Hobcaw Barony’s Women’s History Month Cruise highlights Belle W. Baruch and pioneering women of Georgetown County

  • Friday, March 7, 2014

During Women’s History Month, Hobcaw Barony leads a Women’s History Cruise from the Hobcaw Pier upriver past Bellefield Plantation and others on the Waccamaw and Pee Dee Rivers associated with Georgetown County history.

For so long, the local history has focused on rice planters and their fortunes, and this cruise highlights women who made history, whether rich or poor, white or black, famous or overlooked.

The five hour trip onboard a pontoon boat, operated by Cap’n Rod’s Lowcountry Plantation Tours in Georgetown, features new research by tour leader and narrator Lee G. Brockington, author of “Between the Waters, A Brief History of Hobcaw Barony and Pawleys Island, A Century of History and Photographs.” The tour takes place on Tuesday, March 18, 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Five-years-old when Belle Baruch first saw Hobcaw Barony’s 16,000 acres of beach, marsh, swamp and woodlands, Belle knew that this land was magical.

As a young girl, she rode on horseback over the roads, former Indian trails of the tribes known to her as names of local rivers, creeks and bluffs.

Belle was born a child of privilege to Wall Street financier and adviser to presidents, Bernard Baruch.

Belle competed on horseback in Europe in the 1920’s and 30’s in international level dressage, timber racing and show jumping.

An American, a woman and a person with a prominent Jewish last name, Belle was in a precarious position by 1935.

That year, her father offered to sell her 5,000 acres of Hobcaw in order to entice her to come home from Europe. She accepted the offer, building her own home at the edge of the Waccamaw River on a former rice plantation already named “Bellefield.”

In the early 1960s, Belle was diagnosed with cancer and she began to craft a plan in her will for the future use of Hobcaw Barony.

Her vision led to the establishment of a private foundation to own and manage the property, while making it available to colleges and universities as an outdoor laboratory. In what is considered by conservationists and researchers to be a unique move, Belle’s trust created a privately maintained research reserve that would alleviate schools from the financial burden of owning the land.

Her plan also led to the creation of undergraduate and graduate courses, majors, and degrees in marine, forest and coastal sciences at institutions of higher learning.

Today, students of all ages from a wide band of areas, attend programs, tours, weekend experiences and research opportunities at “the land between the waters.”

Participants on the cruise should bring a picnic lunch and a folding chair. Men are welcome.

Tickets are $50. Reservations are required by calling (843) 546-4623.

For more information about Belle W. Baruch or the history of Hobcaw Barony, please contact Lee Brockington at brockington@belle.baruch.sc.edu or at (843) 904-9014.

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