Hamilton Musical Connections in South Carolina’s Olde English District | Olde English District

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Hamilton Musical Connections in South Carolina’s Olde English District

As the blockbuster musical Hamilton is performed at Charlotte’s Belk Theater until November 4, two Aaron Burr artifacts – a bench that he slept on and a downtown rock – are on display 50 miles south in Chester, S.C. 

As depicted toward the end of the musical, during a July 1804 duel in Weehawken, N.J., Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shot his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton who died the following day. Few such duels actually resulted in deaths, and the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Hamilton. Charged with murder in New York and New Jersey, Burr, still vice president, returned to Washington, D.C., where he finished his term immune from prosecution.

After being arrested on the charge of treason in 1806, Burr was brought as a prisoner through Chester. Burr briefly escaped his captors on the town hill and made a plea for help from the citizens of Chester as he stood on a famous rock in front of 115 Main Street. His captors quickly put him back on his horse and led him through town and to the Lewis Tavern where he spent the night on the bench under guard. 

Burr was acquitted of the charge of treason on a technicality and never charged for the death of Hamilton. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he fled to Europe.

Today, the Chester County Historical Society Museum and Archives is housed in the 1914 Chester County Jail. The museum houses a fine and varied collection of local artifacts. In addition to the Aaron Burr bench, the collection includes Catawba Pottery, one of the largest and finest collections of Native American Projectile Points in the Southeast, more than 80 long rifles and hand guns, an Ordinance of Secession and a Coca Cola Bottle Collection.

In addition, the Henry O. Nichols collection contains an estimated 250,000(+) images taken by Nichols (1900-1991) over a span of 79 years (1911-1990). The Collection depicts images of everyday life, from birth to death, in and around Chester County, as well as examples of Nichols’s skill at “trick photography.” Portraits, historic homes, buildings, business & industry, agriculture, commerce, railroads, cars, education, and more are included in this large and comprehensive collection.