Cap Moorer and the Anatomy of an Error

Cap Moorer House before repairs and renovation.

In April 2023, I met with staff at the Calhoun County Museum in St. Matthews, South Carolina. Among the pictures I had for reference was this one. When the photograph had originally been shared with me in 2014 by a family member, it was labeled as the home of John Lewis Moorer c. 1850. John was frequently referred to with the honorific of “captain” and this was “Capt. Moorer’s Home.” Except I was about to discover that it wasn’t. For context, I should mention that John Lewis Moorer was white, part of the German-Swiss community of the area. All of his children were biracial. This makes research challenging at times for a number of reasons, from the lack of records to the tendency towards omission by narrators of the past. For example, I’ve included John L. Moorer’s obituary, which makes no mention of his immediate family, not even the son who was a respected local doctor.

The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, South Carolina) · 18 Dec 1908, Fri · Page 8
John Lewis Moorer (1822 – 1908)

Intimately familiar with the area, my host with the museum was skeptical and asked when John lived. No, no, the house wasn’t from that time period. It wasn’t right at all. It was from much later, about 1900 or 1910. The house was the “Cap Moorer” house. “Cap Moorer?” How weird. Why would it be called “Cap Moorer” but not have been the home of Captain Moorer?

Later that day, we were speaking with a gentleman who grew up in the area and, after a notable military career, returned and was quite involved in the community. He agreed with the museum director, yes, of course, that’s the Cap Moorer House. Cap was before his time, but he knew Fannie lived there and then her children. Yes, all of Fannie’s children, they grew up in that house.

I went back to my AirBnB for the night and then home early the next day, slightly confused but overall extremely satisfied with how everything had gone.

John Lewis Moorer’s son, John Capers Moorer was about 45 years old at the turn of the twentieth century. “Cap” was married to a woman named Fannie and together they had at least ten children. According to the 1900 census, everyone in their household over the age of 8 could read and write, one daughter attending school at age 16 and another a school teacher at age 18. They owned their farm with no mortgage. Fannie lived until May 1945, six years after the birth of the man I was speaking with in 2023. It’s not the house of Capt. Moorer. It’s the house of John Capers “Cap” Moorer.


I wanted to take a moment to say that I am, in fact, still alive and working on research. Two things have kept me from updating and they may not be what you think. First of all, the more I learn, the more I feel like I don’t know anything. Anything. One of my favorite posts is about how the Beckwith family came to Orangeburg after the Battle of Trevilian Station found my ancestor bringing the body of his fallen compatriot home to family. It is wrong and it is wrong because I made assumptions instead of just documenting. It is wrong because I think everything needs to be a story. In truth, the Beckwith family had connections to Orangeburg through a maternal line at least two generations previous to this grand melancholy event. Hopefully, I can update in the next week.

The other reason is far more complicated. Much of what I have learned in the last several years has been not directly about my ancestors, but about my larger family. It has been largely in the form of personal stories and priceless gems of unwritten history and it feels like it is not mine. I am honored and humbled to be in its presence. It is not mine to share though.

Last spring, I found myself invited into the home of a man whose family has owned and cherished the house first built for my great great great great grandfather, John Henry Moorer (1756-1800). It feels exploitative to take that conversation and post it online.

Where I think that leaves me is in a place I need to grow into. I need to become a better, more thorough and skeptical researcher with a proper allergy to speculation, but also who can ask people to go on record. These stories that aren’t mine, but they want to be told.

History Recalled, 1952

Interesting Data On Monterrey, Old Abbeville Community, Recalled


ABBEVILLE—It is interesting to study a map of the United States and note the names of communities, towns and cities, some names in time being completely forgotten, or the communities renamed, while others grow into great metropolitan centers alive with industry, and commerce, making America a great nation at home and abroad among the nations of the world.

It is also interesting to study further the history of a particular community on this map and note how it got its name and who were the people who first settled the territory and began developing a way of life that is indigenous to America.

Monterey in the western part of Abbeville County, long forgotten by many people, happens to be one of these communities along with many others in the Savannah River Valley.

The builders of the railroads and the glamorous escapades of the Iron Horse did more to change this map in the early days perhaps than any other known factor in our national life, before the coming of the automobile and the airplane.

The outside contacts of the settlements were limited to walking distances, in the day of the horse and the individual settler.

