“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Calhoun Falls in Abbeville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)


Home of James Edward Calhoun

Millwood Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, July 19, 2008
1. Millwood Marker
Half mile southeast is Millwood, home of James Edward Calhoun, 1796-1898, son of John Ewing and Floride Bonneau Calhoun and brother-in-law of John C. Calhoun. After serving as lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, he developed Millwood, which ultimately included 25,000 acres. Seeing the value of Trotter's Shoals, a part of this estate, he was among the first to encourage the use of Southern water power. (Marker Number 1-2.)
Location. 34° 4.285′ N, 82° 38.182′ W. Marker is in Calhoun Falls, South Carolina, in Abbeville County. Marker is on Calhoun Falls Highway (State Highway 72), on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is directly across Highway 72 from the Olin D. Johnston marker. The Millwood Marker is about 35 feet off the road in a grove of trees. Marker is in this post office area: Calhoun Falls SC 29628, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Olin D. Johnston Memorial Boulevard (here, next to this marker); Colonists’ Crossing (approx. 1.1 miles away in Georgia); Welcome to Calhoun Falls State Recreation Area (approx. 2.3 miles away); Calhoun Falls World War I and II Veterans Monument (approx. 2.6 miles
Millwood Marker image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, July 19, 2008
2. Millwood Marker
away); Bethlehem Methodist Church (approx. 2.8 miles away in Georgia); Richard B. Russell Dam (approx. 4.2 miles away); Gov. Heard’s Grave (approx. 4.4 miles away in Georgia but has been reported missing); Gov. Heard’s Home (approx. 6.2 miles away in Georgia); "Old Dan Tucker" (approx. 6.2 miles away in Georgia); USS Scorpion (SS-278) (approx. 7.4 miles away in Georgia). Click for a list of all markers in Calhoun Falls.
More about this marker. The exact date the marker was erected is unknown. Based upon it's design, it was sometime between 1950 and 1956. The neighboring town of Calhoun Falls was named for James Edward Calhoun.
Also see . . .
1. Development of Millwood Plantation. The Piedmont of the Appalachian Mountains extends from New York state to Alabama and encompasses all of the northwestern part of South Carolina except a mountainous thin strip of Oconee and Pickens counties. (Submitted on July 22, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Calhoun Falls Culture Change: After the Mill Closes.
James Edward Calhoun<br>1798-1889 image. Click for full size.
3. James Edward Calhoun
An excellent article with references to Calhoun Fall's past and how this former mill town of 2,400 is ready for the future. (Submitted on July 22, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. Millwood Plantation - Abbeville County, South Carolina SC. Two of the property's first structures were a gristmill and a millrace, hence Millwood. (Submitted on July 25, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 

4. Sankofa's Slavery Data Collection: Millwood Plantation. Millwood was the site of a large plantation built in 1833. (Submitted on November 14, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
Additional comments.
1. James Edward Calhoun and Millwood
The family relationships in the Calhoun family can be confusing. Originally, there were two branches of the family: the Calhouns and the Colhouns. The two branches were joined with the marriage of John C. Calhoun and his wife (and first cousin) Floride Colhoun. James Edward was Floride's brother, making him also John C's first cousin and brother-in-law. He was a son of John Caldwell Calhoun, a Civil War veteran who served in the Confederate Army and was present at the battle of Fort Sumter. The elder Calhoun later settled in New York.

James Edward changed his name to the more accepted Calhoun spelling. He developed
Millwood Plantation After the Civil War image. Click for full size.
4. Millwood Plantation After the Civil War
Calhoun's property covered 25 miles of land along the Savannah River, a massive plantation for the post-Civil War years.
Millwood into a thriving plantation that operated successfully for his entire life. He was quick to notice that the nearby Trotter's Shoals provided a good location for a mill. Calhoun, however, wanted a mill of his own. Construction on Calhoun's Mill was completed in 1834. Its turbines were powered by a 14-foot drop of water. Millwood consisted of over 10,000 acres, making it one of the largest plantations in South Carolina. At the outbreak of the Civil War, nearly 200 slaves lived and worked at Millwood.

