Thomas Davies (1809 – 1878), about 1846-1848, bought the house at 103 North Congress Street in Yorkville, today known as the Herndon House, located at the corner of North Congress Street and Madison Street. This house was built about 1826-1828 for Col. William C. Beatty, probably by local contractor, Thomas B. Hoover. (Source: The Genesis of York by Wm. B. White, Jr.)
City Directories and History: 1958 – Catherine S. Gardner, Joe Herndon, Kenneth E. Hartsoe, Daisey P. Pannell, 1966 – Joe Herndon
*** Two of the PDFs listed on this page give extensive histories of both Thomas Davies the original owner of this antebellum home and that of his slave, Nelson the talented painter and politician.
A pivotal house, the Herndon House was owned by three generations of Herndon’s. Joseph Herndon was from Virginia, who purchased the house, circa 1820. It was originally built as a simple Carolina “I” House (R&R’s staff discovered and explained to the owner decades ago, that this is the rear section of the home – a two story façade was added in the 1850’s to enhance and enlarge the home), perhaps without it’s distinct Southern shed porch configuration. This would have been considered the rear section of the main house. Later, the house had two significant architectural changes with heavy Italianate influences, exact date of these changes is undocumented. All of these changes were due in great part, to the addition of two front rooms to both the first and second floors. Another words, an entirely new home was built on the front of the old existing house with a new roof system and porches merging them both physically and architecturally. This was a very common practice in the post Civil War era. It was reported in the 1850’s, Chester paper, that mechanics (builder-contractors in the 1850’s) were exceedingly busy all over the region with massive remodeling and building projects.
The house is a monument to historical events in York. It is said that Joseph Herndon, who was seven years old when the Civil War ended, recalled seeing Jefferson Davis, fleeing Richmond with his servant, Andy, when they stopped in York. He also recalled playing around horses during the encampment of the 7th Cavalry unit, stationed in York during the early 1870’s. [Courtesy of the Yorkville Historical Society – 2002 and additional architectural remarks.] See corrections and notes below!
*** It is important to note that in the 1850 census, Joseph and his family are not living in York but in Chester, S.C. He is listed as a merchant having been born in Virginia. This would also lend valuable evidence to support his acquisition of the house in the 1860’s when the owner, Wm. Davies put it on the market in 1863.
For more information on Mr. Herndon as an early York County peddler, see MORE INFORMATION, under the primary image.
About 1845 – Living in Yorkville, SC and was operating a bar room. He purchased a slave who eventually adopted the name Nelson Davies (Source, Yorkville Enquirer, September –, 1901).
1856 – Advertised for a new business, Thomas Davies & Co. “at the stand formerly occupied by S. N. Stowe & Co. and L. P. Sadler & Co. nearly opposite the Walkers Hotel.” The business was a grocery and offered provisions of all kinds. He advertised that he would receive country produce in barter and will make liberal bids for cotton. The same paper contained small ads for Thomas Davies & Co. for flour, molasses, mackerel, cheese, and other goods. (Source: Yorkville Enquirer, February 21, 1856).
1863 – Notice in the newspaper “The undersigned Thomas Davies offers for sale his very valuable house and lot situated on Congress Street in Yorkville. The house contains six rooms with a fireplace in each. The outbuildings consist of servant houses, cook kitchen, meat house, lumber house, carriage house, and corn crib and are nearly new, having been recently erected. The lot is well supplied with a well of excellent water and is the most desirable in Yorkville.” (Source: Yorkville Enquirer, March 11, 1863). William B. White, in The Genesis of York, states that the house was purchased by Joseph Herndon.
1867 – Thomas Davies is declared bankrupt. “The U. S. Court in Columbia granted petition of creditors of Thomas Davies to have him declared bankrupt. The case is referred to W. J. Clawson, Esq., Registrar in bankruptcy for the Fourth Congressional District.” (Source: Charleston Dailey News, December 24, 1867).
1868 – Bankruptcy Sale for Thomas Davies scheduled for first Monday in March 1868 at the York County Court House. To sell: 1) Plantation of 690 acres where he now lives on both sides of the Land’s Ford Road, three miles from Yorkville, bounded by G. W. Williams, Esq., George Steele, the estate of I. D. Witherspoon, Clark Robinson, and others; 2) Tract of 9 ¾ acres on the Charlotte Road near Yorkville, bounded by Mrs. O’Leary, Eliza Johnson, Leander Dobson, and others; 3) Notes and book accounts; 4) Three shares of King’s Mountain Rail Road stock; 5) Personal property to include one silver watch, one horse, one colt, two cows, one bull, one boar, one cotton gin and band, one hay cutter, one old wagon, one flute, one violin, and a lot of old molasses boilers. Assignees are T. S. Jeffries and W. B. Metts. (Source: Yorkville Enquirer, February 13, 1868).
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Feb. 13, 1868 – “Joseph Herndon informs the public that his wheat and corn mills located two miles west of Yorkville are now in full operation. He has secured the services of Mr. Joseph Wood and miller.”
On Jan. 11, 1893 the YV Enquirer reported – “Mr. Brooks Inman and family have moved from the Herndon House, opposite the Parish Hotel, to Mr. T.B. McClain’s house on Cleveland Street, which was recently vacated by Dr. T.S. Bratton.” Also, “Mrs. M.E. Camp is now occupying the Herndon House…”
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Sept. 26, 1894 – “Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Kuykendal have recently moved into one of the Herndon Cottage on Cartwright Avenue.”
The Herald reported on Dec. 8, 1896 – “Yorkville is to have an opera house. Prof. R.J. Herndon will lead the effort to establish…..”
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