Middleburg Plantation

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Middleburg Plantation was built by Benjamin Simons in 1697.  It remains today in private hands, and is the oldest wooden frame house in SC.  At one time, the home was the center of a profitable rice plantation of 5000 acres.  Although the property is much smaller now, the house stands as a monument to the quality of home construction from the artisans of the age.  Simons was one of a group of Huguenots that settled in the area after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes prohibiting free worship in France. 

Named for the town of Middleburg, Zeeland  (see current photos) which dates to the 8th or 9th century.

From Wikopedia..In October 1685, Louis XIV, the grandson of Henry IV, renounced the Edict and declared Protestantism illegal with the Edict of Fontainebleau. This act, commonly called the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, had very damaging results for France. While the wars of religion did not re-ignite, as many as 400,000[12] Protestants chose to leave France, most moving to Great Britain, Prussia, the Dutch Republic, Switzerland and the new French colonies in North America.

p, 21. Benjamin Simons, of Middleburg Plantation - the starting point of this prolific and well-known family - French Huguenots. Earlies mention: Warrant 15 July 1697, 100 A, in Berkley Co, Grant 5 May 1704 for 350 A, The first Benjamin Simons d. ca 1717; had no less than ten children. - He also had grants in St. Thomas; Ancient Capital of Province of Zeeland in Holland was Middleburg.  If any are connected with Simons family, it is not known.


Berkely Co Historical Christmas Ornament - Middleburg 2006

From http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Acres/3207/middleburg.htm

The oldest part of Middleburg was built about 1697 by the French Huguenot Benjamin Simons; the house takes its name from the ancient capital of the Zeeland Province in Holland. There is little here to indicate the cosmopolitan origins, however, for what is exceptional about this earliest of all South Carolina houses is its simplicity and the accommodation it makes to the local environment. Extensive and careful restoration currently underway suggests that the original house was relatively small. A single, central chimney heated two single rooms below and two more above. Wide piassas provided shade across the front and back of the house. Records show that the fifth of the Simons' 14 children was born in the newly completed house and that the second Benjamin, subsequently raised a large family there. The next generation included Catherine Chicken whose childhood ordeal in the Strawberry Chapel graveyard has become legend, and Lydia Lucas whose famous father-in-law, Jonathan Lucas, built the first toll rice mill on the grounds. Lucas' invention did for the rice cultivation what the cotton gin did for cotton. Remains of this mill still exist, as well as an interesting nineteenth century commissary building, where slaves were once jailed, and a carriage house. The additions, outbuildings, mill, and a symmetrical formal garden with camellia alleé and reflecting pond, all suggest that from relatively humble beginnings the family quickly prospered, beautifying and enlarging their residence accordingly. This process was not as unusual as the fact that the plantation remained in their hands until 1981. Much has been made of the Huguenots' contribution to South Carolina, a contribution that seems on first glance far outweigh their numerical presence. Early settlers like the Simons, forced from their homeland by religious persecution, brought to the frontier attributes that were sometimes less evident in their freebotting speculator neighbors--hard to work, thrift, piety, and a general temperance of thought and action. Middleburg still stands as a testament to those early Huguenots' virtues.

The Simons Family History
In the account of Orange Quarter, mention was made of the grants of land in the vicinity to Benjamin Simons, the immigrant ancestor of that family. These included 100 acres in 1697 and 350 acres in 1704 which are considered to be part of Middleburg Plantation. A map prepared in 1913 by Judge H. A. M. Smith and published in Volume 18 of The South Carolina Historical Magazine shows the lands along the Eastern Branch of the Cooper River, Middleburg is shown on the River, next to Pompion Hill Church. East of it are Longwood Plantation (the l7th. Century Ponkin Hill Plantation), and a small part of Quenby; on the south are the Club House tract, "The Camp" of Daniel Lesesne, and the Samuel Simons tract which was originally granted to de la Motte; on the west are Camp Vere and a back end of The Blessing.

Benjamin Simons I was born in 1672 in the region of LaRochelle and the Ile de Re on the Bay of Biscay. Orphaned early, he was adopted by his aunt Matha DuPre, the wife of Josias DuPre, a Huguenot minister. When Louis XIV revoked the Edicts of Nantes in 1685, the Dupre family was among the Huguenots who fled from France. Benjamin went with his foster parents to the Netherlands-to Middleburg, the capital of the Province of Zeeland, Walcheron Island, at the mouth of the River Schelde. From here the family proceeded to England and soon crossed the Atlantic to Carolina. Judge Smith calls Middleburg "the starting place of the Simons family," and states that the above mentioned 1697 warrant for land is the first recorded reference to Benjamin Simons, who is not mentioned in any of the Huguenot lists. The name of the Plantation is said to have come from "Middleburg," an ancient provincial capital of Holland. Mr. John Gibbs of Charleston, whose interest in Pompion Hill Church and connection with Middleburg reminds me that the first Benjamin Simons, like so many of the Huguenots in London, had nothing and, as a child.

Benjamin Simons was twenty years old when he married his first cousin, Mary Esther DuPre', daughter of his benefactors in 1692.

According to the Simons family records as copied by A. S. Salley, fourteen children were born to this first Benjamin Simons and when he died on August 18, 1717. Benjamin Simons I and his wife are thought to be buried under the present Pompion Hill Chapel. He left to his youngest son, Benjamin II, 1,545 acres which made up Middleburg at that time. Judge Smith states that this included the 100 acres originally granted to Nicholas de Longuemare in 1693/4, 220 acres of a grant to John Aunant in 1703, 305 acres granted Simons in 1704 and 875 acres of a grant to him in 1705.
He received a number of grants in this section and accumulated a large estate.