A recent study of the Post Office Department Archives, Washington D.C. reveals some very interesting data about old Monterey. This community was earlier called Bull Town, in honor of Governor Bull of Charleston who made a satisfactory treaty with the Cherokee Indians that brought peace to the settlers of the up country.

The records show that the first post office at the Monterey site was established May 6, 1847 in District Ninety Six and that William Andrew Giles was appointed first postmaster. He is buried along with many others of this community in the family plot of old Rocky River church graveyard which was moved from Bull Town Fort in Monterey on lands now owned by J. T. Clinkscales, and given the new name of Rocky River Presbyterian church. The old cemetery is all that remains of this historic church site.

Mexican War Gave Name

During this period the United States was at war with Mexico in which South Carolina was more interested than any other state due to the fact, no doubt, that South Carolina had more troops participating in the war than any other state in the Union.

Tradition tells us that the Post Office Department in Washington gave the first postmaster the privilege of naming the post office. At about this time the news of the battle of Monterey was received and the part that South Carolina troops played in the capture of that Mexican stronghold was given wide publicity, especially in South Carolina. Later, history tells us that they were among the first troops to climb over the walls of the Mexican city and hoist the flag, which was a South Carolina state flag, carried by Frederick W. Selleck, a native of Abbeville.

So William Andrew Giles, the first postmaster, sent in the name “Monterey” as a tribute to the South Carolina [t]roops who participated in the Mexican War and Washington approved the name of “Monterey” and made it a matter of record.

The archives in Washington reveal that the mail route started in Abbeville, stopping at the following points:

  • Temple of Health (later discontinued)
  • Warrenton (seven miles from Abbeville)
  • Church Hill (this location was evidently between Monterey and Lowndesville.)
  • Cherokee Heights, site of the Block House in the Fork where Rocky River runs into the Savannah River.)
  • Harper’s Ferry, (on Savannah River)
  • Ruckersville, Georgia
  • To Elberton Georgia, and return to Abbeville, a distance of 46 miles.

Mail delivery was to be twice per week, and T. P. Morley was the contractor., the custom being for contractors to bid in the mail routes and sublet them to the carriers.

When Charleston and Western Carolina railroad was built in 1885-6 and the Georgia, Carolina, and Northern railroad, later known as the Seaboard in 1890-3, the mail delivery system was changed radically in many communities. The Abbeville-Elberton route was discontinued and Monterey was served direct, three times a week, from Latimer, a station on the Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad. Later the R.F.D. supplanted the Latimer-to-Monterey service with daily mail out of Abbeville, now operated by Mr. Ashley, and is equal to a city delivery in point of service.

The original Monterey post office moved from time to time as changes in post master took place and families moved away or the elder ones died, but it never was moved more than a mile or a mile and a half from the original location in the country store of William Andrew Giles. Merchandise from this store was hauled from Charleston on wagons over the old Charleston road, traces of this old road can still be pointed out although covered with trees and undergrowth.

The original store and home building still stands and is now owned and occupied by Charles Grantham.

The after-effects of the Mexican war not only made its impress on the nation as a whole, particularly the South and East, but it also made a deep impression on the Monterey community.

Annual Muster Big Event

McCaw’s Old Field, located on lands now owned by Mr. Patterson of Calhoun Falls, became the “muster” ground for a wide area in the Abbeville District. Once a year the annual “muster” was held on this field, attended by dignitaries, statesmen and politicians of no mean rank, along with the civicial colonels, captains, Lieutenants and young men of the line —all to take part in the grand review of the military strength of this part of upper South Carolina. The patriotic spirit and enthusiasm that swept South Carolina at that time can best be understood by the incident of a high-ranking officer who was on an extended visit to Alabama. His rank as a civilian military officer placed him next in command for the annual muster at McCaw’s Old Field. The message notifying him of the “muster” was late in delivery. This was disconcerting as he had planned to attend to show his loyalty and patriotism. The message also stated that the senior ranking officer would not be able to attend and full command of the annual muster would fall on his shoulders. This was an honor of a life time, so he swung into his saddle at once and rode night and day from Alabama to McCaw’s Old Field arriving just in time to take full command of the annual muster. He would not have missed this grand parade in the presence of all the ladies and dignitaries for any amount of money.

This spirit of patriotic enthusiasm following the Mexican War grew all over the South, culminating in the upheaval of 1860. My father, George W. Speer, along with many others enlisted at McCaw’s Old Field, starting on the long road to Fort Sumter, Gettysburg and Appomattox, with so many who did not come back.

