History

History

One of the early acts of the Royal Government was the Township Act of 1730. The act allowed the creation of nine townships of 20,000 acres of which Amelia Township was one. The Amelia Township was settled in 1732 and involved 20,000 acres on the south side of the Congaree River, and agents were sent to Europe to recruit families.

The lands of Aeolian Hill Plantation were originally established by Jacob Wannamaker, who having immigrated from Germany in 1732 settled in Amelia Township. He served in the Cherokee Indian War of 1759-1760. The Cherokee Path ran through Aeolian Hill at the time, and a section remains today. The heart of Amelia Township was in the heart of present day St. Matthews, and comprising most of what is present day Calhoun County, South Carolina.

Upon Jacob’s death in 1758, Amelia Township was comprised of 650 settlers, with a militia of 140 men, mainly Swiss, German, and English. Jacob’s son, Lt. Jacob Wannamaker, born in 1750, served in the American Revolutionary War and after continued the families farming interest and return home to Amelia Township.

His son, the Rev. John Jacob Wannamaker was born in 1801, and was a signer of the Ordinance of Secession and a Methodist Minister who gave the invocation at the 1860-1862 conventions. After the death of Rev. Wannamaker in 1864, the lands were passed to his son J.E. (Johnny) Wannamaker who, having recently graduated from Wofford College returned to Aeolian Hill Plantation to continue the family farming interest and to assist his mother and siblings.

J.E. Wannamaker, who completed work on the great house in 1872, which still includes his extensive library as noted in “Men of Mark” by J.G. Hemphill in 1907. Although the great house was designed by Bruce & Morgan of Atlanta, who would later design Clemson University, all measurements were done by Mr. Johnny. J.E. Wannamaker, a progressive farmer who establish a seed farm at Aeolian Hill and practiced very diversified agricultural practices. He was instrumental in establishing drainage and erosion control as evidence with his body of work that influenced the USDA as well as farmers in Asia, where he is regularly quoted as an authority even today. He was named by Thomas Clemson as one of the original life trustees to Clemson University although they never met. He was a faithful Sunday School teacher at St. Paul United Methodist Church his entire life.

J.E. Wannamaker married Martha Nelson Duncan in January 1878, who was the daughter of Major David R. Duncan and granddaughter of Professor David Duncan both trustees of Wofford and Converse Colleges. Martha Nelson Duncan was a descendant of Thomas Nelson a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the fourth governor of Virginia. J.E. and Martha had seven children, most of whom lived their entire lives at Aeolian Hill.

Their son Dr. John E. Wannamaker II, was born at Aeolian Hill in 1888, where he lived in entire life. After his graduation from Wofford College in 1910, he began farming on an extensive basis and was recognized for his accomplishments in breeding soybeans and cotton. The first harvestable soybean, the Clemson Non-Shatter, was created at Aeolian Hill Plantation by Dr. John E. Wannamaker II for which he received a patent. The agricultural economy of the South benefited greatly from his life’s work.

Aeolian Hill Planation continues today with experimental cotton planted each season. Clemson University continues its experimental planting uninterrupted since its founding. Aeolian Hill Plantation’s cotton continues under the stewardship of Kent Wannamaker, descendant of JE and Dr. John, who was named the Farmer of the Year and active in all levels of farming. Aeolian Hill Plantation continues to allocated resources to timber and wildlife believing that all three are important to preserving the history and beauty that is Aeolian Hill Plantation.