A fascinating story about Drayton Hall
John Drayton, (1715-1779), the great-grandson of Thomas Drayton Jr., Magnolia’s founder, established Drayton Hall in 1738 at the age of 23. He was born at the neighboring Magnolia Plantation, but after he failed to inherit his birthplace, Drayton purchased acreage near Magnolia and built Drayton Hall. When his nephew William Drayton, the owner of Magnolia, moved to Florida, John Drayton was able to acquire Magnolia. He owned and maintained both properties until his death in 1779 while fleeing British occupation.
During the American Revolution, Drayton Hall served as a British army headquarters for Sir Henry Clinton and, later, General Charles Cornwallis. As the tide began to turn during the war, General “mad” Anthony Wayne used Drayton Hall as his headquarters until the British evacuated Charleston.
Following the American Revolution, Charles Drayton purchased the property from his stepmother, Rebecca Perry Drayton – John’s fourth wife. Despite the decline of the plantation economy, rice cultivation remained the primary source of income for the Drayton family until the American Civil War.
Drayton Hall’s main house is the only remaining colonial structure on the Ashley River to have survived the Civil War. There are varying accounts regarding why Drayton Hall was spared from destruction by the Union Army; however, the most substantiated – and perhaps most interesting – story relates that Dr. John Drayton posted yellow flags at the property’s entrance, indicating that it was being used as a hospital for cholera treatment.