Update: On September 28, 2020, South Carolina’s Governor, Henry McMaster, signed legislation designating the school as the Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe.
The John de la Howe School was founded in 1797 to provide education for poor and orphaned local children. Today, the school is a top-notch child care facility that offers behavioral and educational assistance to children in need. The facility is located on 1200 beautiful acres along Lake Thurmond in McCormick County.
John de la Howe was a wealthy physician and civil servant in the 1700s, who moved from France to South Carolina at the age of 50. Over time, Howe obtained thousands of acres between the Little River and Long Cane Creek in Abbeville County which he called Lethe Plantation. He lived and ran his successful medical practice here, and asked that upon his death the land be used as a nature preserve and as a school for rural boys and girls. The Lethe Agricultural Seminary was opened shortly after his death in 1797.
The seminary instructed 24 orphan boys and girls who lived, worked, and studied there. After the Civil War, the seminary suffered financially and closed from 1882 to 1894. When it had to close yet again from 1911 to 1913 due to declining enrollment, the school was converted to a state agency in 1918 and renamed the John de la Howe School. To expand facilities and services at the school, it was moved to the neighboring town of McCormick. The school thrived at its new location, and received one of the first grants given by the Duke Endowment.
The John de la Howe barn pictured above was built in 1931 and was a dairy operation that provided supplies to the school and its nearby communities for 50 years. The barn has been converted into a country marketplace and concert hall. Many community events are held here throughout the year. The barn is located along the John de la How interpretive trail, which winds 1.9 miles along Lake Thurmond and through pristine forest.
Today, the John de la Howe School continues to be a state-funded group child care facility that offers residential and environmental programs for about 150 kids a year. The children are from families in crisis and are placed here for approximately 9 to 12 months.
The school has a family style setting with cottages and a central cafeteria. Funding from the Duke endowment, SC government, tuition, and donations keep the school running. The present campus has 12 cottages, a chapel, an infirmary, a school, a family center, an administration building, and other historic buildings.
Learn about the Jenkins Institute for Children located in North Charleston, which also provides shelter for children in need.
I was at JDLHS from ’89 to ’94, not only did the school save me from a miserable existence, it formed a core part of who I am. I was Cathey Bayer back then. Anyone who might have pictures from ’90 to ’94 please get in touch @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tonda Lewis says
I was at De La Howe from 1975 to 1980. I loved it there and miss a lot of my friends.
Debbie Vaughn says
My grandmother and her sisters were at John de la Howe, probably in the 20s. Did they teach nursing there? They all were nurses. Do they have records from back then? My grandmother died at 39 years old when my mother was 10 years old. I am trying to find out things about her. I think she supported the school a little after she was grown. Thank you so much.
Cathy Griffin says
My name is Cathy and my sister, 2 brothers, and I were there for 2 years, 1967-1969. My sister and I stayed in Columbia cottage during the school year and moved to Charleston cottage or Savannah cottage in the summer. My thoughts of this place are mostly good, but the person who took care of my sister and I was very mean to all of the girls in the cottage at times. I never got to see my brothers very much. The girls weren’t aloud on the boys side of the campus and the boys weren’t allowed on the girls side. We only saw each other in school or at noon meal. I have more fond memories of the school than negative ones. Wish I could go back and visit one day.
Timothy A. Smith-Rolfe says
I loved reading all the comments from my de la Howe family. I was at the school from November 1959 until I graduated in 1964. The school is home to me and much better than what I previously experienced. That is possibly why many if not most of us rarely spoke of where we came from or why. The courts sent me as I was not one of the best citizens, but I went on to earn a college degree, became a S.C. State Constable, served in three military services, and retired from Washington State employment following 33 years of service. I have Mr. Gettys, Ms. Clinkscales, and Ms. Chandler to thank for my turn around. By the way, one needs to wear two pair of pants for Ms. Chandler’s paddling. I can attest to that. And corporal punishment did not harm me. It is/was a great experience. Tim Smith-Rolfe @ email@example.com
Pris Santos says
John de la Howe is a beautiful campus. In recent years, its fate was uncertain. Cows, horses, goats, and pigs still occupy the barns and fields and are cared for by a few very dedicated and hardworking individuals. However, it was recently announced that it would become a charter school for agricultural students. A Principal has been hired as was a Director of Education, and classes should start in fall of 2020. Students must qualify for acceptance. It will house live-in students as well as commuting students. Although not an alumni like many of you, we in the McCormick area are very excited about the possibilities for John de la Howe school. Several graduates that still live in this area recall their experiences very fondly.
