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Boone Hall Plantation and Secretariet

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Horlbeck family also improved the plantation by completing the Avenue of Oaks that lead up to the plantation house in 1843.

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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.

 But crops have not always been an integral part of this farm.

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.

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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.

Prince Dimitri Jorjadze

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.

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Seattle Slew

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Secretariat

I truly love seeing random threads come together for weaving, and I loved the tour of the Boone Hall Plantation house. (below)

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Winston Churchill – “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

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“And They’re Off!”

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It’s Derby week in Louisville, in Kentucky, in the United States, and in the world! What a history this one horse race has.

Dating back to 1875, the Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States. During two world wars and the Great Depression, this race was still run by three-year-old Thorougbreds.

Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark – famous for the Lewis and Clark expedition, attended the Epsom Derby in England. This horse race had been run since 1780. He then traveled to France and hobnobbed with the French Jockey Club.

Returning to America, he brought back a dream for a spectacular horse race in America. John and Henry Churchill, two of his uncles gave him the land to develop a racetrack. The Louisville Jockey Club was formed, and they raised the funds to build the racetrack. Fifteen horses, on May 17, 1875, raced one-and-a-half miles to the cheers of around 10,000 spectators. Aristides won, and the rest is history.

Traditions have multiplied through the years, as has the popularity of this event. Beautiful hats vie with the magnificent horses. Mint juleps are mixed and sold by the thousands; silver and pewter mint julep cups are listed on bridal registries. Standing to sing “My Old Kentucky Home” by Stephen Foster is a stirring and enthusiastic activity. Red roses crown the winner.

This Saturday we will gather in our home to watch the most exciting two minutes in sports. As Daddy taught us, we will stand to sing “My Old Kentucky Home.” There will be red roses on the table. Leaning forward, we will wait for the words, “And they’re off!” And after the race, we will celebrate the winner with Derby pie.

Family traditions are varied. For us, we are now teaching the fourth generation to enjoy the Kentucky Derby.

Aren’t family traditions the best? Yesterday, for lunch, I served my grandmother’s spaghetti casserole, Mom’s lime pie, and my banana pudding. On the table were my great grandmother’s pink peonies. Family traditions help to define us and give us a sense of being a part of those we know and those we don’t know.

Cookie Monster loves cookies, and I like what he says about friends. I believe this applies to families, too.

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May Events:
May 10 – Kings Mountain Chapter NSDAR
May 12 – Star Fort Chapter NSDAR
May 24 – Mt Ariel Chapter NSDAR
May 28 – Colonial Faire in Fountain Inn