Lasting childhood memories have been formed at Pascalina, a historic 19th-century home in Montmorenci.
Aiken resident Ola Hitt, 95, who lived in the house during the 1920s, said she and her four siblings picked cotton in nearby fields and waved to the conductors of trains that passed on the tracks.
"In the summer, the baggage man would throw off a big hunk of ice, and we would take it inside," she recalled. "My mother would cook custard on the stove, and we would have homemade ice cream."
Ms. Hitt, who said the children spent most of their time outside, remembered the vegetable garden and the fig trees on the property.
"We'd climb the trees, and there's the strongest limbs on those trees," she said. "Wherever there was a fig (tree), we'd go."
Jackie Heath, who has lived in the house with her husband, James, for 41 years, said their five children have many fond memories of the home as well.
She said they still remember gathering around an old gas heater that, along with the living room fireplace, was the only source of heat when they moved into the house in February 1965.
"That first winter, it was cold. They got a taste of the old life, in a way, for a few months there," Mrs. Heath said. "But it was a memory-making thing."
She also said the house had no bathrooms or closets until the 1940s.
Mr. Heath said the kitchen and dining room were separated from the main house by a breezeway when they bought the property. He said he tore down that section and used the lumber to build a barn.
He said the house has undergone a number of structural changes through the years.
Mr. Heath said, "All the framework is mortise and peg."
The house originally was occupied by Cyril Pascalis, a civil engineer who oversaw construction of the Charleston-Hamburg railroad and helped lay out the streets of Aiken.
He moved into the home with his mother, Elizabeth, who purchased the 790-acre property in 1835, and the orphaned children of his sister, Francisca Canfield.
Mrs. Pascalis willed the house to her granddaughter Theodosia Wade and her husband, John C. Wade, in 1863.
In 1865, Union Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick used the house as his headquarters during the Battle of Aiken. Ms. Hitt, who is Mrs. Wade's granddaughter, said her grandmother hid the family valuables in the woods before the Union soldiers arrived.
"My grandmother took off her ring and tied it in a handkerchief and buried it by the trunk of the trees," Ms. Hitt said.
She said the Union soldiers tied their horses to the trees and "they pawed it up."
The ring was lost for two decades, she said, until her grandmother found it while she was working in the garden 20 years to the day after she had hidden it.
Mrs. Heath said she and her husband have thought about selling the home, where 20 to 30 family members still gather one Sunday a month, and moving into a smaller house, but they are reluctant to leave.
"We can see the sunrise and the sunset," she said. "Where else could we live that we could do that and it not be marred by trees or other buildings?"
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RON COCKERILLE/STAFF [CAPTION]
RON COCKERILLE/STAFFThe South Carolina historical marker on U.S. 78 tells how the Pascalina was the headquarters for a Union Army general during the battle of Aiken in the Civil War.[CAPTION]
The Pascalina Plantation in Montmorenci was built in 1835. The first inhabitants were Cyril Pascalis and his extended family. Mr. Pascalis was a civil engineer who helped survey Aiken's streets. At left, Jackie Heath, who has lived at Pascalina for 41 years with her husband, James Heath, stands in one of the rooms that was preserved during the many renovations of the home.