Dennis Metz says
I was reared in Iva. When I was in junior high, we played de la Howe in basketball (1961-63). Have fond memories. I served as intervention specialist/due process for Kershaw County Schools in the ’80s-’90s. John de la Howe was a valuable resource. I read that there was a move in the State Legislature to close it. I have penned missives to those legislators whom I personnaly know in support of expanding de la Howe. If there is anything else that I can do, let me know!
LINDA WORKMAN WALDEN says
I loved John le la Howe. A lot of bad things happened around me before I went there in 3rd grade in 1963. My brother Claude was there also. There were some really nice counselors, and boy did they have thier hands full with me. I wish I could tell some of them I am sorry, but I know they understood what I was going through because they really worked with me and were very kind. I loved shoveling the coal for the the boilers. I hate to hear the state thinks hard work not good for you. Thank you John de la Howe. You were a game changer for me.
I was in John De La Howe back in 1964. Each child had a work detail like being on kitchen detail, dinning room servers and cleanup. Laundry detail was in the basement of the school. Girls did canning and the boys worked the crops. We also had cottage detail stoking the furnace, which was shoveling coal. The children worked hard, but were not over-worked. They were given the hands on how-tos about basic everyday things.
Henry Phillips says
I find it terrible that the work ethic has been diminished at De La Howe. We got up at 4:30 every morning to milk the cows then attended school. All children had a work an assignment, boys worked the farm.
Dondi Brown says
Thanks for your prayers and support…I am currently teaching math at LS Brice and we need both.
Jo Ann Durst says
Trevor, Thanks for recounting your negative comments about the school. John de la Howe is a wonderful intervention for students who have stopped thriving in their home environment. Sadly, the SC State Child laws have discontinued many of the agricultural programs in which many past students learned useful lessons of accomplishments in hard work. The state seems to think students of today don't need to know the value of hard work. I attended JdlH School in the 70's and when I didn't follow the rules, physical work in keeping up the grounds, working in the kitchen or cleaning the buildings on the campus was my punishment. I can't remember being overworked, and I value the lessons I learned when I didn't follow the rules. I pray for the school to continue helping those students who need what the school can offer and I also pray the state will loosen the laws to bring the agricultural programs back to the school. I wish you luck in your life, Trevor, and would love to invite you to log in to our John de la Howe Alumni Web Site hosted by FamilyLobby.com, in which you can view thousands of photos showing student life from the 1920's to the present. The Alumni Association welcomes you to join us in fundraisers to help raise funds to give back. Sincerely, Jo Ann Alewine Durst 1969-1972 (Alumnus)
Trevor Barkley says
I recently went on this website and posted negative things about John de la Howe school. I apologize for anything negative that I said because it was untrue. I was angry and homesick and should not have said those things. John de la Howe really helped me to appreciate my home school and being with my parents along with helping me actually pass the 9th grade. I appreciate all that the counselors did to help me. This is a great school for any child who is struggling with behavior issues and failing in school.
James C Finch (Jimmy) says
James C Finch (Jimmy) says
I was at John De La Howe from 1972-1973 and from 1975-1978. I can honestly say that this place saved my life. I have enjoyed several reunions with my family such as my brother Gregory Finch, and my children have joined me in enjoying fellow children of my John De La Howe brothers and sisters. Yes, my John De La Howe brothers and sisters, because that is who we all were, as we all were brought together and raised together as such and there for different reasons. We worked together milking cows, playing basketball, schooling, and much more. Mr. Satterfield and Mr. Moore were my heroes. I thank God every day for such a wonderful place and all the many experiences that made my life better, for if it weren’t for John De La Howe, my life wouldn’t have been profoundly affected for a positive change, making me the better person it made me as well as a wonderful leader with all my jobs thereafter and a strong good man who is a proud leading father of 3 amazing daughters to share my legacy and knowledge with. All I can say is, it would be a detrimental dismay for John De La Howe to ever close down or deter from the very foundation in which is was founded for. To all of my brothers and sisters from this second home: I will always cherish the memories and experiences we shared. I look forward to seeing you all again at the alumni gathering!!!!
Toneisha Baker says
I was a clinical therapist (counselor) at JDLHS from February 2008 through October 2010. It was a pleasant experience, and hopefully I impacted the young men and women whom I counseled. I would tell them that they had to work the program. Change happened if it is allowed. If you keep fighting it things are going to be hard and the time would be long. I hear from a few of the students from JDLHS and some are doing well. It is all about choices in life. People can blame the system or the school instead of looking at themselves and the role they played in their problems. I really enjoyed the family days although we had to work on Saturdays. Those days were powerful.
