History Lost in South Carolina

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The Youmans House | Cottageville, Colleton County, South Carolina

Built c. 1870, Demolished in 2023

*If you have additional insight or stories of this home, please email me: kelly@theforgottensouth.com*

Speeding down a rural highway, a place like this would make you slam on your brakes- if you’re anything like me, at least. An old home, with unique and charming features- left to rot along the roadside. Places like this one smark my imagination with what ‘could be’ if it could be restored. But imagination alone won’t save an old house- it takes money, logistics, planning, and time. But time ran out in 2023 when this house was demolished. So in her honor, I spent some time researching the story of this place and the people who called it home, as well as the community where they lived.

“Cottageville: The Gulf station shown in this photo was the first store built in Cottageville before 1900. It was remodeled around 1937. Dr. George Pierce, an Englishman, ran the town’s store. It was he who changed the town’s name from Round O to Cottageville, after the Methodist minister, Reverend W.A. Durant called his home ‘Our Cottage Home.” Photo from Colleton County, South Carolina: A Pictorial History.

Cottageville Community History

The small village of Cottageville has been known by different names, including Glover Township, and Sheridan Township. Located 35 miles from Charleston, the village is laid out among a high pine and hickory ridge between the lowlands formed by tributaries of the Edisto and Ashepoo Rivers. Situated on a well-traveled highway, Cottageville is the axis of several communities within a five-mile radius, residents of which come to Cottageville for groceries, gasoline, mail, and other necessities. Its place as a rural commerce center, as well as being within commuting distance of the Charleston area has influenced its growth and history. The greater community that includes Cottageville and Round O was once known as “The Round O”.

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According to Cottageville historian B.F. Ackerman, the Round O area was settled in the mid-1700s as a buffer zone between Charleston and the Native Americans. Before the American Revolution, rice plantations were prolific in the region, but the cultivation of rice in this area was largely abandoned by the time of the Revolutionary War. In the first three decades of the 1800s, the area was sparsely populated and marked largely abandoned rice fields that comprised thousands of acres of vacant land. But that all changed in the 1830s as the demand for cotton increased and from 1830-1850, many new people moved to this area to grow cotton.

After the war, the arrival of more railroad lines and the growth of lumber industries brought more new settlers to the community of Cottageville in the 1870s. As the community grew, residents sought a name for their post office and met in 1878 to consider a name. At the time, a new style of cottage architecture was popular in the region and residents had taken to calling their homes cottages. So the village followed suit and in 1879, Cottageville was granted its first post office.

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This home in Cottageville is believed to have been built around 1870 and was described by Scott Reed of Saving Old Houses as “a Folk Victorian cottage of Greek Revival form.”

I haven’t been able to confirm who first built the house or lived in it, but it may have been home to a branch of the Reeves or Lightsey Families in the early years, according to differing local stories. But for most of its time, this house was known as the Youmans Family home for Robert and Annie Youmans and their daughter, Verna Youmans Evans. 

Robert Nolan Youmans and Annie Pierce Youmans

Robert Nolan Youmans was born in 1897 in Cottageville, SC where he would spend his entire life. When he was 20 in 1918, Robert registered for military service. On January 25th of the following year, he married Annie Pierce Youmans. It isn’t clear when Robert and Annie acquired this home or if it was already in their family, but here, they would raise one daughter, Verna Youmans, who was born in 1921. 

This photo was take in the 1970s of Robert Nolan Youmans standing outside of his home in Cottageville. Image courtesy of Sam Thompson via Find A Grave.

School in Session at the Youmans Home

The first public school was started in 1893, held in a modest cabin on the Reeves Family homeplace. It was later replaced with a proper schoolhouse, however, in the 1930s, the Cottageville School burned down. Classes were held here in the Youmans Home until 1934 when students were bussed into different schools outside Cottageville.

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1970s- Today

Annie Youmans died in 1968, and soon after, Robert Youmans moved out of his beloved home. He passed away in 1981 and according to locals, the house has been empty ever since. When Hurricane Hugo passed through this area in 1989, the rear kitchen ell was destroyed. From that point on, the house was exposed to the elements and vandals who stripped away many of the fine interior elements.

In the 2000s, the house was purchased by another local who had hoped to restore it as recently as 2017, but those plans didn’t work out, it seems. 

House Demolished

In 2020, the house was offered for sale, along with 3 acres, for $275,000 and many hoped that the unique home could be saved. Several interested buyers emerged however, it was determined that the land wouldn’t perc and therefore, couldn’t be developed. In 2023, the house was demolished.

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