ROCKS PLANTATION
Gaillard Family
By F. M. Kirk
 
 
3 Black & White
 
 
     Eutawville, Sept. 21 - Special: "It was possible to equal the Rocks, to surpass it was impossible."  Thus wrote Professor Frederick Porcher in 1868.  But, with the construction of the great dam near Pinopolis to impound the waters of Santee river in the gigantic Santee-Cooper project.  The historic plantation, still a model of successful farming, will be inundated. 
     It was at the Rocks Plantation in Upper St. John's Parish, seven miles east of Eutawville, that early experiments in cotton were so successful that an impetus was given the new staple crop.  Other planters had tried cotton before, but Captain Peter Gaillard was along the first, on his land at the Rocks, who made it a success. 
     Captain Gaillard, the builder of the mansion that still stands and is now the home of J. Rutledge Connor, was a descendant of the Huguenot emigrant of that name, and was born at Wambaw, St. James Parish, Santee, in 1757.  He later removed to St. Stephen's Parish, living at White Plains Plantation where, with Samuel DuBose, he cultivated indigo. 
 
"First" Santee Flood 
     The period from the end of the Revolution to the introduction of cotton as a money crop was a disastrous one to most of the planters in St. John's and St. Stephen's Parishes.  To add to the financial embarrassment occasioned by the loss of the bounty on indigo formerly paid by the British crown, the Santee river, for the first time, began flooding over its banks, carrying everything to ruin. 
     One such freshet carried practically all  of Captain Gaillard's crop. 
     Finding it difficult to raise food stuff for his hundred-odd slaves, Captain Gaillard bought the Rocks in 1794, for the main purpose of planting provisions.  Planters of that day had almost despaired of planting for profit. 
     Two years later he experimented with cotton, with far greater success than General Moultrie, whose crop at Northampton a few years before had been a complete failure.  Captain Gaillard's success gave the needed impetus for the new money crop, and his crop for the year 1799 or 1800 freed him from debt and began the handsome fortune he left his heirs at his death in 1830.
 
Sold to Connors
     The residence at the Rocks was built, apparently, about 1800.  Captain Gaillard, one of the founders of the village of Pineville in 1794, continued to live there until the success of his new land induced him to make his home in St. John's Parish. 
     A beautifully executed plat of the Rocks and Belmont, an adjoining Gaillard plantation still in possession of the same family, drawn in 1820, by Thomas Gaillard, the captain's son, shows that the Rocks was made up of several tracts purchased by Captain Gaillard.  One of these was part of the lands granted in 1758 to T. Lynch: another of the lands granted to W. Flud in 1771: and another of the lands granted to D. Flud in 1807. 
     The place was inherited, at Captain Gaillard's death, by his son, Samuel, who was an officer in the United States Navy and served on the historic Constitution.  Samuel Gaillard's daughter, Elizabeth, next inherited it.  She married James Gaillard Jr., of Walnut Grove.  It was bought from the estate of the latter in 1907 by the late T. L. Connor, whose son now lives there. 
 
Its Glory Remains
     Under the careful management of Mr. Connor the Rocks retains all its ante bellum glory.  Every detail of the house has been preserved and cared for, and Professor Porcher's description of it in 1868 may well fit it in 1935: "This house was a model of elegance, neatness, and comfort, and all the appointments executed with so much care, and taste, that the Rocks became a standard by which all other homesteads were judged."  All lands on the place are cultivated intensively.    
     The interior of the Rocks presents some of the finest hand carving to be found in a section noted for the beauty of its wood work.  The decorations are not ornate, and the beauty of the work lies in its restraint and in the perfection of its detail.    
     The plantation gets its name from the limestone formations there.  The rock crops out to the surface in several places.  Behind the house are two large ponds, fed by limestone springs.  The water is damned and generates electricity for the plantation's use. 
 
Fights with Marion
     One of the oldest tournament fields in the state was at the Rocks.  It is said to have been ante-dated only by the Cantey field near Savannah.  Many tilts and lancing tournaments have been held there, and the custom was continued annually until recently. 
     Capt. Peter Gaillard saw service on both sided during the Revolution.  On one occasion he was sent to capture General Marion.  He latter served under his command. 
     With the outbreak of hostilities and the bitter feeling that arose between Whig and Tory he remained neutral.  His emigrant father was loyal to the king from whom he received his grant.  When Cornwallis called into the field most of those who had taken protection under his proclamation, a force organized to bunt out General Marion and his men in Santee swamp.  Peter Gaillard was placed second in command of the expedition. 
      It must have been a relief to him when the Swamp Fox suddenly fell upon the expedition at Black Mingo and dispersed it.  For upon the death of his father soon after, Peter Gaillard wrote his boyhood friend, Samuel DuBose, an ardent partisan, asking him to use his influence with General Marion to have him taken into his command. 
 
Whittling His Hobby
     The contact was soon made, and General Marion welcomed him in.  Marion met him with his staff at a designated spot and escorted him into his camp.  From that time on he took an active part against the British.  He later served under General Moultrie.  He was under the command of Col. John Laurens, and was present with him when he latter fell. 
     Captain Gaillard was fond of whittling with his knife.  It is said that the balustrades of the piazza of his Pineville house bore full evidence of his hobby.  With the building of his new house at the Rocks, he gave up the habit of carving his house to suit his fancy.  Every day after dinner, however, a servant brought him a cypress shingle, so that the captain could whittle to his heart's content, without damage to the house. 
     In spirit of this custom, however, the balustrade became carved, though for a different purpose.  There is a new railing around the piazza now, but the former had a series of carved notches on the top rail.  These were said to have served as a unique sun dial for the last Gaillard owner of the place.  When the sun cast a shadow on a certain notch, a conch was blown for the noon hour. 
 
      Note: The Rock's Plantation House was moved .7 tens of a mile to survived the flooding caused by the Santee-Cooper Hydroelectric Project.  Like it's sister plantation Walnut Grove most all it's fertile farmland, like neighboring plantations, disappeared under the red muddy waters. On a sad note the Rock's House was lost to fire in the early 1990's. 
 
 
ROCKS PLANTATION
Gaillard Family
Where Glory Remains Along Santee
The Rocks
Included in Santee Project
There Captain Peter Gaillard, One of Marion's
Men, Made Fortune in Cotton in Early
Years of Nineteenth Century