A Link to the Past: Debbie Baruch Abrams Returns to Hobcaw Barony

Debbie Baruch Abrams, 92, a resident of Georgetown, S.C. and cousin of Bernard M. Baruch, political advisor to several U.S. presidents and former owner of Hobcaw Barony.

Debbie Baruch Abrams, 92, a resident of Georgetown, S.C. and cousin of Bernard M. Baruch, political advisor to several U.S. presidents and former owner of Hobcaw Barony. This photo was taken during our initial visit with her at her home in Georgetown, S.C., October 17, 2014.

Reprinted below is an article published in the Coastal Observer (Pawley’s Island, S.C.) about Mrs. Abrams’ visit and our project.  The Between the Waters team thanks Lee Brockington and the Hobcaw Barony staff for their assistance in making this day possible.  We are also grateful to the Coastal Observer for covering the event.  Lastly, we would like to thank Debbie and Marilyn for sharing this special occasion with us.    


By Jason Lesley, Coastal Observer 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Debbie Baruch Abrams, 92, and her daughter Marilyn Friedman are greeted by Hobcaw Barony senior interpreter Lee Brockington.

Debbie Baruch Abrams, 92, and her daughter Marilyn Friedman are greeted by Hobcaw Barony senior interpreter Lee Brockington.

Debbie Baruch Abrams sat in her cousin Bernard’s house last week and talked about the family’s gatherings at Hobcaw Barony for a recording crew from South Carolina Educational Television.

The video will be part of an interactive website called Between the Waters.  ETV received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for nearly $300,000 to build a website exploring the history, nature and culture of Hobcaw Barony that is due to be finished in 2016.Abrams, 92, said her grandfather and Bernard Baruch’s father, Simon, were brothers, and her grandmother and Baruch’s mother were first cousins.  She was born in Camden and moved to Georgetown after she married Helmar Abrams, a druggist.  She taught school and remembered having Doc Lachicotte as a student.

Abrams’ interview and another planned with Robert McClary, a former resident of Friendfield Village in Feburary, will be combined with the ETV documentary, “The Baruchs of Hobcaw.” It consists of old and new photos, film and sound recordings, maps, art and video on the website.  Visitors to Hobcaw will be able to download an iPad app in the future and listen to the interviews as they walk around the property, he said.

Between the Waters Producer Patrick Hayes captures a moment between Hobcaw Barony senior interpreter Lee Brockington and Debbie Baruch Abrams.

Between the Waters Producer Patrick Hayes captures a moment between Hobcaw Barony senior interpreter Lee Brockington and Debbie Baruch Abrams.

Jackson said Abrams was able to remember more details of the Baruchs once inside Hobcaw House.  “It’s becoming increasingly uncommon to find someone who has an intimate connection to the space,” a spokesperson said.  “It’s just a joy to have her back.”

Abrams, who was accompanied by her daughter Marilyn Friedman, did not spend much time with Belle Baruch but remembered her for helping Frances Milam, a young Georgetown girl who suffered from infantile paralysis.

“Belle was a lovely person,” Abrams said, “and did a lot of good that people didn’t know about. She was never advertising what she did.  Belle saw that the child had everything that she needed until she died. Belle was very conscious to do what she could for people.”

Belle Baruch invited Frances to swim in the pool at Bellefield and had a concrete sidewalk poured so she could maneuver her wheelchair in and out of her parents’ house in Georgetown, according to Hobcaw’s senior interpreter Lee Brockington.

This photo was taken by Marilyn Friedman, daughter of Debbie Baruch Abrams, prior to their departure. The Between the Waters team thanks them for sharing their stories with us and looks forward to future visits.

This photo was taken by Marilyn Friedman, daughter of Debbie Baruch Abrams, prior to their departure.  The Between the Waters team would like to thank them for participating in this special event.

Jon Meacham on Baruch, Churchill and the Roosevelts

Jon Meacham has a way with words, as I discovered first-hand on October 11th while he was visiting South Carolina. That morning he spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Florence Museum, and afterwards he took the time to talk with me in the museum’s library about Bernard Baruch, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.  Later that day I had the opportunity to hear his address to a gathering at Hobcaw Barony. Though he spoke for over an hour, his audience was captivated.

Meacham is primarily a biographer – his 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson, American Lion, won a  Pulitzer – but he is also executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, a contributing editor to Time magazine and a former editor of Newsweek. He was a featured scholar in Ken Burns’ documentary The Roosevelts. In his talk at Hobcaw he spoke about the relationship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, the subject of Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, which he published in 2004.

Both Churchill and FDR had ties to Bernard Baruch, and both men spent time at Hobcaw Barony. Churchill and his daughter, Diana, were Baruch’s guests in 1932, and in 1944 FDR spent a month at Hobcaw, resting and recovering his health. In the interview I did with Meacham he brought these great historical figures to life, based on his extensive research. I’ve shared some excerpts from the interview with here, with my questions preceding them, for context.

You have written a book about the friendship between Churchill and Roosevelt. Where does Bernard Baruch fit in?

How would you describe the relationship between FDR and Bernard Baruch?

How would FDR have spent his time while at Hobcaw Barony in 1944?

What were the world events that Roosevelt was grappling with during the time he spent at Hobcaw Barony?

As a young man FDR loved sports, but at 39 he contracted polio, leaving him unable to walk. Can you talk about how he coped with his disability?

Eleanor Roosevelt and Bernard Baruch were friends, and at times she arranged for him to see the President. Did she play the role of intermediary for others as well?