This is the second of three weekly blogs showcasing artisan family groups from upcountry S.C., each documented in the SC Artisans Database. Little information is know about the Isenhower or Esenhower family of Fairfield County, S.C. We are confident this family’s heritage and genealogy have been well documented but not yet shared with R&R. Nevertheless, it is this group of artisans who made a name for themselves, not only in their own home place, but also north of the area in historic Brattonsville.
It was during the remodeling of the Col. William Bratton log house in 1839, for the purposes of making it into a school, that contractor Mr. Noah Isenhower was hired to take on the job. For years curators at the museum have asked themselves why someone from outside of the immediate area would have been hired to conduct the work. Just why would the Brattons have chosen him rather than experienced local artisans such as Jedidiah Coulter, who lived within a short distance? This question may never be answered. But perhaps it had something to do with the explosive demand for contractors in the early 1840s, at which time someone like Mr. Coulter could have been working outside the immediate area. What has been ascertained is that Noah Isenhower was a native of Fairfield County, where the Isenhower family had been engaged in construction of local brick church buildings. The Isenhower family was involved in the construction of two lovely rural churches: Concord Presbyterian, Mt. Olivet Church and then later the Col. Bratton House.
Noah Isenhower conducted a professional remodeling of the historic log cabin, adding a wing, larger windows, siding and interior plaster. He was also paid for constructing furniture for the new school. Unfortunately, R&R has been unable to locate further work he may have conducted. By 1850 younger members of the Isenhower family had moved into Chester County, S.C. John and Philip, recorded as building mechanics, respectively ages 24 and 27. Perhaps they were the sons of Noah, who is not recorded on the census of 1850. As mechanics they would have been engaged in more than just carpentry but also in the heavy timber framing of structures. John was buried at Mount Olivet, the historic seat of the family but little is known about his work experiences. Clearly the Isenhowers were engaged in far more than the construction of these three documented cases. Who can add to their story?
Keep in mind, the SC Artisans Database is an evolving collection of data on artisans working in S.C., prior to 1870. Do you have information to share?
R&R Note: Are you someone who likes to research and write? If so, please consider becoming a contributing author for R&R’s feature articles. We are looking for a select group of individuals who are sincerely interested in local history and preservation, individuals aware of those in their own community who are restoring an old house, someone who has been an advocate of preservation and stories worth sharing. If you are interested please apply by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week the From the Porch blog will feature a select group of artisans from York, S.C., men who engaged simultaneously in the construction of numerous fine structures. Remember share your knowledge of individuals in your community who also served as antebellum artisans: carpenters, carvers, contractors, stone masons and more.