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Perry Family of Kershaw and Lancaster Counties South Carolina

Rich Hill Plantation

Perry 1690 - 1841
Benjamin and James Perry of Virginia
Rich Hill Plantation
John Madison Perry
Liberty Hill Day 1
Liberty Hill houses Day 1
Lancaster Day 2
Henry (Hal) Brown Perry and Amelia Ragsdale Perry
Henry (Hal B) Brown Perry,Jr
Jane Curry Perry Carlisle
Anna Mae Perry Wood
Margaret (Margie) Elizabeth Perry Boren
Bessie (Betty) Amelia Perry Kirk
William Ragsdale (Bill) Perry
Texas Perrys
The Ragsdale line
Florida Perrys
Bessie Perry Hines and Cornelia Perry Scott
Alexander Wilmot Matheson
A Play

Click here to see Rich Hill lands today


Benjamin Perry I → Benjamin Perry II→ Wilmott Starke Perry

James Perry I→ Josiah Perry→ John Perry


JOHN (Jack) Perry (1806-1866) married Wilmott Starke Perry (1809-1889)



Mary Harriett Perry (see Alexander Wilmot Matheson page on this site)


John Madison Perry



Rich Hill Tract:

The first tract named Rich Hill appears to have belonged to Benjamin Perry II (son of Benjamin I who came with his brother James to SC in 1774), and was situated in the southwest corner of Lancaster County.  The site is interesting for its prehistory and for historic events.  The old Indian path on the Wateree’s east side leading to Catawba Town appears on pre-Revolutionary land plats, indicating Native American activity in the area before the Perry settlement.  During the fierce partisan fighting of the Revolution and Cornwallis's occupation of Camden, Benjamin Perry's first wife Molsie Perry was 'hung by the Tories' for not revealing her husband's hiding place, a 'rock house' that later generations thought must be underground.  Benjamin Perry’s seat can be seen on the 1825 Mill’s Atlas map for Lancaster County.


Benjamin Perry II died ca. 1814.  About 1825 his daughter Wilmott Starke Perry (b. 1809) married her cousin John (Jack) Perry (b.1806).  John was the son of Josiah Perry (d. 1812), and grandson of James Perry (who came with his brother Benjamin Perry I to SC in 1774).  [A full genealogy of the Perry family is available at].  Young John was an acquisitive and enterprising man.  He inherited and bought land along the Wateree on both sides of the Lancaster-Kershaw line, eventually acquiring and consolidating most of the lands that the two brothers, Benjamin and James, had originally settled. 


The original seat of James (d.1806), his son Josiah (d.1812), and grandson John (1806-1866) stood near the Wateree River at the mouth of Singletons Creek in Kershaw County (designated ‘Mrs Tillman’s on the Mills Atlas map for Kershaw county, since Josiah Perry’s widow Rebecca had remarried to Isaac Tillman before 1820).  But by the Antebellum period, land records indicate that John had built a larger ’mansion’ house further inland about a 1 miles as the crow flies from Liberty Hill, and south of Peay’s Ferry Road.  The house was called ‘Rich Hill’, a name perhaps suggested by his wife Wilmott.  Here they raised a large family, among them John Madison Perry, who would eventually inherit much of the land, though not the house at Rich Hill.


Rich Hill Plantation:  The John Perry home

This house was built on land first acquired by John Perry’s grandfather James Perry (1735-1806).  By 1860, through inheritance and purchase, John Perry had extended the original holding to almost 3,000 acres in Kershaw County worked by 59 slaves.   He also owned land in Lancaster, Fairfield, and Chester counties.  When the plantation ‘big house’ was built is not known.  Although christened John for his grandfather John Perry (ca. 1680-1760) of Isle of Wight and Nansemond County, Virginia and later Bertie Co, NC, John Perry of Rich Hill always went by his nickname ‘Jack ‘ during his lifetime.  His eldest daughter Mary Harriett married Alexander Matheson, a Camden merchant.  John Perry built a house for them at Liberty Hill.  The following description of Rich Hill comes from the memoir of a great granddaughter of that marriage.


…my great grandfather's plantation, …Rich Hill…[was] about 3 miles above Liberty Hill.  Aunt Laura used to tell us about his home.  It was a beautiful 12-room mansion…could see it clearly from our back upstairs window [the Matheson house at Liberty Hill] until Sherman's soldiers burnt it down.  I am told my grandpa Perry lost everything after the war including the slaves, and he had many. He was good to them and many stayed on and helped him out for years….  When his oldest daughter, Mae Harriet Perry, married Alexander Matheson of Camden (My grandparents) he gave her enough silver dollars to have place setting of 12 made for her wedding present.  A silver smith of Camden did the work.  This was called "coin silver" flatware with needle and thread design.  I had 4 pieces of this silver until recently when it was destroyed in a house fire (more later).  They built this house [Matheson House] at the Hill [Liberty Hill] so the children would be near a good school.  Too far (3 mi) to Rich Hill and no good roads then.


When Sherman’s army (after leaving Columbia and Winnsboro) crossed the Wateree River at Peay’s Ferry on February 23, 1865, they passed along the Peay’s Ferry Rd enroute to Liberty Hill, where they encamped until March 1st.   Peay’s Ferry Rd runs through the middle of John Perry’s land, and Rich Hill was among the many upcountry houses destroyed as the army passed, either by soldiers or stragglers.  Patterson Wardlaw, who was living at The Columns, his grandfather Thompson’s house in Liberty Hill, witnessed the burning of the Perry home, and later recorded this account.


Another distinct recollection which I have is of the first time I saw a house afire.  It was one of the houses which were burned by the riff-raff which followed in the wake of the soldiers.  This house belonged to Mr Perry, and it was situated across Singleton Creek about a mile and a half from our house.  I remember the effect that the sight of that house burning had on me.  It was an absolutely still evening and the fire seemed almost stationary, painted against the night.


We do not know what the house looked like apart from the number of rooms, and that it was visible from the upstairs bedroom windows of the Matheson House.  From Mrs Croxton’s memoir we know that John Perry had a brick kiln at his plantation.  An 1868 survey made to divide the Perry lands after John Perry’s death also shows a mill nearby the house.


After John’s death in 1866, so near to the events of the war, his son John Madison Perry and his new wife Jane Curry Brown, made a home for his widowed mother Wilmott. Like many other burned out families, they either converted a plantation outbuilding or built a smaller dwelling on the original house ruins to have a place to live.  Here they made their home and had five children: Cornelia Perry 1868 – 1914; Henry Brown Perry 1869 – 1929; John Madison Perry, Jr.-1872 – 1934; Benjamin Starke Perry 1874 – 1951; Elizabeth [Bessie] Perry 1880 - 1953.  The following pages follow the lives and families of these five children.



* John and Wilmott had several children.  They were (from family bible): Mary Harriett b. 1827; Elizabeth Rebecca b. 1831; Caroline Aramintha b. 1834; Benjamin Josiah b. 1836; John Madison b. 1841; Thomas James b. 1843; Laura Wilmott b. 1845.


Wilmott Starke Perry had a brother named Madison Starke Perry who moved to Florida around 1845 and settled in Alachua Co.  He was elected Governor during the Secession Crisis and went on to serve in the Civil War as Lt Colonel.

Gov Madison Starke Perry