City Directories and History: History of the Moore – Merritt Home on Falls Road from Elizabeth Reed as well as others who recalled the home in the mid 20th century before it was destroyed.
A stately drive of elms and oaks leads to the century old Merritt home on the Bethesda road near Rock Hill. For more than 100 years members of the Merritt and Moore families have lived in the spacious old home and have had charge of farming the fertile acres of land nearby. Mrs. Clarence Merritt is the present owner of the 230 acre farm and lives in the lovely old home with her 88-year-old mother-in-law, Mrs. M.E. Merritt – The Rock Hill Herald reported on Sept. 30, 1899 – “Mr. B.F. Merritt has contracted for the repainting of his home.”
An interesting thing about the two-storied house with its wings at either end, is that the house has been changed very little in exterior appearance within the memory of those now living.
The exact date of the construction of the home is unknown. However, Dr. J.B. Patrick of Oakland Avenue, well-known retired Rock Hill dentist, believes that the home was built before 1829 by his great grandfather, Dr. W. S. Moore. [See More Information > for data on the Moore family.] Mrs. Merritt’s deed to the estate gives an affidavit by John H. Steele that members of the Moore family owned the property before 1858. Dr. Moore moved from York to the Bethesda section to establish his practice.
Dr. Moore (1791-1861) was married to Miss Harriet Baxter Springs (1802-1832) (Ms. Springs was the sister of two of York County’s most influential citizens; Andrew Baxter Springs and Richard Alston Springs.) The couple had three sons: Baxter Moore, a Charlotte lawyer; Capt. W. S. Moore, Lt. Fred Moore, who was killed in the War Between the States and one daughter, Miss Harriet Springs Moore. (In 1850, Dr. Moore was living in York. He remained there and in the 1860 census, his wealth was recorded as $123,000. From what I can ascertain, Dr. Moore rarely stayed at his country farm in Bethesda preferring the stately surroundings of his elegant York home.)
Capt. W. S. Moore lived in the home until after the death of his wife. (The 1850 census states he was twenty years of age farming the property for his father. The census states he was worth $6,500.) He then moved to Rock Hill to make his home with his daughter, Mrs. J.B. Patrick after the death of Dr. J.B. Patrick. Both the late Dr. J.B. Patrick and Dr. W.M. Patrick were born in the lovely old home.
Dr. W. M. Patrick remembers visiting the home as a boy. He recalls the huge plantation of approximately 1000 acres, the large smokehouse where meat was cured for the many hired hands, and the spacious avenue of elms and oaks leading in a graceful curve to the home. He recalls the gin where cotton was processed and the number of farm animals, notably the goats.
Mrs. B. F. Merritt and the late Mr. Merritt moved to the home from Mecklenburg County, N.C., on Thanksgiving Day in 1894. Living with the family was Miss Mae Armstrong, a niece of Mrs. Merritt, now Mrs. E. R. Shannon. Mr. and Mrs. Merritt’s only daughter is now Mrs. J. S. Wilkerson of Hickory Grove. Their only son, Clarence Merritt, died nine years ago and Mrs. Clarence Merritt now carries on the work of managing the place. B. F. Merritt died 35 years ago.
The house is in a remarkable state of preservation. The two rooms at either end of the home formerly had small porches with doors leading from the interior to them. A part of the original farm of 1000 acres remained in the possession of Mrs. Jennie Moore until about 1906 when it was sold to J. H. Milling. That section of the farm is now known as the Milling farm.
Dr. Patrick remembers that in his boyhood Dr. Moore’s office stood about 30 yards from the house and a little to the side. Although, he does not remember his great grandfather, he has heard his grandfather, Capt. W. S. Moore, tell of the skeleton of a youth that Dr. Moore kept in an upstairs room. Dr. Moore used to dangle the skeleton from an upstairs window to tease the small fry among the Negro slaves on the plantation. He also remembers hearing that on one occasion, Dr. Moore amputated the hand of a Negro slave after it had been mangled in the cotton gin. When Dr. Moore threw the hand into a group of small white and Negro boys playing outside the office window, he frightened them considerably. (The Merritt home, shown on Walker’s 1910 postal map – left.)
