City Directories and History: “Historic Rosemont (Rose Mont) of Revolutionary fame was located several miles below Waterloo bordering the Saluda River. It was one of the landmarks of note in Laurens County before it was burned in August of 1931.
Around 1740 Patrick and Robert Cunningham (then spelled Cuningham) came to Ninety Six District from Virginia where they first had settled. Patrick became Deputy Surveyor General of the Carolina colony, and as a reward for his services was granted by the crown a baronial domain of ninety thousand acres of land. On this vast estate Patrick built a commodious manor house described as the largest frame house in upper South Carolina. The lumber was said to have been cut on the estate, sent to Charleston and thence to England to be fashioned into boards and framing. The doors, sash, blinds and carved mantels were purchased in England. Oyster shells were hauled from the coast, a hundred and fifty miles overland, and burned for lime. The bricks were made from clay on the site, and all nails and hardware fashioned in plantation forges by workmen on the estate.
The house stood full two stories with high basement beneath and a dormered attic above. Tall brick chimneys were at either gabled end, and to the rear was a two-story ell with a veranda overlooking the landscaped gardens and the distant river.
The home was left by Patrick Cunningham to his son Robert, who was married to Louisa Bird of Virginia. It was their daughter, Ann Pamela Cunningham, who was instrumental in organizing the Mount Vernon Association for the preservation of George Washington’s home as a national shrine. After Ann Pamela died, the property of Rosemont descended to her brother, John, then to his son Robert, whose daughter married Charles Banks of Savannah. Their son, Hugh, assumed his mother’s family name and, as Hugh Banks Cunningham, became master of Rosemont. After the tragic death of Hugh Banks Cunningham in the fire which destroyed the mansion, his son, Ross Cunningham, for a time managed the estate. Later it was sold to Niles Clark of Waterloo.”
Information from: The Laurens County Sketchbook, Author – J.S. Bolick, 1973
“Cuningham, Mrs. Louisa (Bird) of “Rose Mont,” Saluda River, plantation. Born Feb. 19, 1794 (Va.); died Oct. 6, 1873. Church: Presbyterian. Other: She was the first to propose the restoration of Mt. Vernon; this was accomplished by her daughter, Ann Pamela. Married Feb. 22, 1814, Robert Cunningham (Oct. 8, 1786-July 7, 1859). Education: Washington College, Va. (1807-08); Litchfield Law School, Conn., 1810 (admitted to S.C. Bar, 1810). Church: Presbyterian (Elder, Liberty Springs). Public Service: State Representative; Capt., 8th U.S. Infantry; Lieut. Col. (Gov. Geddes’s staff). Slaves: 138 (Laurens District).”
The Last Foray, C. Gaston Davidson, SC Press – 1971
General History: The change from small farms to larger plantations is further evidenced in the census records for Laurens District. In 1820, few persons owned more than 10 slaves. The largest slaveholder in the district may have been Robert Cunningham, who owned 67 slaves in 1820. Robert Cunningham built Rosemont Plantation on the Saluda River (no longer extant), later the home of Ann Pamela Cunningham who organized the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and was instrumental in creating the modern-day preservation movement. In 1830, Robert Cunningham owned at least 100 slaves, and in 1840, 143 persons. By 1830, although there were still non-slaveholders in the district, the average number of slaves owned increased to between 10 and 20, a trend that continued until the Civil War.
Furthermore: Liberty Springs Presbyterian Church was organized in the town of Cross Hill in 1787. The church was organized by Reverend John McCosh of Scotland and takes its name from a nearby spring. The spring is also thought to be the location of an American encampment during the Revolutionary War where soldiers who had contracted smallpox were sent to recover. A large graveyard with depressions marked by fieldstones is located behind the church’s graveyard and is thought to be the resting place of the soldiers who succumbed to the smallpox epidemic. Liberty Springs Church is perhaps most well known as the meeting place for local activist Ann Pamela Cunningham and her supporters and is the starting point for her campaign to save and restore Mount Vernon.
Eastern Laurens County Historical and Architectural Survey, SCDAH – 2003
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