City Directories and History: Ashtabula (Gibbes-Broyles-Latta-Pelzer House) is significant as an example of low country plantation architecture brought by Charleston families who settled around Pendleton. Built in 1828, Ashtabula is a large, almost square, two-story white frame house, four bays wide with green louvered shutters. It is surrounded on three sides by wide one-story piazzas. These are supported by square columns with vertical panels that are matched on both inside and outside doors. A covered passageway connects
the main house with a two story brick building with hipped roof and one central chimney that served as the old kitchen and servants quarters. There is a small well and milk cooling house nearby. Ashtabula is closely associated with the lives of prominent local, state, and national figures. All of the early owners were members of the Pendleton Farmers Society, founded in 1815 and were leaders in the community’s educational, religious, and social life. Some notable owners include Dr. O.R. Broyles, James Latta and Francis Pelzer. Dr. Broyles, who purchased the house in 1837, was widely known for his advanced agricultural practices and for such inventions as the subsoil plow. John C. Calhoun was a frequent guest of Dr. Broyles at Ashtabula. James Latta, the antebellum President of National Bank in Columbia, South Carolina, purchased the property in 1851 and introduced fine cattle stock into the upcountry. (Originally the Latta family had been merchants in both Mecklenburg, N.C. and York Co., S.C. before becoming major entrepreneurs of the antebellum south.)
In 1880, Ashtabula became the property of industrial leader Francis Pelzer, who organized the Pelzer Manufacturing Company and for whom the cotton mills and town of Pelzer are named. Listed in the National Register May 23, 1972.
View the complete text of the nomination form for this National Register Property.(Courtesy of South Carolina Department of Archives and History)
Ashtabula was erected on property bought by Lewis Ladson Gibbes in 1823. He and his wife, Maria Henrietta Drayton of Drayton Hall, had come to Pendleton from Charleston. The two-story house they built on a plateau about three miles northeast of the Town Square had a magnificent view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding countryside. The main body of the house has ten large rooms and a brick building connected by a passageway contains three rooms for servants and a large kitchen.
Both Mr. Gibbs and his wife died by 1828 and were buried in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. It was said that Dr. Arthur Gibbes later came to Ashtabula to take over the care of their children and the estate. It is known that Mary Gibbs attended the famous Miss Bates’ School in Pendleton and Lewis R. Gibbes prepared for college during the years 1823 to 1827 at the Pendleton Academy. Having studied botany in the fields and forests of the area, Lewis Gibbes, who for a time was in charge of the academy and later taught at the South Carolina College, is listed in Wilson Gee’s South Carolina Botanists.
Later prominent owners of Ashtabula were Dr. Ozey Robert Broyles, James A. Latta, Robert Adger who bought it for his daughter Clarissa (Mrs. W.D. Warren), Francis J. Pelzer, William Ingoldsby, and Fred Symmes. Dr. Broyles, credited with inventing the subsoil plow, was outstanding because of his contributions in soil conservation. The Latta and Adger families were wealthy and known as substantial contributors to the Confederate government during the War Between the States.
In January 1962, through the generosity of the Mead Corporation of Dayton, Ohio, which was operating about one thousand acres including the Ashtabula property as a tree farm, the house and its grounds came into the possession of the Foundation for Historic Restoration in the Pendleton Area. Since then, Ashtabula has been beautifully renovated by committees of the Foundation, is being furnished, and is open to the public. (Source: Anderson County Sketches by the Anderson County Tricentennial Committee)
Broyles was a small community and now the name has been changed to Oakdale. The old post office building is still standing. It is at the intersection of the Townville-Fair Play Highways, and was named for Dr. W. L. Broyles. Rural Free Delivery ended the post office around 1901. After Dr. Broyles retired and prior to its discontinuance, the post office was moved to Farmers Store. Mrs. Joe Broyles of Townville has several post cards bearing the Broyles postmark.
In 1863, Dr. William Lowndes Broyles came to South Carolina from Dalton, Georgia. He and his family traveled with hired hands driving his wagons and cattle before Sherman’s army. He settled in Fork Township near the recently dismantled Dobbins Bridge. At that time Seneca River was crossed by fording it just below the old Earle’s Bridge and by Sloan’s Ferry. The road to the river crossings ran from Anderson to Townville and across a ford at Beaverdam Creek westward to Hatton’s Ford across Tugaloo River into Georgia. Dr. Broyles lived on this road. There being a mail route from Anderson to Townville, and Dr. Broyles having a country store it seemed fitting for a post office to be established and housed in his store; thus, it was named Broyles Post Office. Later when Earle’s Bridge was built below Portman, a new road was made from Anderson to Townville. The Broyles post office was moved up the road to N. O. Farmer’s store still retaining its name, Broyles. The school district when established adopted the name of the post office.
Earle’s Bridge, an old landmark which crossed the Seneca River, was named for Baylis Earle. It has been replaced by the rising waters of Lake Hartwell. It was a covered bridge built in 1860. In 1863, people fleeing from Georgia to South Carolina with their wagons and livestock could cross the Seneca River by fording it just below the old Earle’s Bridge and by Sloan’s Ferry. The road to the river crossing ran from Anderson to Townville and across a ford at Beaverdam Creek westward to Hatton’s Ford across Tugaloo River into Georgia. Anderson County bought Earle’s Bridge about 1876 and made it free to travel. In 1893, the old structure was torn away, the piers raised to twenty-one feet in height and a splendid steel bridge built at a cost of around $6,000. That bridge was swept away by the flood of 1902, which ruined Portman Dam.
(Information from: Names in South Carolina by C.H. Neuffer, Published by the S.C. Dept. of English, USC)
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