We concluded part 5 with a teenage John David Augustus Kibler inheriting the plantation after his father Williams death in 1857. The 1860 census shows the young 20-year-old inherited quite a plantation made up of 500 acres, with 240 being improved for production. Also listed was 1 horse, 6 mules, 7 milk cows, 14 cattle, 41 hogs, 700 bushels of corn, 85 bushels of wheat, 65 lbs. of peas, 10 pounds of Irish potatoes, 50 lbs. of sweet potatoes, and 14 bales of cotton. The enslaved labor needed to work the fields were 10 men ranging in ages from 45 to 16, 9 Women 40-23, and 14 children housed in 6 slave cabins. Total value of the personal and real property in 1860 totaled in excess of $46,000; well over 2.5 million today.
It is astonishing to me today that with his new inherited wealth he didn’t expand the cabin into larger accommodations like his contemporaries did. Most of the plantation homes in the area has a smaller structure inside of it, and as the family grew, so did the house. What makes this place so rare is it is so intact to its 1837 configuration. The best assumption on why the house was never expanded was that his arrival at 21 years of age, thus receiving full control of the estate from the court appointed manager, coincided with the start of the nation erupting in war in 1861 and everything young John Adam Augustus knew would forever be changed. JDA signed onto Company G, 13th SCV regiment and rose to 2nd sergeant seeing action in the Virginia theater as well as Gettysburg.
By the time of his return, the farm had been devalued by half and his personal property was only 10% of what it was before the war. Most of the loss can be accounted for in the freedom won by those persons who had once been ledger marks on a once prosperous balance sheet. The 1870 census is the first in the south to count the recently freed Black citizens has their own head of households. It is interesting to note that there are four African American households made up of over 30 persons as JDA Kibler’s nearest neighbors. I am sure that many of these were the same folks listed as slaves a decade earlier.
John David Augustus passed away in 1895 intestate and the records have yet to be found that shows the property passing directly from his ownership. It does turn up in 1897 in the will of Andrew Jackson Bedenbaugh (his first cousin and grandson of John Kibler) who willed to his son L. Berly Bedenbaugh his farm and 315 acres. We believe the Kibler house stood on these 315 acres for two reasons:
1) this property was the same that was inherited by L Berly’s Daughter Eleanor in the 1980s, and
2) there is a ledger entry in Andrew Jackson Bedenbaugh’s estate where the executor had to pay a debt of $40 for the “wooden shingles and maintenance repair to the Kibler Place”.
We have yet to discover the way in which Andrew Jackson Bedenbaugh came about owning the property. We do know he was quite savvy in collecting real estate. His estate listed over 8 other farms he had purchased from previous owners over the preceding 10 years.
More research is going to be necessary to learn when Chicora and John Counts family took up residence in the house as tenants on Berly Bedenbaugh’s property and ultimately made it possible for their great granddaughter Shirley Mae Bookman to sell the structure to the Palmetto Trust.
The little Kibler cabin has been impacted by many families who lived a life that faced tragedy, war, enslavement and death. Yet, the house survives today and our job is to ensure the story of all those who were touched by this place are not forgotten.
Next Part 7: How old is the log structure?