Sunday, December 30, 2012
When South Carolina congressmen became more vociferous about the supposedly false theories of modern science, I began to wonder how Charleston had ever produced the important innovations in botany that underlay its lifestyle: the selection of new types of rice and roses. Periodically, I’ll be publishing the result of my inquiries into the lives of two innovative growers, Hezekiah Maham (rice) and John Champneys (roses). Previous entries can be found under “South Carolina” in the index at the right.
In this entry in the first paragraph, we see the first signs that Maham had the mind of an innovator, and farther down, an indication of the agricultural cultural crisis he faced after the war.
Weather: Last snow 12/24/12; 9:47 hours of daylight today.
The snow has been evaporating, then condensing into clouds when the heat of the sun disappeared. The clouds trapped the heat, and kept the nights a bit warmer than otherwise. One day, the moisture even precipitated into a light dusting of snow. When the snow is gone, there will be nothing left to insulate us from the cold of the altitude.
What’s still green: Few rose stems; juniper, pine, and other evergreens; Madonna lily, yucca, pet garlic, grape hyacinth, vinca, sea pink, snapdragon, moss phlox, alfilerillo, sweet pea, some hollyhock and winecup mallow leaves; needle grass cores.
Arborvitae and Japanese honeysuckle have browned; many vinca leaves have died.
What’s red: Cholla; apple, apricot and sandbar willow branches; coral beardtongue, pink, small-leaved soapwort, exposed pink evening primrose leaves.
What’s grey or blue: Snow-in-summer, winterfat, golden hairy aster leaves; western stickseed seedlings.
What’s yellow: Globe willow branches.
What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia, petunias.
Animal sightings: Small brown birds.
Weekly update: For nearly ten years, war dominated Hazekiah Maham’s life. His easy years of promotion, and one assumes, comradery and competence peaked in April, 1781, when he built a log tower to give rebel soldiers the height necessary to fire at the otherwise impregnable Fort Watson. While others credit Thomas Taylor with devising the first temporary structure from fence rails at Fort Granby in February, Maham was the one who adapted the idea and improved the construction with logs, so that it became a tactic used the end of May at Augusta.
Four months later, in July, the nature of Maham’s war changed when Thomas Sumter led an attack on the British near Charleston. At the first skirmish at Biggin’s Church on July 16, one of Peter Horry’s troops betrayed their position with a gun that failed to fire and they retreated. A slave told the British where they went, and they were ambushed in camp.
The next day, the British attacked at Quinby Bridge near the Cooper River. Maham’s troops charged to take the howitzer. In the fierce, close combat Maham’s horse was killed. The rebels fell back to Thomas Shubrick’s plantation. Many in Francis Marion’s Brigade of Partisans were killed or wounded when Sumter failed to send artillery to support them. Of the 555 involved 30 were killed and 30 wounded. The dead were buried near where they fell.
In September, the Continental army, commanded by Nathaniel Greene, engaged the British at Eutaw Springs, to stop them from going north to join Charles Cornwallis in Virginia. Technically, Greene lost in the deadliest battle in the south, but not before neutralizing the British troops. Maham’s commander, William Henderson was wounded.
The Swamp Fox’s unit was so badly depleted he was ordered to raise two new regiments, one led by Maham, the other by Peter Horry. The two men had been feuding, and Maham refused to work with Horry.
One reason for the conflict may have been the tensions that arise when an aristocratic society is confronted by the realities of prolonged war where military talent is more widely distributed among the lower orders, and men no longer tolerate incompetent commanders. Thomas Taylor had publically refused to obey an order from the Gamecock, Thomas Sumter, after Shubrick’s plantation.
At some time, Maham was staying with friends when he woke in the night, thinking he was being attacked, grabbed his sword and began slashing clothes that hung by the window. His wife’s wealthy relatives rather thought it a funny anecdote to tell about a man who had married into their family, but modern readers will recognize a common post-combat reaction made worse by an environment where the enemy had eyes everywhere.
After Cornwallis surrendered in November, Maham’s men were attacked in January at Vidau’s Bridge and in February at Durant’s plantation and Tydiman’s plantation. In each case, the British commanders knew the numbers of men Marion commanded. In February they not only knew Marion and Maham were attending the General Assembly at Jacksonborough and that Maham and Horry were feuding, but that the man Maham left in charge had left camp.
