From Historic Caretaker’s House to Interpretive Exhibit: Illustrating the Lives of African Americans at Drayton Hall

by Cameron Moon, Preservation Coordinator, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust

As work begins on the new visitor center, preparations to repurpose the historic caretaker’s house into an interpretive exhibit are underway. While the postbellum period and the 20th century are not periods of primary significance at Drayton Hall, these years were pivotal for the preservation of the property. Phosphate mining became the major industry in Charleston after the Civil War, relying on the labor of freedmen who remained in the area after Emancipation.

Drayton Hall was first leased to a mining company in 1866, and tenant housing was subsequently built on the property to house the miners and their families. These families formed a community during Reconstruction, and many of them remained on the property through the first half of the 20th century, caring for the landscape and the main house while the Drayton family was gone. As we revisit our interpretation of the site with the construction of new facilities, our primary goal is to interpret a complete story of Drayton Hall, striving to illustrate the lives of the enslaved people, women, and African Americans.

Unlike the colonial and antebellum periods where documentation of the enslaved workforce is scarce, evidence of the postbellum African American community is available through census records, oral histories, photographs, leases, maps, and architectural remains. We plan to use the caretaker’s house to interpret the postbellum period and the 20th century at Drayton Hall, allowing us to exhibit this documentary evidence for the first time to interpret the lives of the people who lived at Drayton Hall from the 1860s until the 1940s.

Old Nancy Notes in front of pole fence

Old Nancy Notes, Drayton Family Servant, undated. Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

One of the residents of Drayton Hall during this period was Nancy Notes (referred to as “Nanny” by Richmond Bowens). According to Bowens, she worked as a nurse for the Drayton children, Charles Henry II, Charlotta, and Bessie, in the early 20th century. It is possible that Nancy Notes was enslaved by the Draytons. The name “Nanny” appears on an inventory of slaves from c.1857. The name of Nancy Notes’ husband on the 1880 U.S. Census, Quash, is also listed on this inventory. While further research may verify if Nancy Notes and “Nanny” are the same person, her position as a nurse for the Drayton children suggests she had an existing relationship with the Drayton family prior to living on the property after Emancipation.

Diana Roberts, Drayton Hall servant

Diana Roberts, Drayton Family Servant, undated. Courtesy of the South Carolina Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

Another woman we believe lived at Drayton Hall during this time was Diana Roberts. According to Richmond Bowens, she lived in one of the few identifiable houses along MacBeth Road today, referred to as the Roberts/McKeever House. It was a two-room framed house with an end chimney, brick piers and shingle roof. Diana does not show up on any census records from 1870-1940. However, a photograph labeled “Diana Roberts, Drayton Family Servants” exists in a collection of Drayton Hall photographs housed at the South Caroliniana Library. In the photograph, she stands at a wooden gate in front of a framed house, which matches the description Bowens gave of houses along MacBeth Road. The house behind her also matches the architectural remains of the Roberts/McKeever House on MacBeth Road today. The end chimney survives, as do the brick piers and other wooden framing elements. Further investigation will help us learn more about Nancy Notes, Diana Roberts, and the African American community that lived at Drayton Hall after the Civil War through the first half of the twentieth century.

We are excited to share this ongoing research with visitors, as this period of time was pivotal for the preservation of Drayton Hall, and it is a story that has often been left untold, until now.

Camerodrayton_hs_06n Moon is a graduate of the College of Charleston with a degree in Historic Preservation and Community Planning and a minor in Anthropology. Her honors thesis chronicled the adaptive reuse of the Cigar Factory on East Bay Street and its relationship with the surrounding neighborhood. Before joining the DHPT staff in September 2014, she worked for Edgewood Builders, where she learned construction, preservation and restoration techniques at Medway Plantation and houses in the historic district. Cameron is currently working on ongoing Drayton Hall conservation projects as well as converting the museum shop, housed in the former caretaker’s house, into an interpretive museum space.


The Past & Future of Drayton Hall


Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program Presents The First in the Spring 2017 Wells Fargo Distinguished Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 – College of Charleston — Addlestone 227 — 5:00pm


Guest Speaker Carter C. Hudgins, President & CEO, The Drayton Hall Preservation Trust


Within studies of American architecture and material culture, Drayton Hall (c.1738) is regarded as an icon of colonial identity that reflects an intimate connection to popular European design, sophisticated craftsmanship, and the wealth of South Carolina’s plantation economy. Complementing Drayton Hall’s architecture is a remarkable collection of surviving furniture, ceramics, artwork and artifacts that exhibit distinctive patterns of 18th century consumption, taste and intellect.

Drawing from surviving resources, this presentation will explore the 18th century formation of Drayton Hall and the values that led to its survival. This will be followed by a discussion of Drayton Hall’s future, including a vision to transform the site by improving the visitor experience and expanding our stewardship of the past.






What Is It?



by Corey Heyward, Wexler Curatorial Fellow

The two objects seen here are broken fragments of tobacco pipes. Made of kaolin clay, pipes were imported from England and were a common accessory during early America. They easily break and therefore are rarely recovered from archaeological sites in one piece. However, even with the smaller fragments, we can still learn a great deal.

