(Beaufort County). Tombee Plantation House was built by Thomas Benjamin Chaplin, for whom (“Tom B.”) it was named. A member of an established St. Helena Island family, Chaplin was among the early planters of Sea Island cotton and probably built the house with his first profits. Raised on a tabby foundation, the two-story frame dwelling faces Station Creek with a wide, two-tiered veranda. Although its exact construction date is unknown, the house was most likely built between 1795 and 1810. The narrow scale of the lateral gable core and the restrained but finely carved interior trim suggest a late eighteenth-century date. The early attribution is supported by the T-shaped plan, which provides three windows in each of the six major rooms, and which had become characteristic of Beaufort construction by the 1790s.
Tombee is celebrated as one of a handful of Beaufort County cotton plantation dwellings that survived into the twenty-first century, but it is better known as the home of the diarist Thomas B. Chaplin. His journal from 1845 to 1861, with an afterword dated 1886, depicts agricultural, domestic, and social activities from the personal viewpoint of a moderately successful planter whose neighbors had more land, more slaves, more houses, and more money than he did—and who were mostly his relatives. Tombee is a private residence and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Isely, N. Jane, William P. Baldwin, and Agnes L. Baldwin. Plantations of the Low Country: South Carolina 1697–1865. Greensboro, N.C.: Legacy Publications, 1985.
Rosengarten, Theodore. Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter. New York: Morrow, 1986.
Rowland, Lawrence S., Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers. The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina. Vol. 1, 1514–1861. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.