Perry I → Benjamin Perry II→ Wilmott Starke Perry
Perry I→ Josiah Perry→ John Perry
(Jack) Perry (1806-1866) married Wilmott Starke Perry (1809-1889)
Harriett Perry (see Alexander Wilmot Matheson page on this site)
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.
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 www.Sallysfamilyplace.com]. 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.
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 1½ 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.
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.