Four were killed and 14 wounded in January; 14 were killed and 9 wounded in February. The last battle left the units of both Horry and Maham so ravaged, the governor, John Rutledge, ordered the two merged. When Marion, made Maham commander, ostensibly because he had been a colonel longer, Horry resigned in protest.
When Horry returned to the plantation he’d inherited from his father near Wiynah Bay, he found his neighbor’s slaves had run away, leaving sweet potatoes and cotton they’d been growing for themselves. He asked to harvest the crops to support his own slaves.
In March, Maham returned home to see a doctor about a lingering fever. A runaway slave informed the loyalists. James Robins, a captain at Tydiman’s Plantation, appeared to force him to sign papers he wouldn’t fight any longer, and left him on parole. Greene ordered him to stay home and accept his situation.
Frederick Porcher remembers that when Maham returned the area “was full of disaster to the agriculturist.” The primary crop had been indigo, which no longer was supported by British subsidies, and the Santee swamp was too prone to floods for other crops. To make matters worse, the state was refusing to pay Marion’s men, and the credit breakdown that sparked riots in Charles Town spread to the hinterland.
Maham’s wife Mary died in January, 1784. By September he was so deeply in debt, the sheriff was serving him papers. When his deputy appeared, Maham drew his sword and forced the man to eat the papers. Marion appeared to smooth over the situation, but his family says Maham continued to be “more and more irritable.”
He died in 1789, only 50 years old.
Hazekiah Maham’s War:
Mar Elected captain in Isaac Huger’s 1st Regiment of Riflemen
Sep 24-Oct 19 Stono Ferry, captain of grenadier company under Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Nov 8 Major in the SC 1st Regiment, resign 11/8
nd Major under Daniel Horry in SC Light Dragoons, cousin of Peter Horry
Feb 18-22 Stono Ferry, major with Daniel Horry’s SC State Dragoons
Mar 6-7 Ferguson’s Plantation, major, SC State Calvary
May 12 Charleston surrender
Aug Lieutenant colonel under Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox
Apr 15-23 Fort Watson, major SC State Calvary under Francis Marion
Jul 16 Biggin’s Church, Lieutenant Colonel under Thomas Sumter, SC Continentals
Jul 17 Quinby Bridge and Shubrick’s Plantation, lieutenant colonel, Maham’s Light Dragoons, under Thomas Sumter, SC Continentals
Aug 31 Parker’s Ferry under Francis Marion, SC Continentals and Militia
Sep 8 Eutaw Springs, lieutenant colonel under William Henderson, SC State Troops and Militia
Nov 10 Charles Cornwallis surrender at Yorktown
Nov Colonel and commander of SC 3rd Regiment of State Dragoon under Francis Marion
Nov 18 Fair Lawn under Francis Marion
Jan 3 Vidau’s Bridge, Maham’s Light Dragoons under John Caraway Smith, SC State Troops
Feb 24 Durant’s Plantation, Strawberry Ferry, Maham’s Light Dragoons under John Caraway Smith
Feb 25 Tydiman’s Plantation, Mahan’s Dragoons under John Caraway Smith
Mar Captured by British at home, paroled
Oct 16 Monck’s Corner
nd Chase down thieves who steal his relatives prize horse
Gordon, John W. South Carolina and the American Revolution, 2003.
Horry, Peter. Letter to Colonel Grimké, 10 June 1782, quoted by Joyce E. Chaplin, An Anxious Pursuit: Agricultural Innovation and Modernity in the Lower South, 1730-1815, 1993; probably John Faucheraud Grimké who may have been the nominal owner of the neighbor’s land. Grimké was married to Mary Smith, a descendant of the second landgrave Thomas Smith, who bought the grant of Wiynah Bay in 1711; the Grimkés were centered to the south in Beaufort.
Johnson, Joseph. Traditions and Reminiscences, Chiefly of the American Revolution in the South, 1851.
Lewis, J. D. The American Revolution website.
O’Kelley, Patrick. Nothing but Blood and Slaughter: The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas, 4 volumes, 2004-2005.
Porcher, Frederick A. Historical and Social Sketch of Craven County, no date.