Beef Market Co-Op

In this modern day we have advanced a long way in the field of co-operatives, and the end is not yet in sight. This idea, born of necessity, stems back to the early days from the co-op principle is not a modern invention.

Monterey had a cooperative long before Washington authorized the name “Monterey.” There was neither ice nor deep freezes, but the people of Monterey had fresh tender cuts of beef early each Saturday throughout the summer months. During the winter months the weather preserved the meat supply with the assistance of the householder, but the summer months created a problem. To meet the situation a Beef Club, or “Beef Market” as it was called was organized and “Understandings,” not rules, governed its operation. A fat half-grown cow weighing about 250 pounds was slaughtered early Saturday by a member of the club. The carcass was cut up into equal parts by weight, with names familiar to all, such as pound, loin, brisket, neck, etc. The latter, being the most undesirable cut of all, led to the trite saying of “neck or no beef,” which in modern parlance would be better understood by the expression, “Take it or leave it.” However, when the summer season was over each family had consumed one or two whole carcasses, including all the choice cuts along with the undesirable ones. My earliest recollection of this co-op was watching the riders from each neighbor, singly or in groups with white, clean salt sacks resting in the pommels of the saddles “going after beef.”

Tradition tells us that this early Monterey co-op ran continuously for 72 years without a break, with the exception of one year during the Civil War when things were so disorganized it did not seem feasible to operate the club.

The Church and The School

The two outstanding factors that contributed more to this community than anything else at this period, were the Old Rocky River Presbyterian Church and the Monterey school. Those who served as pastors of this church were well educated ministers whose language, manners and philosophies of life set the example for the people to follow. Crowding into our memories are such names as McBride, Nicholson, Fennel, Wilson, Lindsay, Link, McLin and others who left a lasting impression on both old and young in old Monterey.

Of this group of ministers, one became the resident pastor, living in the community, preaching regularly on Sundays and teaching during the weekdays in the early Monterey school. He was Rev. H. C. Fennel. There were two types of elders in the early church: the ruling elder and the teaching elder. Mr. Fennel moved up a degree adding dignity and understanding to the ministerial profession by becoming a teaching preacher. He was a great and good man. After a close study of the minutes of the church covering the period from 1876 when he first came to the church as a supply, to 1913 a period of 35 years, the name of the Rev. H. C. Fennel stands out above all others. The records show gaps and some intermissions while he served other churches, but he would always come back to old Monterey.

The same of Mr. Fennel’s school spread far and wide and students, some of adult age, rode horseback, from a distance or boarded in the neighborhood in order to attend. A transition in the schools of America at this period was taking place. The old-time athletic type schoolmaster with a keen hickory switch in evidence at all times, who taught all day when he was not whipping, was fading out of the picture. Mr. Fennel created the “thirst for knowledge” in the minds of the students and his school prospered. Consciously or unconsciously he laid the foundation for research in educational systems and the “know how” in American Industry.

In addition to being an educator, as well a minister, he was an inventor. My earliest recollection and keen interest in things mechanical, were aroused by his two “inventions.” One was an evaperator (sp) that was placed on top of a stove to dry fruit rapidly. The other was an attachment for quickly releasing a runaway horse, from a buggy by the driver, thus preventing injury to the occupant of the vehicle. We do not know how many of his numerous other ideas were never fully developed or ever recorded.

Sough to Enlarge School

The following incident does not appear in the records, but it is a fact nonetheless. At the height of the popularity of the Monterey school, Mr. Fennel enlisted the neighborhood in a program of making the school larger with the objective of becoming a “feeder” for Davidson, the recognized church college. The records of the church from its very inception show contributions paid to the Presbytery for education. They were small but definitely this was a part of the church program. Probably this was the reason for Mr. Fennel’s zeal for the school, believing that Presbytery had a large fund at headquarters for this purpose.

The neighborhood was set to work cutting fine oak and pine timber for the construction of the main building. A site was selected and land donated by Edward Calhoun fronting the mail road. A more beautiful spot could not have been selected for a school. Large white oak trees ingled (sp) with cedars covered the grounds, which sloped naturally towards the highway. The timber was cut, hewn and stacked on the ground, the proposition was then presented to the Presbytery for funds to launch the “feeder” for Davidson, and was turned down cold. Thus the institution died aborning. However, no one could say that the Rev. H. C. Fennel did not try.

