgetown Road still looks so untouched by the passage of time, anyone who travels along it today can so very easily imagine being part of South Carolina’s past—whether walking alongside the Sewee who traded along this Broad Path, attending services with members of the Brick Church who would go on to become signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, performing reconnaissance under Francis Marion’s orders, or witnessing George Washington and his retinue passing down the road as the nation’s first president, or even perhaps traveling with Charles Drayton from Drayton Hall going to visit his daughter Charlotte and his nephew John on their plantations on or near the Santee River.

Jessica Garrett served as Drayton Hall’s director of development until 2011. Today she continues to work in historic preservation and conservation as a freelance writer. She lives in Charleston with her husband and four young children. 

Sources

Allan, Mrs. W.S. “The King’s Highway” (lecture delivered to the Rebecca Motte Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Charleston, SC, April 12, 1930).

Doar, David. A Sketch of the Agricultural Society of St. James Santee, South Carolina and an Address on the Traditions and Reminiscences of the Parish, Delivered Before Society July 4, 1907. Reprinted by the St. James Santee Historical Society.

Dollarhide, William. Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1815. North Salt Lake, UT: Heritage Quest, 1997.

Lipscomb, Terry W. South Carolina in 1791: George Washington’s Southern Tour. Columbia, SC: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1993.

Lossing, Benson J., ed. The Diary of George Washington from 1789 to 1791: Embracing the Opening of the First Congress; and His Tours through New England, Long Island, and the Southern States; together with His Journal of a Tour to the Ohio in 1753. New York: Charles B. Richardson and Co., 1860. Page numbers refer to the original. http://archive.org/details/diarygeorgewash00editgoog

Miles, Suzannah Smith. East Cooper Gazetteer. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2004. Page numbers refer to the original. http://books.google.com/books?id=S-sgZXwSsPEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Libby H. O’Connell to Present “From the Charleston Table to the American Plate” on March 26

Did you know that the Draytons preferred to entertain with Madeira wine? And that popular southern dishes like gumbo were brought to the New World by West African slaves? How have economics, technology, and social movements changed our tastes? These fascinating aspects of American food traditions will be presented by Dr. Libby H. O’Connell on March 26 as part of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. jpeg

O’Connell’s presentation, “From the Charleston Table to the American Plate: Looking at Foodways, South and North,” will draw from her recently published book The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. In this book, O’Connell writes about American history from the perspective of its food traditions. She investigates not just the recipes themselves, but where they came from and who made them. She examines America’s foodways as a legitimate source of historical evidence and, at the same time, shows how foodways were shaped by the changing context of economics, politics, and culture. A gifted writer and storyteller, she encourages us to imagine visiting a foreign country and seeking to understand its people. To do so, we would visit their museums, walk the streets, and definitely eat their food because that, she explains, is “one of the best and often most surprising ways to learn about a different place.”  She continues, “In some respects, the past is another country as well. It has flavors of its own…like time travelers, we can see what life was like for our predecessors by conjuring up the techniques, textures, smells, and tastes of America.”

In her presentation on March 26, O’Connell will examine the interrelationships between Charleston and American cuisine, while highlighting their changes over time. To illustrate her message, she will utilize historical recipes and images from around the country, including materials from Drayton Hall’s archives. O’Connell has a strong affinity for Drayton Hall, as she secured support from HISTORY to produce the award-winning interactive DVD tour of Drayton Hall’s landscape, The Voices of Drayton Hall, and served as its executive producer. “Libby O’Connell is a remarkable historian who has done much to try and shape the way history is appreciated and understood in America,” said Executive Director George W. McDaniel. “By serving as Chief Historian for HISTORY, she has contributed a range of informative and inspiring programs that have touched Americans of all ages.”