Millwood was located on the Savannah River about 5 miles west of the town of Calhoun Falls, S.C. Millwood was the site of a large plantation built in 1833. The plantation was constructed by James E. Calhoun (Colhoun), brother-in-law and cousin of John C. Calhoun, American statesman and Vice President of the United States. Millwood was a concentrated village allowing overseers to exercise control over about 200 slaves, livestock, storage facilities and workshops. One of the first structures built was a gristmill and millrace, completed in 1834. Turbines for the mill were powered by water with a 14-foot drop. Excavation of the site uncovered the foundation remains and debris from about 45 structures inhabited until 1889. In all, Millwood consisted of about 10,000 acres of land. Major crops were cotton and corn. After the decline of the cotton economy following the Civil
Millwood Plantation image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
5. Millwood Plantation
The hills in the foreground were the result of erosion caused by poor farming techniques.
War, Calhoun faced great financial losses. The concentrated population of tenants, overseers and slaves were dispersed to about one house per 30-40 acres. Large fields were replaced by numerous small ones, and a network of roads was built to maintain contacts. Calhoun managed to keep most of his land by renting to tenants and by renting the use of water power and a gold mining operation. Following Calhoun's death in 1889, a board of trustees continued to rent and manage the estate. The main village became a locally popular "resort" in the early 20th century. Duke Power Company acquired the property in the 1940s to develop hydroelectric power. Upon learning of the plans for the Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake project, the company used the land instead for pulpwood cultivation." (Source: In Search of the Past: A Summary of Cultural Resources Investigations in the Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake Area.)

After the death of his wife Maria Simkins in 1844, Calhoun became known as the "Hermit of Millwood". He was rarely seen, preferring his plantation to the rest of Abbeville District.

James Edward Calhoun died October 31, 1889 at the age of 91. He was buried at St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery, Pendleton, S.C.
    — Submitted August 22, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

House on the Millwood Plantation image. Click for full size.
By, circa 1875
6. House on the Millwood Plantation
sectionheadg>2. Try to Document Dam's History is Under Way
Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune
June 26, 1981

CALHOUN FALLS, S.C. (AP) - An intense archaeological effort is under way throughout the floor plain of the Richard B. Russell Dam project to document the area's extensive history before it is covered by lake waters.

The results have been voluminous, although much is still to be done before July 1984, when back-up waters from Russell Dam inundate 26,650 acres along what is now an open, 29-mile stretch of the Savannah River.

For the archaeologists, an earlier date of January 1982 looms on the horizon for completing as much work as possible, Jim Cobb, chief project archaeologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Thursday.

Next January, the Corps will close the Savannah River diversion channel around the dam. Although the river will continue to flow through the dam, heavy rains could swell the river to the projected lake level.

Since 1977, researchers contracted by the Corps have charted 350 prehistoric and 235 historic sites in the area, Cobb said. The variety of the archaeologists' findings were revealed Thursday in a tour of three of the sites.

Just below the S.C. Highway 78 bridge over the Savannah near Calhoun Falls are the remains of the 10,000-acre Millwood Plantation, owned a century ago by James
Millwood House image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
7. Millwood House
Calhoun's last residence is the building with two chimneys. The Millwood house was far from the grand mansions of the Lowcountry plantations.
Edward Calhoun.

About eight miles north along the Rocky River is the site of Fort Independent, a Revolutionary War fortification burned by the British in 1779.

About the same distance up the Savannah River in Elbert County, Ga., is the Rucker's Bottom prehistoric site. Artifacts dating from 12,000 to 10,000 B.C. have been found there.

Cobb said researchers were able to learn a great deal about Millwood Plantation from documents and photographs taken in the 1870s.

The plantation, leveled to its foundations at the turn of the century and now covered in dense overgrowth, was established in 1832, according to Annette Nekola, who is leading an excavation team from Mid-America Research Center in Chicago.

"The thing that makes this most unique," she said, "is that it is one of the few Piedmont plantations to be excavated."

She said Millwood, which included about 33 buildings and houses at least 180 slaves, was far more "rustic" than the typical Lowcountry plantation. It also was more diversified, producing timber and grain in addition to cotton.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery at Millwood was the recovery of the oak turbine shaft at the plantation's grist mill. More than 100 years ago, Miss Nekola noted, Calhoun was interested in harnessing the power of the Savannah River.

There were no definitive documents,
House on Millwood Plantation image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
8. House on Millwood Plantation
however, on Fort Independence.

"We do not know where it was," Cobb said. "In fact it was not located in the inventory. There were just some suggestions that there was a Fort Royal or Fort Independence in the area."

Cobb said the site of the fort finally was determined with the help of local residents. Since last November, excavation has unearthed the cellar of apparently a two-story log house around which the fort was built.

Beverly Bastion, leading a research team from Building Conservation Technology of Nashville, Tenn., said a wealth of artifacts have been found at the fort, including period glass, nails, belt buckles, a pocket watch cover and lead-crystal goblets.

She said the patriot fort, built by Capt. Robert Anderson around 1768, was destroyed by the British in a surprise attack when Anderson and his men were away. The British troops, who were later defeated by Anderson's troops, looted the fort before burning it, she said.

