Along the Jefferson Davis Trail
One of South Carolina’s iconic Carolina “I” houses built by the Hafner family of antebellum contractors.
City Directories and History: Samuel Blair was born 15 March 1824 at Blairsville and died 28 October 1907, at his home and plantation on the Old Pinckneyville Road. He tells that his uncle, Samuel
Mitchell, owned the heart of what is now Atlanta including some 200 acres where the Kimball house and the state capitol now stands. Mr. Blair was on a visit to see his uncle and got a job as chain bearer with men surveying streets. Years later at the close of the Civil War, his home would also have been a significant location, which Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his military escort would have admired. He was traveling South across York County prior to crossing into Union County on the Pinckneyville Ferry.
Samuel Blair was elected elder of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church in 1859. He was married 11 January 1848 to Catherine H. Strong of Chester County. She was born 11 August 1827 and died 11 May 1898. They had five children: John Christopher Blair, Mary Agnes Blair, Lowry M. Blair, Martha Catharine Blair and Ida Eliza Blair. (Contributed by Jerry West)
Ephraim Hafner, a local carpenter, is credited with the construction of the Blair House in 1851 for planter, Mr. Samuel Blair. The home, located on Highway 49 south of Sharon, is a fine example of an Italianate influenced “I-House”. Among the decorative elements featured are functional shutters, decorative brackets under the eaves, original panes in the windows, and a decorative cornice. The Blairsville community grew around the Blair house. [Historical Properties of York County, SC – 1995] R&R Note: It is unclear as to the exact builder of this historic home. Note that Andy Hafner, was also a local contractor who executed very similar houses in the region both before and after the Civil War.
“Hafner, Ephraim (Corp.), born – Nov. 4, 1828, died – June 23, 1863 of disease at Farmsville, Va., Co. A 12th Regt. S.C.V. McGowan’s Infantry, Enlisted Aug. 20, 1861” Information from: The Bulletin – A publication of the Chester District Genealogical Society
Hafner Family Artisans: This home, often referred to as the ideal “I” House standard, was destroyed by vandals in 2010. Until that time, it remained in remarkably good condition even though no one had occupied the home for over more than two decades. The home was a combination of fine workmanship by the Hafner Family Construction group and their knowledge of current architectural trends in the region. The Hafner family built houses all over Western York County, many of which will never be known, as well as a number of fine remodeling and new homes in Chester County. Members of the family included; Alfred, Andrew, Ephraim, J.A., and Marcus. It is difficult to determine where one family member starts and stops in the construction business. Unfortunately, many houses are attributed to the Hafner or Hefner group since their name was first published in 1963 as the contractor-architect of this dwelling. In reality little is known of the family group outside their workmanship and it is likely that Andrew, J.A. Hafner and Marcus played just as vital a roll as did Ephraim. The census states that it was J.A. Hafner who lived just over the county line in Chester. And Andy, Ephraim, and Marcus all in their twenties in the 1850 census lived in York County in the Bullock’s Creek – Turkey Creek areas.
It is of note that in the 1850 census, Ephraim Hafner is listed with two additional carpenters; Rufus Rudisill and Michael Polk working with him. All three of these men were from North Carolina and had moved into S.C. to find work. Also see: Andy Hafner Had A Way With Houses And Women – The Herald, September 21, 1950 by Elizabeth Reed
Andy Hafner (10/16/1821 – 3/16/1914) must have been one of York County’s truly remarkable men.
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The half-dozen fine old homes scattered over the county built by him, his own well-preserved house in the Turkey Creek community and the memories passed down from one generation to another attest to that. (Data suggest that he and his family built several fine homes in the Sharon area of York County, including the fine Blair Home on Hwy 49.)
He married four ladies, outlived them all, and died in 1914 at the age of 93.
His simple one and one half story home must have been typical of his character. With his building skill he might have erected a more pretentious dwelling for himself. Instead he chose to build a sturdy home that after a century is firm, the chimneys are strongly bonded to the house and with a little paint it could become a home for a discriminating family. The place is owned now by Blair Dulin of Bowling Green. No one lives in the house, although it is wired for electricity and has a good roof. (Even though the 1850 Federal Census states that both he and his brother were farmers, records highly suggest as does Mrs. Reed’s article, that they both constructed many antebellum home in Western York County. In 1850, the census recorded that Andy was owner of four slaves and by 1860 was worth $18,500.)