The Monterey post office served a useful purpose, in maintaining a contact with the outside world. In the early days the local post office recorded names and handled mail. Sealing wax instead of envelopes was used and postage was twenty five cents a letter. It was the gathering place for the community. Exchange of ideas, information and mutual aid was the order of the day.

Monterey was no different than thousands of other communities in America in all its activities, except when it came to the names of the people who once lived there, and their descendants bearing the same name, start a flood of memories– then to them it is different. Such names as: Giles, Baskin, Tilman, Cater, Clinkscales, Haskell, Poore, Lanier, Calhoun, Fennel, Gilbert, Speer, Power, Cunningham, Waters, Burris, Bell, Spouse, Nance, Roverson, Wilson, Patterson, Price, Grantham, and many others who once lived or still maintain contact with this community will look back to the days of Monterey as a starting point for them in making America, and all that she stands for, not only strong but safe.

The Index-Journal
Greenwood, South Carolina •
Thu, May 22, 1952
Page 3

The Brothers Moon and The Revolution

Perfect is the enemy of progress. There is much information out there, in my own backyard even, to be had about my Moon family. There’s more than enough on my desk right now to get started though. And I really, really, really need to clean off this desk.

My 4x great grandfather, Thomas Pleasant Martin, of Martin’s Mill in Abbeville, South Carolina has consumed much of my attention and research time. The wealth and story he and his wife built on the futile ground of a new republic’s frontier is interesting, but it is itself a product of what was made and what was lost by the generation before. Foundations are hard-built and Thomas’ maternal family set those stones with blood.

Thomas’ parents were Charles Martin and Martha (Patsy or Patty) Moon, both born in Albemarle, Virginia in the middle of the eighteenth century. His middle name (Pleasant) was passed down from his mother’s brother. The name of another Martin boy (Thomas’ brother) is a full homage to Mom Patsy’s family — Jacob Moon Martin. Providing additional evidence is the 1790 census of South Carolina’s Edgefield district. Charles Martin’s household is listed directly adjacent to one headed by a Jacob Moon. Certainly (at least in my mind) Patsy’s father, Jacob was living by himself with five slaves. There were no other Moon families in the area at that time to account for a coincidence.

So let’s discuss this Moon family.

1790 Edgefield District Neighbors

Patsy’s parents were Jacob Moon and Mildred Cobb, both born about 1717 in New Kent, Virginia. Patsy seems to have had two sisters, Susannah and Sarah (Sally). Her brothers left the best paper trail. Their names were William, Jacob, Pleasant, Jesse, and Archelaus. Closest in age to Patsy were Jacob and Pleasant.

Jacob Moon (Jr) was born about 1754 and enlisted July 1776 in Bedford County, Virginia. He was serving in the 14th Virginia Regiment as Paymaster on March 15, 1781 when he sustained mortal wounds at battle of  Guilford Court House in North Carolina. Prior to his death, he married Ann (possibly Sarah Ann) Ammon and had two children, Christopher and another who died in infancy. His widow later married Samuel Hancock, a veteran himself of the American Revolution. Samuel Hancock, upon taking the place of his ill brother in service, marched under Jacob’s brother Lt. Archelaus Moon to meet the Northern Army.

Abstracts of Bedford County, Virginia Wills, Inventories and Accounts
1754 – 1787
Miss Joida Whitten

JACOB MOON, Junior. Will.
Dated: 2 March 1781
To my son Christopher the tract of land I now lie. To the child my wife is now pregnant with a tract of land lying in Albemarle containing 200 acres and joining the Old Furnace.
To my wife a riding chair and one choice horse.
The remainder of my estate both real and personal I give to my wife and two children before mentioned to be equally divided.
Executors: my brothers William and Archaleus and my wife.
Witnesses: Benjamin Rice, George Rucker, James Mitchell, William Whitten
Proven: 28 May 1781 by oaths of Benjamin Rice and George Rucker.
Executrix named in the said Will to join in the probate thereof when she shall think fit.

Pleasant Moon was appointed to military service 23 December 1776 and by 28 April 1777 was serving as a sergeant in Capt. George Lambert’s Company of Continental Regulars of the 14th Battalion of Virginia Forces, commanded by Col. Charles Lewis at a pay rate of $8.33 per month. He is listed on the regiment muster roll of August 1777 as “Sick at Cross [or Gross] Road.” He died 4 September 1777 in service, Philadelphia Campaign, per 14th Virginia regiment muster roll. It is important to remember how many revolutionaries died of small pox and dysentery before they had the chance to meet the end of bayonets or cannon fire. If he ever married or had children, I have no record of it.

Archelaus (Archaelus, Archaleus, Archer) Moon was appointed to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the 14th Virginia Regiment from 23 Dec 1776 until his resignation on 13 November 1777. I do not know when he first enlisted, only the start date of his last position. His pay was 27 dollars per month while serving as first lieutenant. Archelaus married Martha Morton in 1778 in Charlotte County, Virginia. He lived to see the end of the war, but lost his first wife in 1784,  marrying Ann Anderson at the end of 1784 with Robert Anderson providing surety as recorded in Quaker records. The family seems to have kept one foot in the world of their pacifist Quaker community and the other fighting for the nation that afforded them relative freedom to practice that faith. He died in 1796, Fayette County, Kentucky. Wife Ann outlived him by several decades and made it with that line of the Moon family to Howard County, Missouri.

Jesse Moon, born 1750 in Albemarle County, Virginia according to Muster and payrolls of the Rev. War, 1775-1783. While I do not have information on rank or station, it’s safe to assume from inclusion in that volume that he served and most probably died as a result. His Will, below, was dated 1780, making him about 30 years old. No known descendants.

Abstracts of Bedford County, Virginia Wills, Inventories and Accounts
1754 – 1787
Miss Joida Whitten

Dated: 24 September 1780
“… of Russel Parish in Bedford County…”
I so will and require my father Jacob Moon to have all all my estate real and personal and especially that my brother William Moon do make to my father a lawful right to the 133 acres of land which I gave my negro boy Tim to the said William Moon for, also I do will and desire my Father to pay all my just debts.
Witnesses: W. Mead, Jacob Moon, Jr., Michiel Gilbert
Proven: 23 October 1780 by oaths of William Mead, Jacob Moon and Michael Gilbert. “There being no Executor named in the said Will, Jacob Moon Senior granted Letters of Administration with the Will annoxed”… Security: Michael Gilbert and Jacob Moon, Junior.

Sally Moon, born about 1760 and married first to Silas Moorman, then Michael Gilbert. Her first three children (all with Silas) are named Pleasant, Martha, and Jacob. She then had several more with Silas, but it seems they switched to a Moorman naming system at that point. Sally died in Colorado, Texas in 1841.

Various entries from Abstracts of Bedford County, Virginia Wills, Inventories and Accounts
1754 – 1787
Miss Joida Whitten

Dated: 2 November 1776
Lend and bequeath unto my well beloved wife Salley Moorman my land and plantation whereon I now lie containing “of one Hundred acres” and bequeathed Cuff, Tamer, Jenney and Joe. Also stock of all kinds, three beds and all other household furniture her widowhood or till my children come of age and if she marries then the whole above mentioned articles to be divided amongst my wife and three children Martha Moorman, Jacob Moorman and Pleasant Moorman land excepted. Unto my son Jacob Moorman 100 acres of land with the plantation whereon I now live which if my wife do not marry while my three children comes of age then the whole estate to be equally divided except the land.
Executors: brother Charles Moorman, Jacob Moon, Jr. and my brother Andrew Moorman
Witness: Archer Moon, Salem Bocock, Lodwick Cook
Proven: 24 February 1777 by oath of Archer Moon and Court of 24 March 1777 by the affirmation of Salem Bocock.
Executors: Charles Moorman, Jacob Moon, Junr. and Andrew Moorman
Security: Nicholas Mead and William Moon.

SILAS MOORMAN. Inventory and Appraisement.
Dated: 31 March 1777
Negroes Cuff, Joe, Tamer, Jenny.
Listed: household furnishings, livestock, tools, no real farm equipment
Appraisers: Aqa. Gilbert, Adam Clement, John Robinson
Returned: 24 April 1777

“Agreeable to an order of Bedford Court Loted to Sally Gilbert Widow of Silas Moorman Deceased…”
Allotment: Negro Jinny, woman’s saddle, 1 brass kettle
Date signed: 8 March 1779
Signed: Saml. Hairston, John Patrick, John Warde
Returned: 28 June 1779

Susannah Moon I would like to find more reliable information on before I post anything.

