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MIDDLEBURG PLANTATION

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 Caronlina Historicat 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 hif 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.


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