South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Ella’s Grove — Centenary, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Marion County  |  Ella’s Grove

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Ella’s Grove

The buildings, located in Centenary in lower Marion County, comprise what is left of Ella’s Grove Plantation, established by Benjamin Franklin “B. F.” Davis in the mid-1800s and named for his first wife, Gabriella “Ella” Jenkins Davis.

Ella's Grove Plantation Stores

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Davis was a Civil War veteran who was captured by Federal troops and paroled upon pledging allegiance to the Union. Following the war, he continued to farm, and on January 1, 1867, he opened a small general store at Dog Bluff, located on the Little Pee Dee River a few miles east of Centenary. Once land transport improved and he was no longer dependent on the river to move goods, Davis relocated his operation to its current site. Although now abandoned, this area was once the center of the community.

BF Davis Ella' Grove Plantation Store

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

His eldest son, James Clement Davis – better known as “Mr. Jim” – inherited the enterprise, and in 1915 constructed a new brick building (shown here). He retired in 1952 at the age of 92. Taking his hometown’s name to heart, he lived until 1960 – long enough to celebrate his 100th birthday. His son, Guy, then ran the store (which he owned in partnership with his brothers Wendell and Buckingham) until at least 1975. An article from that year appeared in the Florence Morning News and details the store’s history.

Davis Store Ella's Grove Plantation

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

We are unclear on the status of the original home(s) at Ella’s Grove. One old house still stands near the store, and we know “Mr. Jim” built this residence to replace an earlier one that his large family of 11 children had outgrown. However, another source states that the original Davis home was moved to Marion in 1899. The land itself was inherited from the Jenkins family, which had a house there as well. If you can help us solve this mystery, please contact us. Thank you!

Davis Plantation Ella's Grove Entrance

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

More Pictures of Ella’s Grove

The weather-beaten brick building in the picture below is one of the last of a vanishing breed – the country general merchandise store. In 1975, the Florence Morning News detailed the history of the brick building, writing “If you need a collar for your mule, a cast iron frying pan, a pair of blue jeans, or a pack of potato chips, the Davis Brothers store at Centenary is where you can find it.”

Davis Store Sign Detail

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

This wooden building served as the original store after B. F. Davis moved his business to Ella’s Grove. Once it was replaced by the brick structure in 1915, it served as the company’s warehouse.

BF Davis Ella' Grove Plantation Store

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections on Centenary

BJ Thurman of Conway, who contributed the photo of the Davis buildings below, also sent the following info: “This is a photo of two old store buildings on the B. F. Davis Plantation known as Ella’s Grove in Centenary, SC. Centenary is located in lower Marion County. The old home, built circa 1850, is no longer on the property as it was moved to Marion in 1889.”

Davis Buildings

BJ Thurman of Conway, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Jerri S. White of Marion, who took the shot below, writes this: “The photo was taken for a tour of the Centenary area of Marion County by the Pee Dee Chapter of the South Carolina Genealogical Society. The following is an excerpt from tour notes: ‘The business was founded on January 1, 1867, by B. F. Davis, the grandfather of the present owner, a few miles east of the present location at Dog Bluff on Little Pee Dee River. There was no railroad transportation in the area at the time, and roads were poor, so supplies for the store had to be brought up the river on barges. A few years later, however, land transport had improved, and Davis moved his operations to the population center of the community, to the present site. The frame building which Davis built here as his second store still stands on the site, and is used by the present owners as a warehouse. The present brick store building was built by him (James Clement Davis) in 1915.'”

Jerri S. White of Marion, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Linda Brown of Kingstree says, “These three old buildings seemed to me to be basking in the sunlight of a warm January afternoon. If only their walls could talk.”

Ella's Grove

Linda Brown of Kingstree, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Kenneth Malcom of Summerville, who contributed the two photos below, shares: “I love to run the back roads of South Carolina and other states and document history through photographs. I stumbled across this gem during one of those excursions. It was truly like stepping back in time.”

