Jacob Kelley House

Untitled drawing (1)

The Jacob Kelley House

JKS 200 

This c. 1820 house, now restored, and furnished in 19th century style served briefly as a headquarters for General Sherman’s army during the War Between the States. It is open for tours the first Sunday of each month, March – December, 3 pm – 5 pm.

 The property is owned by: Darlington County Historical Commission and is operated by the Jacob Kelley House Guild.

Located: 2585 Kelleytown Rd. Hartsville, S.C. 29550

N34 20’59.67”W80 08’30.93”


Jacob Kelley House As Told by one of the Descendants

JoAnn Kelley Lee

January 1, 2010

            Kelleytown Community got its name from Jacob Kelley and his many descendants who were the early settlers of this area.

             Jacob was born in 1780 and over the years, through many hardships and hard work, he amassed much property. His marriage to Charity Hearon brought forth five children — three boys and two girls and this family prospered and deeply influenced the history of the community.

             The house Jacob Kelley built for his family was a one- room log cabin, before the five children arrived. As the family grew 3 more additions were added to the log cabin. Many intriguing stories have evolved around the early days of this growing family and the Jacob Kelley House.

             During the period of the Civil War the Jacob Kelley house and family had its claim to fame, or its claim to heartaches, when a regiment of General Sherman’s Army

Under the command of Major General John E. Smith came pushing through and took over the house for its temporary headquarters on March 2, 1865. The entire area was terrorized as an approaching Union Army was looting and pillaging their way toward them.

             Jacob Kelley was an 85 year- old man and the family took many precautions to protect him and to hide and preserve as many of the family treasures as possible in the face of the approaching army. Jacob Kelley was taken to an island in Segars Mill Pond with as many valuables as he could take, along with his best horses. He hid out there for several days not knowing the outcome of his property or his extended family. You can imagine the stress and the serious time of reflection he went through.

             Meanwhile back at the house — fright, sorrow, anger — and there were no men around to help protect the family left behind. Most of the eligible men were serving in the Confederate Army, which left the women and children totally vulnerable.

             Union soldiers took little mercy in their rampant looting, killing, destroying and burning. As the officers set up their headquarters in the house the others searched for any treasures, foods, chickens, pigs, mules, horses and wagons and took or destroyed anything they could find.

             One story often passed down was that the soldiers used their swords to rip open the feather mattresses to see if treasures were hidden inside. They would shake the mattresses from the upstairs windows and the down and feathers flew everywhere. A child squealed that, “it looked like snow on the ground.”

             Soldiers looted the smoke house taking the hams, shoulders, salt pork and dried sausages. From the chicken yard they took all of the turkeys, chickens, ducks, and anything else they could use to feed their men. The family dog was killed without any remorse or concern for the children. When the soldiers had finally looted and destroyed all they could they moved on to greener pastures.

             With nothing left — all wagons gone and the best of the horses gone — Elias Kelley, twelve year old son of James Kelley and the grandson of Jacob, gathered a few old boards and tied them together to make a raft. He took the only old mule that was left and headed to Segars Mill Pond to bring his Grandfather back home. What a journey — a twelve year old on a trip to bring his Grandfather back to witness the horror that would ultimately haunt him for the rest of his life. (He lived to be ninety-four.)

             The Jacob Kelley house a Carolina I-House is a treasure trove filled with memories, family, community, friends and love for the past, along with the historical significance of this great old house.

             This family made many contributions to the community according to Lucile Neely who wrote “Hartsville Our Community.” Jacob Kelley donated a tract of land for a Meeting House and cemetery in 1843. This is where the present Kelleytown church is located. Many people helped with the major endeavor. Grandson of Jacob, Elias Kelley, donated the timber for the Meeting House (church) and Henry Kelley cut and sawed most of it at his mill. J. W. Gardner drew the plans for this church. So you see, the descendants of Jacob Kelley have been very influential in the growth and development of the Kelleytown Community. Beginning with his one room log cabin, he had a vision for the future and that vision is all around us today.

 Article submitted by:  JoAnn Kelley Lee   January 1, 2010  (JoAnn Kelley Lee is one of the many descendants of Jacob Kelley.)

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