The Alston-DeGraffenried Plantation in present day Chatham County is one of the few surviving plantations in the state. It sits on a corner of Deep River in an area called Horseshoe, originally part of a 7,654 acres surveyed for colonial governor Gabriel Johnson in 1747. In 1772, Philip Alston purchased 4,000 acres from the governor's heirs and built his first house in 1773 made of the Georgian style architecture. Exterior features include a gable roof, shed porches, and end chimneys with Flemish bond brickwork. Other additions were added after 1791.
The center hall contains a flush-sided ceiling and walls above a flat-paneled wainscot. The north parlor has plastered walls over flat-paneled wainscot with an incised geometric design resembling a Greek pattern. The fireplace is flanked by fluted pilasters adorned with marrow spoon and floral patterns. The cornice is decorated in pierced dentils around the room. To the left is one of the bedchambers on the first floor.
Battle of 1781
During the Revolutionary War, Philip Alston was a loyal Patriot. Early on Sunday morning on July 29th, Colonel David Fanning, a Tory, crossed the Deep River with about 40 men and attacked. After the first shots were fired, Alston's outnumbered men retreated into the house where his wife, Temperance and his children were located. Since it was summer and the fireplaces weren't being used, she hid the older children in the fireplace where they would be safe from shots raining on the house from all sides. The brick fireplace was much safer than wooden walls and windows. The photo to the right is of the backside of the house.
After several hours of gunfire, Fanning and his men decided to storm the house and set it on fire. Alston realized he needed to surrender, but feared he and his men would be shot if they went outside. Temperance found the courage to go out for them, hoping they wouldn't shoot a woman. It worked. Respecting her courage, Colonel Fanning met her halfway and accepted their surrender. The action saved their home and the lives of their children. The photo to the left is of the well on the side of the back porch.
The family table was filled with the bounty of fruits and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden near the house. Peas, beans, greens, apples, and grapes were grown by the family. The current caretakers have resurrected some of the gardens on the other side of the well in front of the corn field, which is behind the wooden building that now serves as a museum. Cattle and hogs provided meat for the table and the woods housed wild deer, turkey, rabbits and squirrels. Poultry not only provided eggs, down and feathers, but meat as needed. The image to the right is an 18th century corn crib.
The view from the back porch.