This blog is a tribute to this grand home and all those who who have ties to Laurelwood. As the grandaughter of Jasper Hampton Campbell who purchased Laurelwood in 1908, I have many wonderful memories as a young child visiting Laurelwood. We fondly called it "The Big House". There were Easter egg hunts on the front lawn, Christmas celebrations, Sunday dinners, and a lot of time rocking in the rocking chairs on the front porch as my aunts shared stories about life on the Laurelwood plantation. They talked to us about their experiences and shared stories that their parents told them of life and happenings in the lower richland area. Many of these stories have been forgotten. I hope to bring these great stories back to life and preserve them just as Laurelwood is being brought back to life and preserved. There are hidden treasures to be revealed. A legacy to be handed down and passed on.
Let me help you look past the physical imperfections that you notice on first glance to see the hidden beauty that's just waiting to be revealed once again. The stories and information shared here will link the past to the present. There is much to be learned and many memories to share so that all can see the true beauty of ....Laurelwood.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I took a stroll down the avenue today and to my delight and surprise my favorite roses of Laurelwood were blooming.  I have a memory of these roses taking over one corner of the avenue fence and being the most beautiful creamy palest of pink roses climbing gracefully along the fence of the avenue.  They were breathtakingly beautiful at one time and the picture is etched in my memory.  The blooms below were a bit spent but I still love their creamy pink color.  It's just a hint of what's to come as Laurelwood wakes up from it's slumber.
Roses on the avenue

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Laurelwood Plantation Family Gathering

The sweet tea was flowing generously once again at Laurelwood yesterday as family, friends and the new owners gathered together to rejoice in the re-birth of this magnificent family home.
Folks from various parts of the state as well as the country came together yesterday at the Big House.  We shared history, memories, stories and hopefully passed on our love for the place to the new owners who were so kind and generous to allow us this chance to come together.  At one point, there were at least 50 or more people on the grounds at one time yesterday! WIS TV came out at the end of the day. You can see the story here.  I must say however, that I was disappointed with the anchor's description of this grand home as "the dingy old digs" and "magnificent ruin". That was a very disrespectful way to describe this grand lady, even if she is in a state of disrepair.  I would also like to say that WISTV shared in-accurate information concerning the vacancy of this home, I am sure they were misinformed. They said that Laurelwood had been vacant for 20 years.  That information is inaccurate. My father still lived in the house in 1994. Then after it was sold from the Campbell family a lady from Sumter purchased the home and rented the property.  Only in the last 3-5 years has the property been vacant. I am a big fan of WIS and have watched their news since I was a little girl, hey, I was even on Mr Knowzit.  So I am not trying to give WIS a bad rap, I was just disappointed in this particular story. Not bad for being disappointed only once in 48 years. I am thankful to the media for their coverage but felt that their stories could have offered so much more.  For instance, the Seays and the Campbells meeting. What a GREAT story! I am glad to say that the State Newspaper did mention a bit of that story. You can read their story here. (They also were inaccurate in the time frame that they mentioned about my father living at Laurelwood. He returned there in 1969 and lived there until 1994 that is 25 years not 15)  The media could have talked about the fact that the civil war soldiers watered their horses in the well at the front of the house, and that the house was spared from being destroyed by Sherman's army because a minister lived there at the time. Or that one of the son's of Jasper Hampton Campbell, my uncle Calvin,was a great military hero and POW who fought in WWII as a bomber pilot and who's acts of extreme heroism in the face of danger saved many lives.  Or that my great grandfather Thomas Belton Campbell served in the Civil War.  Or that my Great,Great,Great,Great Grandfather was Captain James Campbell who built one of the Forts at the Congarees which was one of the first settlements in the midlands.  There is so much history here that needs to be shared!  Anyway, enough of my ranting and back to the gathering.  It was a great day!
This home is a valuable wellspring of historical information for the state of South Carolina.  The original owner and builder James H. Seay was a wealthy rice planter who built many other plantation homes.(My next quest is to find out where those homes are and if they still exist).  I was beyond THRILLED that his descendants were able to come and take part in the celebration yesterday and I am so eager to learn more about the Seay family and their history. I already claimed them as part of my Laurelwood Family but I bet if we dig deep enough we will find out that we are blood related.
My 5 children in the picture below loved the opportunity to be at The Big House yesterday.  Of course they have grown up hearing me talk about it and my oldest child spent a good bit of the first 2 years of her life visiting here when my Daddy was living here.  She called him Grandaddy Wild Thing!
My children, the Great Grandchildren of Jasper Hampton and Minnie Ammons Campbell
Below, the Seay family arrives at Laurelwood.  I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED meeting them! They had to travel quite the distance to come but were planning to do some visiting of another great Carolina city, Charleston.  Hopefully they were able to experience some of the living history and re-enactments of the first shots of the Civil War.
The Seay's arrive at Laurelwood
The new owners seemed delighted to learn as much information as they could about the property. I imagine they were probably a bit overwhelmed with all the activity going on yesterday but they were certainly generous to allow us the opportunity to be there.  They even suggested that we might make this an annual event!!! How wonderful that would be!!!
Reggie Seay and the new owners.
Everybody enjoyed visiting and sharing information.  We couldn't have asked for a better day. The Laurelwood breeze was blowing through and it was very pleasant!
My grandfather, Jasper Hampton Campbell had a sister named Lilly Rebekah Campbell. ( I was so thrilled to know that the spelling of Rebekah is exactly how my daughter Rebekah's name is spelled & I didn't even know at the time that there was a Rebekah in our family) Her grandchildren were able to come and shared so much WONDERFUL information I could hardly contain myself on the drive home, reading about it all.  I hope to share a lot more about the Campbell history in the days to come.  The community of lower richland and columbia needs to be reminded of how influential and prominent the Campbell family was.  My grandfather and his brother Andrew were major landowners. The State paper many years ago reported that my great uncle Andrew Campbell at one time owned more acres of land than any other citizen of Richland county.  He was also one of the commissioners for Richland county for 16 years. They ran a mercantile business in Leesburg and Eastover. The Campbells were highly respected throughout Richland county. Below is Becky on the left a grandaughter to Lillie Rebekah Campbell and on the right is one of James Seay's great, great,.. (not sure how many greats) Grandchildren.   Our families meeting together yesterday was a MONUMENTAL event!!!!!!!
The Campbell's and the Seay's meet
I met relatives I did not even know that I had!!!!  Here is me and one of my newly found cousins below!!! I am pictured with Kathryn who is the Great Grandaughter of Mary Julia Campbell & Rev. Samuel Bailey.  Mary Julia Campbell was another sister of my Grandfather Jasper Hampton Campbell.   I love my new family!!!  Many thanks goes out to Florence Keels for her wealth of information and great  historical detective work that is allowing us to connect with family and put missing pieces together!

