If you've shopped at Rosebank Farms, or crossed the bridge on Main Road over the Stono River, you've noticed the name Limehouse. The bridge is named after Julian "John" Limehouse, who for years during the early and mid-twentieth century ran a country store across from a ferry landing which, at the time, was the only way to cross from the mainland to Johns Island. (The landing was near the end of River Road, just before it joins Main Road.) Limehouse was famous for his homemade sausages sold from a stand under a live oak, which still stands, known as "the butcher oak."
Limehouse came from a centuries-old line of Limehouses who first emigrated from Britain in the early 18th-century. The Limehouse name comes with a legend. On the crossing from Britain, the story goes, one of the ancestral John Limehouse's sons fell overboard and was rescued by an Arab-born crew member named Sidi. In gratitude, Limehouse decreed that from then on, one son born in each generation would be named Sidi.
Today's Sidi, who is John II's son and who turns 85 this year, is a well-known and life-long presence on Johns Island. Born in 1938 when Johns Island was a still-rural paradise for a young boy, Sidi's father celebrated the birth by buying the 3,000-acre Mullet Hall property, a former cotton plantation that had lain idle since the 1920's. The family raised cattle and grew potatoes on the land which is now a county park.
Sidi contemplated leaving the Lowcountry only once, after graduating from Clemson with a degree in agricultural engineering and flying north for job interviews in the Midwest. But a snowstorm stranded him in Chicago for three days, and that was enough for him. "I said no, I'm going back home and stick with the cows," Sidi remembered for the Johns Island Conservancy.
Starting in the 1970's, Sidi began Rosebank Farms on sixty leased acres and selling his produce -fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs and honey - from a farm stand that quickly became a fixture of island life. Some of the produce sold had never been grown on Johns Island, like the pumpkins Sidi planted against advice from his Clemson peers. In recent years, he was instrumental in working with the developers of the new Kiawah River to reserve part of the land for agriculture, as the first "agrihood" on Johns Island. His efforts have been recognized with a basketful of conservation awards and a Southeast Farmer Of The Year award from the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition. With his 85th birthday looming later this year, Sidi may not be as actively involved in Rosebank's day-to-day operation but, as he says, "I do a lot of the pointing."