City Directories and History: A mile beyond Hoffman’s Spring was the site of White Hill Plantation, the home of Dr. V.D.V. Jamison mentioned above. Dr. Jamison was born in Pennsylvania in 176535 and had arrived in Orangeburg District in time to be counted in the census of 1790 (which was not completed until 1792). He was listed as the only person in his household, i. e.,
unmarried and holding no slaves. On February 22, 1833, Dr. Jamison released title to “White Hill plantation, all negro slaves, horses, cattle, hogs and farming utensils to John A. Tyler and Van De Vastine Samuel Jamison.” The transfer was to “relieve him of obligations.” The obligations were not specified. Perhaps the name “White Hill’ was intended to be descriptive of the site, though such a description would not be obvious now.
John A. Tyler and Elizabeth Tyler sold to Willis Wilkinson, a Charleston physician, on January 20, 1844, a tract of land “late the property of Dr. V.D.V. Jamison and called White Hill plantation and containing 1395 acres” for $5978.55. Appended to the bill of sale was a provision reading: “The family burial ground on the above plantation is hereby reserved from the above tract of land called ‘White Hill,’ with full engress and regress to and from the same.” Dr. Jamison and his wife are buried at the foot of the hill upon which they made their home. The doctor died in 1836 “. . . after a long life of usefulness, and the practice of every virture . . .”, and his wife died in 1814.
On September 21, 1849, Dr. James Jenkins bought White Hill Plantation from Dr. Willis Wilkinson for $5,500. Dr. Jamison’s tombstone is presently broken off near the ground—presumably the work of the livestock that have grazed the plot in recent years. The hill on which the house sat became known sometime thereafter as Jenkins’ Hill, and it has been so known until the present. Some part of the land there remained in the Jenkins family until about 1950.
It is not unlikely, however, that the name could have been chosen to honor the doctor’s son, General David F. Jamison. The General represented Orangeburg District in the State legislature from 1836 until 1848. He was chairman of the House Military Committee for a number of years. By that time Dr. Jamison had been dead for five years. It seems quite likely that the name could have been chosen to perpetuate the memory of the doctor. While serving in this capacity he introduced the bill to establish the State Military Schools at the Arsenal (Columbia) and at the Citadel (Charleston). He was appointed to the Board of Visitors of the schools as one of its original members and served until his death. His close friend William Gilmore Simms was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the General’s death in 1864. Simms wrote in a resolution accepted by the Board upon Jamison’s death that he was “one of the strongest and most polished pillars of the institution.”
The “crowning achievement of his career” was a book that he wrote at the suggestion of Simms: The Life and Times of Bertrand du Guesculin, published in Charleston during the Confederate War and dedicated to Simms. Professor James Westfall Thompson of the University of Chicago after reading the book declared of Jamison: “His scholarship was rare indeed, for he sought to explore a difficult field. It was his unique and profound scholarship which first attracted me to him.” The friendship between Jamison and Simms “grew so warm through the years that in 1859 Jamison bought Burwood a neighboring plantation to the Woodlands, the better to enjoy Simms’ companionship.”
Simms dedicated one of his novels, The Forayers, to Jamison. Appropriately enough it is set in and about Orangeburg. Of Jamison, Simms once confided in a letter: “Jamison is a man of great firmness & character, great calm of temper, & thoroughly true — intelligent also and familiar with affairs. He is not brilliant, but sensible.” General Jamison was also president of the South Carolina Secession Convention. Jamison caught yellow fever and died in Charleston while serving the Confederacy as presiding judge in the military court of General Beauregard’s corps. Simms served as one of his pallbearers.
He is buried in the old Presbyterian Cemetery in Orangeburg. A marker erected by friends after 189276 pays tribute to him as “Soldier, Statesman, Scholar” and as “President of the Secession Convention.
(Information from: Names in South Carolina by C.H. Neuffer, Published by the S.C. Dept. of English, USC)
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