The small community of Montmorenci near Aiken may have recieved its name from a landowner who thought the area resembled a village in France of the same name [spelled Montmorency]. Montmorenci was comprised mostly of cotton plantations until train tracks were laid here by the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company in the 1830s. Opulent Greek Revival homes were built in the early nineteenth century by wealthy planters, and many of these houses remain today.
In February of 1865 the Battle of Aiken occurred when Federal troops, led by General Hugh Kilpatrick, entered the area on their way from Columbia to Savannah, Georgia. Federal troops used the grand homes of Montemorenci as their headquarters, and a skirmish broke out in the town between Kilpatrick and the Confederate General Joseph Wheeler.
The conflict culminated in nearby Aiken, where Kilpatrick was defeated by Wheeler and his men, giving the Confederacy a minor victory. The community rebuilt after the Civil War, repairing homes and establishing businesses and churches, such as Montmorenci Baptist Church (seen below), which was founded in 1870.
Montemorenci may be small in population, but it is big in beauty, featuring expansive rural landscapes. Some of the historic homes that were witnesses to the Battle of Aiken now serve as inns, affording guests the opportunity to experience a bit of local history. Because the community is so close to Aiken – “The Horse Capital of the South” – some of these grand inns even include horse boarding and pasture grazing for equine family members. How’s that for an amenity?
Address: Charleston Highway, Montmorenci, SC 29839
GPS Coordinates: 33.527111,-81.634966
Take Me There
Chris Busch says
My grandmother was a Johnson, born in 1903, and was from the area. She told me there was a pond called Polecat Pond in the field by the Fire Dept. (So of course, it was there when she was growing up.) I remember as a kid, having a Montmorenci Polecats t-shirt with a picture of a skunk on it. lol She was the caretaker of a Woodward girl that had cerebral palsy until the 1980’s when she passed in her 30’s? I remember many a Sunday when then Mayor H. Odell Weeks would come and visit with her. He did that every month for years beyond my count. My grandmother sadly passed away in 1987 at the age of 84. She is buried at the Montmorenci Baptist Church cemetery along with her entire family. Best woman that ever lived! I have so many fond memories of this little town as I grew up only 2 miles away in Couchton. I remember walking down to Mr. Vennings pond across the road to go fishing with my Aunt. (he knew her) And a few times when I was a teen, he would catch us kids fishing down there and say “waht’r ya’ll doing down here?” lol So many names I recall from these comments, and most of the real history of this area is now gone with the passing of our relatives and friends, one of which is our dear friend Calvin Beck a few years ago at the age of 91? My mother dated him the last few years of his life… a wonderful man that I knew from my childhood.
Kathy | SC Picture Project says
Thank you, Chris, for adding so much to our page about Montmorenci! We appreciate you taking your time to contribute.
Robert Crawford says
I was born in the old Aiken County Hospital in 1945. My family and I lived in Montmorenci until 1951, but I spent summer vacations with my grandparents until I was 18. My step-grandfather always told me that he lived in Montmorenci and I lived across the tracks in Pole Cat, even though he owned the house and pond that you said was called Pole Cat Lake. His name was Lee Garvin, married to my grandmother, Josie Woodward. So I think we are related. I would like to know if that is true. Feel free to send me an email.
Mikel Good says
Beautiful memories! I lived in that house with my great grandmother Josie Woodward Garvin and Lee Garvin until the late 70’s early 80’s.,
to me that will always be home.
Hanna Sommer says
Hello everyone. My family settled here. I am a descendant of Charles Woodward and live on and own the property he built his home on. Most of the information I have is through family record. The post office was never a jail. It was a store with an attached mortuary; the attachment was torn down. Annie’s Inn was built after the Civil War. Eunice Venning, my cousin, owned that property. The people at the “Inn” fabricated a story for marketing purposes. My father gave me firsthand information of this.
