My love affair with history…

My love affair with history began with the plantation house I grew up in. The  plantation house was named “Charlton Hall” and it was located in the one stoplight community of Hickory Tavern, Laurens County, South Carolina. Charlton Hall was built circa 1847 by George Washington Sullivan. It was all brick and had a large central hallway flanked by 2 rooms on either side. It was a 2 story house. My mother started to prep it for the “National Register for Historic Places” nomination form in 1986 She died in the early stages of getting the house ready so my dad and stepmother took over. After 8 long years of getting the house ready for the nominating committee, it was finally approved in 1995. I remember going to the National Register for Historic Places meeting in Columbia and seeing my  house get formally nominated. It was a really interesting thing to experience. It really made me appreciate my house and my parents who worked diligently to get it on the National Registry.

My first actual trip to a historic site was when my mother took me to Fort Sumter and Fort  Moultrie in the summer of 1986. I was almost 10 years old. I remember thinking that “history happened here, the very place where I am standing.” After that trip, I became a bonafide Civil War buff.  I begged my dad to get me the Time Life series of The Civil War when I was 10, which I did. He and my grandfather took me to my first Civil War reenactment when I was 10.

As time went by, my dad continued to take me to Civil War battlefields and historic sites. I have been to Petersburg, Bentonville, Chancellorsville, the place Stonewall Jackson died, Fort Fisher, Stratford Hall (Robert E Lee’s birthplace), the White House of the Confederacy, and others as well.

For college I decided to apply to and miraculously got accepted to the College of College (founded in 1770). It was here that my love affair with old buildings and history really blossomed. I majored in US History and took several architecture and historic preservation classes. On weekends, I would roam around the Charleston streets looking at the old buildings and imagining what life was like behind those walls centuries before. I learned more about history outside the classroom walls than in them.  In college, I shifted my focus away from Civil War history to Revolutionary War history. My expertise is now South Carolina History from 1775-1865. I did internships at the South Carolina Historical Society and Avery Research Institute for African American Culture.

After college, I moved to Greenville, SC and did a internship at the Historic Greenville Foundation and volunteered at the Confederate Museum. My interest in genealogy grew during that time.

I got married in 2004 and moved to Charlotte, NC. Life got busy with the addition of 2 children so my love of all things historical had to be put on the back burner. The past few years I have been able to do more genealogy and take my children to historical places. I am also an active member in my local DAR chapter. My family and I have been to Kings Mountain several times, Andrew Jackson State Park, Land of the Waxhaws Museum, Edisto Island, Savannah, St Helena Island, Old Sheldon Church Ruins, and other exciting places. I am going to Cowpens National Battlefield tomorrow with my family. I have never been before so I am looking forward to a new place that has a story to tell.

I still go to historic places with a reverence and awe of those who came here before me. Some of my ancestors walked on the battlefields and I may be walking in their footsteps. It is very humbling for to think about and I so small when I go to these places. I hope my children and the future generations will value these places of history as much as I do.

History happened here. This place matters.

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Author: samanthanifong

I have been a avid history buff since age 10. I graduated from the College of Charleston with a B.A. in US History. I have been researching my family for 12 years. I specialize in South Carolina history and research. I do freelance genealogy work centered around South Carolina between 1750- 1880. If you have ancestors in South Carolina between 1750-1880 that you would like me to locate, please contact me. Disclaimer.....My research is based on actual evidence which I may or may not post. Any photographs or documentation that I use is my intellectual property unless otherwise noted and may not be used or borrowed without my expressed written consent.

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