Originally created 05/30/99

Festival recalls history



BEECH ISLAND, S.C. -- Granville Plantation survived the fires of the Civil War, but the Yankees came back to try to capture it Saturday.

The ladies of the house were in the middle of a tea party when the Confederate Cavalry rode through to warn them and give them a pistol to defend their home and honor. As the cavalry rode off, Union troops crept from behind the plantation house, held the tea party at gunpoint and started looting.

The choreographed mayhem and melodrama of a house looting was the newest addition to the annual Beech Island Heritage Day, held for the second year at Granville Plantation, a historic plantation owned by James Goodman.

The Yankee troops dragged a wounded Rebel soldier out of the house and shot him -- with blanks, of course. Augustan Margo Boerner, clad in a hoop skirt, swooned and fought as best she could to keep the dastardly Yankee sergeant, played by Aiken resident Tom Key, from entering the house.

As things seemed their worst, the Rebel cavalry rode back to save the day, gunning down the Yankees and putting the Yankee sergeant before a firing squad, a move that drew applause from the audience.

All the players in the skirmish had a general idea of what they were to do, but they made up their lines as they went along, Ms. Boerner said.

"We've done a few living history days with some of the schools, so we're getting used to it," she said when the skit was finished.

When the skirmish was over, the audience flocked to see some of the period craftsmen such as Stephen Ferrell, who kept viewers spellbound as he crafted clay pots and jars on a pottery wheel. He's been working with clay for more than 30 years and got interested in it collecting Edgefield pottery, he explained as he shaped the lip of a jar.

"But the best part is it's all recyclable, and I know how to do it again," he said with a smile as he crushed the jar back into a ball of clay.

This year marked the 13th annual Heritage Day, organized to celebrate the history of Beech Island. Proceeds from Heritage Day go toward renovating the Beech Island Historical Society's building.

Todd Bauer can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.