Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 16: No 1) >> ''Woodlands'' Essay from 1955 >> Page 32

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Reviews/Essays | [1955]
Transcription "Woodlands" Essay from 1955

The following article appeared in the Bamberg, South Carolina
Herald's Centennial Edition in 1955. No doubt, Mrs. A. D. Oliphant
aided in the writing of this piece.

Four miles from Bamberg, and a mile beyond the old town of
Midway on Highway 78, is located the old home place of William Gilmore
Simms, noted historian, novelist, and author. A picturesque drive, bordered
by many varieties of trees and shrubs circles from the highway to the front of
the house and back again to the highway. Handsome brick gateways bearing
the name "Woodlands" mark the entrance and exit to the plantation house
half hidden by moss-covered live oaks.
Today "Woodlands" is owned by Simms's grandchildren, Mrs. A.
D. Oliphant, historian, Mrs. Zadie Cole, Mrs. Annie Lee Buck, and Harold
Simms, all of Greenville, S. C. "Woodlands" always stands in readiness,
and often the brothers and sisters drop down from the Piedmont for an
overnight, week end, or longer visit. On 14 April 1813, Eliza Govan of St.
George Plantation, about eight miles south of Orangeburg, married Nash
Roach. About 1820 Mr. Roach bought a plantation near Midway (which, as
its name implies is midway between Charleston and Augusta in Barnwell
district) and built a spacious home there which he called "Woodlands."
In 1836 Mr. Roach's only child, Chevillette Eliza, was married to
William Gilmore Simms, who had already attained great success and had an
international reputation in the field of literature. A tradition in the Simms
family gives a romantic turn to the origin of the given name of Mrs. Simms.
Mrs. Louisa Robison Govan, widow of Daniel Govan, married John
Chevillette. On one occasion, when he had expressed regret over not having
a child to carry on his name, little Eliza Roach, his stepdaughter, tried to
console him by declaring that when she grew up she would name one of her
children for him. She kept her promise and, as fate would have it,
Chevillette was her only child to survive.
Mr. Roach was the son of a Charleston merchant who had amassed
a fortune, which the son had increased. As a consequence, "Woodlands"
was a home where culture and good taste prevailed and where a man of
Simms's attainments found a congenial atmosphere. Mr. Roach allowed
Simms carte blanche in the matter of entertaining, and "Woodlands" soon
became a mecca for literary and artistic people from many sections and, for
many years prior to the Confederate war, the family was seldom without a
guest while at home from October to May.
The house was a large and comfortable brick building, with garret
rooms and dormer windows. A two-story portico extended from the front of