Hot and Hot Fish Club
The Hot and Hot Fish Club, also known as Hot and Hot Fish Club of All Saints Parish, was a gentlemen's club in the 19th century in South Carolina dedicated to epicurean pursuits: gourmet foods, strong drinks and festive times. It started after the American Revolutionary War (early 19th century) and ended during the American Civil War (1864–65).
Robert Francis Withers Allston, ex-governor of South Carolina in the 19th century, writes at the beginning of the Rules and History of the Hot and Hot Fish Club booklet that he recalls as a boy of fifteen in 1816 that he would visit his older married sister (Elizabeth) in Murrells Inlet near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Her husband (John H. Tucker) was a sportsman that would hunt deer and fish in the nearby Waccamaw River. When Allston visited he always enjoyed "club day", which was Friday during the summer months. On that day he would fish with Mr. Tucker.
The members of the Fish Club then, as Allston remembers, were
All these above were Allston's close friends. It was rumored that John Green could eat a peck of fish during this meal. He would put the fish into one side of his mouth and at the same time spit out the bones of the previous fish from the other side. The exaggerated rumor went on that all the while he would drink a quart of brandy! He was known to say with a southern accent:
Fish and rice
is very nice;
Pork and 'tater
Is much better.
The main dinner consisted of beef, ham, local game and rice - besides the catch of the day! It was an elaborate potluck, where each member would catch enough to contribute to the dinner and for his boat hands. Each member also was to bring some kind of side dish (i.e. bread, salad, pudding) for distribution among the other attending members. The fish caught for the day's event were bass, sheephead, hogfish and varieties of panfish.
The main meal for the day's social event was served sometime after 1 in the afternoon. At that time the President of the social club would raise a flag that signaled the fishing boats to come in. When the boats arrived they would survey the fish caught, discuss the variety, and give a description of the catch to the gathered crowd. The prized catch was the hogfish of North Carolina and Virginia.
The boat hands that were elected to clean the fish had a procedure to follow. They were
... to wash the fish in three waters, the last to be fresh.
They would use these fish caught for meals at the Fish Club that day. After the cleaning of the first set of fish caught, the fishing boats were put back into the nearby stream and continued fishing. They would arrive back then later, one by one, to deliver whatever choice fish they caught meanwhile. They were in turn cleaned and prepared for the main event meal that was commencing. Often the best fish came in last and those that knew this saved their palates for these later fish in the second course that were "hot and hot."
In 1816 the "club-house" was located within fifty feet of the inlet waters on the north end of "Drunken Jack", a stunted tree island on Murrells inlet at the southern area of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The first club house was damaged during a storm, so was rebuilt on the mainland. Major Ward (member in 1816) had salt vats on a section of a "clam-bank" land area, where the second one was built. Once the new expanded club house opened up there were a set of new members added. At this time the future South Carolina governor, Robert Francis Withers Allston, had joined the club. John Walter Phillips was an honorary member.
A third "club-house" was at the residence of Dr. Post. The doctor later converted this area to a church. The Club was then set up in a temporary "wall tent" furnished by General J. W. Allston. Later a fourth permanent club house was built on the main land at the causeway owned by Dr. Hasell. Additional members then were Dr. William Magill, Dr. William A. Norris, and occasionally John Izard Middleton, Dr. Andrew, Dr. B.B. Smith, and John Ashe Alston. Several years later on September twenty-seventh 1822 this clubhouse was washed away. At this time a grant of about ten acres was given by Col. T. Pinckney, at "B. F. Dunkin's Midway plantation" (named because it was halfway between Horry county line and the tip of the peninsula). It was near a convenient crossing place between Wachesaw and Fraser's Point. Here a comfortable two room clubhouse was built by the members as the fifth and final permanent structure. It had a fireplace with an excellent chimney. Also the clubhouse had an attached ten-pin bowling alley, a billiard table, and a race course. The built-in kitchen was adequate to cook all the fish necessary for all the members on their yearly feasts. Joshua John Ward, son of Major Ward, donated a billiard table for entertainment.
