SAVE THE DATE: French Heritage Festival to Focus on History of Abbeville and McCormick

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2014 by lakelandsmemories

You are going to want to save the date for this special event.

The Abbeville French Heritage Festival will provide a historic window into the past of both Abbeville and McCormick with events and tours planned for April 11-13.

See an attached schedule of events and visitĀ for exciting information about this event.

Abbeville County, which once encompassed much of present McCormick County, including the Town of McCormick, has fascinating, well-documented and well-known Colonial, Revolutionary, Antebellum and Civil War histories. The French experience here is a vital aspect somewhat unrecognized and underserved.

The French men, women and children who came into the wilds of the South Carolina upcountry in the 1700s brought their strong devotion to freedom of religion and their refined and gracious French culture. Their descendants became leaders in both state and national life.

Highlighting and honoring French heritage and its contributions is simply polishing another beautiful fact on the history of Abbeville and McCormick counties.

Gen. Andrew Pickens of Revolutionary Ware fame owned the land where Abbeville now stands. In the late 1750s, he laid out a plan for a town. Pickens asked his friend and neighbor, Dr. Jean (John) de la Howe, owner of Lethe Plantation, to select a name for the new village. Dr. de la Howe suggested “Abbeville,” the name of the city in France from which many of fellow Huguenots had come. Pickens liked the name, and the rest is history.

The first wine made for commercial sale in American colonies was produced by the Frenchman Jean Louis Dumesnil de St. Pierre outside the Colonial village of New Bordeaux in Abbeville District. St. Pierre brought cuttings from French vineyards to start his own vineyards on the banks of Little River. He was the first colonist granted permission by the English Crown to sell wine in American colonies.

Abbeville boasts such important people and places as John C. Calhoun, the Opera House (the state’s official theatre), the McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House, Burt-Stark Mansion, and the historic downtown Square. Abbeville is part of the National Heritage Corridor, and, in 2008, was named by then-First Lady Laura Bush as a Preserve America Community.

Abbeville also has the unique distinction of being both the birthplace and the deathbed of the Confederacy. On November 22, 1860, a meeting was held at Abbeville, at a site since dubbed “Secession Hill,” to launch South Carolina’s secession from the Union; one month later, the state of South Carolina became the first state to secede.
At the end of the Civil War, with the Confederacy in shambles, Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond, Virginia, and headed south, stopping for a night in Abbeville at the home of his friend Armistead Burt. It was on May 2, 1865, in the front parlor of what is now known as the Burt-Stark Mansion that Jefferson Davis officially acknowledged the dissolution of the Confederate government.

To learn more about the festival, visit or call (864) 366-4600. You can pick up maps and tour information from the Chamber of Commerce located on the Square, or visit the aforementioned website for an extensive overview, a downloadable brochure, and more information.

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