The Andy Hafner home is just a few miles from the two story house erected for Andy’s brother, Marcus. The house was originally built with a wide comfortable porch, two main rooms with smaller shed rooms to the back, and a half story reached by a stair in the corner of one of the big downstairs rooms. Somewhere along the way a part of the porch has been boxed in to make another room and the stair has been blocked.
The quaint 18 pane windows are, for the most part good, although some of the windows need replacing. The mantels are of hand carved and fluted design. The original floors are of wide pine boards and the interior ceiling is smooth and well preserved. (In 1856 records also say that he did an addition and work on the wheat, flour and kitchen of Rev. R. Y. Russell’s home near Sharon, SC. Accordingly he was paid a total of $56., for this work.)
First Wife—-Andy Hafner brought his first wife, Martha Gwin, to the house about 1853. The house was new and had been built especially for the 19 year old Martha. Martha, the daughter of Polly Whitehead Gwin and Richard Gwin of the nearby community, lived to enjoy the new home only a short while, probably less than a year. A bereaved Andy buried her body in the Gwin family cemetery.
Pretty soon a second wife, Mary Jane or Hannah Abel came to live in the house. She, too, died after a few months, leaving no children. After a decent interval Andy brought his third wife into the house. She was Kissiah Hardwick, a daughter of Mildred Barrow and William Hardwick. They reared a family of six children.
Eudocia married John Patrick and founded a home at White Oak. Hattie Hafner married Dr. Miller of Chester. John Hafner married a Mrs. Melton; Robert Russell Hafner married twice, a Miss Howe and then after her death, a Miss Lewis. Woods Hafner went to Alabama and married a Miss Jago. William became an A.R.P. minister and preached in South and North Carolina and in Tennessee. He kept up the marrying tradition of his father by marrying successively Miss Mary Parks, Miss Susie Shannon, a Mrs. McFadden and a Mrs. Gregg.
In the middle life Mrs. Kissiah Hafner became an invalid. She died in 1876 and Andrew was left with his six children. Andrew, now 55, soon brought home a new wife, Mrs. Sallie West, who lived until 1893. After her death Mr. and Mrs. Tom Blair lived for many years in the old home and took care of the aged builder. (It would be of great interest to cultural preservation efforts in York County if more was know of his records and the homes he constructed. Western York County Historian, Jerry West who assisted with this information also says that “supposedly he built six other houses” and could have built the Bullock’s Creek Pres. Church pulpit.)
William Hardwick and his wife Mildred settled into a large plantation home near Bullock Creek Church and the
Chester-York County line. They reared twelve children and lived there until they died. These names and many of the dates were in my father’s records:
1. Lucinda. (11/15/1812-8/4/1891); married Abner Wilkes (12/10/1801-11/16/1883), son of William and Lydia Clark Wilkes; both are buried in the cemetery at Calvary Baptist Church in the Baton Rouge section of Chester County.
2. Martha. (1816-1880); married John (?) Woods.
3. Garland Lee, (b. Abt 1818); married Sarah (last name unknown)
4. James Barrow, (b. Abt 1820); married Jane Lee.
5. Hanev. (Abt 1823-1898); married Dr. George H. Barnes (b. Abt 1817).
6. Hazel, never married.
7. William. (10/26/1830-8/6/1908); married Frances Hill (3/14/1833-4/15/1924); went to Alabama and then to Texas.
8. Harriet (Abt 1833-7/18/1915); married John McCarley; lived in Newberry County.
9. Keziah. (7/8/1831-10/23/1876); married Andrew Hafner (11/16/1821-3/16/1914);both are buried in Bullock Creek Cemetery.
10. George McDuffie, (b. Abt. 1836L
11. Arthur Starr, (b. Abt 1839); killed during Civil War, July 30,1864, at the blow-up at Petersburg, Virginia.
12. Mildred Ann. (7/14/1842-1/8/1902); married Samuel G. Blair (4/6/1838-8/12/1906); both are buried in Bullock Creek Cemetery.
Information from: The Bulletin – A publication of the Chester District Genealogical Society
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