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Front Porch Visits With Bill Thompson

Front Porch Visits With Bill Thompson

Front Porch Visits With Bill Thompson

Clinton and Annie Mae Council lived in the old house in The Elbow for over eighty
years until their death a few years ago. The brother and sister were born there,
and neither ever married, and the house had been a part of the Council family
since 1860. A fellow named Isaac Powell is probably the original owner and
builder. He owned a large amount of land down in the Bogue Swamp area about
that time. The Powell family was one of the earliest settlers in that part of the
county, dating back to the early eighteenth century when the house was probably
built. The old Pierce Cemetery sits a short distance from the house down on the
edge of Bogue Swamp. Isaacs’s ancestor, Absalom Powell, was a Revolutionary
War soldier, and his service has been recognized by the Daughters of the American
Revolution with a special marker. I’ve been down to that cemetery many times,
but it is the kind of place you have to get directions to find. It is well-kept by the
extended Pierce family but is not easy to get to.

When Isaac sold the old house to Jonathan Council, it had only a few rooms. It has
been added on to and remolded several times since then, primarily through the
carpentry skills of Clinton. In the area which is now the kitchen, the walls are 18
inch boards cut from cypress and pine trees that once grew on the site and some
of the other rooms are built with smaller boards but still part of the original

The house is a typical farmhouse of that period. It sits on a slight hill amid the
fields that the Council family has farmed for nearly three centuries. Leroy Council
now owns it and lives in it part-time when it is not used as a hunting lodge for
visiting hunters.

I met Leroy at the house on an unseasonably warm winter day. The warm
weather had caused some of the daffodils that Annie Mae had planted to start
blooming. Leroy took me on a peremptory tour of the old house, pointing out
some of the changes that had been made to accommodate the residents over the
years. Annie Mae was a historian who took pride in recording and keeping some
of the many items related to the family and the farm. There are even a lot of old
photographs taken through the years of the family that gathered there for special
occasions. But more interestingly, Annie Mae was also a very talented artist who
drew sketches of old buildings, including the house she lived in. Those sketches
have been passed on to family members.

The Elbow area is so named because of the road that turns off the Old Hallsboro
Road South and makes a semi-circle back to the highway. It was one of the last
dirt roads in the county to be paved.

Many of the families who live there are descendants of old Absalom Powell or his
contemporaries. The Shipmans, Pierces, and Councils still have a great attachment
to the land their ancestors tilled. They are justly proud of their heritage and can
recite the genealogy of their families with just a little encouragement and tell
stories of the old days as if they just happened.

As Leroy and I stood in the yard in front of the old house, I was reminded of a story
Clinton told me many years ago. He said that one night he and Annie Mae had
retired to bed when he heard a noise on the front porch. He got up and opened
the front door to be greeted by the sight of a big, black bear who had decided to
spend the night on the porch. Clinton said he just closed the door and let him
sleep there. Clinton was hospitable like that.

There are many houses like the Council house in Columbus County. If you would
like to see some of them, contact the tourism office for the telephone number of
someone who will probably be glad to give you a tour. They are hospitable like

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