“A stop on the Varina Davis trail route….”
City Directories and History: (Harper – Pettigru House) This should be correctly called the Harper/Pettigru house, or Happy Valley. Edward Means married one of the Pettigru daughters or granddaughters and they were living there when the Parker contingent with Varina Davis came through. 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.
Rev. Robert Means lived in the house that stood on the basement hole in front of the kitchen house recreation that Val built for our gatherings. This was on the west side of the road, whereas Happy Valley is on the east further south.
Fairfield author and historian Val Green wrote, “It is about 18 miles from Chester to Salem Crossroads. The route is now called Hwy 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 church is extant.
The next day, with a muddy road they covered the remainder of the distance to Salem Crossroads. Lt. Edward Means and Parker (Mrs. Davis’s military escort), were acquainted and Means invited the ladies and officers to his house for supper. This house is also still standing, just past (about 100 yds 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. The room with the steps down to the basement is now a bathroom.
Val states, “I am guessing the women and a few officers may have spent the night at Means’ house.”
The church is about 300 yds north of the intersection, and across Hwy 215 from one of my fields. We have always called this the “Church Field.” The house on my property at the time belonged to Rev. Robert Means, an uncle of Edward. Guessing again, because of the need for food and water, I would think some of the group may have camped around the house and barns on this property. Note: a daughter of this house married Preston Brooks. I have seen his name on some of the property deeds.
The group left 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).
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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