I believe the original house sat way back within the field. I am not sure but it may have been torn down and predated the home of Mrs. Venning. My dad was born and raised just down the road from there. He was college-educated at The Citadel and West Point and he was a civil engineer. He had no reason to say anything other than the truth. The community first was named Johnston’s Turnabout. The rail yard and switch rails were located at the Old Barnwell and Highway 78 crossroad. There was a train station where people and crops were loaded for Augusta, Ga. to be loaded by barge to Savannah on the river. The next name was Pole Cat for the pond that now is drained and farmed.
The third name is Montmorenci. This name has no connection with a Canadian River as far as the local area where I live. There is debate about the name. There was a French gentleman who settled at the Montmorenci Vale in the community here. It is said Montmorenci was named for his home in France. Can anyone give solid info? Thanks for reading my note here … I would love to hear from the gentleman who has the town incorporation information. Thank you if you read this and respond to me.
John Zimmerman says
I have an ancestor (my wife’s actually) who bought and then sold land near Aiken in the 1870s. I found an advertisement in the NY Herald dated 1872 that says: “Montmorenci Park, Aiken, SC – This residence, well known for its salubrity, the picturesque character of the scenery, and abundance of pure spring water, is now to be let with immediate possession. The mansion is handsomely furnished, and has been open during the last three years under the management of a physician, for the reception of visitors from the North, who frequent Aiken during the Winter months … [another paragraph describing the area] … For further particulars apply to Wilton St. J. Leese, St. James Hotel, Broadway, NY.”
Wilton is the ancestor. We believe he was a bit of a slight-of-hand type. There likely was a home, he called it Montmorenci Park, but the ad, as far as I can tell only ran 3 days, all in a row, in NY. We think the property was owned by Captain Ruxton; we think the physicians name was Dr. Jewett. Any information anyone recognizes and wants to share, I would be grateful. Thanks, John
Linda Mihalik Johnson says
Hi everyone, my name is Linda Johnson and I’m a docent at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I specialize in researching the history of our area. Although I started with a focus on Aiken’s “Winter Colony,” I have shifted to documenting more local history, everything from the original land grants at the time of the American Revolution to the coming of the train and beyond. I’m very interested in the history of Montmorenci – I did quite a bit of work on the Vale at Montmorenci when Henry Dibble got it going, but I know little about the town. I do see the name Pole Cat Pond on the 1825 maps and the original railroad survey, then Johnsons (Johnston’s?) later. Would really like to talk more to those of you with a history there, especially Hanna Sommer. (The Woodward name is prominent in Aiken history.)
Maryann Zeliznak says
Does anybody know if the Montmorenci Post Office used to be a jailhouse?
Steven Woodward says
I, too, was raised in Montmorenci. Graduated from Aiken High in 1968. Have been doing research for some time. Have a copy of the incorporation paper from 1897. The information I have states that the name came from Charles Woodward, who settled there after the Revolutionary War. Prior to that, he made a trip into Canada with Daniel Morgan (probably during the war) and stayed at a “comfortable French home on the Montmorenci River near the falls of the same name near Qubec”. Jerry, hope you are doing well. Would like to get in touch. I am in Columbia.
Jerry Knox says
Jerry here, just read Clara’s comments and was really surprised to hear that her husband remembered the name Pole Cat. That is what I grew up knowing it was called also. Cool!
Hey Jerry! It makes us so happy to hear that you enjoyed the page and reflecting on your memories, what great comments! Hope you have a wonderful day!
Jerry Knox says
Hello, just happened to come across your website searching for info about Montmorenci. I was born in Montmorenci in 1954. Lived all my youth there and graduated Aiken High in 1972. In the Greenville area since 1976. Enjoyed pics, raised in baptist church, cool memories. Thanks, Jerry
Clara Davidson says
Was coming home from Virginia to Georgia, somehow made a long turn ended up in Montmorenci, passed a house with a creek running under it. It was so cool. This was back in the 1980s. Would love to go back. My husband now (he was not at that time) said he lived there as a small boy. Some people called it Pole Cat?