Jim's memories of Rose Hill
6 Aug 2008
The following information contains exerpts from recent contacts with Jim Ellington:
Probably one of the biggest events held at Rose Hill was a party celebrating the bridge opening to HHI. My uncle John was chairman of the bridge commission at the time. James Byrnes, a Carolinian of note, was the prime attendee and Winston Churchill had been invited as well. I still have a letter, I think, acknowledging his regrets in being unable to attend. My uncle had great regards for Mr. Churchill as well as General McArthur. The dedication plaque is located along 278 just prior to going over the first bridge; I think you had noted that you recognized my description of location as being near the shrimp vendor. At any rate, the facts of this dedication can be found on this still existing plaque.(I was not in attendance as I would have been only about 10 or 11.).
Some general misc. data:
My uncle attended the Citadel for 2 yrs.(per my mother)
His father, was from Lake City S.C. and graduated from the Citadel. He is buried in Lake City. He was a buyer for the American tobacco company.
Lonnie Reynolds was the name of the gate guard. He had a wife Dora, two daughters, one named Irene and I cannot think of the other's name; lastly a son named Randy. The developed property at corner of Rose Hill and Pinckney Colony road was deeded to Lonnie for his service and faithfullness. Lonnie is a champion oyster roaster which conjures up some of my favorite low country memories. He would go out into the local waters and bring back several bushels of oysters and then would proceed to fire the pit and roast them. Oak logs were used with corrugated metal serving as the grill. The pit was constructed of concrete blocks forming an open ended rectangle of approximately 3' wide x 5' long x 4' deep. It would typically be dark when they were steamed so one ate all sorts of things with the mollusks but with a beer or two it never seemed to matter.
Rufus [Aiken's] father was Ben Akins, Sr. (with dog in photo) and a really nice fellow. I worked with Ben during several summers mowing and putting up hay. It took all week to mow the 12 or so acres around the house, so I had a steady job. Fortunately there was "B-John" who did all the trim work around the lake and flowers etc. I had the misfortune of one day running the mower into the deepest part of lake at the dam while attempting to help "B-John" in his trim work - he was not there at the time. I ran all the way to the barn and then on out into the hayfield to tell him, Ben, the sad story.....I was amazed and frustrated when he continued making his rounds. Finally, I got his attention and asked him why he didn't hurry up and help me get the mower out, and he calmly said it was way too late for that! I was probably about 15 then. That Ben knew I was in deep water!(literally and figuratively).
My aunt [Betsy] kept 7 cocker spaniels in house and they generally slept behind the stove and stayed in kitchen area. My uncle had 4 Springer Spaniels which were kept in two runs out behind your home near the slough, and they were used for duck hunting in the duck pond which was flooded each fall for same. The duck pond would be to the left of the "now main" road into Rose Hill about 1/4 mile from 278. This was planted with millet and other grain and then flooded for winter duck hunting. There used to be a large pump house beside the road near that area that was used for the water source.
My aunt had a parrot whose name was Reggie. I think she got same for Jay (Maryann's only child and her grandson who would spend time at Rose Hill). Occasionally, we were there together and became friends. Jay was probably 3-4 years younger than me but, since we were all each of us had, we bridged the age gap. We hunted, fished, and mainly prowled around on his 20 in. bike which stayed in the garage, your guest house. Two on a bike didn't get far, but we did upon occasion manage to incur my uncle's ire. Touring the beach house was great fun and certainly for us off limits! We would have been 12 to 15 or so at the time. Crabbing near the beach house was probably our favorite thing to do and we could easily get a bushel of blues, which we generally gave to Ben for his family's dining. After one such outing, the maids(Rena) reminded me that they liked crabs too!
Rufus' father Ben did a great job of keeping all the guns in good shape at the gun room in yhe barn much as he remembered. He may remember both me and Jay but he was considerably younger. He had several siblings all younger than he. His mother's name was Gladys. Ben died some time ago.
The car the maids drove daily to Rose Hill was an off-white small station wagon called a Goliath.(Some foreign made auto).
"At the entrance to Rose Hill North, on the right side of the road across from the guard gate was located the plantation garden. It was planted with various vegetables for use by those of us in the "Big House" as it was called, and by Ben's family as well as the farm manager at the time. The farm manager lived in a house at the entrance to Rose Hill in about the location of the old sales office. It had been built by my uncle and was occupied by at least 4 different managers that I could recall. Ben's house was right across 278 from the manager's house....
"[Uncle John] was very safety conscious and very sporting with the plantation's game. He was an excellent shot but was limited mobility-wise due to the loss of his right leg in an auto accident in the '50s. He generally hunted from a jeep while on deer hunts and from a centrally located duck blind within the duck pond... Wild turkeys were never hunted as he was attempting to establish flocks on the plantation and he did not want them wary. While on duck hunts, I have seen him stop a hunt when some trigger happy invitee would shoot into ducks on the water instead of waiting for the birds to be in the air and in small groups. Once the hunt was stopped, everyone was sent "packing" and likely not be invited back anytime soon! (There were typically no second chances). Any game taken during a hunt, be it deer or ducks, was prepared at the barn and then split equally with all hunters as well as the "drivers" in the case of deer. (Driver was a term used for the person, usually Ben or some other hired hand, who would go into the woods with several deer hounds -my uncle had probably 15 to 20 - and attempt to "jump" bucks for the invited hunters who were strategically located around the area hunted). Typically, there were 5 or 6 hunt areas on the North side of Rose Hill and many more on the South side known as the deep woods. Does were never hunted and anathema would surely be the fate of a hunter taking one!"
Log Landing was a small land development company my uncle et al started in early 70's. It consisted of about 12 lots located on the Colleton River with a community dock. One would go down Pinckney Colony road and turn left at old monkey farm (an actual "farm" where monkeys were raised and utilized for some type of experimentation in the ~40's/50"s). Following road to end, one would reach some nice homes which should be the area in question. Lots probably about 1 to 2 acres or so in size, some with waterfront. We sold this company shortly after my uncle's death.
As to why Rose Hill and the Low Country for my aunt and uncle?: I was never told by anyone so I can only conjecture. The only clues would be that my Grandfather, John Metler Sturgeon Jr. was born in S.C. in Lake City. He is buried there along with two brothers and I believe a half sister. My grandfather graduated from the Citadel and played football there as well. This would have been in the '0 somethings. My uncle attended the Citadel also for about two years. Our family ties were with the Sturgeon's. My uncle had two cousins, brothers, that I know of that lived in S.C. as well. One was a Croft Jennings and the other Larkin Jennings. Both I believe were lawyers with Larkin residing in Union. Larkin additionally was an executer of my uncle's estate. Croft was a retired Navy admiral if my story is straight. Obviously, my aunt's financial situation allowed for Rose Hill to be found and the work to begun.
*For larger views of the above photos, please go to History IV - the Sturgeon Years - from the main menu.