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Squire-Pope Cottage

Squire-Pope Cottage - Audio
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On the corner of Calhoun and Waters Streets is what remains of the village cottage of Squire William Pope one of Bluffton's founders. Look at the building from all sides, both on Waters Street and Calhoun Street, though there have been some alterations over the years you can still see the joining of two buildings. Buildings which were likely the work space and possible residences of Pope's slaves. This house is the only surviving representation of outbuildings adapted for use as a main house after the Civil War. 


One of the wealthiest planters in the area, he owned at least three plantations on Hilton Head Island and on the mainland including Coggin's Point Plantation. Pope served in both the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives representing St. Luke's Parish. In a 1859 letter, Squire William Pope to a relative noted that  Coggin's Point Plantation had not been productive in some years.   He realized that continued failure was a possibility and wrote: "Were it not for breaking up old cherished associations and almost destroying home affections it would be to the interest of my family  to sell out my whole property."   Despite his status Pope sounded disappointed and disillusioned with Lowcountry planting but also obligated to continue on his expected course. In 1860, Pope then seventy-one years old owned two-hundred slaves who lived in sixty-five dwellings. His plantations amounted to over five thousand acres. 


Pope raised his family in Bluffton. His grandson William Pope Woodward was educated at the May River Academy.  In a letter to his father in 1853, Woodward reported on his studies including his struggle to remain first in his latin class. A new teacher Mr. Edwards supervised the English department and Mr. Wells taught the classics. Woodward also mentioned the construction of a new church.  Stating, "I believe there has been some squabbling about where to put it  and they have not agreed yet where it is to be put."  That new church, the Church of the Cross, was completed in 1854 it remains intact across  from where you now stand on Calhoun Street. Coggins Point Plantation was confiscated by the Federal government during the Civil War and its remains have been destroyed by development. The site is now a planned community, Port Royal Plantation.


The main cottage home on this lot was burned in 1863 by Union soldiers.  No records of the original main house exist but it is likely that the house, its slave quarters and other supporting structures were constructed in the early 1820's when Squire Pope together with James Kirk and a few others established the May River Academy in Bluffton.


Pope died in 1862 so did not witness the dramatic change in fortune and lifestyle of all.  When Pope's wife, Sarah and their daughter returned to Bluffton after the Civil War they moved the surviving outbuildings together and connected them to form a residence. 


Postbellum Bluffton was also described in several letters by Squire Pope's widow, Sarah. Despite the fact that she seemed to have many friends around her. Sarah's letters revealed her loneliness. She also presented a portrait of a town trying to reinvent itself after the war.  Her letter of January 31, 1869 informed her granddaughter, Ellen, that Park and Ned Stoney were trying to grow a crop and raise hogs. Mrs. Campbell had moved to Savannah to open a boarding house.  In another letter Sarah reported that John Pope was going away, Miss Crawl was engaged to a yankee Presbyterian minister, a Mr. Robertson.  She named some her friends such as Mrs. Allen, Rosa Edwards, Sally Mellencamp, Caroline Cole and her daughters. 


Despite the activity of life around her, Sarah wrote: "Our village is very dull. Everybody seems discouraged at the times and finding it so hard to live.  It is a great pity  for this is such a pleasant place to live at.  If it was only the same that it was before the war."  While many have shared Sarah's discouragement in the unfamiliar world of Reconstruction they redefined themselves and in effect redefined the Town of Bluffton. 

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