Trevor Barkley says
This past school year I attended John de la Howe and it was one of, if not the, worst experiences of my life. The learning environment in the classrooms is absolutely horrible, students would just randomly cuss out teachers in the middle of class and not be punished. Counselors, who are supposed to help kids out, would actually promote kids to fight to let their anger out. The cottages are not clean and my last week there I got bed bugs, which tore my arm up, and there were snakes inside the living room. There were very little positive experiences I had at de la Howe and I do advise parents who want their kids to learn and straighten them up to not send them here.
Edward Sanders says
I was at John de la Howe from 1970-1973. I learned a lot. After finishing high school, I went into the U.S. Army. I served 21 years. After I retired from the army, I became a boat captain working in the Gulf of Mexico. Been out here for 17 years working on a 200-foot-boat. I know the deckhands’ lives are in my hand. Anything can go wrong, but to be the best you have to be the best in my type of work. Thank you for helping me to know what life is.
Hope Anderson says
Absolutely loved my time at John De la Howe and going to McCormick High School. Some of my best memories of my youth come from being there. I loved my Mama and Daddy, but I was giving them a hard time and they were worried about me getting in trouble or getting hurt with the lifestyle I was living. Dr. Gettys and John De la Howe saved my life and I will never forget all that I learned there!
Jo Durst says
To any of our de la Howe family who would like to check out photos taken on campus over the many decades of the school’s existence, join the John de la Howe Alumni website. It is completely free and is hosted by MYFAMILY.COM. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation which gives you the information to log on. Hope to hear from you. Jo Durst
Jerry Campbell says
That school saved my life. I don’t want to think how I would have turned out without it. I had a hard beginning there as a newly transplanted orphan. But I grew to look at the school as a family I never had. I regret not keeping in touch with it, but when I left, I wanted to never look back. I’ve lived in California for the past 35 years or so and my wife has always wanted to see where I came from. So there is a trip being planned to see the school coming up this May. I’m glad to see that the place is still standing.
M. Gaulden says
My great Grandmother, Allie C. Templeton, worked as a Matron at the school during the 1910s. I’m not sure of the exact years, but after 1911 and before 1920. She had her four children with her at the school.
Ruby Driggers Ledford says
Attention Leigh L. Van Blarcom, I was searching for information on my Dad, James Driggers, who was born in 1915 and was placed in John de la Howe School because his adoptive mother was dying of cancer. We have been searching for years to find our Dad’s family. We appreciate any information you can give me. I am the only remaining child with two sisters deceased. Dad died six years ago. Hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Ruby Driggers Ledford
Mike Large says
I want to hear from my old friends at email@example.com.
Sharon Gibbs says
My mother, Margaret Louise Ferrell, and her siblings Marcel Ferrell and Frank Ferrell were at John de la Howe in the early to mid-forties. I would love to hear from anyone that may remember them. Thank you so much, and I look forward to hearing from you.
R. Black says
I’m looking for information on McCormick High School for girls that may have been associated with de La Howe in 1947-1948. If you have any information, please contact me. shortscrapper@gmail. com
I know someone who is coming there.
Johnny Ferguson says
I was at De La Howe from 1954 to 1964, and anybody who knew me who wants want to say hello can.
The e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cyndi Turner Cockrell says
My sister Roxanne Turner went to John De La Howe in the early 1980s. I recognize a few names that she spoke of who posted comments. I remember my church basketball team coming to the school to play against De La Howe. I never told my sister until she saw me there. I remember meeting Robert Vails and a Joe McCollum. My sister enjoyed the school very much.
Thetesa mizzell yates says
I was there in the 1980s to 1986. I lived in Hessian Murrah cottage.
Kenley Cooke says
My grandmother, Doris Rudicill, lived at John de la Howe in 1948-1949. She talks about her memories about her housemother Miss Milhouse; she lived in Mccormick cottage.
