White-columned mansions, rocking chairs on the wide veranda, Mint Juleps, hoop skirts whirling to the Virginia Reel, a thousand acres of white cotton that turns to gold, a “Gone With the Wind” picture of the Old South, and plantation life in pre-Civil War days.
But, most of our early settlers had little time for rocking chairs and Mint Juleps. Survival was the first priority; clearing land, planting crops and providing shelter and food from season to season; and later, with the introduction of cotton into the South, these fertile fields began to produce “white gold” and a new era of prosperity began to emerge.
Providence settlers were hardy Scotts and Irish, both forsaking their native lands in search of personal and religious freedom. Fleeing lands where ownership of land was impossible and poverty was commonplace. Following the Waxhaw Trading Path, long used by Indians for travel South, they came from Eastern Colonies and began hewing homesteads from a wilderness populated by the Cherokee, Catawba, Sugaree and Waxhaw Indians; some friendly, some hostile.
In the “History of Old Providence Church,” organized in 1767, which stands nearby; it is recounted that these Scotch-Irish pioneers were frugal, opinionated, and hard working. The pioneers later resented the efforts of The Lord Proprietors to collect taxes for the King of England, eventually leading the Revolutionary War. They were in the thick of this rebellion as Lord Wallace and his army marched through Providence on the Waxhaw Path from Camden to his eventual defeat at Kings Mountain. Harrassed by these settlers at every turn, Lord Cornwallis described Charlotte and the area as a “veritable Hornets Nest.” From which remark came the official seal of Charlotte…a Hornets Nest.
The Plantation abounds in interesting phenomena. The last glacier during the Ice Age, deposited huge boulders through this area, stretching in line from Pineville through The Plantation and into Iredell County and Concord. Indian Rock Road is named for one of the stones which is behind a home on the corner of Houston Branch and Brook Hollow. It was used for many years by Indians passing through on the Trail as a favorite camping ground.
Spot gold mining was carried out all through The Plantation with so much success that a U.S. Mint was established to process and mint coins from the large quantity mined throughout this area. The Mint Building was later moved from West Trade Street to Eastover, and today gives this area an outstanding museum and art gallery. Even today gold flakes may be washed out in Four Mile Creek and Houston Branch. Gold coins minted locally are valuable collectors items. Truly nostalgic, but in practicality its – “Gone With the Wind.”
Read more Providence Plantation history in our Tidbits of the History of Providence Plantation posts.