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Get out and come in

Summer Sundays in the country at Sweetheart and Papa's often meant folks out for a ride, stopping to visit with neighbors, usually those who lived close enough to go to the same church.  Lebanon Baptist was pretty much the center of the community.  When any of us heard a motor in approach we would declare the arrival and Papa would walk toward the car or just open the screen door and invite our visitors to "Get out and come in."   I have tried to make it something of the same ceremony here on the banks of the Combahee. 

Southerners have always visited one another and if not fellow congregants then often those with similar interests.   William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870), poet, novelist, historian and, in fact, the nineteenth century South's foremost man of letters, lived at Woodlands, his plantation on the banks of the South Fork of the Edisto River in Bamberg County, South Carolina.  Torched by Yankees in retreat, I have tried to visit the ruins on the road from Barnwell to Augusta but have always been stopped by a very imposing gate.  The author's collection of books, manuscripts and furnishings were lost in one of two fires, these I am sure including his thoughts and notes for his first widely popular history, The Yemassee, from 1835, his account of the Yemassee War of 1715.      

The entrance to Woodlands is not well kept today but I am sure the whole of it was when Simms welcomed another man of letters in the 1840s and '50s, Thomas Addison Richards (1820-1900).  I have spoken of Richards before.   The two men enjoyed an enduring friendship and creative collaboration over a generation.  Richards filled his sketchbook with pencil drawings of Simms' retreat and, indeed, created three known oils of the subject.   As quoted in Kelly Fitzpatrick, in Twos (earlier in this series),  the late book dealer Tom MacDonald said good things come along in pairs if not multiples.  The painting illustrated here in the Story of Southern is the finish of the series now all brought together in a single collection though underscoring the good things in multiples idea the collection has been assembled by a couple, working together and equally enthusiastic and committed.     

The Edisto at Woodlands, circa 1858-9, offers the viewer a pleasure boat excursion.  Taken from the numerous sketches the artist made at Woodlands there is no question as to locale.  Can there be any doubt that if making a social call the boating party was greeted with "Get out and come in." 

Thomas Addison Richards (1820-1900)
The Edisto at Woodlands (circa 1858-9)
Oil on canvas
17 1/8 x 14 inches
Signature Details: T.A. Richards
1451 River Road · Yemassee, SC 29945 · 843.412.8738
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