Treasure Chest Thursday: The wedding dresses of Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards, 1949-1958

My husband’s grandmother Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards was a talented dressmaker.  From the ages of 14 to 16, she served a two year apprenticeship with a dressmaker in the west end of London.  She spent the majority of her working career as a ladies tailor or dressmaker throughout London. While working as a tailoress, she met her husband William James Stephen Edwards, a fellow tailor, and they married in 1913. In the 1930s she worked for a small couture dressmaker. During World War II, she worked as dressmaker for Debenham’s department store, remaining in London during the Blitz. She was very skilled, and would often make dresses for dowagers which cost thousands of pounds. Years later she shared that Queen Alexandra and later Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon preferred to have “Mrs. Edwards” as their fitter. At Debenhem’s, she quickly learned to write down the women’s statements and measurements exactly, especially if they quarreled over the measurements which Ida had taken (the women claiming they were smaller than their physical measurements had indicated!), so that later Ida could not be in trouble if the women later complained that the dress was too small, since she prided herself on her accuracy. Ida left Debenham’s after World War II and joined St. Francis Hospital in their linen room as a needlewoman where she worked until her retirement in the 1960s. During her time at the hospital, however, she missed dressmaking and therefore after hours would often work for commission or for free to create wedding dresses or other dresses for friends, neighbors, and others. Appreciative brides often sent Mrs. Edwards’ photographs from their wedding of “the dress”, which I have included below:

The dress she made for her niece Doris Fielder’s 1949 wedding:


The dress she made for her daughter-in-law Rene Royce’s 1955 wedding:

Chris and Rene Wedding

The dress she made for her neighbor Rosina Newton’s 1956 wedding:


The dress she made for Edna Dines’ 1957 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s 1958 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:


A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:


A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:


Treasure Chest Thursday: Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes


I recently had an article published in American Ancestors (published by NEHGS) which explored my journey of identifying a mysterious set of ambrotypes which were found in my grandfather’s workshop.

Cover of American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013

Cover of American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013

These were the ambrotypes that were discovered tucked away in my grandfather’s desk, placed out of sight for years, which had never been seen by my grandmother:


Click on the image below to read the full article and discover how this mystery was solved!

Mary Blauss Edwards, "Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes", American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013, p. 42-44

Mary Blauss Edwards, “Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes”, American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013, p. 42-44.

As I stated in the article,  Henry Emerson Crapo and Isabella Frances Lannigan’s daughter Ada Marion (Crapo) Howland had three children. So if any cousins have labeled duplicates of these ambrotypes or other images of Henry and Isabella Crapo, please let me know!

Have you ever identified an unlabelled family ambrotype, daguerreotype or photograph through genealogical research?

Travel Tuesday: Saxon Cross in Follifoot, Yorkshire, England

The Saxon Cross located on a green in the center of Follifoot on Main and Plompton streets, with the arched gateway of Rudding Gates behind it

The Saxon Cross located on a green in the center of Follifoot on Main and Plompton streets, with the arched gateway of Rudding Gates behind the cross

This Saxon cross in Follifoot dates to the 9th century and is made from local stone

This Saxon cross in Follifoot dates to the 9th century and is made from local stone


Several years ago, while visiting family in Knaresborough, we briefly stayed in the small and beautiful village of Follifoot.  Follifoot is believed to derive from a Norse phrase meaning “Place of a Horse Fight” which was popular in the medieval era. The village is believed to have been a place where horses were trained and fights were staged. The village was not listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The earliest written record of Follifoot referred to it as “Pholifet” in the twelfth century. According to a conservation appraisal of the town, several Saxon remains have been unearthed in Rudding Park and in 1964 a kiln with five or six flues was found at Low Garth, which definitive evidence of a permanent medieval settlement at Follifoot.

In the center of the village of Follifoot sits a lovely Saxon cross which dates to the 9th century, although its upper portion was restored in the 19th century. Fewer monumental Saxon stone crosses have survived in England compared to Ireland, due to the iconoclasm which occurred after the English Reformation.

English Heritage reports that the cross is carved from local gritstone, described as a tall columnar cross on three square stone steps with a molded circular base with similar triple swagged motif above. A plain shaft rises to its square top with similar molded cap. A cross on the top, which was restored in the 19th century, includes small figure of the crucifixion.

