History: Ashtabula


From Generation to Generation

Both Woodburn and Ashtabula Plantations were owned by several different individuals throughout history before the Pendleton Historic Foundation acquired them in the 1960’s. Many of these families were extremely influential in South Carolina during their time. 



  • Lewis Ladsen Gibbes built Ashtabula sometime between 1825 and 1828. He was a very intelligent man, studying at the Sorbonne in France and Eton in England during his youth. Unlike many other wealthy men of his time, Gibbes built Ashtabula intending to live there year-round, whereas most built residences in the upstate simply as summer homes. He was a member of the Pendleton Farmer’s Society and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Under his care, Ashtabula became a self-sufficient plantation, producing their own food, clothes, and farm equipment. Gibbes died in 1828 at the age of 57.
  • Lewis Reeve Gibbes was the oldest son of Lewis Ladsen. At the time of his father’s death he was studying medicine at the South Carolina College, but he moved back to Ashtabula after completing his degree in 1830. However, his return to Pendleton lasted for less than a year because he chose to return to Charleston to continue studying medicine in 1831.
  • Charles Gibbes was the younger brother of Lewis Reeve, and he took charge of the estate after his older sibling moved to Charleston. He remained at Ashtabula until the mid 1830’s, at which time he moved to California to pursue civil engineering. He drafted some of the first maps of the California gold mining regions.
  • John Gibbes Ashtabula was placed under John’s care shortly after the departure of his two older brothers. He remained on the property for a short period of time, putting the entire estate up for sale in 1837.
  • Orasmus R. Broyles, a scientific agriculturalist, purchased Ashtabula from the Gibbes family in order to produce cash crops and run agricultural experiments regarding productivity. His family lived comfortably on the estate for fourteen years, until they decided to sell in 1851 so that they could move to Anderson County.
  • James T. Latta man of waning health, Latta moved to Pendleton in hopes that the fresh air might lessen his ailments. He was mostly a cattleman, credited with importing the first group of English Herfordshire Cattle into the U.S. His family lived on the estate for ten years, until his health became too poor for him to manage the property. He sold Ashtabula in 1861.
  • Robert Adger purchased Ashtabula to move his family closer to his brother (who owned Woodburn Plantation at the time) and to distance himself from Charleston during the Civil War. He gave the estate to his daughter Clarissa and new her husband, O.A. Bowen as part of her inheritance.
  • O.A. Bowen primarily raised cattle on Ashtabula’s land and was known for donating large quantities of beef to the Confederate Army. While under his ownership in 1865, the home was raided at the end of the Civil War by detachments of the Union cavalry. He decided to move his family to Charleston later that year after several more incidents involving hostile former Union soldiers at the home.
  • William Dalton Warren After the Bowens moved back to Charleston, Robert Adger took possession of Ashtabula again, and this time gave it to his second daughter and her husband, William Warren. Warren made agreements with many of the former slaves to let them remain on the land as tenant farmers after the Civil War, and thus kept Ashtabula running as a plantation. Even after the death of his wife, he continued to run the estate until 1880.
  • Francis J. Pelzer purchased Ashtabula from Warren and moved to the upstate to establish textile mills. He is credited with founding the town of Pelzer, which sprang up around four of the mills that he owned with Ellison Smythe. Ashtabula served as his weekend residence, while during the week he remained within the town of Pelzer to oversee his mills. He decided to sell the estate in 1889 in order to move to Charleston.
  • John Linley a real-estate developer, purchased Ashtabula in order to cultivate corn and cotton. He never resided there permanently, but instead oversaw production from his home in North Anderson. He is now credited as one of the founders of Anderson because he laid out the street-plan and sold the lots that would become the modern-day town. Linley sold Ashtabula in 1920.
  • Fred W. Symmes was the last private owner of Ashtabula. A Pendleton native, he purchased the estate to preserve its historical value, but chose never to live on the property. He owned Ashtabula until his death in 1957, after which his family sold the property to the Mead Corporation in Ohio.
  • Mead Corporation developed the land around Ashtabula in order to produce pulpwood.
  • The Pendleton Historic Foundation After the Mead Corporation had developed the land and realized that it had no use for the actual house itself, they gave the home and ten acres of land to the Pendleton Historic Foundation for restoration in 1961.

Ashtabula: Special Collections;
Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina
Woodburn: Special Collections;
Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina