City Directories and History: A significant literary landmark, Woodlands was the country estate home of William Gilmore Simms, son-in-law of Nash Roach, a gentleman of English descent and wealthy owner of several plantations. In 1836, Simms, noted Southern author, married Roach’s daughter, Chevilette Eliza, and was given Woodlands Plantation. Simms said in his letters,
about 1836-1857, “I am moving into an ancient dwelling largely fallen into disrepair.” In 1859, Simms began enlargement of the house, adding a library and nursery wings, which considerably increased the impressiveness of the residence. In 1862, the original house burned except for the library wing. The second house, including much of Simms’ extensive personal library, was burned in 1865 by stragglers of the Federal army. In 1868, Simms once again endeavored to “render Woodlands habitable.” The present house retains the windows and most of the woodwork Simms assembled in Charleston, where he had a town house. There were also twelve outbuildings that stood at in a semi-circle at the back of the house, two remain, although the foundations of all have been located. One became Simms’ study. As a result of Simms’ literary prominence, Woodlands became a center of literary activity where such distinguished visitors as William Cullen Bryant, G. P. R. James, John R. Thompson, Paul Hayne, James Lawson, and Henry Timrod were frequently received. Listed in the National Register November 11, 1971; Designated as a National Historic Landmark November 11, 1971. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
South Carolina author, Mr. Wm. Gilmore Simms wrote the following in 1845:
“Perhaps no subject could be found more interesting to the general reader than to inquire into the origin of those names of places with which he is most familiar. The Indian names of our country, for example, musically sounding as they are, so many of which we still retain in use, destined to an existence co-eval with that of the river and the rock with which they are identified, would, no doubt, if they could be analyzed, afford the highest satisfaction to the least curious among our people. Most of these names possess histories of their own.”
L. E. Inabinet, Director of the South Caroliniana Library, brought to my attention evidence of William Gilmore Simms’s interest in place names revealed in an article, “Naming of Places in the Carolinas,” The Southern and Western Monthley Magazine and Review, December, 1845, p. 367: (Information from: Names in South Carolina by C.H. Neuffer, Published by the S.C. Dept. of English, USC)
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