Cobb said archaeologists knew about Rucker's Bottom prehistoric site before work was begun there earlier this year, but the "extend and complexity' of its history was not determined until excavations began.
    — Submitted May 24, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

3. Millwood Plantation, South Carolina
Pottery Shard from Millwood Plantation image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
9. Pottery Shard from Millwood Plantation
This blue, pearlware platter rim was found during the Millwood excavation.

Millwood Plantation was located on the banks of the Savannah River principally in north-western South Carolina, but a small portion of it was also located across the river in Georgia. James Edward Calhoun, brother-in-law and cousin of the renowned Southern statesman John C. Calhoun, owned the estate from 1832 until his death in 1889. Calhoun was a well-educated Southern gentleman who had served with the famous Stephen H. Long Expedition through the upper U.S. Mid-west in 1823. Millwood was situated in a topographically rugged region, but by 1860 Calhoun had transformed the plantation into a large estate covering over 6,000 acres and housing almost 200 African Americans slaves. Emancipated slaves continued to live on the estate lands as tenant farmers after Calhoun's death until about 1925, at which time local residents began to use the property as a fishing camp. The site is not under the water of the Richard B. Russell Reservoir.

The site of Millwood Plantation was excavated in 1980 and 1981 under the direction of Charles Orser as part of the large US National Park Service project within the area that would contain the reservoir. Archaeologists recovered almost 62,000 artifacts from inside and immediately around 28 stone building foundations that remained at the site. The structures included three uniformly small, square slave cabins, several houses once inhabited
Tenant Farmers on Millwood image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
10. Tenant Farmers on Millwood
by tenant farmers, a sorghum processing station, a mill building and Calhoun's dwelling.

One of the most important aspects of the research at Millwood Plantation is that it is one of only a handful of large-scale projects to focus on the important period of transition from slavery to tenant farming. Included in this important shift was a series of significant social transformations as well. One example appears on the changes in the settlement pattern at the plantation. Before the American Civil War (1832-61), the agricultural labourers (held in bondage as slaves) lived in nucleated settlements, or quarters, situated relatively close to their place of work. This settlement process changed with emancipation, and during a period of great social change (1865-1875), both at Millwood and throughout the entire South, the newly freed slaves inhabited smaller, more dispersed, nucleated settlements. The farmers who lived in these small clusters of homes worked in "squads' under the direction of a "leader." These semi-autonomous groups were typically composed of extended families and contained around ten workers. The nucleated, post-war clusters gradually disappeared as freedmen and women sought greater freedom from direct supervision, and they constructed new houses throughout the estate lands. (Source: Encyclopedia of Historical Archaeology by Charles E. Orser, Jr. (2002),
African American Women Washing Clothes at Millwood image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
11. African American Women Washing Clothes at Millwood
pgs 400-401.)
    — Submitted May 24, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

4. The Shape of Millwood
James Edward Calhoun as the legend goes, was so fond of the Navy, he built his home in the shape of a boat, and slept in a hammock. True or not, Calhoun, relative of former Vice President, John C. Calhoun, was the prosperous, innovative owner of Millwood, a 10,000 acre plantation. After traveling the globe, Calhoun inherited Millwood in the 1830s, where he built a grist mill, two ferries, a cotton gin and a gold mine. (Source:
    — Submitted November 14, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

5. James E. Calhoun and Maria Simkins
A month after her marriage to Thomas Clemson, Anna Calhoun (John C. Calhoun's daughter) was ecstatic at Maria Simkins’ plans to wed Anna’s very own uncle, James Edward Calhoun. Anna and Maria were life-long friends. Surprised that the two, who had known one another for so long, should suddenly make such a match, Anna found her uncle James, a forty-year-old bachelor, to be quite smitten with Maria’s perfections and "more altered, by love," than anyone she had ever seen.
Gold Mine Sluice on Millwood image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
12. Gold Mine Sluice on Millwood
To her brother Patrick, who was at West Point, she asked in confidence: "What do you think, of your aunt Maria?" Such sentiments as those Anna attributed to her uncle James were seen typically among nine-teenth-century youth but not restricted to them alone. Historian Orville Vernon Burton cites James Edward Calhoun’s feelings for "Anna Clemson’s best friend, Maria Simkins of Edgefield," as not unlike those of younger men who under familial and societal pressure to excel discovered security in love in "what could otherwise be a very unsure world."

