“This year, in 2020, the Jacob Kelley Home celebrates its 200th anniversary. The significance of the home is not that it is still standing, but that we know its provenance, its connection with the community, and that we have allowed it to become representative of a shared time, from our historical narrative. The Jacob Kelley House stands as a reminder of 19th century living. It is iconic in that it reflects, with simple honesty, the difficulty and practical aspects of daily life. This home allows citizens a window into the past, through which they are able to gain a deeper appreciation for the contributions of a bygone generation and the modern offerings of their own generation.” (Brain Gandy, Director, Darlington County Historical Commission & Museum)
History of the Jacob Kelley House
The Jacob Kelley House is located in the Kelleytown community of Hartsville. Kelley, a settler who founded the farming community in the early nineteenth century, built this home in the late 1820s as a one-story log cabin. A second story was added between 1830 and 1840.
One interesting architectural feature of this home is that no plaster was used; the walls are all made of hand-planed board. An original mantel still graces the interior, made of heart pine. The architectural style of the Jacob Kelley House is known as an I-house, popular in the mid-nineteenth century. It earned this appellation due to its prominence in states beginning with the letter I – Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. However, the style originally came about in England during the 1600s and, here in America, can be seen in a variety of Southern and Mid-Atlantic states.
In 1865 the house was used as headquarters for Union Major General John E. Smith. Remarkably, the home survived the Civil War despite the fact that the US Army was charged with destroying everything in the area as well as taking over the nearby mills. According to legend, Kelley was authorized to guard the community’s valuables during the war. In order to do so, he took all of Kelleytown’s silver and gold and protected it on an island in what is now called Segars Mill Pond.
After being restored in 1970 and again in 1996, the Jacob Kelley House currently operates as a house museum. The rooms are adorned with period furniture, and docents wear clothing from the Civil War era.
Students and other visitors are treated to an authentic farm settlement experience and are told the story of the Union occupation within the walls where it took place.
The Jacob Kelley House is listed in the National Register:
The Jacob Kelley House is significant as a fine example of architectural evolvement, from a one-story log house typical of early South Carolina upcountry settlement into the simple, functional plantation house that later became typical of the Pee Dee farm area and of much upcountry home building in the 19th century. The original log portion of the house predates 1830. The home was enlarged, weatherboarded, and a second story added circa 1830-1840. Several years later its size was almost doubled when a two-story annex was added on its west side. The walls and ceilings are of wide, hand-planed boards. An original mantel is of hand-carved heart pine.
Home of Jacob Kelley (1780-1874), prominent early settler and founder of the small agricultural community, Kelley Town. Its military significance stems from its use as headquarters for the Union troops of Gen. John E. Smith, Commander of the 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps, in March 1865. From this location the Federal troops commandeered the nearby Kelley Mills, ransacking and laying waste to the surrounding area. Listed in the National Register May 6, 1971.