Cybil (Fields) Hancock says
I just wanted to say Hello home. I was a McCormick Cottage girl and I loved every day that I got to stay there. I really miss all the fun experiences I haad with friends and all the people who became my family. I would really like to visit and to show my girl the place that shaped me into the younge woiman I am today thanks for everything John da la Howe always will be grateful. 1999-2000
Calvn Fowler says
I was at de ls Howe from March 1938 until I graduated in 1946. We worked four hours each day and went to school fours each week day. I learned that there was nothing I couldn’t do. After de la Howe I earned three college degrees and worked on the space program and taught college courses. Calvin Fowler 1946
Pam Harris Raines says
Thanks for remembering me Levon. I hold a special place in my heart for all those I met and the friends I made, I will always cherish the days at de la howe. It was my home for a long time and I still call it home the friends I made I call family now. So glad I had the opportunity to experience all that de la howe had to offer
Jo Ann Alewine Durst says
Hello Levon, I remember you also. I remember you were in Hester Cottage. All the folks you mentioned are members on our Alumni Web Site. Please send me your email address and I will send you an invitation to sign in. It is completely Free. We love to hear about your memories and you can veiw hundreds of photos taken during the time you were at de la Howe. My email: email@example.com. sincerely JO Ann Alewine Durst
levon smith says
This is a shout out to all people I remember in these postings. Pam Harris, we spent all those years together, 63 till U graduated early 1970. Conny Dempsey, I had a crush on you, I was 13 you were in huganaut cot. Joe Moore, you were like a big brother, and Lewis and I would be in trouble on campus or Columbia until we matured and I treated Jeanne like she was my sister. Also, Joann Alewine I remember your name, I drove the big farm truck and lived in hesster cot when you came there. I have not been back to the campus since the mid 70s and family and work in far away places took over. De la Howe gave us a place to grow up if you tried. I hope it still will help the youth of today. Levon Smith
shirley crocker says
i was there in 1962 and 1963 i was shirley mills
my sisters were there also frances patsy and ruth anne mills
Jo Ann Alewine Durst says
Heather, if you would like to check out the JdlH Alumni Web Site hosted by Myfamily.com, just email me with the years you attended and I will send you and invitation. It is a private site only for our alumni and your invitation will contain a username and password to log in. Hundreds of photos from the school to veiw and share. firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather Simmons says
I was there 1989 to 1992. I would really like to reconnect with some of the people who were there when I was.
Jo Ann Alewine Durst says
De la Howe will give your son more opportunities to learn and grow. I know it is hard to let him go, the things he will gain from the programs available at the school will take him a long way into his future. sincerely, Jo Ann Alewine Durst Alumnus 1969-1972
Gracie S. Hannah says
My son is 15 years old and he was accepted at John de la Howe on August 6, 2012. I miss him but his education is very important to me so I let him go three hours and 45 minutes away from home to get a better education for himself.
Alvin H. Frady, Jr. says
I was at John de la Howe as a student from May 1958 until June 1962. First started out in the Old Infirmary with Ms. Stepenson, later to Savanah cottage, then to Carolina cottage. I worked on the dairy with Mr. Al. Thank you Dr. Gettys and Mr. Bennett back then. Great memories.
William Smith says
I was at John De La Howe School 84-86, It was a place that will always stay in my heart, I have not been back in a bit, but plan on making the next get together. I was in Abbeville Cottage. Some of those special people that helped us are no longer with us, but if I could say something to them , it would be THANK YOU !
Jo Ann Alewine Durst says
The Reunion will be held Saturday, October 13, 2012.
Hickory Knob is a great place to stay if you are traveling far. The school offers rooms at the Family Life Center (the old school building). Call the school for information. I left the school in 1972 and haven’t missed a Reunion. Great chance to show your kids the campus. Hope to see you there!
Jack Adams says
My sister Lallane Adams and I attended the home in 1946 or 1947 for about 2 years. We would love to be in touch with anyone there during that time. I am going to plan on going to reunion this year, does anyone have info on this?
Hazel Jones says
1947-1955 I was in the home…If anyone knows how to get up with Bobby Bentley, I would gladly appreciate it.
Leigh L. Van Blarcom says
I’m doing research on James Driggers who was born in August 1915, and went to the Home from about 1919-1920. I would like to find out if any records exist from that time. According to family stories his adoptive mother was dying of cancer and she had to place him in the Home. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, Leigh Van Blarcom
Joe Moore (1962-1968) says
My older brother went to de la Howe in’61, in ’62 I went, in ’63 my younger brother went, and in ’65 my younger sister went. We all had the opportunity to graduate, but sometimes life gets in the way of the best paths to take, so my sister and I graduated from McCormick High School.
The school did so much for us and helped get us through the hard times, and still we are keeping in touch with the students we went to school with, and many of the students that went before us and after.
Every two years we get together for a reunion and have members from as far back as the 30s. My wife, Debbie, went in the late 60s and we both still enjoy the friendship of the school and the students and staff.
Conny Dempsey says
I was at JDLH from 1963-1967. This is where I first experienced discipline from someone who loved me. I would not be the person I am today if it had not been for those years.
Edward & Penny Sjolin says
I recently learned my grand-daughter is to be a student at John de la Howe. She is an extremely intelligent girl with familial problems that seem to have overwhelmed her. Thank you all so very much for extending the hand of help and compassion to this wonderful child.
