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Mount Jolly Plantation

Simpson, Richard Wright
Place Made:
Pendleton Anderson County South Carolina
Date Made:
graphite –paper
HOA: 11 1/2″; WOA: 9 1/8″
Accession Number:
Mount Jolly Plantation was built around 1805 by Zachariah Taliaferro (1759-1831) and Margaret Chew (Carter) Taliaferro (1771-1822) outside of Pendleton, South Carolina. Zachariah was born in Amherst County, Virginia. He served in the American Revolution and, following the war, practiced law in Virginia and then in Upstate South Carolina. He retained close ties to Virginia. In 1802 Zachariah returned to Virginia where he married Margaret Chew Carter. She was the daughter of Captain John Carter, Sr. and Hannah (Chew) Carter of Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Mount Jolly was probably built sometime after the couple’s marriage. They had four daughters. Their third daughter, Mary Margaret Taliaferro (1808-1896), inherited Mount Jolly. In 1836, she married Major Richard Franklin Simpson (1798-1882), who represented South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1842 to 1849 and signed the South Carolina Ordinance for Secession. According to her 1896 obituary, Mary Margaret (Taliaferro) Simpson lived in the house at Mount Jolly her entire life.

Mary Margaret and Richard Franklin’s son Richard Wright Simpson, Sr. (1840-1912), or possibly his son Richard Wright Simpson, Jr. (1874-1953), drew this image, casually inscribed “Grandmas house in the country.” Richard Wright Simpson was a lawyer, a soldier in the Civil War, a member of the South Carolina state legislature, and the first president of the Clemson University Board of Trustees. He was also a local historian whose book, “History of Old Pendleton District,” was published the year after his death in 1913.

The drawing is undated. The more formal inscription “R Simpson’s House” suggests that it might have been drawn before Richard Franklin Simpson’s death in 1882. The house itself burned in the early 20th century, though at least one photograph of it in an un-inhabited and un-landscaped state does survive. The inscriptino “M. L. Simpson” on the back of the photograph probably refers to Richard Wright Simpson’s wife, Mary Louise (Garlington) Simpson (1843-1910).

Family tradition alleged the house to be “an exact replica” of a family home in Virginia. Although undoubtedly not a “perfect” replica, this assertion alone represents the conscious effort on the part of the family to maintain their Tidewater Virginia identities. That said, the house—a ubiquitous “I” house with external chimneys—is typical of a vast area of the South (and of the Midwest, as well), but we often overlook that its introduction and spread throughout our region has Chesapeake origins. The symmetrical wings on either side of the house create a long façade (even more notable in the photograph) that reference Georgian building practices in the Chesapeake region. This is quite unusual in the lower South. The overshot porch with columns beyond the porch floor is a fairly common occurrence in central South Carolina.

The tilted perspective showing formal gardens and displaying botanical identification is unique. Plantings include cedar, peach, orange, locust, willow, and box. Though the drawing probably dates to the third-quarter of the nineteenth century, the gardens we see may well have been established by an earlier generation.

“The Simpson Genealogy of Two Distinct Families…” by Z.L. Holmes, Revised by Richard Wright Simpson, Subsequently Revised by Eugene S. Hudgens. (Laurens County, South Carolina, Library)

Richard Wright Simpson, “History of Old Pendleton District with A Genealogy of the Leading Family of the District” (Anderson, South Carolina: Oulla Printing and Binding Company, 1913)

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund