Yesterday, John and I took a mini tour of Boone Hall in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Rather than horse-drawn carriages going through these gates, there was a line of cars waiting to enter.
Boone Hall Plantation is one of America’s oldest working plantations, continually growing crops for over 320 years. This antebellum-era plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the tour of the house, the guide shared its history with us.
The earliest known reference to the site is in 1681 is when a land grant of 470 acres from owner Theophilus Patey, to his daughter Elizabeth and her new husband, Major John Boone as a wedding gift. The land became known as Boone Hall Plantation though it is unknown when a house was built on the site.
The Boones began growing rice, cotton, and indigo, and thus began a long history of providing Boone Hall crops for the South Carolina low country and the world.
The Horlbecks brothers, Henry and John, were architects who designed and built many buildings and landmarks in Charleston, purchased the plantation in the mid 1800’s. By 1850, Boone Hall was producing 4,000,000 bricks per year using 85 slaves. Besides manufacturing bricks, they ventured into commercial pecan production. The plantings became known as the world’s largest pecan groves in the early 1900’s.
This 1900 house was the residence then.
The Horlbeck family also improved the plantation by completing the Avenue of Oaks that lead up to the plantation house in 1843.
Thomas Stone, a Canadian, bought the plantation in the 1930’s. He built the present house and planted crops such as cabbage, potatoes and tomatoes. The crops became popular low country commodities for shipping to the northern markets. Mr. Stone used hand made bricks that were discovered in the woods at kilns previously used.
The house is three stories with a full basement and measures about 10,000 square feet. Unlike original plantation houses, the new house has a full-sized kitchen in the house along with seven bathrooms. The first floors houses the kitchen, library, dining room, loggia, and game room. The second floor has seven bedrooms, and the third floor has two rooms, a bathroom, and a full-sized attic.
My husband John has often talked about the Clydesdales that his father owned. Mammy and son Champ helped with the farming, and the four sons loved those horses for their strength, their height, and the excess hair near their feet. The two were gentle, and Champ was young enough to frolic in the field. When Mammy was tired of riders, she would stop, and the riders would simply slide off.
Rather than a tractor, Oliver used the horses to plow, pull the wagon which was his truck, and pull the mower, hayrake, and baler. These horses were trained to only his signals and his voice. For almost 20 years, they worked hard for Oliver until John’s dad died.
Ten of these majestic animals were visiting Boone Hall, so that is why we chose this excursion yesterday on a hot, June day in Charleston. (There is something about going down memory lane that is memorable.) Again there was gentleness, as the small hands of little people gingerly reached through the fences to touch the horses. We patted Ozzie, as he was getting a bath.
And then we went on the house tour to hear more about horses and their past with Boone Hall.
When the guide mentioned thoroughbreds, my ears pricked up. My dad grew up in Shelbyville, Kentucky, in between Lexington and Louisville. And the Derby run at Churchill Downs, the Keeneland race track in Lexington, and numerous other names flashed in my brain. This is what he shared.
Princequillo (1940-1964) was a thoroughbred race horse conceived in France and born in Ireland. He was known for his performances in long-distance races and his successes as a sire. When World War II broked out, his pregnant mare/mother was shipped to Ireland. As the war escalated and the German bombing of England increased, it was obvious that racing was going to be put on hold. So Cosquilla, the mare, and her colt were shipped to the United States.
In 1940, the Stones sold the plantation to Georgian prince Dimitri Jorjadze and his American wife Audrey. (Jorjadze was a member of the Russian Georgian nobility who became exiled after the overthrow of Tsarist Russia and the Bolshevik takeover.)The prince raced horses under the nom de course, Boone Hall Stable, with the most notable of his horses being Princequillo who in 1943 was the fastest distance runner in the United States.
Jorjadze placed him under the care of future Hall of Fame trainer Horation Luro. Princequillo won several important races at longer distances. He broke the Saratoga Race Course record for 1¾ miles, and his performances were such that he is considered to be the best long-distance runner. Princequillo’s descendants include Secretariat, Triple Crown Winner in 1973: 1977 Triple Crown Winner Seattle Slew; and US Horse of the Year winners, A.P. Indy and Cigar.
I truly love seeing random threads come together for weaving, and I loved the tour of the Boone Hall Plantation house. (below)
Winston Churchill – “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
I was able to see Cigar In Lexington at the horse park, Little did I know that when you enter the horse park they show a short movie. Starting off they had had some horses coming out of a park In Louisville and the lead horse and narrator was my God mother Ellen Diehl . I was shocked.
It is amazing how the threads of our lives mesh together, isn’t it?
Thank you for the great article on the race horses. We visited the Boone plantation a few years ago in 2017. It was driving my wife nuts as to which famous racehorse was descended from the boone plantation horses until we found your article.
Sometimes stories get lost. I’m glad this one filled in some gaps for your wife.