The Rock House Legend

Compiled by "Harry G. Arnold" harry.arnold@alcoa.com and posted to the Mailing list Lgrone at  www.groups.com  19 Sep 2000

Please allow me to summarize what I have seen on this site about the rock house, some authored by me and a lot by others.

The existing Rock House that most of us are referring to was once on the SC list of historic places, but this fact was unknown at the Columbia Archives when I visited there this past Spring (2000) and the marker no longer stands. The house is on Palmetto Creek, off St. Luke's Church Rd. which intersects Hwy 395 four miles south of Newberry.

There are several reasons to doubt the family tradition that Adam Laurentz Lagrone built the house on his land around 1752.

  1. William Huffman provided to the "lgrone" group a history of the land records of the site, attached below, which indicate that the original land grant was on 9 December, 1756, to Jacob Hoffman, and that ownership did not pass to the Lagrone family until after 1841 when Rhoda Kinard Enlow inherited it from her father, John MIchael Kinard, and later married John Lagrone after her first husband's death.
  2. Marc Carlson first called to our attention that the property locations do not support original Lagrone ownership of the Rock House. According to work done by Dr. Carl Nichols, the original land grant of Lawrence LeCrown was located mostly north of existing Hwy 219 and split in half by I-26.  Through it runs a tributary of Cannon's Creek. Dr. Nichols' research also shows that Tobias' land was on Koon Trestle Road just North East of I-26 at the Pomaria/ Hwy 773 Exit about 7 miles from of the Newberry Exit. A tributary of Crim's Creek runs through this land. By any method of measure, these two original Lagrone Land grants are anywhere from five to seven miles from the present Rock House site.
  3. On April 8, 1947, just over 53 years ago, Blanche Davidson published an article in the "Newberry Observer" entitled "The Old Rock House". In that article, MS. Davidson located the house on Palmetto Branch, but said that the branch flows into Cannon's creek. In my personal examination of the maps, I cannot determine the name of the creek intersecting Palmetto Branch, but I have determined that the Creek flows South and West to the Saluda River, while Cannons Creek flows North and East to the Broad River, and that there is no apparent connection between the watersheds of the two creeks.  MS. Davidson's article also states that "a Frenchman, Adam Lawrence LeCrown" built the house on land he received from Governor Glenn on November 7, 1752.
  4. In the 1949 article, MS. Davidson lists the chain of ownership as "Lagrones to Taylors, Reinharts, Kinards, Elmores to John Nobles. Dora Nobles sold the estate to Gorge A. and Loree Long on Sept 21, 1929." Compare with William  Huffman's information below. Because MS Davidson's article is authoritative in the sense that it is a published document, many researchers have referenced this article in their discussions of the Lagrones and the Rock House. However, there doesn't appear to be any supporting documentation for the article, and Ms Davidson attributes the information in the article to an interview she conducted "ten years ago" [about 1939] with "Daniel Smith of Saluda (Edgefield Dist), a lineal descendant of Laurence Lagrone".  (I might add that the article also contains the possible origins of other Lagrone family legends, including the "two brothers from Virginia" and "William drowning in the spring".)
  5. In a note initialed "BCD, researcher", MS Blanche C. Davidson identifies Deed Book J, P. 288, transferring the "Old Frederick Lagrone Place", as the land on which the Rock House stands and uses this land transfer to date the passing of the house from the Lagrones to the Kinards. This land is self identified as part of Tobias' original land grant.
  6. In a book entitled The Descendants of Dr. John Richard Mobley found in the Edgefield archives, is a Lagrone family history stating that John W. Lagroon from Alsace Lorraine built a Rock House in Newberry County and raised his family there. The dates identifying the father and children apparently omit a generation, but this would likely be sometime in the late 1700's.

