The house is believed to be an early summer residence of Major Theodore Gaillard Barker, perhaps used while he and his wife were extensively renovating his larger historical Brookland Manor from 1882 to 1892.
Major Barker (1832-1917) was a Charleston, SC, lawyer and served as Adjutant on the senior staff of the Fourth Brigade of the Charleston Militia, in the First Regiment of Rifles, commanded by Colonel Johnston Pettigrew, who was also the Aide-de-Camp to South Carolina Governor Pickens. It was Colonel Pettigrew who was sent to Fort Sumter by Governor Pickens to demand the surrender of the Union forces. When they refused, Governor Pickens ordered the firing on the fort that started the Civil War. Major Barker was directly involved in these initial actions of the war. He later served with the famous General Wade Hampton’s Legion of Cavalry. After the war, he continued to practice law, and in his later years represented several cases before the United States Supreme Court. As a delegate from Charleston, he was one of the signers of the South Carolina Constitution in 1895.
He married Louisa Preston King (1833-1920), daughter of Judge Mitchell King of Charleston, who was one of the early large landholders in what would become Henderson County. Judge King was one of the first of the wealthy Charleston elite who would bring their families to the Western North Carolina mountains in the 1830’s to escape the lowland summer heat and humidity, with its devastating Yellow Fever and Malaria. Judge King purchased thousands of acres in what is now Flat Rock and Hendersonville, and he and his children built many of the beautiful summer estates still located here. In 1841 Judge King donated the 50 acres of land that was laid out to form Hendersonville, the new County Seat of Henderson County. When Judge King died in 1862, his daughter inherited large tracts of land, making Major Barker and his wife one of the largest landholders in the area. When they also purchased the long abandoned Brookland Manor, they owned virtually all of the land from Mud Creek on the south edge of Hendersonville, east of Greenville Highway, to what is now the north edge of Flat Rock.
Major Barker was named for his great-grandfather, Theodore Gaillard (1737-1805), a member of a prominent Charleston family. The practice in the 1700s and 1800s was to name children for parents and grandparents, with mother’s surnames used as given or middle names for multiple generations. With the rather small number of prominent families in Charleston at this time, this makes for an interesting mix of names through the generations. Major Theodore Gaillard Barker, his wife Louisa P. King Barker, and his brother William I. Barker (1842-1916) are buried in the historic St. Johns in the Wilderness Church less than a mile away.
In 1899, Major Barker sold this house and land to his nephew William Huger FitzSimons (1861-1939), who was later his executor. William H. FitzSimons was one of 7 children of Christopher FitzSimons (1826-1866) and Susan Milliken Barker (1827-1900), believed to be the sister of Major Barker. Note that William’s older brothers were named Samuel Gaillard FitzSimons (after Major Barker’s father)and Theodore FitzSimons, and William was the name of Major Barker’s only brother. William’s only sister was named Ellen Milliken FitzSimons after Major Barker’s mother. Major Barker’s grandmother was named Susan Milliken, the given and middle names carried by William FitzSimons’ mother. William maintained the tradition by naming one of his sons Samuel Gaillard FitzSimons (after Major Barker’s father). Two generations later, grandchildren were still being named Theodore Barker FitzSimons and William Huger FitzSimons.
William Huger FitzSimon’s brother Theodore Stoney FitzSimons (1858-1944), and his son Reginald Cain FitzSimons (1898-1983) are also buried in St. Johns in the Wilderness Church.
William Huger FitzSimons maintained this house for his family until his death in 1939. It was sold by his son and executor in 1943. It was used by several owners as a boarding house for 60 years before being purchased and extensively restored by the present owners Steven and Elizabeth Lyons in 2003.