Historian Joe McGill and me
Historian Joe McGill stayed the night at Laurelwood last night.  He travels around sleeping in former slave quarters, making people aware of the importance of preservation.  He was not able to sleep in the remaining slave quarters structure last night but did sleep on the porch of the "Big House".
People enjoyed walking about, sharing memories and anticipating what a great future this home has.
Jenny and I already feel like family. We are already looking forward to next year!  The Seays and the Campbells came together to pass on a legacy to a new family that will revive and bring Laurelwood back to life so the history will continue and new memories can be made.
Jenny(great grandaughter of James H. Seay) and me
This grand lady has only been sleeping and now she awakens.
Roses coming back to life by the side porch.
The future is bright for this grand home and the new owners.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Two weeks from today is the Laurelwood Family Gathering.  I am really looking forward to seeing relatives of the Campbell family and meeting and getting to know those who are coming from my "Laurelwood Family".  It is pretty amazing that a home can connect so many people's lives together. I am anxious to meet the members of the Seay family.  Their ancestor James Seay was the original builder of the home who constructed Laurelwood possibly around 1830 and may have called it the Sandhills Plantation according to Mike Bedenbaugh of the Palmetto Trust. Some recent documents that I have seen however make me wonder if the plantation may have been called Shady Grove at one time.  I would love it if someone has some more information about that thought and could share with me. But, concerning the get together, I am also anxious to meet the relatives that are coming that I have never met before but have been in contact with through this blog.  I also can hardly wait to meet the new owners who will be reviving and restoring Laurelwood.  I know that they are going to love this home as much as I do.
  I received a great photo a few weeks ago of my Uncle Calvin along with another cousin of ours, Nancy.  My Uncle Calvin is my father's brother and the last child who is living of Jasper Hampton and Minnie Campbell.  He was in town recently and I hope he will be able to make it back for the gathering. It has been 23 years since I have seen him and I would love the chance to get to talk with him again.
 I plan to take a lot of photos during the get together and do a blog post about it following the event so make sure you stop back by the blog in a few weeks.  Of course, you are welcome anytime but how about leave me a comment and let me know you dropped by.