O’Connell is an Emmy-award winning producer, preservationist, and cultural historian. She serves as the Chief Historian for HISTORY and Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for A+E Networks, overseeing corporate and educational outreach for networks including HISTORY, A&E, H2, and FYI. She is also the executive-producer of on-site films for organizations such as the Smithsonian, Ellis Island, and Gettysburg. She has received three EMMYS for her work in television, and appears on national TV as a guest commentator. Dr. O’Connell received her M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. She serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, National History Day, as well as being a White House appointed commissioner with the United States World War I Centennial Commission. ​ 2015-Distinguished-Speakers-Series-Flyer-for-web

The Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series is held on Thursday nights at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street. Doors open at 5:30 pm with a wine and cheese reception, with presentations starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Presented by the Friends of Drayton Hall, admission is free and no advance reservations are necessary. Seating is limited. The 2015 Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by Richard and Jill Almeida, the Francis Marion Hotel, and the Chipstone Foundation. For other questions and sponsorship inquiries please contact Tara White, development events coordinator, at 843-769-2627 or twhite@draytonhall.org.

Distinguished Speakers Series Featured in the Post and Courier

Adam Parker of The Post and Courier wrote an article on the 2015 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series.

CLICK HERE to read the article, and we hope you will join us!

Connecting People and Places through Historic Sites

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On February 21, Drayton Hall President and Executive Director Dr. George W. McDaniel will present “Towards a More Complete History: Connecting Places and People by Engaging Descendants” at the highly acclaimed Marion Thompson Wright (MTW) Lecture Series. The title of this year’s series is Curating Black America: Celebrating the National Museum of African American History and Culture and Remembering Dr. Clement Alexander Price. The 35th annual MTW lecture series will be presented from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Rutgers University-Newark. Fellow speakers include Lonnie Bunch, inaugural director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and former Drayton Hall Site Advisory Council member; Bob Stanton, former director of the National Park Service; Spencer Crew, former director of the National Museum of American History; and Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian.

McDaniel’s presentation examines how historic sites can make a difference in their communities. “Too often history seems to be taught as something far away, but with historic sites, history is present and personal,” McDaniel said. “By their very nature, history happened at historic sites, good and bad. That’s what makes them historic, so we must recognize our history in all its complexity and diversity, and use it to bring people from diverse backgrounds together and to learn from and share that history.” Historic sites are turning to descendants and engaging them in the documentation and preservation of their stories. In the past year, Drayton Hall has participated in two conference sessions that have brought descendants of the enslaved and of slaveholders together. The resulting combination of places and people, especially descendants, leads to a more complete history and to a more humane understanding of historic preservation.

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Pictured l-r: George McDaniel, Rebecca Campbell, and Catherine Braxton.

 

McDaniel’s presentation will feature a Q&A session with Drayton Hall descendants Rebecca Campbell and Catherine Braxton (pictured above). Sisters Rebecca and Catherine started researching their family’s connection to Drayton Hall with the assistance of their cousin, Richmond Bowens (1908-1998), who grew up at Drayton Hall and later became a gatekeeper and historian-in-residence. According to their family’s oral history, their ancestors were brought from Barbados to the Carolina colony by the Draytons in the 1670s as enslaved people. Deeply committed to history and historic preservation, Rebecca and Catherine will be sharing their family’s history and offering their perspective on why history matters.

The lecture series is dedicated in memory of Dr. Clement Price, the founder of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience who co-founded the MTW lecture series in 1981. Dr. Price was a Trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a Friend of Drayton Hall. “Clem was a remarkable man and leaves a legacy for us to live up to,” McDaniel said.

 

Memories and Meanings: Drayton Hall Descendants to Present at Distinguished Speakers Series

The 2015 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series begins this month with an insightful presentation focused not so much on the place of Drayton Hall, but rather, its people. Please join us on Thursday, Feb. 19 for “Memories and Meanings: Reflections on Drayton Hall by Charles H. Drayton, III, and Other Descendants.” An interactive panel discussion will feature descendants of those who once lived at Drayton Hall, and reflect upon the significance of preserving the past at one of Charleston’s most historic sites. The discussion will bring together eight descendants to answer thoughtful questions and prompt audience participation, all moderated by Dr. George W. McDaniel, president and executive director of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust.