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Hidden Sword Blade Guard in a Secret Compartment of Grace McClellan’s Sideboard

In 1969, after the passing of Nana Grace (Hanson) McClellan, a large wooden sideboard from her house was moved next door to her granddaughter Edna’s home, where it has sat by the kitchen table for 43 years. This month, Edna gave the sideboard to her daughter Debbie, and a small group of family members gathered to help maneuver the heavy piece of furniture. As they cleared out the sideboard of possessions that had accumulated over the years, they uncovered a false back in one of the drawers, which was moved to reveal a small hidden compartment. Neither Edna nor anyone in the family had ever known of the compartment’s existence since its arrival in 1969.

Imagine the surprise, then, to open the compartment and discover this little treasure sitting inside:

Brass object discovered in a hidden compartment in Nana McClellan’s sideboard. Photograph courtesy of Don Blauss.

The object was made out of brass, with a design featuring an eagle with six arrows behind the eagle and a narrow arm with a floral design along the arm. It’s the handle and blade guard to a sword – with the sword missing, of course.

Back side of the brass sword handle and blade guard. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.

Grace (Hanson) McClellan acquired the sideboard from Daniel Waldo Field, the Brockton shoe manufacturer and philanthropist, who died in 1944. Although the exact date of purchase is uncertain, it probably occurred between 31 January 1920 (when Grace Hanson of Whitman, Mass. married Roderic McClellan of Hanson, Mass.) and the death of D. W. Field in 1944.

With that piece of provenance, there are four probable scenarios for who originally owned the blade guard (and missing sword):

1) An ancestor of Grace (Hanson) McClellan (1886-1969)

2) An ancestor of Roderic McClellan (1882-1962), the husband of Grace (Hanson) McClellan

3) An ancestor of Edith (Ramsdell) McClellan (1883-1918), the first wife of Roderic McClellan

4) An ancestor of Daniel Waldo Field (1856-1944). This seems unlikely if the sideboard was sold during his lifetime, because he presumably would have known that the piece was hidden in the compartment. However, if it was sold perhaps as part of his estate after his decease, its possible that his heirs were not aware that it was hidden.

Additionally, there’s the chance that Roderic and Grace McClellan or Daniel Waldo Field picked up the piece as a curiosity and hid it away, although the hidden nature of the compartment suggests it held value – sentimentally or financially. And it’s also possible that someone owned the sideboard prior to D. W. Field, though the chances of it remaining undiscovered during so many moves over the years seems unlikely.

Closeup of blade guard. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.

Closeup of the top of the blade guard, including the hole where the sword used to sit. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.


Base of the handle and blade guard. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.

The eagle with six arrows behind it certainly suggests a military decoration, such as the federal war eagle. A search for similar blade guards online resulted in some similiar matches, such as this blade guard attached to a Spanish-American War sword for a New York officer:

sword was presented to First Lieutenant Alfred Somerset Orchard Commanding Company D 23rd Regiment National Guard of the State of New York on the occasion of his promotion. Courtesy of Specialist Auctions.

A Civil War era Calvary officer’s blade guard had a similiar eagle with six arrows:

Civil War era Calvary Officer’s Sword. Courtesy of Civil War Preservations.

But without any maker’s mark or inscribed date on the brass guard, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact era of the sword. If anyone can locate another guard with the exact same design with a known provenance, that would be extremely useful in helping to solve the mystery of the guard’s original owner.

But assuming that the sword could possibly date to World War I (1917-1918 for U.S.), the Spanish American War (1898), or the Civil War (1861-1865), let’s revisit the four possible owners.

1) An ancestor of Grace (Hanson) McClellan (1886-1969). Grace Hanson was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland to John F. Hanson and Lila Cody and orphaned when she was a teenager. She then went to live in the household of her maternal aunt Margaret (Cody) Andrews and Fred Andrews in Brockton, Massachusetts, where she became a schoolteacher. Little is known about her father, but according to the 1910 Census, he was born in England, and if he was a similar age to his wife Lila Cody (b. ca. 1864, Maryland), he was too young for service in the Civil War. It is uncertain if he was alive for the Spanish American War – the family has not yet been identified in the 1900 Census. So with just those bare facts, he seems an unlikely candidate for the original sword owner. Lila (Cody) Hanson’s father, Martin Cody, was probably the 39 year old “Martin Codey” who enlisted from Baltimore as a private on probably in June 1863 in Company G, 10th Regiment Infantry of Maryland Volunteers for a six month term, but likely never reported for duty when his information was filed 10 July 1863, since he was listed as AWOL on 5 July 1863 and by October 1863 was classified as deserted. Since he enlisted but probably did not report for duty, it is unlikely he received a uniform or weaponry. Additionally, he had two eldest sons, and several of his daughters moved and married in Massachusetts, so any of those children would probably more likely to inherit war mementoes than his orphaned granddaughter Grace Elizabeth Hanson would have. Therefore, Grace (Hanson) McClellan and her immediate ancestors can probably be eliminated as the original owner of the sword, if it indeed dates to Civil War, Spanish American War, or World War I military service.