Ella's Grove Davis Building

Kenneth Malcom of Summerville, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ella's Grove Commercial Building

Kenneth Malcom of Summerville, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ella’s Grove Info

Address: No Name Road off South Carolina Highway 41, Centenary, SC 29571
GPS Coordinates: 34.006186,-79.343991

Ella’s Grove Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

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15 Comments about Ella’s Grove

Lucey Bowen says:
September 15th, 2019 at 2:04 pm

The area between the Big and Little Pee Dee was where Rev. James Jenkins, my g-g-g-g-grandfather, was born and raised, Britton’s Neck. He wrote his memoirs in 1842; his mom was a celebrated Revolutionary War heroine. The Ravenel Papers at UNC are said to have slave sale lists and some names, but dating back to the 19th century.

Samira says:
February 21st, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Hi – I’m also doing ancestral research on this area. I am Davis on my paternal and maternal line. I’m almost positive my family could have been owned or have lived near these properties as I remember visiting Centenary/Brittons Neck from time to time during my childhood. If anyone has any information on Leroney, Essie, and John Davis, please send me an email at Thank you.

Darlene Johnson says:
June 26th, 2018 at 1:55 am

Hi Andre, my grandfather’s name was Ellie Williams, and his wife was Rebecca Williams. They had ten children. My mother’s name is Inez Williams. Please let me know of any info you have – I gladly appreciate it.

Darlene Johnson says:
June 26th, 2018 at 11:34 pm

Hi Andre, the other day after reading your comment, I asked my mother does she remember the Pee family and she said yes.

Darlene Johnson says:
June 26th, 2018 at 1:42 am

Hi Andre, I would like to know more about the families that grew up on Davis plantation.

Andre Wilson says:
March 15th, 2018 at 4:40 pm

Darlene, I know your family. They lived behind the store. My family, the Pees, lived back there also.

Bluizer Greene says:
December 30th, 2017 at 9:35 pm

I am doing ancestral research on my grandfather Walker Finklea and in the notes we found that his grandmother Dahlia Davis was owned by Jim Davis Sr. Is Jim a relative of B.F. Davis? Any information you could provide on any of the slaves the Davis family may have owned will be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help and thank you for sharing the photos.

SCIWAY says:
March 26th, 2014 at 8:31 am

Hi Garrin! If you would like to submit photos to the South Carolina Picture Project, just go to ‘SC Photos’ at the top of the page on the right, and it will guide you through. Thank you for commenting!

Garrin says:
March 25th, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I was up there the other day and took a few pictures, but not sure how to share them on here. I did see a bunch of old barns behind these three but didn’t get pics. Can go back if needed.

Bluizer Greene says:
July 4th, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Thanks Andre for any ancestral help you can give me. Again, Walker Finklea was my grandfather. His father was Norris Finklea, and his mother was Dahlia Davis Finklea. She was born c. 1790. We are desperately trying to find out who was the husband of Dahlia as well. Norris siblings are Hannah, Hinds, and Friday. The story is that Harmon was sold to someone in Arkansas.

Darlene Johnson says:
June 26th, 2018 at 1:46 am

Andre, my grandmother’s name was Rebecca, and her husband’s name was Ellie Williams. They had 10 children.

Andre Wilson says:
March 15th, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Send me your relative’s name and I’ll trace your history. I’m from Centenary and my family lives on the Davis farm. Email me your contact info. You too, Ms. Greene.

January 28th, 2018 at 10:19 pm

Hi, I was looking up information on Centenary where my mom was born and raised, her maiden name is Williams. She talked a lot about a man named Mr. Davis who owned the land her family lived on. She is 90 years old now and I believe she has pictures of the old house she grew up in.

SCIWAY says:
April 13th, 2011 at 9:59 am

Hi Brent! We are so glad that you enjoyed the photo, and so far this is our only photograph of the barns. Hopefully, SCIWAY visitors will send us some more in the future!

Brent says:
April 12th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

These photos bring forth several emotions. My grandmother as well as my mother, six aunts, and one uncle were born and raised in these very barns. Thanks for the photo and how can I view more?


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