Charles Henry Drayton III will be sharing his family’s memories of Drayton Hall at the upcoming speakers series.

This session will give the audience the rare opportunity to discuss perennial questions about Drayton Hall, family history, and the importance of preservation with Drayton Hall descendants. Questions such as the following: What prompted Charles and Frank Drayton to sell Drayton Hall to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the State of South Carolina in 1974? What are Charles Drayton’s present thoughts about that decision? What are the thoughts of other descendants, both from the Drayton family and from the African American community whose ancestors had also lived there for generations?

Charles “Charlie” H. Drayton III, now 96 years old and one of the last private owners of Drayton Hall, will be reflecting on his family’s decision to sell the house in 1974.  His nephew, Frank B. Drayton, Jr., who serves on the Drayton Hall Board of Trustees, will also offer perspective.  Other Drayton participants include three of Charlie’s grandchildren: Charles Heyward Drayton, Greg Osteen Joseph, and Shelby Nelson.

Rebecca Campbell, Catherine Braxton, and Annie Meyers, descendants of the Bowens family, will also participate in the panel discussion. According to their family’s oral history, their ancestors were brought from Barbados to the Carolina colony by the Draytons in the 1670s as enslaved people. Braxton also serves as a member of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust Board of Trustees.

“Our advice to people interested in learning about their family’s past is to first commit to family, learn their roots, ask questions of their elders, and become engaged with their communities to promote and preserve their history,” said Rebecca Campbell. “We think that it is important to preserve one’s family history because much can be learned to assist in moving forward to bridge the divide between the ancestors and descendants of the enslaved and the slaveholders.”

This enhancement of Drayton Hall’s historic fabric is only made possible by the enthusiastic participation of its descendants. The descendants presented together at the National Preservation Conference last November and the South Carolina Historic Preservation Conference in April. “I am personally thrilled to be a part of a movement like this that seems so far overdue, and I am motivated to continue to participate in discussions like this so that we can spread the concept to other historic sites where the shared histories of English and African descendants have remained separate,” said Charles Heyward Drayton.

These oral histories further advance our understanding of the history of Drayton Hall, by combining myriad vantage points in one place. “The point is that we preserve historic buildings and places, to be sure, but the power of those places is enriched all the more by the stories and memories, good and bad,” said McDaniel. “At the same time, those stories and memories are given a reality by the preservation of place that they might not have in the abstract. History happened there.”

“Memories and Meanings” will very much be a forward step in the continuation of bridging the interpretation of Drayton Hall’s complex history. There will be ample opportunity for the audience to ask questions and to hear more memories and reflections the descendants have and what preservation means to them.

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The Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series is held on Thursday nights at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street. Doors open at 5:30 pm with a wine and cheese reception, with presentations starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Presented by the Friends of Drayton Hall, admission is free and no advance reservations are necessary. Seating is limited. The 2015 Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by Richard and Jill Almeida, the Francis Marion Hotel, and the Chipstone Foundation. For other questions and sponsorship inquiries please contact Tara White, development events coordinator, at 843-769-2627 or twhite@draytonhall.org.

2015 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series

The Friends of Drayton Hall are pleased to present the second season of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. Beginning with the opening event of the 2015 season, you’ll experience a range of thought-provoking presentations related to America’s history and culture by some of today’s most respected historians, archaeologists, and curators. Speakers will also highlight the connections of Charleston and Drayton Hall to their research interests and answer questions from the audience.

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The series is held in downtown Charleston at South Carolina Society Hall, 72 Meeting Street, Charleston SC 29401.

Ample on-street parking and public lot parking is available within a block of the South Carolina Society Hall.

Doors open at 5:30 pm with a wine and cheese reception sponsored by the Francis Marion Hotel. Presentations start promptly at 6:30 pm. No advance reservations; please arrive early as seating is limited.

For more information and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Tara White, Development Events Coordinator, at 843-769-2627 or by e-mail.