City Directories and History: Dunovant Property – 1908 – Mrs. Alice Smith, 1940 – Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gage, 1958 – Robert Gage
“Alexander Quay Dunovant, was born in Chester, South Carolina on August 18, 1815, the son of Dr. John Dunovant and Margaret Sloan Quay Dunovant. He entered into business in his father’s store in Chester. On October 11, 1838, he married Mary McLure Lowry. They had nine children. A.Q. Dunovant moved to Columbia in 1841, and in 1844 purchased a plantation on the Broad River. In the early 1850’s he bought a large plantation in Texas. He was intendant of Chesterville in 1855, a member of the S.C. Legislature, 1850-52, and was elected to the Secession Convention from Chester District, signing the Ordinance of Secession.
He moved to Texas in 1866 and died there in 1869. One of his sons, William D., entered the War Between the States at the age of 16 at Sullivan’s Island. He later became Captain in the 17 Regiment and lost an arm at the Battle of the Crater.”
(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982)
The Robert Gage home at this location is a beautifully built Colonial Revival home, Georgian style, constructed ca. 1913 by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gage, a prominent banker and President of the Commercial Bank in Chester. The original home on this lot, the Dunovant house was moved off the lot to allow the Gages to build their new home.
The old house that was moved from (108) York to Smith street in 1913 was built in 1819 for Dr. John Dunovant, the grandfather of Mrs. J.S. Colvin, Sr. He had bought the lot of 7 3/4 acres and 15 rods from John E. Gunning for $736. Dr. Dunovant’s house was lordly in appearance. There was a tall basement and about fourteen rooms on the two floors. The reception rooms were large, the ceilings high, the halls wide and stairs broad. Dr. and Mrs. Dunovant were socially inclined and entertained friends from far and near. In 1841 Dr. Dunovant sold his house to the Reverend D. McNeel Turner. There Mr. Turner conducted the Chesterville Female Seminary, having as trustees Wm. D. Henry, Thomas McClure, John McKee, and David Wilson. Mr. Turner was succeeded by a Mr. McWhorter as superintendent of this school.
R&R Note: The Rev. Mr. Hugh A. McWhorter, a native of Yorkville, S.C., and his wife Mary, had been employed as the principal and teachers at the Brattonsville Female Seminary (see link this page), until 1844, having replaced the renowned teacher and writer, Mrs. Catherine S. Ladd.
Later Richard E. Kennedy, a son of Major John Kennedy, bought the place for a home for his family. His granddaughter, Catherine Atkinson Morrison, whose childhood home it was, writes: “I remember hearing that in earlier days the grounds were elaborately landscaped by an imported gardener. There was an avenue of Osage orange trees, also a large rose garden… This estate extended from the White house (now the residence of W.C. White), to the site of Pryor hospital, and also included the land between York and Saluda road on which the Methodist church is built. When I was a child the circus always pitched its “big top” on that spot, which gave me many a thrill. The property passed into the hands after my grandmother’s estate was dividend amount the heirs.” It was then purchase by Judge T. J. Mackey, an amusing, witty little man, who was not bad as a…. judge during Reconstruction days.
In 1882 it was purchased by J. Harvey Smith, a cotton broker and real estate dealer. In 1913 his widow moved the house to Smith street in order to erect on the lot the house now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gage, the latter her daughter. Information from the Old Homes of Chester, SC by Mrs. John G. White.
Tues. April 24, 1900; The State, Columbia SC
Death of Capt. Harvey Smith an aged Citizen of Chester and a prominent and Successful Business Man – Special to the State.
Chester, April 23
Capt. J. Harvey Smith died this evening at 7:45 o’clock after a week’s illness caused by inflammation of the bladder. His sudden death was a shock to the citizens of the city. He was in the 78th year of his age and leaves a widow, three sons and two daughters, the oldest child being Mrs. Eugene G. Hester of Winston, NC. The deceased was a native of York County, but has spent nearly all of his life in Chester. Two sisters survive him, Mrs. R. M. Cross and Mrs. D. W. Steedman.
Capt. Smith has been in active business here for the past 50 years. He was for a long time the senior member of the firm of Smith & Melton, merchants and cotton buyers. This firm did an immense and most profitable business throughout this section in the seventies and eighties. Capt. Smith enjoyed the confidence and esteem of a large circle of friends. He was kind hearted almost to a fault, and was a most devoted father and husband. His first wife was a Miss Nicholson of this county, the mother of Mrs. Hester, Angus M. Smith and Arthur P Smith.
The deepest sympathy is felt here for these children, his widow, and her two small children Mary and Lewis. Capt. Smith was one of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of this city.
The funeral will be held from the house tomorrow afternoon and the remains will be interred in Evergreen cemetery.
Chalmers G. Davidson wrote in his history, The Last Foray – Kennedy, Richard Evans (estate of) of Lee and Robertson plantations (names unknown) and Chesterville. Born Sept. 4, 1811 (S.C.); married Sarah deGraffenried (Nov. 25, 1818-Sept. 18, 1860); died Nov. 1, 1855. Church: Baptist. Others: Trustee, Chesterville Female Academy Society. Slaves: 123 (Chester District)
“Beyond this was a large house built by Dr. Dunovant, the father of Gill, Quay, John, Jefferson, and William. It was converted into a female academy, presided over first by the Rev. Mr. Turner, and then by Mr. McWhorter. Afterwards, it became the home of Richard Kennedy and is now the property of Harvey Smith. It was once owned by Judge R.J. Mackey. Beyond this in the direction of Yorkville there were but two other houses, one near where Mr. Stringfellow lives and the other the residence of James Hemphill.”
