• Bonnie Doone Plantation

    History and Beauty

History

Bonnie Doone began as a Royal Land Grant of 15,000 acres from King George to William Hopton in 1722.   The complete history of the ownership of Bonnie Doone is not known since many of the Colleton County records were destroyed when General William T. Sherman and his Union Troops marched into Columbia and the City was burned. Historians are divided as to “who” burned Columbia. Some believe the City was burned by General Sherman and his Union Troops and others believe the culprits were the bales of cotton stacked around the City which caught fire and the fire spread throughout the City.

We do know that Major Henry T. Ferguson, born in 1825, fell heir to the plantation and maintained it until his death in 1859. He was known to be one of the largest slave owners in South Carolina.  In early 1861 Dr. Theodore DeHon acquired the property from Ferguson’s estate.   Unfortunately, Dr. Dehon did not own the property for very long because it was burned and sacked by Union troops in January of 1865. It is said that Dr. Dehon was taken to Charleston as a prisoner. Again, historians are divided as to who actually burned Bonnie Doone. Some believe General Sherman and his troops did and others believe it was renegade Union Troops made up of mostly former Lowcountry slaves who were encouraged by Plantation slaves to burn the Plantation houses to keep the owners from reclaiming them. Many Plantation owners, seeing the spread of smoke and fire from burned out towns and plantations, were quick to hide their livestock in the swamps and their valuables somewhere on their property. Maybe Dr. Dehon also hid his valuables somewhere on the property of Bonnie Doone. Of course, this is conjecture and there is no proof of this.

The property laid waste for 65 years. Then in the early 1930’s Mr. A. H. Caspary, a New York stockbroker, bought Bonnie Doone Plantation and built the current house on the very same site as the original house that was burned in 1865.   The noted architect, Mr. Willis Irvin of Augusta, Georgia, designed the current building and supervised its construction which was completed in 1932. Many architectural historians say that this house is a masterful reproduction of a Georgian Plantation House. The house, or Mansion as we like to call it, has 10,000 square feet and 32 magnificent rooms all furnished with reproductions of the 19th century. The Parlor was included in Mrs. Comstock’s book, “The One Hundred Most Beautiful Rooms in America”. The house was featured in a TV series called “Scarlett” in 1994.

After the death of Mr. Caspary, ownership passed through a number of people. In October, 1978, the Charleston Baptist Association purchased Bonnie Doone, consisting of 132 acres and the House, from the Charleston Presbytery. In 1987 the Charleston Baptist Association established an endowment fund to preserve Bonnie Doone as a camp for children and a conference center to be used by the local community and others.