Pam Harris (Raines) says
I was at de la Howe from 63-71. When I first arrived, I was so scared until Mr. Getty’s took me under his wing and with words of wisdom made me see that I had a very large family and friends. I learned so much from the school and have great memories. I haven’t been back but long to every day – it’s hard for me to travel anymore but I truly do want to make it back before I die. This school was my home then and I still consider it home, and all the friends I made are my family even though I was the 11th child of my parents. I gained about 150 family members just by being at the school. I will always hold a special place in my heart for the school and all my brothers and sisters.
Steven Reynolds says
De La Howe was the best home I have had. It was like I grew up there. I had so many friends, and it was a place to call home when you had no where to go. I would like to visit some day and see most of the people I grew up with.
Mike Large says
I have a lot of great memories of the time I spent at de la Howe but they are not all in line with the
stated mission of the school.
Tina Greenway Shiflet says
I was at John de la Howe from 1977-1983. This was like home for me — I never wanted to leave. I had a really good time growing up with all my friends. I miss all of them and would love to hear from some of them!
Kayla Shiflet says
Tina is my mother and I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about the school. Mom, I love you so much, forever rest in paradise!
Kayla Shiflet says
I love you so much, Mama. May you forever rest in paradise.
Taylor Nicole Faison says
I was at John de la Howe from 06-08 and it was the greatest experience. I met my fiance there as well as my best friend. I had a great time reaching goals and learning new things every day. We had great times at rec with Mr. Long and always had fun. School was always great — I hated it while i was there, but when i left i actually missed it!
Butch Clark says
I was there in the late 50s and have the best of memories. That school along with ‘Nam saved my life. Thank you John de la Howe!
Terry bootle says
Butch. Don’t know if you remember me or not but I was in the cottage with you when you were sick with rheumatic fever, I think. Also I think we were in Abbeville of palmetto cottage. I was there in 1957, 1958, and 1966. Good to hear you’re still alive and doing okay. Thanks, Terry Bootle from Charleston, SC.
Jeff Shuford says
I was there from 1972 – 1984. This was the best place to be if you had nowhere else to go. This school holds a very special place in my heart. I will always remember special friends and all the hard work we did as we grew up at De La Howe. I will remember rec nights on Friday and Saturday and the time Coach Satterfield would spend with us as a friend — not just a staff member.
Katie McDonald says
My husband’s great-grandfather attend this school. He was born in 1886 and is listed as a resident at the school in the 1900 census (sadly the 1890 census burned so I don’t know if he was in attendance at that time). I contacted the school to see if they had any records from that time and they told me their records burned. I was wondering if any Alumni could provide me with any history of the school from 1886 to 1906?
Jo Ann Alewine Durst says
Feel free to contact email@example.com for an invitation to the Alumni Web Site. Photos available on the site. Take a stroll back in time and search out photos from the years you spent on campus.
Ken Alexander says
Looking through the albums in the administrative center on campus, you can find a picture of me as a diminutive waif over in a corner of the wood shop at the school. De la Howe was home to me and I worked at the dairy – worked in the very real sense, no energy left to get into mischief, at all. My greatest childhood memories are the years at De la Howe with the finest staff and administrators and a family of brothers/sisters in the scores!
Jo Ann Alewine Durst says
John de la Howe School Alumni Association strive to raise funds for the school and its students. Our alumni believe in the mission of the school and want to give back to help the school continue it’s successful programs for the students of SC. Fundraisers and donations help us to be able fill in monetarily for certain things the state does not provide. For those students struggling with school, social and family problems, de la Howe is a wonderful place to help them learn how to cope.
Sandra Ann Turk says
I was placed hear when I was 14 years old because of behavior problems. I was lost, and don’t know how to thank the staff members who helped save me from a life of jail, drugs, or God only knows what I would have become. Now, I’m a mother of 2 and believe that John de la Howe saved my life. [ class of 1994 ]
Jane (Ledford) Kay says
The John de la Howe School was my home from 1966-1969. I thank God for this wonderful place. When I had nowhere to go, it was there for me. I didn’t want to go when I left there. I felt safe there and I learned so much about life. We’ve had so many success stories from being there. We come back from time to time for reunions, and to help and such. We love de la Howe and all it is to us. I pray that it will never close as long as it can help children. If there’s anyone out there that can help us, please don’t let our beloved home close. It is an amazing place. They just recently uncovered Lethe Plantation down by Long Cane Creek, the home of our benefactor John de la Howe. The trail starts at the Tomb of John de la Howe. All this school and surrounding land for miles was once owned by this wonderful man. I think the purpose for this land and the school should be as stated in his last Will and testament, and not let people do as they please with it.