2) An ancestor of Roderic McClellan (1882-1962), the husband of Grace (Hanson) McClellan. Roderic himself served in the Massachusetts State Guard during WWI, a duty sergeant of N Company in the Fourteenth Regiment of Infantry, which was disbanded on 18 December 1918. He was the top-ranking sharpshooter in his company during that time. However, there is no evidence that he was issued a sword.

Roderic McClellan in uniform. Duty Sergeant, Company N, 14th Regiment of the Massachusetts State Guard. Circa August 1918.

Roderic’s father, George McClellan (1848-1912), was from Nova Scotia and living in Canada during the Civil War (and too young to serve) and had abandoned his wife and children in the 1890s and did not serve in the Spanish American War. His paternal grandfather Dougald McClellan lived in Canada and had died by the American Civil War. His maternal grandfather, Barnabas Everson, did not serve in the Civil War and died before the Spanish American War. Therefore, Roderic McClellan and his immediate ancestors can be eliminated as the original owner of the sword, if it indeed dates to Civil War, Spanish American War, or World War I military service.

3) An ancestor of Edith (Ramsdell) McClellan (1883-1918), the first wife of Roderic McClellan. Roderic McClellan married Grace Elizabeth Hanson in 1920, two years after the death of his first wife, Edith May Ramsdell, who died in 1918 during the Spanish influenza epidemic. Her father, Edgar O. Ramsdell (1863-1899) was too young for Civil War service and did not serve in the Spanish American War. Her paternal grandfather, John Brooks Ramsdell (1819-1895) did not serve in the Civil War and died before the Spanish American War. Her maternal grandfather, Caleb Francs Wright (1828-1907) registered for the Civil War Draft in June 1863, but did not serve in the Civil War or Spanish American War.

4) An ancestor of Daniel Waldo Field (1856-1944). D.W. Field was too young for service in the Civil War, and his father, William Lawrence Field (1828-1914) did not serve. D. W. Field married Rosa A. Howes of Barnstable in 1879. Her father, Philip Howes (1811-1867), also did not serve in the Civil War.

So unfortunately, that provides no likely suspects for the original owner of the sword. Perhaps if more details come to light about the provenance of the sword, or if anyone can help to date the sword more precisely, further details can be brought to light.


Autograph Book of Maria Jane Peeples, Gloucester, Mass., 1889-1900

Maria Jane (Peeples) Publicover, Beverly Farms, Mass. Courtesy of Maria McClellan.

Maria Jane Peeples (nicknamed “Rida” by her family) was the daughter of Thomas Peeples and Jane Rogers of Nova Scotia. She married Willard Binnie Publicover at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gloucester, Essex, Mass., 24 January 1894, by Rev. John Alvey Mills.

From 1889-1900, she kept an autograph book in which her friends, family members – and a presumably courting Willard B. Publicover (he has several signatures and notes over the years) – signed their names and wrote her notes and poems – funny, poignant, sage, or straight to the point. She began keeping the autograph book while a resident of Gloucester, Mass. – several of her relatives moved to Hartford, Conn., as the autograph book shows. Below are photographs of the individual pages of the book, accompanied by transcriptions.

The autograph book cover:

Cover of Maria Jane Peeples’ Autograph Book, c. 1890-1891

Sister(-in-law) Mary (McCormack) Peeples Autograph, Hartford, Conn. 12 October 1891

To Rida,

I wish you joy, I wish you peace, I wish your friends may still increase and may you ever remain the same unchanged in all except the name.

Your sister, Mary, Hartford, Conn. Oct. the 12, 1891


Cousin Hattie Rogers and E.R.’s autographs

When far from you I go, will you one thought on me bestow. And let your memory often past In good times had in Gloucester, Mass.

From Your Cousin, Hattie Rogers. Aug. 14, 1891


Hap[p]y thoughts makes a pleasant day

E.R. [possibly brother-in-law Ernest Robinson?]


Jennie M Campbell Autograph, 3 November 1891, Gloucester Mass.

