Notable Men of Henderson County: Charles Baring II
Charles Baring II was born into the Barings Banking family in London, England in 1774 and was living in Charleston, SC when he wed Susan Heyward. The marriage was his first and Baring was her fifth husband. Susan inherited a substantial sum of money from her husband James Heyward when he died.
Baring II started looking for a more agreeable climate for his bride to get away from the stifling summer heat and humidity of Charleston when he happened upon Flat Rock in North Carolina. In the 1820’s, he started buying parcels of land in Flat Rock and his land purchases eventually totaled some 3000 acres. He built his mountain home that he called Mountain Lodge in Flat Rock in 1827 and they became summer residents of Flat Rock.
Baring II touted the virtues of the climate in Flat Rock to his fellow Charlestonians and soon began selling off parcels of land to his friends in Charleston. The migration of Charlestonians to the mountains had begun so much so that Flat Rock became known as the “Little Charleston of the Mountains.”
Baring II built the St. Johns in the Wilderness chapel on his land in 1833 where the church still resides. It started out as a private chapel but his Flat Rock neighbors soon started congregating there.
Susan Baring died in 1846 and Baring II married Constance Beatrice Dent a year later and he built another summer home in Flat Rock called Solitude where the Highland Lake Inn now resides. They became full time residents of Solitude in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. Charles Baring II died in 1865 and is buried at St. Johns in the Wilderness church. Constance and Barings had a son Alexander and she maintained the residence at Solitude until her death in 1891.
Charles Baring II had quite a legacy. He is considered by many as the founder of Flat Rock, his home Mountain Lodge was the first home built in Flat Rock, and he influenced more residents of Charleston to join him in Flat Rock. Mountain Lodge was just recently purchased and restored to its former glory.
His wife Susan was considered of lower class by many and the relations between her and her ex-brother-in-law Nathaniel were so contentious that Charles Baring II and Nathaniel Heyward had a duel over her honor. One shot was fired by each and they both missed.
As he was trying to build Flat Rock, Charles Baring II bought over 400 acres of land in Parkers Ferry in Charleston County, SC. It was his first hand at starting a plantation and what became known as Barings Plantation eventually totaled over 4500 acres by 1850. The plantation is still in existence and is privately owned.
The Barings Bank that Charles started out working for was founded in 1762 and did not fail until 1995. At the time it failed it was the second-oldest bank in the world.
The websites I used in this article were invaluable to my research. Hendersoncountyheritage.com, south-carolina-plantations.com, heywardgenealogy.org, blueridgenow.com, citizen-times.com, were several of the websites that I consulted.