Andrew Pickens. Hopewell Plantation
Revolutionary Family Home Of General Andrew Pickens
Andrew Pickens. Today Hopewell Plantation sits quietly on the shoreline of Lake Hartwell, yet, more than two hundred years ago, the up–country farm was a bustling center of trade. The land had been home to the Cherokee Indians prior to the American Revolution. The village of Esseneca was located near the confluence of the Keowee and the Twelve Mile River, which formed the Seneca River. Native Americans settled at the hairpin turn, slowed the current, and provided a ford of the stream that allowed for portions of the village on both sides of the river.
William Bartram visited Esseneca twice during his travels, describing the Cherokee town and residents. It was on this land that negotiations between the Native Americans and the new American government would take place. Born on September 13, 1739, Andrew Pickens of Paxtang, Pennsylvania, would eventually find himself a big player in these negotiations. When he was a young teenager, his family traveled along the Great Wagon Road settling along Waxhaw Creek in 1752. By 1765, Pickens had met young Rebecca Floride Calhoun and the two had married and moved to Abbeville, South Carolina.
Beginning their family two years later, the Pickens went on to have twelve children who would continue the family’s legacy of service. In 1775 Pickens reported for military duty during the Snow Campaign to Continental commander Brigadier General Andrew Williamson. He went on to participate in the Battle of Seneca Town (1776), in which his comrade, Francis Salvador, would be remembered as the first Jewish-American patriot to die in the Revolution.
Pickens would later garrison his men at the wooden stockade Fort Rutledge as a frontier outpost. With the surrender of the British in 1783, the now-General Pickens returned home to his family. Due to his valiant efforts, he was able to obtain a sizable land grant from the state of South Carolina in 1784. He purchased 573 acres along the Seneca River on May 21, 1784, and an additional 560 acres on March 25, 1785. Shortly after, the construction of his first residence on the Hopewell Plantation commenced. Elected to public office,
Pickens served in the South Carolina House of Representatives and in the Third US Congress. He also acted as a commissioner of Indian Affairs, in which capacity he would meet with representatives of the Southern Tribes, along with Benjamin Hawkins, Joseph Martin, and Lachlan MacIntosh on behalf of the new United States and sign the Hopewell Treaties with the Cherokee in 1785 and with the Choctaw and Chickasaw in 1786. The acceptance of each agreement occurred under a huge oak tree on the Hopewell Plantation, later referred to as the Treaty Oak, which stood into the early twentieth century.
Native-American delegations included Chief Corn Tassel, the Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Nancy Ward, Chief Piomingo of the Chickasaw nation, and Chief Yockonahoma of the Choctaw nation. Pickens was a popular choice to lead the negotiations, as he had been given the name Skyagunsta or Wizard Owl by the Cherokee during the Revolution. Pickens was also a slave owner, and he developed a special friendship with his manservant Richard Pickens. Richard fought in the Battle of Cowpens in 1781 with Pickens.
Upon his death, General Pickens requested the freedom of Richard, his wife Fillis, as well as six other slaves by the names of Jame, Seala, Bob, Clarase, Sambo, and July. Additionally, the eight slaves were to receive land, livestock, and the tools needed to survive. Sadly, it is unknown if this occurred. Hopewell’s slave history is a work in progress, but a nearby antebellum cemetery at Cherry Farm has the graves of African-Americans from the antebellum period to the early twentieth century.
Hopewell Plantation’s history and structures are being researched, and a master plan is underway to restore the house and interpret the evolution of the site in the antebellum era. Locations of the outbuildings have already been found utilizing ground-penetrating radar. As written on his epitaph at the nearby Old Stone Church, where Andrew Pickens served as a Presbyterian elder, “He was a Christian, a Patriot & Soldier: His Character & actions are incorporated with the history of his Country.” General Andrew Pickens’s bravery and political astuteness undoubtedly contributed to America’s independence.
Plantations and Historic Homes of South Carolina
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