Another interesting thing about the Patrick family, is that there were four, Dr. J. B. Patrick’s in direct succession. Dr. J. B. Patrick, first, had seven sons; all became dentists, Dr. J. B. Patrick, fourth (the last Dr. J. B. Patrick) is now dead and his widow lives on Hampton Street. Capt. Moore also planted the graceful avenue of oaks and elms that leads to the home. The late B. F. Merritt planted the two huge water oaks in the back yard. What was originally the kitchen (not separated from the house however) has been pushed back from the house and is now used as a dairy. Banisters for the upstairs porch and ornamentation for the porch on the first floor, are hand carved and of a graceful design. The front door is surmounted by a glass panel.
A striking feature of the home is the graceful stairway with its hand carved scroll work. The balustrade ends in a most unusual circular scroll, still in perfect condition. The home is finished inside with smooth wide boards. The rooms now have wallpaper above the wainscoting. The floors, ceilings, doors and even the hardware, in most cases, are the original. Locks for the doors are about twice the size of present day hardware. The front door hinge of hand-forged iron extends the full width of the door. The two mantels in the main rooms are exquisite. They are similar, though different in design, and have delicate hand carving and a central medallion.
Many lovely pieces of old furniture are in the home today. One is a large secretary, more than 150 years old that originally belonged to Mrs. Merritt’s ancestors, the McMullens. (In 1930 the census recorded that Clarence S. Merritt and his mother Mary E. Merritt remained on the farm.)
MOORE FAMILY OF YORK COUNTY (The following account is an excerpt taken from a typescript, “Data on the Harris and Allied Families,” probably written by L. A. Harris of Havana, Cuba, ca. 1931-35. Three copies were made of the typescript. The copy from which the following is taken is in the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston, S. C. )
…. Scotland was not indigenous soil to these Irish Moores, and the sons of James Moore, early in 1700 began to contemplate the feasibility of crossing the Atlantic, and mending their fortunes in the New World. They all seem to have fairly good educations, and to be possessed of sufficient judgment and decision of character, to take respectable positions on their advent in America. Alexander Moore was the eldest son of James Moore, and a married man at the time of his migration. . . . James Moore, my great grandfather, was a child of three years. That was about the year 1715, or 1718, certainly not later.
RAILROADS COME TO YORK COUNTY – Several additional facts about the rail line from Columbia to Rock Hill may be of interest to the reader. First, the men from York District who attended the convention concerning the building of a railroad from Charlotte to Columbia were Colonel W. C. Beatty, William A. Latta, John Miller Ross, Robert Gadsden McCaw, William Moore, W. Giles, J. Beatty Smith, and Joel W. Rawlinson. This initial meeting of interested parties was held at Winnsboro on May 24 and 25, 1847.
Subscribers for stock in the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad Company on September 9 and 10, 1847, were these: Colonel W. C. Beatty, John Miller Ross, Colonel William Wright, John S. Moore, W. I. Clawson, William A. Latta, George W. Williams, Colonel Edward Avery, Harvey Hugh Drennan, Rev. Archibald Whyte, Thomas D. Spratt, James D. Spratt, A. M. White, George P. White, William E. White, and Captain John Massey.
(Along the Landsford Road, by Wm. B. White, Jr. Vol., I – 2008)
R&R Notes: The original section of the home, the two story “I” house, with its end chimneys, is obscured by the more modern porch additions. But the home dates to the same period as that of the Robertson, Roddey and Gordon houses and may well have been executed by the same mechanic – contractor. Though historian Wm. B. White, Jr., gave York contractor, Mr. Andrew Giles credit for having constructed the Roddey House, to R&R’s knowledge, this was based on no written information. The description of the features by Eliz. Reed (above), do however strongly suggest that the same artisans were at work, whomever they were, at three of the four houses. It would be nice to emphatically prove that Mr. Giles constructed each of these dwellings but other known artisans were also very capable and lived in the Bethesda area, not in York as did Mr. Giles. The importance of these dwellings does not lay in their contractor but rather that they are so similar and came from the same pattern book.
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