Jennie M. Campbell Gloucester, Mass. November 3, 1891


Eldridge Peeples Autograph, 11 October 1891, Hartford, Conn.

To Rida,

Remember me for can you must, as long as you can bite a crust

And when you can no longer bite, think of me if you think it rite.

Eldridge Peeples, Hartford, Conn. Oct. 11, 1891


Madie A. Campbell Autograph, 3 November 1891, Gloucester, Mass.

Madie A. Campbell, Gloucester, Mass. Nov. 3, 1891


J. D. Peeples and Bessie M. Wilkinson Autographs

When scattered abroad are land and sea

’tis if truly we owe to each other

to write a firm line and say something kind

this is the [idea?] of your brother

J.D. Peeples, Hartford, Conn. October 11th 1891. [brother James D. Peeples]


In friendships fond garden

In some sacred spot

Plant for me a fond forget-me-not

Bessie M. Wilkinson, Charlestown, Mass. Aug. 11, 1891


Charles A. Hayden Autograph, 13 November 1889, Gloucester, Mass.

May heaven’s blessing be always yours, I shall ever pray

Your true friend and rector, Charles A. Hayden. Gloucester, Nov. 13th 1889


Richard L. Morey and Rhoda M. Rogers’ Autographs

Let bygones be bygones, I foolishly say

And let you be wise and forget them

But old recollections may be active today

And you can do naught but regret them

Though the present be pleasant, joyous and gay

And promising well for tomorrow

Yet you may love to look back on the years right away

Embalming your bygones in sorrow.

Advice from your friend, Richard L. Morey

Dec. 15th 1889.


To Maria

May gladness be your portion

May mirth come at your call

May you be glad & happy

And blessed in dower & hall,

Rhoda M. Rogers, #15 Mt. Vernon St., Gloucester, Mass. Aug. 12th 1891


Lewis R. Martin and Mrs. Thomas D. Peeples Autographs

Lewis R. Martin, 55 Elm St., Charlestown, Mass.


Your loving morther, Mrs. Thomas D. Peeples

Pirate Harbor

[U.S. Carried?] N[ova] S[cotia]


Ella F. Welsh and Willard B. Publicover’s autographs

“Let the casket of memory contain one pearl for me”

Yours truly, Ella F. Welsh Gloucester, Sept. 25, 1889


Willard B. Publicover

Brattle Sq. Hotel

32-34 Brattle Sq. Cambridge, Mass.


Mrs. W. Engelhard Autograph, 12 October 1891, Hartford, Conn.

May hope in its surety and peace in its calm

Descend on thy spirit and bring to it calm

Mrs. W. Engelhard, Hartford, Conn. Oct. 12th 1891


Eva Englehart and W. B. Publicover autographs

Go show you that my thought of your still lives

Eva Englehart, Hartford, Conn. Oct. 12th 1891


To Maria,

If you your lips would keep from slips, five things observe with care

Of whom you speak to whom you speak and how and when and where

Your friend, W. B. Publicover


Maggie W. McPhee and Gertie E. Robinson Autographs

Remember me when “far, far off, where the wood-chuck die of the whooping cough”

Maggie W. McPhee, Gloucester, Mass. Oct. 15th 1891


To Rida,

To write in your album dear sister you ask

It’s well it is not such a difficult task

All I can say is contained in one line

May the blessing of heaven forever be thine

Gertie E. Robinson [sister Gertrude E. (Peeples) Robinson]


Images of hands holding birds and flowers, pasted into Autograph Book

Henry A. Calder and Ella E. Peeples Autographs

Henry A. Calder [future brother-in-law Henry Calder]


When you are supping tea with B.

Think of your poor old sister E.

Ella E. Peeples

Sept. 14th 1889 [possibly sister Drusilla Peeples?]


Mrs. Lizzie Adams Autograph, 27 September 1889, Gloucester, Mass.

In memories wreath of roses

Twine one bud for me

Mrs. Lizzie Adams

Gloucester, Mass. Sept. 27, 1889


Helena M. Gilbert Autograph, Gloucester, Mass.

“I shall not die but live & declare the works of the Lord”

Helena M Gibert

Gloucester, Mass.


Nellie C. Donovan Autograph, Beverly Farms, Mass., 17 February 1900

Nellie C. Donovan

Beverly Farms, Mass.

Feb. 17, 1900


B. Phalen Autograph, 26 September 1889, Gloucester, Mass.

Prove your friends.

