History, Moonville

Moonville Mae says God Provides!

Moonville Mae – Working from Home

Moonville Mae says Would you believe that this beautiful house in Pendleton, SC, was built as a jail? Marshalsea was probably designed in 1819 as the regional jail by famed South Carolina architect, Robert Mills, and it was built of brick by mason, George Grace, ca. 1821. It may have never been used as a prison, for in 1828 it became Pendleton Female Academy running for 76 years. Being purchased for a dwelling in 1919 and titled Marshalsea for the jail in Charles Dickens’ novel, Little Dorritt, it was turned into a fine residence.

So, how does Marshalsea relate to southern Greenville County and specifically, Princeton? George Grace, the mason, came into the county in around 1800 acquiring several hundred acres near the county line with Laurens. Records show that he was the mason who built an early Laurens County brick courthouse and jail. He may have helped with the first Greenville City masonry jail as well. Moving to Georgia in the 1820s, he continued building brick structures many of which still exist today and his descendants carried on as masons for generations.

Marshalsea front Pendleton Jail 1821

Even more amazing is that other evidence suggests that Grace may have also built McCullough’s Cedarhurst! Marshalsea (1821) and Cedarhurst (1812) are both in the Federal Style of the era. The McCullough plantation was less than a mile from Grace’s. Joe McCullough witnessed deed transfers for George Grace showing that he even traveled to Georgia to acquire the signatures needed for Greenville County after Grace and family were living in the neighboring state! They had to have been friends.

I had been searching for a clue as to the builder of McCullough’s Cedarhurst for months when I was contacted by a descendent of Grace’s. Out of Georgia this descendant began to ask her questions and the questions led to more questions and finally I said, “How did you find me?” She had made a connection between George Grace and Joe McCullough in the old deeds, and she just googled the name. Can you guess what popped up? I couldn’t for sure. It was one of my articles in the Simpsonville Sentinel! Thanks, Bob Gecy! Sometimes I just need to wait and God provides.

Now I’m trying to connect Robert Mills to Cedarhurst. Mills’ wife was a Smith related to friends of Joe McCullough, and Mills printed drawings and plans for builders when he was young. The Smiths lived on the road to Augusta as did the McCulloughs. If, just if, Robert Mills and wife visited her family just twenty or so miles down toward Ninety Six, and if, just if, they decided to travel to the Mountain Town of Greenville, then………………they would have had to meet Joe and family. Wouldn’t they? Hopefully the evidence will appear in the near future.

(Highway 25 in the Carolinas books available on the Fork Shoals Historical Society Facebook page. Remember proceeds go to the restoration of Cedarhurst.)

Anne Peden, Phd.
Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission
Fork Shoals Historical Society – Piedmont Historical Preservation Society♣

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