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Life on a Shooting Plantation

A Gilded Age Adventure for the Powerful and Prominent - Part 4

1936, Miss Pansy becomes Mistress of Pebble Hill

Upon Kate’s death her daughter, Elisabeth “Pansy” Ireland, inherited the plantation.


Due to Kate’s great skill as a business woman and manager, the PHP Pansy inherited was comprised of approximately 10,000 acres. The genteel sporting lifestyle continued under Pansy’s tenure, the Jersey herd remained, and Pansy’s residency followed the cyclical winter season pattern.

Pansy continued PHP’s traditional large Jersey shows and sales. The magnificent cows continued providing exceptional dairy products for PHP residents and people from Thomasville.

Jerseys and cow barn

However, Pansy, the equestrian, began to make changes in the Cow Barn - it became the Stables Complex. Areas once occupied by prize winning Jerseys were pared down and stalls built for show horses, race horses and polo ponies. Horses began to occupy more and more interior space and began to replace cows on the weathervanes.

Stables Complex

Pansy played polo. She was so skilled that she played on men’s teams as well as women’s teams. In Thomasville, she played on Jock Whitney’s team at the old polo grounds, part of the Birdwood Plantation. The area is now part of Thomas University.

Polo Play

Pansy continued to show her hunter/jumpers and began to raise thoroughbred race horses.

In1946 Pansy married Texan Parker Poe.

Pansy & Parker

Pansy enjoyed serving tea in this small Tea House located in the in the Wild Garden. Pansy and her guests also enjoyed the pool and the lawn tennis courts.


Pansy always enjoyed bird hunting with her family members and friends. The three happy ladies shown below have had a very successful day shooting turkey.

Turkey Hunters

Pansy continued the big Easter Celebration for all of those attached to the plantation. All PHP folks, their family members, and even their friends were invited. The day-long party became a much anticipated annual event.

Easter @ PHP

Many well-known people visited Pebble Hill while Pansy was mistress. President Eisenhower came to shoot with his Secretary of the Treasury, George M. Humphrey. Mr. Humphrey had been president of the M.A. Hanna Company, and his son married Pansy’s niece.

Eisenhower @ PHP

Baseball was the favorite team sport on South Georgia plantations. Each plantation fielded a team and competition was fierce. It has even been said that a few players were hired not so much for the work they did on the plantation but for the expertise they added to the ball team.

PHP Baseball Team

Pansy’s enthusiasm for horses didn’t diminish when she ceased riding. She bought Shawnee Farms in Kentucky and raised extremely fine and successful thoroughbred race horses.

Some of Pansy's Horses

Pansy always put the well-being of her horses before anything else. She found the racing surface used in England and Ireland much easier on her horses’ legs, so she preferred to race them there. The horses would fly back and forth “across the pond” for racing events. She also bought a farm in Ireland and bred her horses to the best of Irish stock.

Additionally, Pansy never lost interest in hunter/jumpers. She raised outstanding horses that took top prizes in horse shows across the country. She hired the very best professional equestrians to show her horses.


She commissioned J. Clinton Shepherd to paint the murals for the Big Room and the Indian Room in Pebble Hill’s Main House.

Shepherd Murals

Miss Pansy acquired the marvelous collection of Sporting Art now featured in the Elisabeth Ireland Poe Gallery at Pebble Hill.


Miss Pansy wanted Pebble Hill to become a museum open to the public and in 1956, formed the Pebble Hill Foundation for that purpose. Upon her death in 1978, Pebble Hill became the property of the foundation, which is today responsible for managing and maintaining the estate.

Demonstrating business acumen similar to Kate’s, Pansy added the 4,400 acre Mayhaw Plantation, the 2,200 acre Miami Plantation, the smaller Honey Lake property, Shawnee Farms in Kentucky, and The Rocks in Camden, Maine to the her holdings

Kate and Miss Pansy were both outstandingly kind and generous humanitarians. They shared their leadership with countless organizations and individuals across Southwest Georgia, Ohio, the United States and around the World. Listed below are examples of but a tiny percentage of their largesse.

Kate established the following benefits for employees at PHP. Pansy followed the same policies in caring for employees.

  •  Comfortable, furnished and properly maintained cottages were built on the plantation. Over 40 families of employees could be accommodated in these residences.
  •  Two schools were built and maintained for PHP employees’ children, grades 1-7. Additionally, the children were sent into town for high school, and college educations were provided for promising students.
  •  The Visiting Nurse Association provided medical services for not only PHP employees and their families, but also for employees of surrounding plantations.
  •  Yearly Easter and Christmas celebrations were provided for all PHP families.
  • PHP established the tradition of hiring local people and training them to professional standards. PHP provided an excellent opportunity for unskilled people to learn marketable skills and earn good wages.

Life on the Shooting Plantations was:

  • an elegant life lived in elegant surroundings
  • intended to be restful, carefree, and interesting
  • was built around the “season” for the upper social class

Providing this lifestyle represents only a fraction of the interests and energy of Pebble Hill’s owners.



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