Yours, B. Phalen

Gloucester, Mass. Sept. 26th /89


Blank Page in Autograph Book With Print of Girl in Flowers

Maria J. Peeples, Printed Card

[Printed card, perhaps a calling card or dance card?]

Maria J. Peeples


Autograph of “A Friend” (Probably Willard B. Publicover), 12 October 1890

To Maria

Curved is the line of beauty

Straight is the line of duty

Walk by the last and thou shalt see

The other ever follow thee

A Friend,

October 12th 1890

[appears to be the handwriting of Willard B. Publicover]


J. P. Mac Innis Autograph, 17 August 1891, Gloucester, Mass.

Memory is dearer, when pleasures trouble does mar

Life’s charities, like light

Spread smilingly afar,

Blend us as friends together

With a life of sweet content

And may the future be for you,

In glorious sunshine spent.

J. P. Mac Innis,

Gloucester, Mass.

August 17, 1891


Blank page featuring print of angel

Maggie A. Martin Autograph, Charlestown, Mass.

Maggie A. Martin

55 Elm St., Charlestown, Mass.


Lena P. Mackie Autograph and Coded Message from W. B. Publicover

[Words in each corner:] Love, Hope, Faith, Charity

Oct. 3rd 1896

Dear Maria

Remember me when far away

And your words I cannot hear

But hope that we will meet some day

In our home beyond the skies

Your friend,

Lena P. Mackie

[numbers written in pencil, perhaps Maria’s attempts at decoding the following page:] 111191101718





[note written in code]

Jin. u. a.nsy

W. B. P5bl3c4v2r.

ia. C12v2l1nd. 87.

G145c2972r. M199.

[possible translation: January, W. B. Publicover, [#?] Cleveland St., Gloucester, Mass.]


Maria J. Peeples and Hattie Rogers Autographs

Maria J. Peeples

Gloucester, Mass.


One line is sufficient for memory

Hattie Rogers, Gloucester, Mass.

Aug. 13, 1891


Nellie B. B. Phelan and M. C. Pernette Autographs

Not enjoyment and not sorrow

Is our [destined great?] and way;

But to act that each tomorrow

Finds us father than today

Very truly, Nellie B. B. Phelan,

Mill Village, Nova Scotia

Gloucester, Mass. Sept. 26th 1889


To Maria,

Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you is the advice of your friend,

M. C. Pernette

Mar. 19th/94


Maria J. Peeples’ Autograph Book with Ruler

Autograph books are a lovely way to capture a better understanding of the community around one person’s life, which can often be difficult to reconstruct when pursuing genealogical research. If anyone out there has additional details or stories about the individuals who signed this autograph book, please feel free to share!

McClellan Sterling Silverware

Here’s a story with many questions still left unanswered. Nevertheless, it is amazing what a bit of oral tradition, combined with document research and material culture can reveal.

For my bridal shower, I was blessed to receive from my aunt Maria a set of silverware that belonged to my great aunt Lillian McClellan, the sister of my great-great grandfather, Roddy McClellan. I also received a family bible that had also once belonged to Lillian (although the bible, along with the bookmarks within it, will be an interesting story for another time!)

This is the silverware, with a note from Maria:

The pieces are beautifully designed, with elegant floral patterns along the handles. In addition, the ends of each of the handles are engraved with the word “Lillian”:

For Christmas, my parents and Maria came together to give me a truly wonderful gift, certain to captivate the genealogist in me: Maria had a wooden silverware box that had originally belonged to Imogene (Everson) McClellan, Lillian’s mother, and it was also in this box Lillian kept her engraved silverware.

Here is the wooden silverware box:

On the top of the box, however, is a small gold plate shaped like a shield that has the name Barnard engraved on it.

Here is the Barnard inscription:

To the best of my knowledge, there in no family genealogical connection to any Barnards. In addition to the box itself from Maria, my parents added to the gift by doing research themselves. Dad’s knowledge of woodworking led him to the observation that the box was not hand-crafted by a family member – the work is beautiful and probably professional, as there is no external evidence of how it is connected (nails, pegs, etc). But neither is there any evidence of company markings or logos. Maria had pointed out that perhaps the silverware itself would have markings that would identify who made the silverware, and perhaps that would be connected to the box. My parents hypothesized that perhaps the silverware was purchased in the box, and that there might be a direct connection between the silverware and the box which held it. So my mother went online and found that the Barnard family of London had a long history of creating silverware, and that some of their markings indeed had symbols placed within a shield.

