Bonham House

Flat Grove, the birthplace of Alamo hero James Butler Bonham, still stands where his grandfather Jacob Smith built it near Richland Creek in the early 1770's. the house site was once part of Ninety Six District, then of Edgefield District and County, and  today is part of Saluda County. 


Walking up the wide steps to the double front doors at Flat Grove you will enter the historic house where Bonham was born in 1807 to James and Sophia Smith Bonham and where his family lived until 1809. Bonham's mother and his brother Milledge Luke Bonham owned the Flat Grove house and farmed the plantation until 1856 when they sold both to Henry Conrad Herlong. Milledge Luke Bonham was a Brigader General during the Civil War and Governor of South Carolina when Sherman burned Columbia, capital of South Carolina.


The two-story, dog-trot house originally had four rooms built of hand-hewn logs sheathed with clapboard. In the early 1800's two rooms were added and the dwonstairs dog-trot became an enclosed hall. In the 1890's a kitchen, pantry and back porch replaced the previous separate kitchen. The house has never been painted outdside and the interior paint is still visible. The four fireplaces, the original narrow stairway and other features create a special charm for those interested in history, architecture or a visit to the past.


In the 240 years before the Saluda County Historical Socitey acquired the house, Flat Grove was home to only two families - the Smith/Bonham and Herlong/Boyd/Matthews. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970.


James Butler Bonham and William Barret Travis, Commander of the Alamo, were born in what is today Saluda County just a few miles from each other, and their families were both members of Red Bank Baptist Church. They could have been boyhood friends until 1818 when nine year old Travis moved with his family to Alabama. They met again at the Alamo facing Santa Anna's army. Bonham rode out twice seeking help for the few desperate defenders, knowing full well he faced certain death when he returned. Both men died in the Alamo fighting for Texas' freedom. what happened there gave rise to Texas independence and ultimately to the state of Texas.