Submitted by FHMaster on Tue, 03/30/2021 - 10:56

Much of the information on this page was contributed by Elizabeth Laney, Park Interpreter for Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site.

Basic Information

  • Location – 181 Redcliffe Road (1.5 miles northeast of Beech Island on SC 125), Aiken County
  • Origin of name – Named for the red clay hill on which the site is situated
  • Other names – ?
  • Current status – In 1973 the property was deeded to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. It is open to the public.


  • 1855 – Earliest known date of existence – James Henry Hammond purchased Dr. Milledge Galpin's residence near Beech Island and named it Redcliffe Plantation. James Henry Hammond was a US Congressman (1835-1836), Governor of South Carolina (1842-1844), and US Senator (1857-1860).
  • 1857 – Construction of house and outbuildings began and was supervised by Hammond's sons.
  • 1859 – House completed in the Greek-Revival style
  • 1864 – James Henry Hammond dies at Redcliffe Plantation and his wife Catherine Elizabeth Fitzsimons Hammond becomes owner
  • 1873 – James Henry and Catherine Elizabeth Fitzsimons Hammond's son, Harry, and his family moved to the home.
  • 1886 – Harry Hammond removed the damaged double-decked porches and replaced them with a one-story, 12-foot wide L-shaped porch that extended along the south and east sides of the house. The stairway was placed at the eastern end of the south porch.
  • 1916 – Henry Hammond and Julia Hammond Richards inherit Redcliffe Plantation upon the death of their father Harry Hammond.
  • 1935 – Julia Hammond Richards dies and Henry Hammond sells property to nephew John Shaw Billings who restored the house, outbuildings, and grounds.
  • 1973 – Property donated to the state
  • 1973 – Property added to the National Register


  • Number of acres – 400 (historic), 369 (present)
  • Primary crop – Plantation used primarily for agricultural experimentation of vineyards, orchards, and special crops like indigo and sugar cane


  • Number of slaves – 50 in 1860 (Hammond owned at least 330 slaves including those on his other plantations: Beech IslandCedar GroveCowdenSilver Bluff, etc.)
  • The Henley Family lived and worked at Redcliffe for four generations. Anthony Henley, his wife Lucy, and their five children are included on a 1859 house slave list for Redcliffe. Anthony's son Louis worked at Redcliffe as a sharecropper during the late 19th century. Louis's son Dennis and his family, including sons David and Jim, along with daughters Lucy, Sarah, Kiziah, and Sophie, worked as paid employees for the Hammond and Billings families between 1925-1975.
  • The Wigfall Family worked at Redcliffe as slaves. After emancipation they became sharecroppers and paid domestic labor possibly through 1900. Dennis Wigfall (age 3 at emancipation) later moved to Augusta, Georgia where he and his son Clarence operated successful grocery stores through 1959.
  • Other individuals associated with Redcliffe from the 1870s-1930s include Birth Crawford and his daughter Patience, Elizabeth "Mamie" Jackson, Sidney Washington, and Lena Smith among others.
  • List of Surnames of Persons Enslaved at Hammond's Plantations


  • House – Greek-Revival mansion circa 1859
  • Slave cabins – 4 orginially. Two of these buildings remain and were used in later years as freedmen cabins, paid employee housing, carriage house, sheds, and garage. The cabins are double-pen or two room cabins, which were restored and updated with electricity in 1935.
  • Stables – circa 1903

References & Resources

  1. Website for Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site

  2. National Register of Historic Places
    – Nomination form - PDF - submitted in 1973
    – Photographs, architectural overview

  3. Redcliffe: The Double Life of a Plantation Population - PDF - 2009 Sandlapper Magazine article

  4. Wartime Diary and Letters of Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina - excerpts

  5. A Belle of the Fifties, Memoirs of Mrs. Clay, of Alabama, covering Social and Political Life in Washington and the South, 1853-1866 - see page 212

  6. South Caroliniana Library
    – Digital Archives - search "Redcliffe"
    – Manuscripts Division - current holders of James Henry Hammond Papers and John Shaw Billings Papers

  7. List of Surnames of Persons Enslaved at Hammond's Plantations

  8. 30-15 Plantation File, held by the South Carolina Historical Society

  9. Claude Henry Neuffer, editor, Names in South Carolina, Volume I through 30 (Columbia, SC: The State Printing Company)
      Order Names in South Carolina, Volumes I-XII, 1954-1965
      Order Names in South Carolina, Index XIII-XVIII

  10. Carol Bleser, The Hammonds of Redcliffe (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997)
  11. Drew Gilpen Faust, James Henry Hammond and Old South (Southern Biography Series) (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1985)
  12. James Henry Hammond and Carol Bleser (Editor), Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1997)
  13. SCIWAY's photo gallery of Redcliffe Plantation


  14. Contact Information

  15. Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site
    181 Redcliffe Road
    Beech Island, SC 29842

    Telephone: 803-827-1473
    Website: Click here


James Henry Hammond