Martha “Patsy” Moon And at last we get to my 5x great grandmother. You know… I’ll try and write a separate post for Patsy. Later.  😂

William Hunt Beckwith, Infantry

William Hunt Beckwith enlistment

In 1850, William Hunt Beckwith and Laurence Ranson Beckwith were 4 and 8 years old, respectively. They lived in the town of Columbia, South Carolina with their mom, their dad, and their two sisters. A native of Virginia, their father worked as a town clerk while their mother ran the house. The boys’ neighbors were a mix of native and foreign born, most with small families they supported as clerks and merchants with the exception of the engineer two houses down.

Eleven years later, on August 15, 1861, William and Laurence, ages 15 and 19, joined Company A of the 15th Regiment, South Carolina Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia.

William’s enlistment card gives an age of 16 in 1861. His tombstone, weathered but standing, does not stretch the truth. Died January 4, 1862. Age 15 years, 9 months. At the time of William’s death, their unit was not fighting any battle but disease was rampant at camp.

He was picked up in Lightwood Knot Springs, ready to fight alongside his older brother, and laid to rest next to Trinity Episcopal in what has grown to be the city of Columbia.

Laurence fought another year as a Private after his brother’s death, but secured a rank of First Sergeant when he reenlisted. June 12, 1862, he joined the 6th Cavalry Regiment South Carolina, Company G. Upon leaving military service with his own grave injury, Laurence made the decision not to return to the town where he and his little brother had enlisted to fight.

More on his story here.

But Not Her Child

I’m not a radical person.

I never really have been.

And I never thought much about slavery.

And it seems odd that what brought me to where I am now was a curiosity about my grandparents, two white people born long after slavery’s end.

But here I am.

Reading these words from a Will:

Thirdly to his daughter Francis Redgell one negro women Named Bede but not her child which she is pregnant with which is previously disposed of to his son Hansel Beckwith. “Beckwith, Henry Of Marion District, Will Typescript (Mss Will: Book 1, Page 141; Estate Packet: Roll 44) (2 Frames). Date: 5/28/1829.” South Carolina Will Transcripts (Microcopy No 9) (S108093), Accessed 17 Sept. 2017.

Please stop expecting me to entertain the the benevolent master trope or any other kinder, gentler telling of chattel slavery.

Thomas Pleasant Martin Will Abstract

Thomas P. Martin
Abbeville, South Carolina

All debts be paid.

Bequeath onto son John C. Martin my whole estate both real and personal.

If we both die before he is of age, my property shall be sold and divided as follows:

Nefew Thomas [I?] Martin of Augusta Georgia; five thousand dollars

Nefew Washington B. Martin; twenty five hundred dollars only for his education which I have to the management of.

Niece Eliza Martin of Augusta Georgia; one thousand dollars

Two nefews Charles and Thomas P. Martin – sons of Jacob Martin; five thousand dollars to be equally divided for education

Niece Indiana Martin; fifteen hundred dollars

Nefew John A. Martin; three thousand dollars

Remainder of estate divided between before mentioned nefews and nieces

Executors brother Jacob Martin and David Lily (?)

Written 5 January 1826

Filed 23 May 1827

Enslaved Families of Henry Moorer circa 1846

This needs to be out on the Googleable-verse, I think.

“At the time of his death in 1846, Henry Moorer (1780-1846) owned approximately fifteen hundred acres from “Metts Crossroads” where the Belleville Road intersects with Old State Road (hwy 176) where George Moorer‘s lands were, south westward to “Lime Kiln Creek” where his daughter and Dr. Jenkins lived. In December of 1846 a few days before Christmas, Henry’s estate was divided.”


Mrs. Henry (Mary Dantzler) Moorer remained in the family home “Magnolia,” located on a prominent sloping hill in the middle of Henry’s lands.

Jack Less
Lidia and her child



Dr. Jenkins and Henry’s daughter, Barbara lived closest to Orangeburg, on the hill above Lime Kiln creek in the two story home built by Dr. Van de Vastine Jamison in about 1800 … “White Hill.” The home would be destroyed in a very bad cyclone (tornado) in 1861. Their children were Julia A. 11, James Henry 7, Mary E. 4, Lewis 2 and Anna F. just born.


Vinna and her child


Francis Marion Moorer likely still lived at home with his aging mother and would make “Magnolia” his home when he married Ella Dantzler in 1850.


