Francis Marion
Francis Marion

Francis Marion, by name the Swamp Fox, (born c. 1732, Winyah, South Carolina [U.S.]—died February 26, 1795, Berkeley county, South Carolina, U.S.), colonial American soldier in the American Revolution (1775–83), nicknamed the “Swamp Fox” by the British for his elusive tactics

Majority of people have heard of Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox.  Some when they became acquainted with the movie “The Patriot” featuring Mel Gibson and filmed here in Berkeley County.  Many history buffs and any military buff who wish to learn about “Guerilla Warfare”- Francis Marion became known as the father of “Guerilla Warfare”.  There is lots of information on the web and many books have been written about this legendary hero.  I will be sharing different gems about our Revolutionary War Hero.  Today, I will share where I was born and raised and why it is called “Hell Hole”

Francis Marion

Francis Marion used the land and swamps to evade the British troops, so when King George asked General Cornwallis why he could not capture Marion.  Cornwallis replied, “he hides in a hell of a hole”.  So over time the area around the Francis Marion National Forrest became referred to and known as Hell Hole or Hell Hole Swamp.  The challenge is defining exactly where it is. If you ask locals it is down that way or two or three miles over there.

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Gertrude Legendre

Did you know that Berkeley County was home to a World War II spy?

Ms. Gertrude Legendre: Explorer, Hunter, Socialite, Spy

Gertrude Sanford Legendre (March 29, 1902 – March 8, 2000) was an American socialite who served with the Office of Strategic Services, the American spy agency, during World War II. She was also an explorer, big-game hunter, environmentalist, and owner of Medway plantation in Berkeley County, South Carolina. 

I have included two links for you to get to know more about Mrs. Legendre, there are also several books written about this extraordinary lady.


I had the privilege of knowing Mrs. Legendre and I must say I was mesmerized by her achievements and experiences.  One experience that I personally was involved: One day at the Chamber I had a very tall gentlemen walk in and at once from his speech and dress you knew he was English.  He had stopped for directions he was going to Medway Plantation but could not find it.  I gave him directions and he thanked me and left.  I went to the window there was a diplomatic car with the English flags flying and inside the car was Prince Charles of England.  He had come to Medway to visit Ms. Legendre and go bird hunting.

Just another day in Berkeley County.

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Mepkin Abbey Mushrooms

The monks now offer dried shiitake and oyster mushrooms.   Their dried and powdered mushrooms are available for sale in the Abbey Store. The White Oyster Mushrooms are also featured in select downtown Charleston restaurants. Cooking with dried mushrooms is easy.  Oyster mushrooms have long been cultivated in Asia for their medical benefits as well as excellent taste and are a rich source of B-Vitamins.   Dried mushrooms have a concentrated and powerful flavor, so you need less of them per recipe.

Currently, Mepkin Abbey has two cookbooks on sale; they are Baking with Brother Boniface, Baking with Br. Boniface has some of the recipes Br. Boniface made for the monks during his decades of being Mepkin Abbey’s cook.  Included in this book is the recipe for Mepkin Abbey Cinnamon Buns

Food for Thought – Mepkin Abbey Fare is by Fr. Joe Tedesco, Mepkin’s current Superior. Before taking that office, Fr. Joe was Mepkin’s cook for many years. This book contains some of his favorite recipes. Attached is one of them – Two Bean Chili. Since the monks are mostly vegetarian, all of these recipes are vegetarian.

Two Bean Chili Recipe:

Chili is surely a favorite among so many and this recipe makes it easy to provide it more often.

  • ½ pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup barbeque sauce
  • ¼ cup chili powder


In a large skillet over medium heat, cook and stir the mushrooms, peppers, celery, onion. And jalapeno in oil until onion is lightly browned. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Stir in tomatoes, beans, carrot, water, barbeque sauce, and chili powder. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender.

Serves 4-5


Both cookbooks are available on Mepkin’s web site on this page:

Mepkin Abbey

Many know the story of Mepkin Abbey, Mepkin Abbey is a community of Roman Catholic monks established in 1949 on the site of the historic Mepkin Plantation located on the Cooper River located in Berkeley County and just north of Charleston, South Carolina.  For more information on Mepkin Abbey visit

One of the hidden gems is when the monks first came to Mepkin Abbey in those early years at Mepkin to support themselves, the monks made cinnamon buns and sold them in downtown Charleston. Many Charlestonians still remember those days.

Here is the recipe for Mepkin Abbey’s Cinnamon rolls:


  • 2kgs (1/2 oz.) active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • ¼ lb. butter, melted
  • Cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 ½ teaspoon if ground cinnamon)
  • 2 cups raisins, soaked and drained
  • Egg wash (1egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

Glaze (optional)

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (or more) boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together.

If it is too thick to “drizzle”, add a bit more water.

Preheat oven to 350* (fifteen minutes before baking)

Dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water (105*-115*) with 2 teaspoons sugar and set aside for 10 minutes until mixture starts to bubble. Gently heat milk, butter and ¼ cup sugar in saucepan. Cool.

Whip eggs into milk mixture. Measure flour and salt into bowl. Make a well in the flour. Add milk mixture and yeast mixture into the well. Blend flour in with a fork until all ingredients are well mixed. The dough will be sticky.

Place dough on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Work dough with your hands until dough no longer sticks to your hands. See Note*(Don’t add more flour unless necessary.)

Please dough in greased bowl. Keep in a warm place and let rise until double.

After it has risen, place dough on work surface and roll into a rectangular shape ¼ inch think. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon sugar. (Reserve some cinnamon sugar if desired for topping)

Roll lengthwise and cut roll into 14 one-inch slices. Place buns cut side down into 2 greased 9” round cake pans. Place buns close together (just touching).

Let rise in pan until double. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

After baking, while buns are still hot, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar or drizzle with glaze.

Yield: 14 buns.

*Note: This step can also be done with a paddle attachment on a mixer. Work until dough comes away from the side of the bowl and is no longer sticky.