McPhersonville’s Moment in the Sun

On March 22, 2014, Wikipedia (the world’s sixth most trafficked website) featured “Burning of McPhersonville” as its “Picture of the Day,” prominently displayed on its front page. I’ve posted a screen capture below (click the image to see a larger, linked version):

burnmcpherThis was a jaw-dropping surprise for me to see, since McPhersonville is the teeny, tiny, remote, no longer incorporated Low Country South Carolina hamlet (we always call it “The Village”) where my ancestors have lived for generations and generations. (I am eleventh in line of descent from the first permanent English settler in South Carolina). One of the mentioned houses left standing during the burning of McPhersonville was, in fact, my family’s home at the time.

McPhersonville is so seemingly insignificant in the grand narrative of South Carolina that I actually had to be the one to create its Wikipedia page, on April 13, 2006. The only image I included in that original page was the William Waud sketch of the burning shown at left above, which all these years on has risen in stature to being named a Wikipedia Picture of the Day. Huh!

If you follow me at the Indie Moines Facebook Group (and you should, if you don’t), then you’ve actually been looking at McPhersonville regularly for quite some time, since I use the following topo map as my cover image:

mcphtopo

I particularly love this map (found online), because right next to “downtown” McPhersonville, someone has hand annotated a surveying benchmark with the legend “Cocock.” Presumably, this is a misspelling of “Colcock,” the name of my mother’s mother’s family who owned this land all the way back to pre-Revolutionary days.

Cool and cool again!

About J. Eric Smith
Executive Director, Salisbury House Foundation.

6 Responses to McPhersonville’s Moment in the Sun

  1. Mom says:

    How exciting to see “the Village” make the big time. Guess there are lots of “family members”…..ooooooooooo…..making afternoon calls, and leaving their calling cards, to share the news!!
    Love, Mom

  2. For the family members visiting, I had to point out to Paige that this was the Civil War-era “Burning of McPhersonville,” and not the later “Burning of McPhersonville” perpetuated by our cousin Hutson, who did it in bits and pieces over a period of decades. Hutson had his own poem in the “Low Country Limerick” series . . .

    Out near Estill lived Hutson the Pyro,
    who would dance n’ spin like a broke gyro
    while burnin’ up woods,
    peoples’ houses an’ goods,
    singin’ “Look at the beautiful fire, oh!”

    See more here:

    http://indiemoines.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/low-counry-limerick1.pdf

  3. Juanita Esposito says:

    Hi Eric: I have many fond memories of the Village, during the time our family lived there in 1939-
    1940. My sister Frances and I were very good friends with your grandma Henrietta. She spent a lot of time at our house, especially after she met our brother and your grandpa, Delmas. We attended Sunday school in the church that Sherman’s army left standing. The Martin sisters were
    our teachers. One day when I was at Henrietta’s house she told me about her grandmother and the turkey she saved by putting it under a wooden box and sitting on while the Yankees took all
    the rest of the food. That surely was an interesting place to live. I’m the last one of the Waters
    family living and since I am almost 89yrs old I won’t be around much longer, but I always enjoy reading about GA. and SC.

    • Hey Aunt Juanita!

      It’s great to hear from you . . . and thanks for sharing your memories here as part of this story. I know that there are many amazing tales about both McPhersonville and the Waters family. Many years ago, Daddy Delmas showed me a story hand written by your mother about her own memories, and she lived quite a life herself. I am not sure if my Mom shared this with you, but a couple of years ago, I scanned some of her old photos of your parents and brothers and put them on my website . . . here is the link: http://indiemoines.com/2010/06/01/peeking-in-the-wayback-machine-again/

      Again, great to hear from you, as always, and I hope you are doing well!

      XO,

      Eric

      • Mom says:

        Aunt Juanita could probably share some scandelous things about the village and our family! HA! And by the way….My stars, no one would ever go calling in the afternoon, with out gloves, and parasol….much less their teeth! We would definately have the vapors over that!
        Mom

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