Photographs: What’s not dormant.
1. Small-leaved soapwort, in the shadow of the wood retaining wall, 25 December 2012.
2. Pink evening primrose, under last year’s leaves and near the wood retaining wall, 25 December 2012.
3. Western stickseed in gravel driveway, 29 December 2012.
4. Mossy phlox near the wood retaining wall, 29 December 2012; there appears to be new growth since the snow
5. Grape hyacinth leaves as the sun melts on the western side of the house, 29 December 2012.
6. Narrow leaved yucca, on the west side of the house where the snow melts quickly, 25 December 2012.
7. Pet garlic in the south drip line where the snow never lasts, 28 December 2012; there were more green leaves before the snow.
8. Alfilerillo in the gravel drive, near the stickseed, 28 December 2012; the darkening and reddening at the edges occurred after the snow.
9. Vinca near the house where snow disappears quickly, 25 December 2012; many leaves died after the snow.
10. Cholla cactus in the open, 25 December 2012; the stems continue to redden.
11. Madonna lily above the western drip line in the shadow of the garage, 25 December 2012.
12. Shasta daisy in the ice of the western drip line of the garage, 25 December 2012; the leaves look in better condition than those of the plant farther north that does not get a little sun every day.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Weather: Cold afternoons; last snow/rain 12/19/12; 9:45 hours of daylight today.
What’s still green: Few rose stems; juniper, pine, and other evergreens, yucca; Japanese honeysuckle, vinca, sea pink, snapdragon leaves.
What’s red: Cholla; apple, apricot and sandbar willow branches; coral beardtongue, exposed pink evening primrose leaves.
What’s grey or blue: Snow-in-summer, pink, winterfat leaves.
What’s yellow: Globe willow branches.
What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia, petunias. Found a small brown mushroom in one of the petunia pots.
Animal sightings: Rabbit tracks in the snow Sunday; small brown birds.
Weekly update: The solstice occurred this week. I’ve slowly learned at this altitude with our clear skies and arid rain patterns, it usually is the coldest time of the year.
We had the hope of more snow on Wednesday. Temperatures warmed as the clouds moved in, melting some of the little snow we got a week ago Friday and Sunday. By the time they arrived, it was too warm to snow and some rain, very little, fell instead, washing away more of the precious cover.
Since Wednesday, temperatures have been cold. Mornings have been around 10, not quite as cold as two weeks ago, but who quibbles with how much below 10, so long its above zero? Several afternoons, the temperature just rose above freezing late in the day. Little snow has disappeared since.
There are two snow patterns in my yard: those created by man and those by nature. The snow always disappears on the east side of my house and the south side of the garage. I think the white stucco amplifies the effects of the heat.
The only plants that do well are those from even colder, harsher climates like the snow-in-summer and the sea pinks. Others cuddle their green leaves under their mantles of last summer’s growth.
The north and west sides of buildings and fences are shadowed and keep their snow longer.
The roofs, with their drip lines, create their own environments. On the south side of the house the dripping creates a wet area, which is the one place I’ve been able to grow some types of roses, mainly floribundas and root stock. I think part of the success has been the grasses which have come up and provide mulch that cannot blow away. The height of the stalks helps keep the roses’ own leaves in place.
On the west side of the garage, it is always so cold the drip line turns into an ice trough. It’s along its edges I’ve been able to grow lily and tulip bulbs which need winter cold. Otherwise, cold weather garden phlox survives.
The rest of the yard is under nature’s control. To the north, up hill, the land was destroyed before I arrived, and supports very little grass. For a while snakeweed threatened, and now winterfat is spreading.
When I looked out on the Solstice, the winterfat bushes had no snow around them. Either their woolly coats kept if from landing, or the warmth emanating from their biomasses warmed the immediate areas. But between the bushes, snow persists. Hopefully, it creates an incubating environment for recovery by grasses, counteracting the space aggrandizing tendencies of the shrubs that want to replace prairie with steppe.
About midway down the gentle slope, my neighbor to the east built his metal barn, with a culvert under my drive to direct the excess water. Of course, it doesn’t quite work. Whenever it rains in the summer, the winds also are blowing, and the water on the roof lands below the culvert line. But it still must do something, because there’s a line a grass that grows every year along a boundary that slopes southwest from the culvert.
