The Varina Davis Trail Stop #5
For the last two days painful rumors of Lee’s surrender had been reaching Newberry. “Perhaps a fragment of that army, hardly pressed and surrounded, had to lay down their arms, but the whole body, under a general – our acknowledged hope – yielding thus, is too hard to believe. It must be an unmitigated falsehood of the enemy.” Source: The Newberry The Tri-Weekly Herald, Thursday, April 20, 1865, Vol. 1 Number 14
City Directories and History: The historic Harper/Pettigru house, known as Happy Valley. Edward Means married one of the Pettigru daughters or granddaughters, and they were living there, when the Parker contingent escorting Mrs. Davis came through trying to evade capture by nearby Federal troops. Later, Mrs. Cleora Clowney Hall lived there in the mid 20th C., as did Mrs. Jeanie Gladney, and Tom and Brenda Davis now live there. Chancellor William Harper was likely the builder of the house, but no records have been found. He is buried in the Means Cemetery just up the road. See additional images at: Happy Valley Farmstead
Fairfield County resident – historian, Val Green wrote, “It is about 18 miles from Chester to Salem Crossroads. The route is now called Hwy 18 (map SSR #18), or Ashford Ferry Road. This road goes almost directly south from Chester, and then turns southwestward into Fairfield County. About 5 miles down Hwy 18, below Chester, is the Woodward Baptist Church. This is as far as they got on the first day. Here is where Varina refused to sleep on the communion table.
The next day, with a muddy road they covered the remainder of the distance to Salem Crossroads. Lt. Edward Means, whose family owned Happy Valley plantation, and Parker (Confederate Navy Captain William H. Parker – Mrs. Davis’s military escort), were acquainted and Means invited the ladies and officers to his house for supper. The Means house stands just past, (about 100 yds from the highway intersection with Hwy 34 and Hwy 215). Parker tells the story that Means showed him where he hid the family valuables in the basement. As another respected historian has stated, “The whole trip from Charlotte must have been a horrible nightmare for him (Parker).”
Val states, “I am guessing the women and a few officers may have spent the night at Means’ house.”
But the majority of the party went to the Salem Church, about 300 yds north of the intersection, and across Hwy 215, often referred to as the “Church Field.” The old Means house, across from the church, on my (Val’s) property, belonged to Rev. Robert Means, an uncle of Edward. Val concludes, “Speculation, suggests because of the need for food and water, I would think some of the Davis group, may have also camped around the house and barns of the Rev. Means home.”
The group left Salem Crossroads and Church the next morning and went south down what is now Hwy 215 about a mile and turned west on a road that leads to Broad River. The distance to the river is about six miles, down what is today Ladd Road. I’m not sure who or why, but there was a “reported” to have been a pontoon bridge left at this crossing, now called Dawkins. (Information courtesy of Val Green). Further information strongly suggests, the party crossed the river at Ashford’s Ferry, and proceeded in hast to Hope Station where they boarded the train to Newberry, S.C.
R&R Note: Happy Valley was also the home of the late Mrs. Jeannie Gladney Roberts. The road from Happy Valley to Ashford Ferry is well outlined on Colton’s 1854 Map and is what today is called Ladd Road.
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