These two examples both exhibit maker’s marks, consisting of the maker’s initials, impressed onto the pipe bowl by the manufacturer. The bowls appear to be stamped and impressed with the initials “TD,” which was a common mark throughout the colonial period and into the 19th century.

“TD” likely refers to either Thomas Dormer (1748-1770), who was a pipe maker in London by 1763, or the Bristol pipe maker Thomas Dennis (1734-1781). American-made pipes with the mark “TD” were later manufactured in the 19th century, however we used stem bore measurements, which correspond to production dates, to confirm that at least one of these pipes was made likely around 1720-1750.


dscn4140Corey Heyward, the Wexler Curatorial Fellow, first interned in Drayton Hall’s Preservation Department in the fall of 2011 during her sophomore year at the College of Charleston. After completing her junior year abroad at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, Corey returned to Drayton Hall during her senior year to write her bachelor’s honor essay on the site’s delft tiles. Her in-depth research provided new information about their manufacturing dates and origins,  the specific decorative patterns and their possible locations throughout Drayton Hall. Corey completed her M.A. in Anthropology, specializing in Archaeology and Museum Training, at George Washington University. From the beginning of her graduate work in 2014, she also interned in the archaeology laboratory at George Washington’s Mount Vernon where she was trained to use DAACS, assisted in archaeological fieldwork and learned to produce high quality archaeological photographs.

The Wexler Curatorial Fellowship is a two-year, full-time fellowship position generously funded by Deborah and Peter Wexler. The Fellowship helps catalog the Drayton Hall archaeological collection using the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) under the  direction of Archaeologist and Curator of Collections, Sarah Stroud Clarke.






Completion of Historic Wetlands Conservation Project (Phase 1)

By Eric Becker, Manager of Landscapes, Horticulture, and Modern Facilities


In 2013, an initiative began to evaluate and produce management plans for the preservation and conservation of some of the historic rice fields and ponds on Drayton Hall property.  Historically, rice production was likely occurring here sometime around the end of the 17th century. The use of the fields and ponds for this function continued until the redevelopment of the property by John Drayton in the 1740s. Over the years, maintenance and use of the entire pond system had greatly diminished and the natural environment crept back in, attempting to reclaim a long-lost ecosystem. Unfortunately, this system (shown above) was unhealthy, lacking in good water quality and control, overgrown and breeched impoundments, and infested with invasive aquatic and wetland plants.

Working with Folk Land Management, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust evaluated and adopted a management plan for this historic system to re-establish the integrity and function of the impoundments; replace, add and increase the water flow capacity, pond depth and holding capacity; reduce and remove invasive plants; add habitat for colonial bird species while increasing the seasonal water surface and food sources for migrating waterfowl; and to better allow access and interpretive potential in the future (Phase II). Work on Phase I began in March of this year and finished in August; it was supported, in part, through funding from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, the Dominion Foundation and Gail and Parker Gilbert. The results of these partnerships speak for themselves in the images below.

With the challenge of the recent Hurricane Matthew, the system was not only put to the test, but finally provided the necessary water, assisting to refill the ponds. The impoundments held, and although overwhelmed by this major event, the water control systems functioned much better than last year’s more impactful flooding.




Liberty & Slavery: The Paradox of America’s Founding Fathers


Drayton Hall is pleased to present the first Charleston-area screening of the award-winning documentary film “Liberty & Slavery: The Paradox of America’s Founding Fathers,” produced and directed by filmmaker A. Troy Thomas of Inertia Films.

America’s Founding Fathers were men yearning for a nation of individual liberty and unprecedented independence. Thomas Jefferson expressed this desire in the Declaration of Independence in 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” But the origins of America were already seeded with a cruel paradox because many of the liberty-loving, southern Founding Fathers, including Jefferson and Washington, were also slave owners. Slavery was commonplace in the 18th century—not just in America, but in the world.

But why did the non-slave-owning Founding Fathers compromise with the slave-owning Founders when it came to ratifying the U.S. Constitution?

How do we make sense of this paradox?

Watch as “Liberty & Slavery” searches for answers through a series of interviews with respected authors, historians, theologians, and many other notables.

Thursday, September 8
The Charleston Museum
360 Meeting Street
5:30 – 8:00 pm

    Free and open to the public. No advance reservations required.

Doors open at 5:30 pm with a reception and introductions by Carter C. Hudgins, President & CEO of the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, and filmmaker Troy Thomas. A Q&A session will follow the screening.

Watch Trailer


For additional information, please contact:
Tara Odom, Special Events Coordinator
(843) 769-2627 or

Lowcountry Giving Day – May 3rd

Lowcountry Giving Day is coming soon! When you select Drayton Hall as the recipient of your donation, you will help support critical preservation projects and educational programming.  Please help us preserve Drayton Hall for the future and schedule your donation today:

DH Image 1

Mark your Calendars: the 2016 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series

Website HeaderThe Friends of Drayton Hall are pleased to present the third season of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series. Beginning with the opening event of the 2016 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. For additional information on this year’s speakers, please visit the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series website.