It was in this fifth and last clubhouse that a set of Rules was developed by the members. The membership at that time was fifty dollars. The roll of living members that signed and adhered to a written set of rules developed in 1845 are below. The purpose of the Club was stated as being for "convival and social intercourse." The members that joined the Fish Club later after its founding in the early 19th century to the American Civil War were generally sons or relatives of the original members.
Robert Francis Withers Allston became governor of South Carolina on 21 April 1857. The Club, with about forty members, put on an elaborate dinner in his honor of becoming elected. It also happened to be his birthday!
The written rules below were established in 1845 and signed by all members.
1. Time and Place of Meeting
- The Fish Club was to meet at the Club House, at Midway seashore, each Friday starting at the first Friday in June. This was to continue each season through October.
2. Admission of Members
- A potentially new member was to be proposed to the existing members by the President and approved by a majority. The new member was to pay a membership fee of fifty dollars.
- Two-thirds was established as a minimum quorum.
- The President and Vice-President must be present at all meetings.
5. Duties of the President
- Each member in order of rotation was to act as President. He was to furnish a ham and good rice. He also was to attend to the preparation of the dinner. It was to be on the table between 2 - 2:30 P.M. The President was to preserve order and select side dishes with the Vice President for games. Should the President be absent, then he must send his ham and rice for the dinner.
6. Duties of the Vice President
- The Vice Presiudent was to supply a special distribution dish and wine. He was also to supply the water and ice. He had to make sure the game dish was proper. He was also to announce if champagne was to be brought to the next dinner, so a member would know to bring wine or not the next time.
7. Duties of Secretary and Treasurer
- They shall keep records of the proceedings, take charge of funds, do accounts receivable and accounts payable according to vote of the club members. The Treasurer was to also keep records of debts due.
8. Duties of Members
- Each member was to contribute at least one substantial dish for the club dinner and to bring no fewer than two knives and forks, two tumblers, two wine glasses, and two dinner plates.
9. Duty of Certain Members
- An unmarried member was permitted to furnish a pudding in lieu of the previous rule.
10. Duty of each Member in Rotation
- The member in rotation was to furnish sugar for the dinner for that season.
11. PRIZE RULE
- Should a member have twins, the other member in rotation must furnish a basket of champagne for the Club dinner. The names of the twins were to be announced after dinner by the President.
- When a member adds a new child to his family, he is to furnish a basket of champagne for the dinner.
- A newly-wed shall be complimented by each unmarried member with a basket of champagne for the dinner, in commemoration of the event.
14. State Office
- If a member is elected to a State office then he must furnish champagne for the Club.
- Each member is to contribute annually five dollars for the contingent fund of the Club.
- Any member can, through the President, call the Club to order. There can not be an appeal from the Chair at that meeting.
17. Of Members absent from the Parish (passed, July 1860)
- Any member intending to be absent for more than a year is to notify the Secretary or Treasurer. They then will not be liable for any pecuniary dues. By appealing to the Fish Club later, they can again resume their rights and privileges.
18. Changing Rules
- No alteration to the Rules could be made unless it was proposed in a previous meeting and the motion approved by a two-thirds vote in a subsequent meeting.
- "Booklet", p. 3
- "Booklet", p. 15
- Harwell 1947
- JSTOR Harwell article
- "Booklet", p. 5
- "Booklet", p. 7
- "Booklet", p. 6
- Rogers, p. 269
- "Booklet", p. 8
- "Booklet", p. 9
- Rogers, p. 270
- "Booklet", pp. 10-14
- Balmaseda, Liz (November 27, 2012) "A modernist in a Southern kitchen, Christ Hastings seizes the moment." Palm Beach Post.
- "Booklet" of 20 pages, Rules and History of the Hot and Hot Fish Club of All Saints Parish (South Carolina), Evans & Cogswell, 1860, Plowden C. J. Weston, Esq (chairman)
- Harwell, Richard B. (Jan 1947). "The Hot and Hot Fish Club of All Saints Parish". The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine. 48, No. 1: 40–47.
- Rogers, George C., The History of Georgetown County, South Carolina, University of South Carolina Press 1970, ISBN 0-87249-143-9