:: The History of Red Doe Plantation in Florence, SC ::
PLEASE NOTE: Red Doe Plantation was placed on the US National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The home is under constant monitoring and it is a federal offense to trespass. DO NOT TRESPASS! If you would like a tour you may contact the Pee Dee Rifles.
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Red Doe Plantation, located one mile south of Francis Marion University on SC Hwy. 327 (aka Francis Marion Highway) near Florence, SC, has a long and colorful link to the War Between the States. The surrounding property was criss-crossed many times by Gen. Francis Marion’s troops, Tories, and British regulars alike during the Revolutionary War days. Before given the name “Red Doe”, the main house and outbuildings were named after the man who built them, Evander A. Gregg (1818-1874). The Gregg family was and still is, a prominent family from this area called Mars Bluff. Before 1888 and the formation of Florence County, Mars Bluff was part of Marion District.
Evander Gregg was the son of Captain John Gregg and Jannet Gregg. He graduated from the South Carolina College in 1837. He inherited 1005 acres from his father in 1839. In 1846, he began construction of the current house. It is a typical lowland vernacular center-hall plantation home, a single story built on brick foundation columns (sometimes termed a “carriage house”). The raised living areas allowed for drafts to be caught during the hot summers and kept vermin out, as well as offered protection from flood waters from the nearby Great Pee Dee River. By 1860, Evander owned 650 acres of land and 38 slaves in Marion District and also held plantations in Darlington & Spartanburg as well. The current property has five barns as well, each constructed in a different style.
Evander Gregg married Sophronia Harris, a daughter of Captain William Harris, of Columbia. As well as a prosperous farmer, Evander was also presiding elder at Hopewell Presbyterian Church (which also still stands). He enlisted in the 3rd SC State Troops in Aug. 1863 and served as its Sergeant Major. His only child from this marriage was Henry Junius Gregg, who served as a private in Co. I, 7th SC Cavalry. Henry was severely wounded at the Battle of Five Forks and died in a Farmville, VA hospital on April 14th, 1865. Evander Gregg also supported the Pee Dee Naval Yard, located not three miles from his home. Vouchers show that he sold the yard corn, bacon, and fodder in the last two years of the war. Gregg sold his property to Simons Lucas of Charleston in November of 1865 and moved to Spartanburg. Within the year, he lost his wife from disease and moved to Arkansas. However, Lucas was unable to pay off his debt to Gregg and the property reverted back to Evander. He in turn sold it to his brother Ephraim E. Gregg. Ephraim was also a war veteran, having served in the Pee Dee Light Artillery. Ephraim did not keep the property long, selling it to Robert L. Singletary in 1867. He married to Elizabeth Crane, daughter of Sydney S. Crane of Columbia. Evander and his wife lived in Spartanburg County by 1870, then sometime after moved to Georgia. He spent his twilight years in Marietta, dying in 1874.
a href="http://www.icpir.org/Images/investigations/SC/Red_Doe/Red Doe Little House.jpg" target="_blank" title="Remodeled Kitchen/Doctor's Quarters">
Captain Robert L. Singletary (1830-1910) was a railroad builder and was a primary operating officer of the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad. At the outbreak of war, he formed the “Jeffries Creek Guards” who became Co. H, 8th SC Volunteer Infantry. In 1862, he resigned his commission to take a post as military operator of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad. Gen. Wade Hampton praised Singletary as the man most responsible for getting the troops and supplies out of Charleston in Feb. 1865. Robert saw that posterity returned to the property. He also had the bottom of the main house closed in as a full basement and additional living areas. A small building behind the main house, believed to be a kitchen, was converted into an office for Dr. James F. Pearce. Dr. Pearce was a surgeon in Kershaw’s Brigade during the war and was a typical country doctor afterwards, traveling from location to location, calling on his patients. The Singletary family (along with wife Sarah and three daughters) resided in the home until 1912, when Sarah sold the property to Joseph W. Wallace, who started calling the place "Red Doe" about 1934. The house and property remained in the Wallace family for years. In 1940, Mr. Marion Chisholm Wallace bought out his sibling’s interest in the property. He spent several years restoring the house and outbuildings, turning the elderly home into something more livable.
