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Chris Carpenter remembers getting an old tie from Miss Em.Pineville, a historic haven – More memories of Belvidere

Chris Carpenter remembers getting an old tie from Miss Em.

Editor’s Note: At the request of his readers and in memory of Warner M. Montgomery, Ph. D, we will continue to publish his adventure travel stories for the time being.

Belvidere Plantation suffered the fate of progress in 1940 at the hands of the Santee Cooper Project. The grand old house that had been the home of the Sinkler family for over 200 years disappeared into the waters of Lake Marion, just a few miles from Eutawville. On March 28, 2008, a Sinkler family reunion was held at Belvidere Plantation.

Brothers Chris and George Carpenter grew up on the Gippy Plantation, which belonged to Nicholas Roosevelt and his wife Emily “Miss Em” Sinkler Roosevelt. When they met again, they remembered their childhood:

• Miss Em always had something for us to do. When we saw her coming, we would run and hide. She believed that we should be made to work and always promised to pay us, so we worked really hard. When we were done, Miss Em would come out and give us a handful of pecans. That was our pay. We could have picked them ourselves.

Video: Kirk Simons remembers her father as Pard Walsh reads Frank Kirk's poem.Video: Kirk Simons remembers her father as Pard Walsh reads Frank Kirk's poem.

Video: Kirk Simons remembers her father as Pard Walsh reads Frank Kirk’s poem.

• When Mr. Roosevelt was out of town, I spent the night in the big house to protect Miss Em. I don’t know why, because my room was on the third floor and her room was on the first floor. I was about nine or ten years old. One time when I came through, she gave me a box and said, “I’m glad you stopped by. This is a special prize for you.” When I got home and opened it, I found one of Mr. Roosevelt’s old ties.

• Another time, when Mr. Roosevelt was away, we stayed with Miss Em. She was a connoisseur of good Southern cooking. She loved cooter stew and she loved fried fish with the head and eyes on. We couldn’t eat the eyes and she said, “That’s the best.” She took them out and ate them right down.

• Miss Em had turkeys and one day the turkey escaped. She gathered all the children together and said, “I’ll give you a dollar if you catch my turkey.” That was a lot of money, so we went looking for the turkey. Finally we caught it and presented it to Miss Em. I think she forgot what the reward was supposed to be because out came some pecans for everyone. I said, “Miss Em, I think you promised us a dollar.” And sure enough, she went back in and came out with a dollar.

George Carpenter remembers that Miss Em ate the fish, eyes included.George Carpenter remembers that Miss Em ate the fish, eyes included.

George Carpenter remembers that Miss Em ate the fish, eyes included.

• At one of the horse races in Belvidere, they brought Katherine Hepburn and all the cavalry from Fort Jackson and had a big parade. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. The boys older than me rode the horses. The highlight was the mule race. Each plantation sent a mule. The Charleston bookies could never guess. The Belvidere mule would win. It made no difference.

Angie Sinkler Whaley LeClercq (director of the Daniel Library at The Citadel), granddaughter of Anne Sinkler Fishburne, who grew up in Belvidere, also remembered Miss Em:

• Miss Em decided to learn to play golf. She hired a caddy and set about learning the game. After she had some success, she said to her caddy, “You were the best teacher and I’m going to give you a nice present.” She gave him a toothbrush.

Angie LeClercq remembers Miss Em rewarding her caddy with a toothbrush.Angie LeClercq remembers Miss Em rewarding her caddy with a toothbrush.

Angie LeClercq remembers Miss Em rewarding her caddy with a toothbrush.

Marty Sinkler Whaley Cornwell, Angie’s sister, owns a silver cup given by the black people of Belvidere to Caroline Sidney Sinkler Lockwood, one of the last women to live in Belvidere. She said the inscription reads: To Caroline Sidney Sinkler by her people of Belvidere whose heart belongs to us because she belongs to ours.

Videau Kirk Simons brought a poem by her father, Francis “Frank” Marion Kirk, who lived nearby and wrote the final descriptions of the houses taken over by Santee-Cooper. The poem was read by Norman “Pard” Walsh.

Antediluvian St. Johns, 1935

It doesn’t matter, I know that this is my beloved country. It doesn’t matter, I know that

I hold sacred any place where the remains of those who died so long ago lie, resting in peace so close to their beloved homes. It matters not that beneath these trees once noble-minded men and women wandered so eagerly seeking a home. Far over distant seas they came, and here they lived. And heaven smiled. For mark how they made a garden of a pristine wilderness, how they tamed the wilderness and found new happiness in their new land. It matters not that all this must go. All my regrets – it matters not, I know that.