So for Christmas, I received not only the silverware box, but also a family story and some clues uncovered by my parents. The next part of this was to return home and check the markings on the silverware and see if they could be identified Barnard silverware.

On the fork, knife, and spoon were three hallmarks –
a lion, an ornate capital letter “R”, and a crown
(apologies for the quality, this is the clearest photo I could take of such fine detailing):

The lion marker is the most straightforward. This is a “standard mark”, which indicates the standard of the silver, in this case it is Sterling .925. The word STERLING after the marks also brings this point home! However, the use of the lion for the standard mark indicates that the silverware was made in Britain.

The second mark is an ornate capital R. This is the “date letter”, and is a little more tricky to interpret. The date letter system was introduced in London in 1478, and later in other major cities where silverware was made. “Its purpose was to establish when a piece was presented for assay or testing of the silver content. The mark letter changed annually in May, the cycles of date letters were usually in strings of 20 and each cycle was differentiated by a changing of the font, letter case and shield shape.” (from British Hallmarks) Although there are a wide variety of letters depending upon the city, Lillian’s silverware date letter seems to best match with London’s date letter of 1852.

Here are the London date letters (see the 1852 capital R):
Imogene Everson was born in 1852. Perhaps her parents purchased this silverware in honor of her birth, and Imogene later gave this silverware to her only daughter, Lillian, who then chose to engrave the silverware with her name.

The crown and lack of a maker’s mark are a bit of a curveball. The crown is an extremely generic symbol, and without a maker’s mark, it’s probably impossible to judge who exactly crafted this silverware. So the Barnard connection is still left a mystery. Perhaps the silverware was an inexpensive line of the Barnard’s. Perhaps Imogene simply received the box from elsewhere – a friend, a neighbor, etc. Whatever the case (and perhaps time will reveal more answers) it is wonderful to be in possession of objects with such a history, and I hope to someday pass these on to a daughter of my own.

To Maria, Mom, Dad, Lillian, and Imogene – thank you.

Stoney-Baynard ruins, Sea Pines, Hilton Head, SC

History of Braddock’s Point Plantation

According to the Sea Pines Resort, in 1776, Captain John Stoney (1757-1821) bought the 1000 acres known as Braddock’s Point Plantation on Hilton Head. It was passed to is son, Captain James Stoney (1772-1827) who inherited the property, left it at his death to Dr. George Mosse Stoney, who passed it to his son “Saucy Jack” in 1838. A gambler, “Saucy Jack”, supposedly lost the house and land in a poker game. The winner was William Eddings Baynard. It’s also possible that Saucy Jack simply went bankrupt and Baynard got the property. “Baynard was a highly successful planter of the world-famous Sea Island Cotton which he grew at Braddock’s Point as well as his other holdings. He and his wife Catherine raised four children here at the “big house” and it was here that he died in 1849 at the early age of 49.” The Baynard descendants left the property when the Union forces invaded Hilton Head Island in 1861. During the Civil War, the house was used by Union troops and supposedly was burned by a Confederate raiding party. Although the family later regained the land, they did not return to Braddock’s Point. The house eventually decayed into the ruins of the present.

The Ruins
Here is the front of the house. There are large square holes where beams supported a large porch:

The most prominent aspect of the ruins was the remains of a part of the first floor:

From Stoney-Baynar…

The Stoney-Baynard home was constructed with tabby, a building material popular in the Low Country of South Carolina. Tabby was produced with lime, sand, and oyster shells, and made cement for foundations.

A modern support made from wood exists along the basement:

William Baynard was well known for his Sea Island cotton, which was a new cotton hybrid that was extremely popular. Of course, the success of the cotton was actually dependent upon the slave labor of the plantation. About a mile from the big house was “slave row” where poorly made and small slave cabins provided shelter to the plantation’s numerous slaves. Directly near the main house’s ruins, however, it the probable location of the slave cabin where the house slaves lived:

A slave kitchen and large tabby stone nearby also exist, the stone was probably shifted around during the Union occupation of the plantation, and used as a block for Union tents, according to archaeological digs.

The site was beautiful to explore. Today the surrounding land is overgrown with forest, and there are many trails to hike through. A sense of history was very much alive throughout. There is something quite evocative in ruins, and a loss of preservation. However, there has been recent interest in preserving the ruins and interpreting the site as both a story of the owners of the plantation, the slaves which worked upon it.

I found myseld musing on how the Civil War literally and figuratively destroyed the site: both the physical structure of the plantation, and the system of slavery on which the plantation was built.