That area has grassed itself. The grasses have kept more of the snow.
Directly west of the house, more damage was done to the land when the house was built, and it never has quite recovered. Salt bushes and winterfat try; June grass sprouts when the spring is wet, then dies. This summer, the surface was being to shell over, so water couldn’t penetrate. I hope the snow trapped by the shadow of the house is breaking that hardened surface with its daily freeze and thaw cycles.
The salt bushes and winterfat took over the area southwest of the septic field. The salt bushes aren’t as hostile to the snow as the winterfat, but then their mere size intimidates anything that might want to grow too near. They allow some snow in their north side shadows which will melt and run down to their roots.
Behind the house, I was able to preserve the original needle grasses. There the snow also melts, but like the area maintained by the culvert, there are snow covered swaths between the bunches of brown vegetation. The area shadowed by the fence keeps more than the open area between the fence and the house.
Photographs: All pictures taken 21 December 2012.
1. Sea pink on east side of house, surrounded by a little snow.
2. Snow-in-summer on east side of house, with no snow.
3. Green leaves of large-leaved soapwort, buried under debris on east side of house; no snow in area.
4. Lead plant in undisturbed snow on west side of house.
5. Rose with no snow in drip line of south side of house, protected by leaves from nearby beauty bush.
6. Iced in drip line on west side of garage.
7. Winterfat in open area north of house, with no snow near it.
8. Pattern of winterfat in open area north of house rejecting snow.
9. Natural grasses north of house, with snow between bunches.
10. June grass clumps in shadow of west side of house, with snow between bunches.
11. Salt bush copse in open area southwest of house, with little snow.
12. Natural grasses south of house, with more snow near fence.
13. However, some snow survives in areas in back beyond the shadows of the fence and house.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Weather: Finally some snow Friday, with some more last night; 9:46 hours of daylight today.
What’s still green: Rose stems, juniper, pine, and other evergreens, yucca, Japanese honeysuckle, vinca.
What’s red: Cholla; apple, apricot and sandbar willow branches.
What’s grey or blue: Winterfat leaves.
What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia, petunias.
Animal sightings: Robins, chickadees after the snow stopped Friday. The robins must have been migrating when they got caught in the storm. When I first saw them, there were in the road on the river side of my land, and scrounging for seeds among the native shrubs. Later, they moved a bit inland to my cherry tree, and then to the locust. Yesterday, I saw one in the densely branched rose of Sharon.
Weekly update: A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend in Santa Fé who was recommending I water my plants, especially the new fruit trees. He’d been irrigating some of his, and said it took nearly half an hour to put enough water in the ground for it to begin puddling on the surface.
I mumbled something about it being much too cold to water where I was. Our temperatures, morning and night had been running at least ten degrees below his. Once trees enter their dormancy phase, I’m afraid to do anything except leave it to nature and hope.
I’ve thought some since about our dissimilar reactions to this fall. Some can be attributed to the differences between being raised in Michigan and in eastern Texas where watering does save shrubs in cold spells. But then the plants there are not as cold hardy as the ones growing here.
My biggest concern was that we were having very cold mornings, with temperatures below 10f, and no snow cover to insulate plants against daily extremes. When it snowed Friday, the first thing I did was check that snow indeed had filtered through the grasses and was covering the interstices. Yesterday, I looked again, hoping the twenty-fours of melting had not removed too much protection.
The grasses had detained their snow, but the barren areas were unprotected against the depredations of sun, wind, and heat. They already were exposed. There is a reason even the weeds huddle next to the bunches, and nothing colonizes the intervening areas that have been stripped of vegetation.
When I was out Friday surveying the grasses, I began to wonder what else was happening I couldn’t see in those few hours just after the storm when snow still covered exposed parts of plants as well as their bases. In some cases, snow that landed on unshed leaves was weighing down branches.
When I went out yesterday, some of those leaves had fallen.
As I wandered Friday, my friend’s concerns with water came to mind when I noticed the junipers hadn’t just amassed snow, they had clutched it.
I wondered if the evergreens, which must have some heartbeat in the cold, were able to absorb moisture through their needles. When I looked at them yesterday, some branches looked much worse, as if they had been damaged by exposure to the cold, either from the snow or from the earlier brutal weeks.