The second Benjamin Simons was married twice, and of his fifteen children thirteen were living at the time of his death in 1772. The acreage of Middleburg had increased to 1659 acres and it became the property of Benjamin the third, who had married Catherine Chicken. He added to Middleburg until it contained 3,342 acres of which he sold the Camp Vere tract to John Bryan in 1785.
When Benjamin the third died in 1789, the 2,599 acres then remaining in the place went to his three daughters. Lydia, Mrs. Jonathan Lucas, received 774 acres including the house and most of the waterfront. Catherine, the wife of William Hort, received 768 acres of pineland and the remainder of the waterfront. This was referred to as Simons Ville but took the popular name of "Horts." Mary, Mrs. David Maybank, received 1,056 acres of pineland and inland rice land, which was known as "Smoky Hill." "Horts" and "Smoky Hill" were owned for a time by John Bryan and were conveyed in 1843 to William J. Ball, and the Lucas part was added to the others when John Coming Ball acquired all three parts of the 2,599 acres that had been owned by the third Benjamin Simons.

The nearest possible dating of the construction of the Middleburg house is found in the Bible record of the birth of the children. As copied by Mr. A. S. Salley, the record states that the fourth child was born in December, 1697 in the house of "Maptica" but that "the fifth child is a girl born on Tuesday, 2lst. of April, 1699, at 6 o'clock in the evening in the house at Middleburg Plantation."
The house is credited with being the oldest surviving wooden dwelling house in South Carolina. The house is very simple with hipped roof and clapboarded walls and the original part followed the single line of three rooms. Projecting into the original rooms are the heavy corner posts and girts reminiscent of the century in which it was constructed. The porches and exterior rooms are considered l8th. century additions. This early example of the "single house" used local materials and took advantage of any breeze by placement of doors and windows.

A large Crepe Myrtle and the "Allee" of large Japonica trees have received national notice. In May, 1970, Secretary of the Interior, Walter J. Hickel announced that Middleburg was among nine buildings in South Carolina eligible for designation as national historic landmarks, which fact had been recognized by Harold Ikes in the 1930's.

Until recent years Middleburg continued in the possession of descendants of the builder. During the long ownership of Mrs. Edward von Siebold Dingle, the Dingles made their home at Middleburg and Mr. Dingle achieved fame there as a painter of our Berkeley County birds.

An email record received 1/15/02 from Mike Green of Texas MIKE1TEXAS@aol.com

Born in the region of LaRochelle and the Ile de Re on the Bay of Biscay. Orphaned early in life, he was adopted by his aunt, Martha Simons DuPre', the wife of Josias DuPre', a Huguenot minister. When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, the DuPre' family was among the Huguenots who fled from France. Benjamin went with his foster parents to the Netherlands - to Middleburg -, the capitol of the of the province of Zeeland, Walcheron Island, at the mouth of the River Schelde. From here the family proceeded to England and soon crossed the Atlantic to Carolina; and, although there is no evidence that they came in the Royal Navy Frigate, Richmond, which made several trips, it is known that by 1686 they were in Carolina, living in the Orange Quarter on the south bank of the East Branch of the Cooper River.

When Benjamin was twenty years old, he married his first cousin, Mary Esther DuPre', the daughter of his foster parents. Their first three children were baptized "in the house of Maptica". As there is no record of a house or plantation of that name, it is believed that this may have been an Indian name applied to the place afterwards called "Middleburg", or possibly to the house of the Rev. Josias DuPre' nearby. Their fourth child was baptized in the house near Pompion Hill which Benjamin Simons built and called "Middleburg" in remembrance of his first place of refuge.

Benjamin Simons was highly thought of, as these directions to Gov. Ludwell from the Lords Proprietors show: " We do wish that you would pick out from amongst the moderate part of the people honest men industrious of parts and affectionate to us and raise them to office by degrees that they may in time be qualified to be of the first rank. We heare well of one Capt. Simons who hath paid the rent due and bought his land that he may be troubled no more. This man we desire that you will make a Justice of the Peace. If you have no sufficient reason to the contrary and he may in time be also an assistant in the County Court for we heare he lives well with his neighbors and deals fairly with all men and we would have all such menn encouraged and brought up by degrees to be fit of the highest imployment's..."
He was an extensive landowner at an early age, for we find 100 acres in Berkeley County allocated to him as of 15 July 1697, 350 acres as of 5 May 1704 and 1000 acres granted by the Lords Proprietors 7 May 1709 (this grant is still in possession of a member of the family). Considering the difficulty of traveling the then great distance to the county court house to apply for the deeds of allotment, and the length of time required for the formalities of the large grant to cross and recross the Atlantic, there is no doubt but that these lands were occupied for some time before the dates of record. Middleburg Plantation, adjacent to Pompion Hill Chapel of the Parish of St. Thomas and St. Denis on the easter branch of the Cooper River, comprised 2,599 acres at the death of Benjamin Simons III in 1789. Benjamin Simon I and his wife are thought to be buried under the present Pompion Hill Chapel.

In 2015 Middleburg Plantation was sold to Middleburg Plantation LLC of Charlotte.  The buyer is registered to Howard Martin Sprock, III, founder of Moe's Southwest Grill and Planet Smoothie.


Allied Families

Bennett Family

Benjamin Simons

Swinton Family

Dupree Family

Pompion Hill Chapel

Middleburg Map

Brief History of Middleburg

Berkeley Co SC Info

Front of Middleburg


Inside the Main Room

Property Map

Sitting Room


Main Rooms

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