From the above inaccuracies and inconsistencies I among others have concluded that the Rock House that has been visited by generations of Lagrones is not the Rock House that Adam Laurentz Lagrone, Lawrence LeCrown or John Lagroon built. I don't know how many support me in believing that there may have been more than one Rock House built and since destroyed, but I found evidence this spring of another Rock House that fits both the family legend and the land locations.

An old house situated along the North side of Lawrence's original grant has a magnificent rock chimney with the stones cut and stacked in a similar fashion to those in the existing Rock House five or six miles away. A family member of the current resident of the house who is 96 years old says he remembers in 1913 hauling the chimney rocks from an old house site "down by the spring where they got their water". There are numerous "springs" that run into Cannon creek in the hollow below the chimney site, but since the informant was unable to accompany us, my little group of Lagrone cousins searched in vain for any evidence of the old home site.

I visited the Rock House to see what was there. What I discovered is that the present owner has seen enough Lagrones come through her gate through the years to say that it must be an important place. Then it occurred to me that the Rock House is very much a part of the Lagrone Tradition. The tradition may be factually incorrect, but the fact is that the Rock House is a place that Lagrones have included in their pilgrimage to Newberry through the years and we each have walked the same paths, climbed the same stairs, felt the same nail heads and looked into the same spring. It may even be that our ancestor worked in a communal group to build a house like this for
his family on land that is a two hour's walk away, then helped Hoffman build this one four years later.

The Lagrones and the Rock house are embedded in Newberry lore. When I was in Newberry this past spring, Our hostess ignored anything we said to the contrary and published a story in the Newberry Observer referring to "the Lagrone family that once owned the Rock House". No one mentioned the "hundreds of Kinards and Hoffmans who have come by to visit", although they surely must have done so. 

So I have followed family tradition by visiting the Rock House as have many Lagrones before me. Many of you have also made or will make the family pilgrimage to a place known to the family for almost two centuries. Is it the rocks or the family bond that we share with the generations gone by? 

The following was submitted by William Huffman:

"The Old Rock House just southeast of Newberry, South Carolina is situated on land originally granted on 9 December, 1756, to Jacob Hoffman and was passed by Jacob Hoffman, Jr. to Reason Reagin April 15, 1788. Reagin sold it to Reuben Morgan September 27, 1804, with Daniel Smith coming into possession of it on June 22, 1822. From Smith the Rock House passed to John Michael Kinard November 11, 1841 and was inherited by one of Kinards daughters, Rhoda, who was married to John Enlow. Enlow died and Rhoda married John LaGronne. So far as can be determined this was the only Lagrone connection to the Rock House.

Further tragedy fell upon Rhoda Kinard Enlow Legronne when her daughter by John LeGronne, a toddler just two years old, fell into the clear bold spring by the oak tree to the rear of the place and drowned. After having lost her first husband and a daughter there, Mrs. LeGronne could no longer live in the place so it was sold to her sister, Melinda, wife of H. A. Bailey, on November 13, 1866.

From H. A. Bailey it passed to W. E. L. Boozer and on December 3, 1925 to Dora B. Nobles, who sold it to Arthur Long on September 21, 1929 and to Furman Long on October 8, 1955. The property was owned by Furman Long as late as 1970."

[The Kinard-Noble Cemetery records show that if the two year old in the cemetery was the daughter of Rhoda who is also buried there, then Rhoda probably died in child birth. In the Spring of 2000, The Rock House was still on the property of Furman and Frances Long. I was unable to find sufficient information to confirm that this was originally Jacob Hoffman's land. I have no reason to reject the records provided by William Huffman, either. According to Cemetery Records published in 1982, the Kinard/Noble Cemetery has been obliterated. Even if there were family plots on the property, they would have been obliterated if they were within visible distance of the Rock House. It's surrounded by grassy pasture land except along the creek and along the ridge top almost 1/4 mile away. I know that
one visitor who claimed there was a "Kinard Lagrone" cemetery near the house visited in 1962. Perhaps we should confirm that others indeed saw the Cemetery prior to 1982 or simply repeated stories about it.]