I wondered if the same thing happens with the cholla, which not only have many horizontal surfaces, but prongs to hold on to the snow that lands.
I also began to wonder about the effects of that snow on seeds: was it simply going to loosen them, or cold stratify some. The lily capsules began opening in mid-October.
Friday they trapped snow, which turned to ice. I looked them up in Park’s guide. Ann Reilly says that, with some lily species, one needs to maintain a temperature of 70f for three months after sowing them, then refrigerate them for six weeks. After that, temperatures need to return to 70f for germination to occur in three to six weeks.
I wonder if yuccas have similar requirements. They are members of the same lily family. Friday the uncut yucca heads caught the snow.
Yesterday, the heads were bare again.
As I started thinking about seeds, I noticed the Virginia creeper with snow on its hoods of leaves and dangling berries.
Since they hadn’t been eaten, I wondered if perhaps the plants were designed to capture snow to rot the remaining fruit and release the seeds. The next day, I noticed some of the berries had fallen amongst the Russian olive leaves blown loose from my neighbor’s tree.
I also wondered Friday about why nature designed so many plants to capture snow that long since had given up their seeds. Coneflower heads, like the cholla and the juniper, have arrays of long, sharp spikes. I thought possibly it was to capture water which would hasten the decay of the stems. They never just break off and blow away. Nature must have some way to keep them manicured that doesn’t work when they are in captivity, next to a house or garage that blocks the winds.
Yesterday I saw something I’ve never noticed before. Under the coneflowers, and a few other plants, there was stains in the snow caused, I assume, by pigments leaching from the plants. They indeed were being digested by the weather.
Reilly, Anne. Park’s Success with Seeds (1978).
1. Open grass land at the end of Friday’s storm, 14 December 2012; winterfat among the grasses.
2. Cholla after Friday’s snow, 14 December 2012.
3. Shrub corner with a thick base of snow, partly captured by the wooden fence behind, 14 December 2012. Dr. Huey rose to the right, forsythia behind.
4. The next morning, some of the snow had disappeared in the shrub corner, but green triplets of rose leaves and brown forsythia leaves had fallen on top of the blanket; 15 December 2012.
5. Open grass land after temperatures had risen above freezing for some hours, and melted or evaporated some snow. The grasses kept their snow, but the barren areas between lost their’s; 15 December 2012.
6. Juniper clutching snow to itself, 14 December 2012.
7. Juniper branches, some looking scarred by the cold, 15 December 2012.
8. Chinese trumpet lily seed heads in the snow, 14 December 2012; purple coneflowers in rear.
9. Narrow leaved yucca heads in the snow, 14 December 2012.
10. Narrow leaved yucca heads the day after the snow stopped, 15 December 2012.
11. Virginia creeper leaves and berries right after the snow, 14 December 2012.
12. Virginia creeper berries fallen on the snow, 15 December 2012, along with Russian olive leaves blown loose by the winds.
13. Purple coneflower in the snow, 14 December 2012; other stems are David phlox.
14. Purple coneflower stains in the snow, 15 December 2012; other stems are Silver King artemisia.
15. Áñil del muerto in the snow the day after the storm, 15 December 2012: the existing seeds have been dampened and the warmth of the organic matter in the stems has begun melting the snow in the immediate area. A little staining also has occurred.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
When South Carolina congressmen became more vociferous about the supposedly false theories of modern science, I began to wonder how Charleston had ever produced the important innovations in botany that underlay its lifestyle: the selection of new types of rice and roses. Periodically, I’ll be publishing the result of my inquiries into the lives of two innovative growers, Hezekiah Maham (rice) and John Champneys (roses). Previous entries can be found under “South Carolina” in the index at the right
Weather: A bit warmer for a few days; last rain 11/10/12; 9:48 hours of daylight today.
What’s still green: Rose stems, juniper and other evergreens, red hot poker, yucca, Madonna lily, Japanese honeysuckle, Saint John’s wort, vinca, moss phlox, soapworts, sea pink, pink and yellow primroses, sweet pea, beardstongues, gypsum phacelia, pampas and needle grasses.
What’s red: Cholla; apple, apricot and sandbar willow branches.
