Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> Bamberg and Simms >> Page 34

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Page 34

Secondary Scholarship | 1998

Mrs. Betty Jane Miller sends us the following version of an essay
which will appear in Margaret Lawrence's forthcoming History of
Bamberg County South Carolina:

Simms's canon has been much discussed in scholarly circles. The
William Gilmore Simms Society, founded in 1993, has served as a vehicle for
further study of his works and a movement to return them to their rightful place in
Southern and American literature. But Bamberg County has yet other reasons for
a closeness to Simms.
When he married Chevillette Roach, the only child of a gentleman
widower of the planter class in 1836, he came to Woodlands, a 4,000 acre
plantation five miles east of Bamberg, then located in Barnwell District. Twenty-
seven years after his death in 1870, Bamberg County was formed from Barnwell
District, with Bamberg as the County Seat.
Woodlands was Simms's refuge for writing, for entertaining, for pursuing
the managerial life of a planter, for laying out formal gardens, for running for
public office, for collecting one of the finest libraries of his time. In a letter to
Paul Hamilton Hayne in 1863, Simms said: "The middle country is far superior
to both seaboard and up country . . . I tell you that after traveling all over the
country; to mountain sides and watering places; there is no region where you can
find so great a degree of health, comfort, profit, and pleasure, as in this beautifull
wooded middle country of these districts. Anywhere in Barnwell, from Midway
up to Aiken, you can find delicious spots. . . ."
Woodlands was one of the elegant plantations in the area. His friend
David F. Jamison lived at neighboring Burwood; Charles Carroll lived at Genina;
Capt. John S. Jennings was on the South Edisto; James Henry Hammond was at
Silver Bluff, Beech Island. "A lover of fine books, exquisite art, elegant music,
fine pieces of furniture and silver, and rare wines and whiskey," Simms opened
Woodlands to society. When Woodlands was accidentally burned in 1862, his