“On the ridge – an extraordinary setting and historic plantation – trains come to the upcountry.”
City Directories and History: Renowned historian, Dr. C. G. Davidson wrote in The Last Foray – “Palmer, Hon. Edward Gendron of “Valencia” plantation. Born Aug. 3, 1800 (S.C.); married Dec. 18, 1822, Caroline Davis (Feb. 25, 1805-Dec. 30, 1872); died July 21, 1867. Education: College of S.C., A.B., 1819, read law (admitted to S.C. Bar, 1821), President of the Charlotte and S.C. Railroad. Slaves: 156 (Fairfield District)” The Last Foray, C. Gaston Davidson, SC Press – 1971
Valencia was built by Edward Gendron Palmer, the first low-country South Carolina planter to come to Fairfield, in 1824. The family of Edward Gendron Palmer, VII, are current owners of the home.
Early in 1824, Edward Gendron Palmer (pronounced Pamor, an early spelling of the family name – originally from Gravel Hill Plantation in Berkley Co., S.C.), of St. James Parish, Santee, Charleston District, having married Caroline, the daughter of Dr. James Davis, of Columbia, was induced by his father-in-law to move from the Low Country to Fairfield County, near Ridgeway, then called “New Lands.” James Davis, 2nd, brother of Mrs. Palmer, had just returned from extensive travels in Europe. The view which he saw from his sister’s new home reminded him so much of a view he had from his hotel window in Valencia, Spain, that he suggested to his brother-in-law that he name the home Valencia. [Our Heritage Book]
The Fort Mill Times as of Sept. 9, 1903 reported that W.M. Vandiver was at the Southern Station this morning and remarked that he ran the first engine that ever pulled a mail train on the old Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad. This was on Nov. 5, 1850, and the train ran twenty miles in this direction from Columbia.”
“Valencia has been the country seat of the Palmer family since it was built by Edward Gendron Palmer in 1834. Mr. Palmer, the first of the low- country families to settle in the county, married Caroline Davis of Columbia in 1824. He acquired 6,000 acres of land and called his plantation Bloomingdale at New Lands. The area of
Ridgeway was then known by the name of New Lands. When Mrs. Palmer’s brother, James Davis II, visited his sister’s new home after a grand tour of Europe, he felt that the view reminded him of Valencia, Spain. Hence, the name of the handsome old country seat, where the family still lives. The plan of the house is very like low-country plantation houses. Many rare and fine pieces are in the house, among them a table which belonged to Thomas Jefferson.”
#2 – “In the Ridgeway vicinity of Fairfield County stands Valencia, a name inspired by the historic home’s outlook
over gently rolling hills, reminding the family of their travels to Valencia, Spain. Constructed in 1834 and occupied as a residence by the builder and his descendants for the past 145 years, Valencia and its surroundings remain as a distinctive example of an upcountry cotton plantation in antebellum South Carolina. Its builder was Edward Gendron Palmer, who attended Dr. Moses Waddel’s school at Willington, was graduated in 1819 from South Carolina College, and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1821. A leader in civic, political, and religious life, Palmer was influential in the building of railroads in upper South Carolina. He was also instrumental in the building, in 1854, of another property now listed in the National Register, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church.”
Information from: Names in South Carolina by C.H. Neuffer, Published by the S.C. Dept. of English, USC
“On September 9, 1847, the first convention of stockholders of the Charlotte and South Carolina, “held for the purpose of organization,” met in the Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.
Palmer was elected president — a job for which he was to be re-elected for the following nine years. Though never before associated with a railroad, he qualified in many ways for the tasks facing him. Born on August 3, 1800, in what was known as St. Stephen’s Parish, Charleston district, he was graduated from South Carolina College at the age of 17. For two years he studied law a Columbia, South Carolina, and in 1821 he was admitted to the bar of South Carolina. But having inherited an ample fortune, he turned to farming, which was more to his liking.
With his young bride, Caroline Davis, whom he married in 1822, he moved into Fairfield District near the town of Ridgeway. A short time later he built a large plantation house on a hill overlooking surrounding green valleys. For several years the Edward Palmers, including their six children, led a quiet life on the plantation they named “Valencia.”
But Palmer was not just a gentleman farmer. To the left of the front portico of his house, down the drop of a hill, he built a gin for processing cotton from his 6,000 acres and those of neighboring planters. (This gin house, incidentally, later contributed not only considerable revenue to the Charlotte and South Carolina, which was diverted from its route to pass through Ridgeway in order to serve it, but a nickname — “Palmer’s Gin House Route” — which stuck with the railroad for several years.)
At the first annual meeting of the railroad’s stockholders held in Chesterville, South Carolina, on October 11, 1848, he was able to report, “Our Progress, so far, has been encouraging.” Surveying had been completed, contracts let for construction and plans made for building depots and other facilities…
At the second annual stockholders meeting, held at Winnsboro on October 10, 1849, President Palmer reported continued progress but at a slow pace because of lack of cash.
Chiding those stockholders who failed to promptly meet payments of installments on their stocks, he complained that although “they urged the speedy completion of the Road, they seem to forget that the officers are powerless to enforce the prompt execution of work, without the means of paying for it.”
The following years, however, he was able to inform the owners that since the previous meeting the finances of the company had much improved, though he quickly added there was room for improvements.
On the 17th of November, 1852, stockholders meeting in the Meckenburg County Court House (Charlotte) received the good news they had been waiting for.
“Gentlemen,” President Palmer addressed the group, “the fifth annual meeting of our stockholders is at hand, and your officers, agreeable to the pledge given at your last meeting, have brought the road to its completion.”
(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982)
Explore history, houses, and stories across S.C. Your membership provides you with updates on regional topics, information on historic research, preservation, and monthly feature articles. But remember R&R wants to hear from you and assist in preserving your own family genealogy and memorabilia.
Visit the Southern Queries – Forum to receive assistance in answering questions, discuss genealogy, and enjoy exploring preservation topics with other members. Also listed are several history and genealogical researchers for hire.
User comments welcome — post at the bottom of this page.
Please enjoy this structure and all those listed in Roots and Recall. But remember each is private property. So view them from a distance or from a public area such as the sidewalk or public road.
Do you have information to share and preserve? Family, school, church, or other older photos and stories are welcome. Send them digitally through the “Share Your Story” link, so they too might be posted on Roots and Recall.
User comments always welcome - please post at the bottom of this page.