What’s grey or blue: Snow-in-summer, pinks, Silver King artemisia leaves.
What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia, petunias.
Animal sightings: Small brown birds.
The berries eaten by native birds are disappearing; those of plants introduced from elsewhere are drying on the vine or branch, unrecognized as food.
Weekly update: The American Revolution was not kind to Hezekiah Maham or John Champneys, who were beyond the age of adventure when war was declared in 1776. One was 37, the other 33.
Champneys had a plantation on the banks of the Wando, between the Cooper and the Atlantic on the northeast side of Charles Town where seven to eight acres were devoted to “trees, plants, shrubs and flowers of every kind which can minister to use or ornament” and “nature is improved, but no where violated.”
All changed when he refused to sign the oath of loyalty in 1777. He was given one year to sell his land and leave. The next year, when the General Assembly demanded reaffirmation of the oath from neutrals, Champneys recalled the response of the banished supporters of Parliament during the English civil war in Barbados when he published “An account of the sufferings and persecution of John Champneys: a native of Charles-town, South-Carolina; inflicted by order of Congress, for his refusal to take up arms in defence of the arbitrary proceedings carried on by the rulers of said place. Together with his protest, &c.”
When the British took Charles Town in 1780, Champneys was among those who returned. The next year, the war time governor, John Rutledge, offered loyalists the opportunity to reclaim their citizenship if they served six months in the militia, but he explicitly excluded men, like Champneys, who had been banished before 1780. That same year, 1781, Champneys married Mary Harvey, the widow of William Wilson.
The fourth General Assembly met in exile in Jacksonborough in January, 1782, after the British had surrendered at Yorktown but before they had vacated Charles Town. Rutledge asked them to name the loyalists who were most noxious to the incipient state. After much wrangling, they were close to issuing a list in February when William Henry Harvey, Mary’s brother, requested the property of their brother Alexander be given to him, as the rightful heir, rather than confiscated.
Two days after Harvey’s petition, the General Assembly rejected any such diversion of loyalist property. Instead, the members agreed to defer sales of real property, but not slaves, until their next session in January 1783 to give loyalists time to appeal. Like the British before them, they wanted to work the slaves to pay their war debts.
When the assembly issued its final list of 238, it included Alexander Harvey, who had signed the official greeting welcoming Henry Clinton to Charleston, and his mother’s first cousin, Joseph Seabrook, who had accepted protection from the British.
In 1783, soon after the British withdrew, the General Assembly established the trial rights for loyalists and scheduled hearings where they could come with their supporters to show they weren’t a menace to the community.
Rebecca Brannon has suggested that many tried to establish they had helped the rebel cause by taking in orphans, secretly helping prisoners, or using their positions to soften the British treatment of their neighbors. One she mentions was Joseph Seabrook, who claimed he had been “prevailed upon by his neighbors to take a Militia Command under the British Government in order to prevent plundering.”
Charles Town artisans weren’t happy to see so many well-to-do loyalists petitioning for clemency when the Treaty of Paris, that would take effect September 3, upheld the right of those merchants to collect debts assumed during the occupation when the peace severed the economic ties with Britain that had sustained the pre-war economy.
The city was rocked by riots in July and incorporated as a separate entity, Charleston, with an intendant in August.
On March 26 of the following year, 1784, the General Assembly passed a general amnesty act that removed many from the original Confiscation List and placed them on the list of those to be taxed. Alexander Harvey was not removed, but Seabrook was.
Soon after, Charleston rioted again, and a secret group warned thirteen to leave or die. Twelve were merchants who had just been removed from the Confiscation List. The other was John Champneys.
There are no on-line reports of activities by Champneys that would have made him a continuing target. The most likely reason is that his wharf made him the creditor of many. We know he had a mortgage on fifteen stores and land owned by Richardson, Wyatt, and Richardson on the wharf. When the heirs sued one another in 1791, the judge, Henry William De Saussure, discovered Champneys had overbilled the partners, and owed them money.
Champneys apparently moved to Saint Augustine, where, in 1785, he sold his property to Francis Philip Fatio, a Swiss national, with the understanding he could buy it back after the confiscation deadline. The same year, his wife petitioned again on behalf of her brother, who she said was now in England being treated for insanity, and requested safe passage for John to return to request a trial. Neither was accepted.
