The Historic Marsh-Johnson House in rural Saluda County was the site of the Annual Picnic of the Saluda County Historical Society. Members and guests toured the Marsh-Johnson House and ate a delicious picnic lunch under the huge spreading pecan trees in the back yard of the house. These trees are the biggest pecan trees I have ever seen, with two limbs spreading over 50 feet. An interview with Tupper Johnson in 1981 mentions “the big pecan tree” in relationship to the separate kitchen. Tupper Johnson’s grandfather purchased the house in 1846. This means the pecan tree is probably at least 165 years old.
The Marsh-Johnson House is on the National Register of Historic Places and we believe it was built between 1773 and 1817. Ogden Cockcroft received a Land Grant of 300 acres in 1773 and sold “all that Plantation or tract of Land containing three hundred acres…” to Bryan Marsh on March 2, 1804. In 1817, Edgefield District was surveyed for the Mills’ Atlas Map of 1825 and the home of B. Marsh is noted on that map. Either way, this house is well over 200 years old. I tend to think that Ogden Cockcroft built the home which was constructed of logs and then sheathed with clapboards.
The inside is quite interesting; the second floor is reached through a stairway, made into the wall. It looks like a closet until the door is opened and reveals a stairway.
The stairway is wider and the stairs are more evenly spaced than the inside wall stairway in boyhood home of James Butler Bonham, Flat Grove. Another similarity to Flat Grove - the walls are painted a bluish color, probably paint made from indigo dye.
The double hipped chimney was built in the Flemish Bond pattern, a method of laying brick by alternating headers (short side of a brick facing out) and stretchers (long side of a brick facing out) on each row of bricks.
The headers are glazed with a royal blue glaze which can still be seen.
This house was built for a person of some wealth. Wonder where these blue glazed bricks came from? Maybe Charleston?
Time and the elements have taken a toll on this wonderful example of early life in our area. The clapboard siding is rotting and pulling away from the log structure underneath. We have had to rope off part of the floor of the main room and not open up the back area because they were not safe for people to walk on and those who came to the picnic could see immediately the condition of the clapboard and how the house was in danger because of water coming into the interior boards. The Society is in the process of raising funds to completely redo the clapboard siding.
It is believed this house served as an Inn where travelers would spend the night. Since the house could have been built before the American Revolution, and was on a much traveled road just imagine what Tories and Patriots slept on the second floor. How would you like to sleep in a house with strangers upstairs??
We wish to thank the members of the Pyracantha Garden Club of Saluda who constructed and planted bulbs and flowers in the fence garden. Gene Berry and Cory Rish prepared the beds for the fence garden and for the landscaping in front of the house.
So far, the Society has raised around $9,000 for the clapboard. If you would like to help save the Marsh-Johnson House or would like to arrange a tour of the house, contact us. All donations made to the Saluda County Historical Society are tax-deductable.