Anna’s Uncle James, a prominent planter and slave-owner along an upper stretch of the Savannah River, had initially inherited both land and slaves from his father, United States Senator John Ewing Colhoun. James apparently changed, on his own, the spelling of his surname, reverting to that of his immigrant ancestor, James Patrick Calhoun, possibly the first of the Clan Colquhoun to "Americanize," as such, the family name. On the other hand, James’s brother, John Ewing Colhoun, Anna’s uncle, who resided with his family at Keowee, retained the spelling change that their father himself had made at the time of the American Revolution. With the marriage of their sister Floride Bonneau Colhoun (Anna’s mother) to their father’s cousin, John C. Calhoun, Floride’s name, therefore, changed to his. Anna’s parents were, in fact, only first
Remains of Two Boilers Used to Make Molasses <br>Called a "French Train" image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
13. Remains of Two Boilers Used to Make Molasses
Called a "French Train"
cousins once removed.

Ending eleven years of service in the navy in 1829, the thirty-one-year-old James returned to South Carolina to take over the management of his land, applying the most advanced agricultural and mechanical innovations. From his first plantation, called Mid-way, he soon shifted his operations to another area, called Millwood. By 1834, he began building his home there on acreage that he had bought and combined with land he had inherited. As the master of Millwood, he, like other large landowners and less affluent farmers, as well, depended on slave labor for his work force. These field hands included men, women and children who usually worked in labor gangs subject to their owners’ temperaments. Tyrannical treatment of those in bondage was common, and, in a letter written soon after he moved to Millwood, James Calhoun ordered a runaway slave, if caught, to be whipped one hundred times. He even maintained the option to administer the punishment himself to make an example.

James Calhoun and Maria Simkins were married in Washington, D.C. on February 4, 1839, with Anna, then in the first trimester of pregnancy, at her friend’s side. The newlyweds went on to New York, taking with them Maria’s younger sister, Emma who was returning there to school. Anna continued to travel with her husband in the following months and announced to her "dear auntie"
Mule Driven Rotary Press image. Click for full size.
By, 1875
14. Mule Driven Rotary Press
Maria, now the mistress of Millwood, their intention to return to the South and stop first at the home of James and Maria Calhoun. Glad to shortly embrace Maria once more, Anna declared, "I did not know I cared so much for all of you, as I find I do."

Back at Fort Hill for the birth of her firstborn, in August, and suffering there the loss of her child at three weeks, Anna found the infant’s death difficult to bear. She was much gratified at Clemson’s decision to spend the winter in the South and very pleased to stay for a time with her uncle James and with Maria at Millwood. When her uncle and her husband agreed to crop together for at least a year or more, she and Maria were so veryhappy at the thought of being together.

However, seriously weakened by sickness from the fever epidemic that had taken the life of her infant child, Anna continued in a state of ill-health while at Millwood. There, her uncle added an extra room to accommodate her and her husband, who was going to manage the nearby Midway plantation. Unfortunately for both Anna and Maria, the arrangement between the men did not work out because Clemson, after several months, found James to be completely ineffectual in everything about farming and concluded that he could do neither James nor himself justice.

Advised by his father-in-law, John C. Calhoun, to remain no longer at Millwood and
James Edward Calhoun Tombstone<br>St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Pendleton, SC image. Click for full size.
By Brian Scott, November 27, 2008
15. James Edward Calhoun Tombstone
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Pendleton, SC
The small village of Pendleton became the second home for the Calhoun fmaily when John C. Calhoun made Fort Hill Plantation (now on the campus of Clemson University) his new home in the early 1830s. St. Paul's cemetery holds the remains of dozens of members of the Calhoun family.
to depart on civil terms, Clemson and Anna moved back to Fort Hill in the fall of 1840. Describing the whole situation to her brother Patrick as an embarrassing subject, especially to herself and her husband, Anna maintained that they were on the best terms with her uncle James and did not want him to know the true reason for their leaving.

Maria Simkins Calhoun, at twenty-seven years of age, died in childbirth, with her baby, on April 17, 1844. The trag-edy of this loss so overwhelmed her husband James that he sought sanctuary at Millwood for the rest of his life. (Source: Legacy of a Southern Lady: Anna Clemson Calhoun, 1817-1875 by Ann Ratliff Russell (2007), pgs 75-77.)
    — Submitted May 24, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

6. Trotter's Shoals
Trotter's Shoals was home to one of the two mills in the area. It was located about four miles west of Calhoun Falls. During the 1870s there was a small gold mining operation at Trotter's Shoals. So important was the Trotter's Shoals, it's name has been found on pieces of correspondence from the region.
    — Submitted August 22, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

7. Marker Style
The marker shown reflects the earliest style of South Carolina Historical Markers. It was in use between the 1930s and 1955s. The original design was cast aluminum and crowned with an encircled palmetto tree. The markers were painted silver with black lettering.
    — Submitted September 16, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

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