This is the Perry-McIlwain-McDow House in Lancaster County SC, listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 16, 2011.
The home is located in an area known as the Waxhaw territory of the Catawba lands in the Lancaster District of South Carolina and can be viewed on the 1825 Mills’ Atlas map of Lancaster District, the 1820 survey having been undertaken by J. Boykin. The McIlwains and the McDows were among the early groups of Scots-Irish immigrants who came to the area in the mid 1700s. The McIlwains and McDows, as many other early settlers, received royal land grants. Andrew McIlwain received a land grant for about 300 acres south and a little east of Lancaster and his son Robert later received a land grant in the same area on the head waters of Rum Creek. Andrew McIlwain and his son Robert, acquired large estates in the Rum Creek area and also in the area of Jones Cross Roads and the old Brown’s Ferry Road which went through their property. This old Brown’s Ferry Road crossed the Catawba River and ran in an easterly direction toward old Douglas Church. It went on past the old church area continuing to Jones Cross Roads.
McDow family members believe the home, which they always referred to as Fairview Farm, was built between 1830 and 1840 by Andrew McIlwain’s daughter Mary A. Perry. Tax records show a transfer of the property from H.H. Gooch to W.J. McIlwain in 1880. It is unclear how the property came into Gooch’s possession as many records were burned during the Civil War. His daughter, Nancy E. Gooch, married William Josiah McIlwain, a grandson of Andrew McIlwain and nephew of Mary A. Perry. The home was later given by William Josiah McIlwain to his daughter Mary Harriet McIlwain after her marriage in 1879 to John Cunningham McDow. Lancaster County tax records show the property transferred in 1893 from W. J. McIlwain to Mary Harriet McDow. Family members are certain that Mary Harriet McIlwain and John Cunningham McDow occupied the house from the time of their marriage until their deaths in 1935 and 1943 respectively.
Mary Harriet McIlwain, wife of John Cunningham McDow, was born in the Jones Cross Roads section of Lancaster County on December 11, 1856, to Captain William Josiah McIlwain and Nancy Elizabeth Gooch. Captain McIlwain was a captain in the Confederate Army. He owned a large amount of land and property in the Jones Cross Roads area, extending, it is said, almost to Elgin, in Kershaw County. After the war, he did manage to hold on to his land and divide it among his several children. In fact, “Fairview” was a gift——possibly a wedding gift—to ”Ma and Daddy John” (Mary Harriet McIlwain and John Cunningham McDow). Mary Harriet McIlwain McDow lived at Fairview Farm until her death on September 9, 1943. She is buried at nearby Douglas Presbyterian Church.
John Cunningham McDow was born in Liberty Hill, South Carolina, on January 13, 1855, to Dr. Thomas Franklin McDow and Isabella Louisa Cunningham, also of Liberty Hill. Louisa Cunningham McDow’s father was a wealthy planter and the Cunningham home was burned by Union troops. “Daddy John” attended grammar school in a one-room cabin in Liberty Hill, later used as the town library. Later he attended Col. Asbury Coward’s Military School in York, South Carolina. He was also a member of General Wade Hampton’s Red Shirts. “Daddy John” spent part of his years as a planter at Fairview Farm, but also spent many years in Charleston, where he sold horses and mules from a stable on Queen Street. Several of his children were born and grew up in Charleston. The family were members of the First Scots Presbyterian Church of Charleston. “Daddy John” spent his very late years at their beloved Fairview Farm near Jones Cross Roads in Lancaster County. He died at Fairview Farms on January 27, 1935, at age eighty of pneumonia, and is also buried at old Douglas Presbyterian Church cemetery.”
The McDows also had a home in Charleston on Orange Street. Their children went to school in Charleston and spent their summers at Fairview Farms. Mary Harriet did not like to live at Fairview Farms by herself. During the time that her son William lived in Charleston, another son Alfred and family lived at Fairview Farms with her. Their daughter, Janette McDow Steele, was born at Fairview Farms during that time and she resides less than a half-mile from the home. When William’s family returned from Charleston to live in the home, Alfred’s family moved out of the home.
William McDow and his family continued to live in the home until 1956 when he sold the home to Mattie (Mrs. Dewitt) Plyler. By that time much of the acreage had been partitioned for sale and only twenty nine acres remained with the home. The Plylers had a home in the town of Lancaster and used the property for pleasure rather than as a residence.
Owners since that time have included William Lambert (1970-1973); W. Cliff Martin (1973-1974); and Fred Mullis (1974-1976). When the property changed ownership to Fred Mullis, only three acres were sold with the home. It was next sold to David H. Lyle in 1976, and in 1985 it passed to his son David H. Lyle, Jr. and his wife Lisa Lyle. They held it for only one year, and sold the home in 1986 to the current owners Kim and Rupert Moredock, who are responsible for most of the preservation and restoration of the home.