The 2016 Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series is sponsored by The Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SCFMlogo


Thursday, February 18, 2016
Patricia Lowe Smith, Curator of Historic Architectural Resources, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust
The Best Portico: Rehabilitating an Architectural Icon

Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dean Jonathan Holloway, Dean of Yale College and Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies
Curating the Black Atlantic: Race, Memory, and Museum Making

Thursday, April 21, 2016
Henry Noltie, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
John Hope: Botanist of the Scottish Enlightenment


Thursday, September 15, 2016
Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist & Curator of Collections, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust
What Lies Beneath: The Archaeology of the pre-Drayton Era

Thursday, October 20, 2016
Dr. William M. Kelso, Director of Research & Interpretation, Historic Jamestowne
Jamestown, The Buried Truth

Thursday, November 17, 2016 – SPONSORED BY CHIPSTONE 
Dr. David S. Shields, Carolina Distinguished Professor and the McClintock Professor of Southern Letters, University of South Carolina
Creating the World Orchard                              


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.
Presentations start promptly at 6:30 pm.
No advance reservations; please arrive early as seating is limited.

For more information, please contact: Tara White Odom, Development Events Coordinator, 843-769-2627 or by e-mail

“Writing Drayton Hall’s Next Chapter” by Robert Behre

Portico by Robert Behre staff

Drayton Hall’s projecting double portico facing S.C. Highway 61 is considered the front of the house and is perhaps its most iconic feature. The renovation work, seen above, is expected to be done by year’s end. ROBERT BEHRE/STAFF

Great article in the Post & Courier by columnist Robert Behre on our new President and CEO Carter C. Hudgins, PhD., and Drayton Hall’s upcoming plans, including a new facility with exhibit space for many of the site’s collections objects and archaeological artifacts and a new nature trail around its historic rice ponds.

Post and Courier Online

Writing Drayton Hall’s Next Chapter by Robert Behre – Post and Courier – pdf

Read the transcript here:

Post and Courier – October 31, 2015

Writing Drayton Hall’s Next Chapter

By Robert Behre

It would not be inaccurate to say Carter C. Hudgins began his career at Drayton Hall by mowing the grass many years ago and now he is outstanding in his field.

Hudgins, who followed his father’s footsteps into a career of preservation, recently became president and CEO of the iconic Lowcountry house museum and one of South Carolina’s most famous and enduring works of architecture.

And he says the real change there is still to come.

Hudgins is taking the reins at a pivotal time as the site begins a new life, one directed by a local board, the Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, rather than by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has given up control but still retains ownership.

He is quick to detail the plans, which include more staff, new buildings and a continued commitment to preserving and interpreting the mid-18th century house and its grounds.

“We are a world-class site,” he says. “We want a world-class engagement with the public.”

No, there are no plans to put furniture in the grand main house or restore it back to its original 1750 appearance.

But the trust expects to begin construction next year on a new building project that not only will handle the routine functions of a welcome center, gift shop and restrooms but will eventually display many of the furnishings and artifacts connected to the Drayton family and the home they built.

“We are actively acquiring objects,” Hudgins says. “We want to be able to show what was in the house, but not with the goal of refurnishing it.”

Instead, the goal is to expand visitors’ experiences without placing further wear and tear on the historic house itself.

Preservation is challenging here because the house is open to the public, and some 60,000 people a year visit it. That’s more feet and weight than most houses are designed for.

Balancing public access and preservation is the crux of Drayton Hall’s mission, and the new building will help.

Drayton Hall already has plenty of items to put in it. Its collection includes more than one million archaeological artifacts and several hundred individual other objects, including dozens of pieces of furniture, one of which is considered perhaps the finest ever produced in Colonial America.

The grounds also will get work soon, with plans to drain the ponds, trim vegetation from their banks and build a new nature trail around them.

Hudgins says Drayton Hall is working with Ducks Unlimited to make sure this work respects wildlife, not just history.

The new attention to Drayton Hall comes at an auspicious time, as there is a growing realization of the importance of how the history and architecture of the city of Charleston blends into the history and landscape of its surrounding plantations.

This interdependence is highlighted in the Charleston World Heritage’s efforts to get the Lowcountry listed as a world heritage site, the highest such designation possible.

The coalition’s new statement on Charleston’s significance begins, “The plantation culture of Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry represents an exceptional example of human manipulation of land to exploit natural resources and create a distinct social and economic system that infuenced the geo-cultural region from the late 17th into the late 19th centuries.”

That might sound a bit fancy and academic, but it really boils down to this: Preserving buildings and landscapes like Drayton Hall is every bit as critical as preservation downtown.

Reach Robert Behre at (843) 937-5771 or at

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. 


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.

Miles, Suzannah Smith. East Cooper Gazetteer. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2004. Page numbers refer to the original.

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.


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