The story of Red Doe goes back to Revolutionary times. Andrew Hunter, a chief scout for Francis Marion, lived just a few miles from the current property. According to tradition, Hunter had left camp to visit his family. The notorious Tory, Col. David Fanning of NC got word of the trip and captured Hunter. Waiting until after breakfast to hang the patriot, Hunter escaped his guards and mounted Fanning’s favorite mare named Red Doe. With the Tories in hot pursuit, Hunter made for the Mars Bluff Ferry on the Pee Dee River. Supposedly, the mare jumped a wide flooded canal that enabled Hunter to escape since no horse chasing him would follow. Hunter was shot in the back during the chase, but was nursed back to health in Wahee Township. Fanning tried several times to get the mare back, first threatening Hunter and his family, then by trying to buy the mare back. After the war, he even took it before the courts of Darlington District, but still Red Doe remained in the tender care of Hunter. Finally, Fanning challenged Hunter to a duel on the Citadel Green in Charleston. Hunter chose swords and was there at the appointed time; Fanning never showed.
This story has been repeated many times, each it seems with its own version. Some say it did not take place on the Gregg property, but in NC. Others recount that Red Doe was actually Hunter’s horse, and the horse he took from Fanning was a stud, not a mare. Hunter kept the stud in place of losing Red Doe (and supposedly named the horse “Red Buck”). Regardless, Mr. Wallace believed it happened as accounted above, hence the name. In 1972, Red Doe has listed on the SC Dept. of Archives & History’s Inventory of Historic Places in SC. Ten years later, it was placed on the US National Register of Historic Places.
In 1997, Mrs. Anne P. Wallace sold Red Doe to the “Red Doe Limited Partnership”, which was comprised of the Robert P. Wilkins family of Lexington, SC. Robert Wilkins, Sr. is the nephew of the Wallaces. The Wilkins had hoped to keep the property up, but decided to deed the property to a worthwhile historical organization that would ensure the house and its adjoining buildings would be restored. In Nov. 2005, after a couple of failed efforts from other organizations, the Pee Dee Rifles Camp #1419 approached the Wilkins family. Their efforts were warmly and enthusiastically met by the Wilkins family. In accordance with the agreement between the Rifles and the Wilkins, the camp established the Pee Dee Rifles, Inc., which is recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization by the State of SC and the US Dept. of Revenue. In June 2006, the property was deeded to the PDR, Inc, with a formal hand-over ceremony being held at Red Doe in November of that year.
The Wilkins family asked of only two stipulations: that the house and outbuildings be restored or in the process of restoration while in their hands and that a state historical marker be placed. The Pee Dee Rifiles have applied for a number of federal, state, and private grants and have begun fundraising activities to support their endeavor. They have also established a membership drive where interested individuals and organizations can become a part of the Red Doe experience. They naturally have big plans for Red Doe. The War Between the States Museum in Florence will be moved out to the site. It will become headquarters for the Pee Dee Rifles Camp, the Ellison Capers Chapter of the UDC, and the 8th SC Vol. Inf. Reenactors. Several other organizations have asked to also take part, such as the Marion’s Men of Rev. War reenactors, the Pee Dee Chapter of Wildlife Action, and local DAR units. The house will be available for weddings and balls and the property for encampments and reenactments. The museum will be expanded to include all wars and individuals have pledged their collections to it once it is up and running.
The Wilkins family has also agreed to deed even more property adjoining Red Doe once restoration efforts begin. As you can imagine, restoration efforts to the old buildings will be expensive. Anyone interested in joining the Pee Dee Rifles, Inc., make a donation, or require additional information, please contact Mr. Sandy Kendall, Vice-President.