“During his long and successful career, Mr. Gage held most of the important banking positions in South Carolina, the metrolina area, and several of national significance. He served the Commercial Bank of Chester for 65 years, during 25 of which (1941-1966) he was president and the last four (1966-1970) as chairman of the board.
He was a member of the South Carolina Board of Bank Control from 1936 until 1957 when he resigned while chairman to become a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Virginia, a position he held from 1957 until 1960.
In 1936-1937, Mr. Gage was president of the South Carolina Bankers Association, and served from 1946 until 1968 as a member of the Board of Directors of the J.P. Stevens and Company. His honors and awards are listed in Who’s Who In America.
During his 20 years on the South Carolina Board of Bank Control, he aided in the reorganization of the banking system of the state following the Great Depression and was noted for impartiality, practicality and farsightedness. His bank in Chester was conspicuously solvent during the crisis years, a factor which attracted depositors from throughout the state.
Mr. Gage is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Chalmers G. Davidson of Davidson, North Carolina.”
(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982 – Joshua Hilary Hudson’s Recollections)
Click on the More Information > link found below the picture column for additional data on shipping cotton by the Dunovant family.
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Colonel Alexander Quay Dunovant was one of the four Chester Signers of the Secession Ordinance.
Alexander Quay Dunovant was born in Chester, S. C. August 18, 1815. He was of unusual physical vigor and mental activity. The pride of an ambitious father centered upon this, his oldest son. And his teacher found gratification in training a mind so precocious, that at the age of ten he stood at the head of a spelling class, composed of the entire school, including grown boys.
The family of A. Q. Dunovant was one of the most distinguished and oldest in Chester. William Dunovant, his paternal grand-father, moved to Chester from Amelia County, Virginia, with his bride, whose maiden name was Nancy Williams. William Dunovant was a planter. His maternal grandparents, Alexander Quay and Catherine Leslie, were also among the pioneers of Chester. His father, Dr. John Dunovant, was a native of Chester. He was a graduate of the Philadelphia Medical College, and Stately Senator for several terms. He married Miss Margaret Quay, of Chester. Quay Dunovant was a fearless horseman, a graceful dancer, a bright conversationalist, we find him at the early age of manhood the leader in the social life of his native town Chester, the gaiety of the cavalier tempered by an unaffected modesty, and self-reliance modified by calm dignity.
Chester, in those days, was famed for it balls, drawing within their brilliant radius, the bells and beaux of adjoining counties-districts, they were formerly termed. Among the number was Miss Mary Lowry, the daughter of Mr. Samuel Lowry, a planter of York district, and the sister of John Lowry, a young lawyer of Chester. Young Dunovant at once fell captive to the remarkable loveliness of this young lady, and at the respective ages of 23 and 18 they were married, October 11, 1838. From this union there were nine children, six daughters and three sons. Only one son, William and three daughters, Adelia, Mary and Maggie, attained the age of maturity. About three years after the marriage of Col. A. Q. Dunovant, his father John Dunovant, MD, who had been wealthy, experienced that complete financial collapse, that so often follows speculation in cotton. The energy of Dr. Dunovant wholly succumbed. His son, A.Q. Dunovant, with heroic self-abnegation, assumed the care of father, mother, and seven brothers and sisters, finding in his wife and unfailing help mate in this devoted duty. Such generous, unselfish devotion to sisters was paralleled in latter years by his son, Captain William Dunovant, who gave to such relationship an immortality of fame.
Mr. Preston Brooks said of Colonel Dunovant, in conversation with Mrs. Dunovant; “Madam, your husband is remarkable man. He is equally at home with the highest and the humblest.” It must have been owing to the fact that he possessed dignity without hauteur, bonhomie without familiarity, cheerfulness without levity, and pride without vanity. There is a paper of historic interest in the Dunovant family. It is a Certificate of Membership of A. Q. Dunovant in Palmetto Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. It bears date, Columbia, South Carolina, July 1, 1842; and bears the signature of John C. McAlpin, N. G., and James Tradewell, secretary. He represented Chester District in the legislature about 1850, at the time he lived on his plantation on Broad River. He was an active participant in the secession movement in 1852. During the Confederate War he was on Governor’s (Gov. Magrath) staff, with the rank of Colonel.
After the surrender, he was while in his home, one afternoon, arrested for resisting the intrusion of United State Soldiers upon his premises, and sent to Charlotte, North Carolina, for trial. A “satisfactory” interview with the “Colonel” in command resulted in his release. The winter following the surrender, he decided to move with his family to Texas, where he had invested inland before his marriage, and later, about ten years prior to the Confederate War. Located a plantation on Colorado County, but continued to live in South Carolina. So, to far-distant Texas Mr. A. Q. Dunovant and family went. To this undeveloped country of hardship, struggle and disrespect for law, Col. Dunovant and his son, William, brought the old-time heroic qualities of endurance, courage, and faith. (Courtesy of the CDGHS – Bulletin)
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