Mepkin Plantation and
The Henry Laurens Family
| Among the many grants for lands
to the Colleton family as recorded in the Proprietary Grants in the Secretary
of State's Office is the grant for 3,000 acres, known as Mepkin, on March
5, 1681, among several tracts "in joint tenancy" to Peter, Thomas and James
Colleton, sons of Sir John Colleton, Baronet and one of the original Lords
Proprietors of Carolina. As the survivor of the three brothers, Landgrave
James Colleton of "Wattboe" became the owner of Mepkin. It then went to
his son Landgrave John Colleton and then to his son John Colleton, Esquire
of the County of Middlesex in England. In 1762, John Colleton, Esquire,
sold the 3,000 acre Mepkin Plantation to Henry Laurens.
| Henry Laurens was born March
6, 1724 to John Laurens and his wife, Esther Grasset, Huguenots who came
to Charles Town after the large Huguenot immigration. His father prospered
in the saddlery business and Henry was sent to England in 1744 for training
in business under a former Charles Town business man. His father's death
was of prime concern to him upon his return to Charles Town. He entered
business and became a successful merchant in importing and exporting. As
he became wealthy, he invested in plantations, as all good merchants did,
and in 1776 quit the mercantile business, but is described as remaining
throughout his life "a business man in his approach to farming and statesmanship."
| His marriage on 25 June 1750
to Eleanor Ball, daughter of the "emigrant Elias Ball" made him one of
the Cooper River people where his Mepkin Plantation was located.
| The loyalty of Laurens to the
British Crown gradually turned to full, support for American Independence,
which support was heightened by personal encounters with British officials
in Charles Town. The Historical Marker briefly states his most outstanding
services to his State and Nation during the American Revolution. After
having been elected to several Royal Assemblies, he was elected to the
First and Second Provincial Congresses and served as President of the Councils
of Safety. The First General Assembly elected him to the Legislative Council
and Vice President of South Carolina. Upon election to the Continental
Congress, he resigned State office. The French Alliance and The Articles
of Confederation were achieved when he was President of Congress.
| Among other service in Europe,
he worked with the American Peace Commission in Paris. In 1784 he returned
from Europe to Mepkin, estimating his losses at 40,000 pounds sterling,
which would run, into hundreds of thousands of dollars in today's values.
While rebuilding, he lived in the overseer's house. Two views of this.
house that he built to replace the one destroyed by the British are found
in Charles Fraser's A Charleston Scetchbook 1796-1806.
| Laurens' letters to his son
John and letters from his sons contain references to Mepkin, the damages
done during the war, the crops of Indian Corn; peas, Indigo, a 500 bbl.
harvest of rice, flooded fields, tools and farm equipment ordered, summer
fevers and taking "bark," and the securing of horses from the Chickasaw
| Laurens represented St. John's,
Berkeley in the State Convention and voted to ratify the Constitution in
1788. In addition to the more than 3,000 acres at Mepkin, he owned more
than 20;000 acres elsewhere. An indication of the degree to which Mepkin
was the real home of the Laurens family is found in the May 1, 1788 notice
in the "State Gazette of South Carolina" as follows: "On Sunday evening
at Mepkin, in St. John's Parish, Berkeley County, the Hon. Charles Pinckney,
Esq.; to the amiable and accomplished Miss Mary Laurens, younger daughter
of the Hon. Henry Laurens."
| A visitor to Mepkin in 1785-1786
comments on the improvements made by his excellency Henry Laurens and the
fact that the place was cultivated more methodically than others so that
Mepkin "raises itself above those of this country."
| Laurens died here on Dec. 8,
1792 and by his wishes his body was cremated and the ashes buried here.
Other historians agree with Dr. D. D. Wallace of Wofford College whose
Life of Henry Laurens brought to the attention of our Nation the high character
and distinguished services to his country of Henry Laurens, merchant, statesman,
and planter of Mepkin. Of his twelve children, Ann Elizabeth; Eleanor (b:
and. d. 1751), Henry (b. 2753), Eleanor (b. 175a), Elias; James, Samuel,
and.an unnamed daughter died as children. Living to maturity were Col.
John, Martha, Henry (b. 1767), and Mary Eleanor. The son, Col. John Laurens;
has been dsscribed as only slightly less distinguished than his father
and died in one of the last skirmishes of the War.
| After the death of Henry Laurens,
Mepkin went to his. son Henry who married Eliza Rutledge, daughter of the
Hon. John Rutledge: .The Luce family is listed among the prominent owners
of Mepkin.. They conveyed part of their holdings. here to the Roman Catholic
Bishop of Charleston. Today this tract is known as Our Lady of Mepkin Abbey
w here the monks of the Trappist 0rder have lived, worked, and worshiped
for more than a quarter of a century.
Information and Article from
"Historic Ramblin's Through
written by and used with permission
Mr. J. Russell Cross