The non-typical double avenue of live oak trees is located on Jehossee Island at the confluence of the South Edisto River, the Dawhoo River, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in Charleston County.
Once known as the largest of all rice growing plantations, Jehossee Plantation has been associated with prominent South Carolina families, passed from Charles Drayton of Drayton Hall to William Aiken, once Governor of SC and US Congressman and owner of the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston. The ruin of the rice mill chimney seen below is a historic remnant left on the island.
The rice trunk seen below is in the same spot where the enslaved people who once worked the property placed it, along the same rice fields they dug by hand. These trunks allowed for the control of irrigation in the fields that were once harvested within the plantation’s vast acreage. Today these former rice fields continue to be maintained in order to protect the valuable ecosystems and natural communities that have evolved here.
Many structures once existed on this vast plantation. Barns, slave dwellings, and even a chapel were once scattered on the acreage. The home seen below was built sometime around 1850 and later became the overseer’s house when William Aiken II built a larger plantation home between 1850 and 1860, which was lost to a fire in the 1890s. The only remaining residential structure left on the island is the overseer’s house. William Aiken’s widow, Hariett Lowndes Aiken, inherited the property and kept the planting operations at the plantation going until she died in 1892. Jehossee passed to Aiken’s daughter, Henrietta Aiken Rhett who too continued farming activities on the island using both wage and contract labor. Henrietta died in 1918 leaving the plantation to her children, it is believed that the property ceased to be a working farm at this time.
Jehossee remained owned by descendants of Governor Aiken, the Aiken-Rhett-Maybank family. John F. Maybank bought out the other family members in the mid-1950s. The last descendants to own Jehossee were John F. Maybank’s sons, David Maybank, John F. Maybank II, and Thomas H. Maybank, all of Charleston. They restored dikes, the bridge on the island and the overseer’s house. The island was used as a private hunting preserve.
The Maybanks sold most of the island to the United State Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993. Jehossee is now part of the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge.
Interior Pictures of Jehossee Island Overseer’s House
Reflections on Jehossee Island
Many thanks to contributor Dean Herndon of Walterboro for sharing information on the island, he reflects, “If only the live oaks of the South Carolina Lowcountry could talk, what stories they could tell.”