OPHIR PLANTATION
Porcher Family
By F. M. Kirk
 
 
4 Black & White
 
 
     Ophir Plantation, six miles northwest of Pinopolis, is one of the ancestral homes of the Porcher family.  First owned by a Porcher, it has never passed out of the hands of the family, and is now owned by Henry F. Porcher, of Memphis. 
     Like many of the numerous original Porcher Plantations in this section, it lies below the level of the lake to be created by the projected Santee-Cooper development. 
     Of all the old Porcher estates, only Cedar Spring and Ophir remain in the hands of the family. 
      From the time of its appearance in Carolina, the Porcher name spread rapidly.  Isaac Porcher, M. D., the Huguenot emigrant, whose Huguenot Bible (now two hundred and twenty-eight years old) is still owned by his descendants in Pinopolis, arrived in 1685.  Before his death in 1727 he either owned or had owned property at Jamestown Santee, Orange Quarter on the eastern branch of Cooper River, Goose Creek French settlement and upper waters of Ashley River. 
 
Antedates Revolution
     His descendants prospered and spread rapidly throughout lower, middle and upper St. John's and St. Stephen's Parishes. 
      It was the emigrant's grandson, Peter Porcher, of Peru, who first secured Ophir some time prior to the Revolution.  Upon his death in 1793, Peter left his three sons his three plantations, Peru, Mexico and Ophir.  Judging by the names he chose for his plantations, he must have valued them highly. 
     His second son, Colonel Thomas Porcher inherited Ophir and built the house there about 1816.  He is the ancestor of all the "Ophir Porchers," and many there are.  The Colonel was blessed with twenty-four children, fourteen of whom lived to maturity. 
      Ophir house is large and beautiful.  Like all the houses of that period it is constructed of hand-sawn lumber. Including a large basement and attic, it is four stories.  During recent years it has been leased by members of Yeaman's Hall as a hunting reserve.  The house and grounds are in excellent condition. 
 
Canals Feed Mill Pond
     Behind the house some several hundred yards are the remains of two canals leading into Ferguson's Swamp.  In old days these served to store water in a large reserve, which furnished power for a mill operated on the plantation. 
     An anecdote is told which illustrates the importance of the Porchers in St. John's in ante bellum days. 
     A traveler journeying up the Congaree Road (now Highway 46) by stage coach, when passing the White Hall entrance asked the Negro, driver who lived there. 
     "Mister Porcher, suh," replied the driver.  The question was repeated as they approached the Sarazins Avenue. 
     Again the reply was: "Mister Porcher, suh." 
     The same question was asked and the same answer received as they passed Chapel Hill, Moorefield, and other Porcher Plantations. 
      Finally the traveler remarked: "well, there certainly must be plenty of Porchers, in this country." 
     "Yas, suh," answered the darky, "The Porchers am a mighty nation." 
 
Slaves All Satisfied
     There seem to have been little trouble at Ophir with slaves during the War Between the States.  When Yankee soldiers marched up the avenue to the house, they were met by slaves who assured them that their mistress gave them so much they did not want anymore.  Whereupon the soldiers marched away without molesting the place. 
      A large church was built for the plantation slaves, remains of  which were standing until a few years ago.  There they worshiped on sundays, contentedly going about their work during the week.  Emancipation meant nothing to them. 
     Of the "mighty nation" or Porchers, only two Porcher men now live in St. John's, both the sons of the late Percival Ravenel Porcher who, with his brother, the late Isaac de C. Porcher, were said to have been the last two pure-blooded Huguenots in America. 
 
 
OPHIR PLANTATION
Porcher Family
Lands of Once Mighty Nation to Disappear
Under Berkeley Lake-Ophir Used
by Yeaman's Hall Sportsman