The Wando plantation was advertized for sale in 1786.
Champneys remained in exile, and his wife petitioned again in 1787 for his safe return to settle his affairs and remove her and their family to England. This time, the General Assembly accepted the petition but did not act until 1789 when it finally lifted his banishment, but didn’t return his wharf.
Sometime, he bought his new plantation on the south side of the city where William Williamson had established “one of the most elaborate early gardens” with six acres of water and ten acres of “pleasure grounds.” Williamson had died in 1785, leaving his estate to his half sisters, one of whom, Elizabeth Grimké, was married to John Rutledge.
Why the 44-year-old Champneys was finally accepted is not clear. He may finally have found a sufficiently influential sponsor, the General Assembly may have found it no longer could refuse after it had accepted worse men like Henry Laurens’ brother-in-law, Elias Ball, or it may have realized the war crisis had dissipated when the worst offenders had left and several years passed without rioting.
Mary filed one final petition in 1790. Back when her brother was leaving, she had bought a slave nurse from him at an inflated price, and now needed to regularize the woman’s position. She claimed the mulatto had been afraid at the time of the man who wanted to purchase her and she had had to outbid him.
While the Champneys had been fighting to return to Charleston, new men had been moving there who introduced the spirit of voluntary organizations we associate with the young republic. Andrew Michaux, a botanist sent by the French, started a nursery on Goose Creek and helped organize the Agricultural Society of South Carolina in 1785. Physicians trained in Edinburgh and Philadelphia founded the Medical Society of South Carolina in 1789, while others built the Orphan House in 1790.
When Champneys returned, his name appears among these new men, not among the established planter elite. He was a commissioner of the Orphan House from 1792 and 1796. As treasurer of the agricultural society in 1797, he had trouble collecting dues, and Thomas Pickney sent him a pamphlet about new ways of cultivating rice when he was president in 1810.
The year he died, 1820, the 77-year-old man was listed as a subscriber to the history of the Episcopal church being written by Frederick Dalcho, a Mason who joined the medical society in 1801, and helped organize the botanical garden in 1805.
Champneys’ life was defined by his plantations, the one on the Wando when he was an active entrepreneur, the one to the southwest when he as a civic leader, and the time between, spent in the wilderness of north Florida.
What we know of those plantations, at least the latter, however, has been defined by his enemies. The man who attributed the gardens to Williamson was David Ramsey who had jailed in Saint Augustine by the British and later married Laurens’ daughter Martha.
Brannon, Rebecca Nathan. Reconciling the Revolution: Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Community in the Wake of Civil War in South Carolina, 1775-1780, 2007; includes references to William Henry Harvey, Alexander Harvey and Joseph Seabrook.
Cothran, James R. Gardens of Historic Charleston, 1995; includes Ramsay’s description of Champneys’ second plantation.
Dalcho, Frederick. An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South-Carolina, 1820.
De Saussure, Henry William. Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of Chancery of the State of South-Carolina: From the Revolution to [June, 1817], 1817.
Richardson, Barnard. Will described on genealogy website by Amanda Herbert, 21 February 2001.
Rogers, George C. Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys, 1980 second edition; provides information on oath and Champney return.
Trinkley, Michael and Debi Hacker. "A Context for the Study of Low Country Gardens" in Tranquil Hill Plantation: The Most Charming Inland Place, 2007; includes advertisement for Champneys’ first plantation, with description of garden.
1. Native juniper berries on prairie, 6 December 2012.
2. Juniper berries on prairie, 6 December 2012.
3. Quasi-native sand cherries, 5 December 2012.
4. Purple leaf sand cherry, 5 December 2012.
5. Non-native pyracantha berries in Española, 5 December 2012.
6. Non-native apples down the road, 5 December 2012.
7. Non-native privet berries, 5 December 2012.
8. Quasi-native Virginia creeper berries, 5 December 2012.
9. Virginia creeper berries, 5 December 2012.
10. Non-native grapes down the road, 5 December 2012.
11. Grapes, 5 December 2012.
12. Non-native Russian olives, 5 December 2012.
13. Russian olives, 5 December 2012.
14. Non-native fruit on unknown tree in Española, 5 December 2012; now believed to be a Callery Pear.