Amy and her child


Widow Eve Moorer (George died in 1837) lived in his home with her children Lewis 17, Barbara 14 and Ella 10, near Mett’s Crossroads, until she died at 1856.


Ceilah and her child


Henry and Sarah Moorer lived on the Belleville Road just south east of his parents and across the Little Fleabite creek at their home… “Oak Grove.” Their children at this occasion were Henrietta 4, Ann Hess 2 and she was pregnant with Augusta.

Old Sany
Clander and her child



John Moorer also likely lived at home with his aging mother until he build his own home down the hill toward Mett’s Crossroads […]

Patience and her sick child


John Sellers (Henry’s daughter Mary Ann before 1846) Lived near Mett’s Crossroads with his younger brother Samuel and children, Agnes C. 17, Eliza Marg 14, John 10, Moorer Henry 6, George 4, and Frances Electra 2.

Betty and her child



Emanuel T. Pooser and Henry’s daughter Frances W. with their children Clara 13, Mary J. 11, Eliza 9, Emma 3 and Emanuel 1. Their home location is not now known. Believed to be toward Jamison Church.

Nanny and her child

Jennings Beckwith Retrospect

I’m posting these as they are but please know that they are one writer’s interruption of events. Ug. Jennings Beckwith was said to have renounced his title during the revolution, so all of the “sir” and “baronet” stuff makes me cringe almost as much as his “romantic adventures.” Do believe that a woman with similar proclivities would not have been remembered so fondly by history. “No wife to mourn him” — we have absolutely no idea where the mother of James Pierson Beckwith/Beckwourth and siblings was at this time but do know that Jennings lived with her as his wife. The second article talks about the plight of a attractive young women being held in slavery. It says that “…girl captives were sold to wealthy elderly men, but the custom in no case compelled the young things to marry their proprietors.” Well, true. The custom was not to marry at all, but to imply that these girls weren’t used in whatever manner the master wanted is false to the core.

Anyway, take it for the interesting story that it is. I’m sure there is some truth mixed in.


Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania)
4 Apr 1947, Friday
Page 6

This Morning’s Comment
By Henry W. Shoemaker


AN old time Philadelphia newspaper says:

“LEATHER Stocking–died, at Mount Airy, Richmond county, Virginia, Nov. 13, 1835, Sir Jennings Beckwith, Bart., son of Sir Jonathan Beckwith, Bart., and grandson of Sir Marmaduke Beckwith, Bart,m aged 72 years. Sir Jennings was the “leather stocking” of the Northern Neck. Much of his life was spent wandering on the frontiers of Virginia and Pennsylvania and in the far west, on hunting excursions with the Indians. Of late years he would live with such as would fish with him in summer, fox-hunt in winter. Within the last 12 months he has slept on the river shore in the sturgeon season, and been in at the death or search of sport. He had insuperable objections to spending time profitably. Consequently he lived and died a poor man.

“NO wife mourns him, as far as is known, but he had figured in one way or another in at least a score of romantic adventures, or a chivalrous, and all creditable to the fair sex. He was one of those who came upon a poor pioneer girl who had been captured by Indians, stripped and tied to a tree by her wrists and ankles with buffalo tugs while her captors tortured her by throwing sharp knives to see how close they could come without hitting her. As her face was towards the tree, she could not know when the weapons were launched, until she heard their ‘whirr’ and noted them imbed themselves in the bark, within a fraction of an inch of her palpitating flash. Sir Jennings shot a couple of the red fiends, cut her bands, and threw his hunting cloak about her. It was an affecting episode, and by the practices of chivalry, he felt he should marry the beautiful young person, but the life of a knight errant makes poor husband material, and he left her to become the joy of a more stable individual.

“AT Redstone, now Brownsville, Fayette county, Pennsylvania, Sir Jennings arrived shortly after Mrs. George Kincaid, a young pioneer widow had been brought to the nearby Indian village, soon after her husband had been murdered by the redskins. Her hand in marriage was sought by a tottering, toothless old chief, but she indignantly refused to become the spouse of such a bag of dried gristle, and he threatened he would burn her in various parts of her body until she accepted him. Sir Jennings cuffed the old wreck about a little, and put him in his place. Later Paul Lesh, a French Canadian trapper, approached the kindly baronet and asked him if he could secure Mrs. Kincaid as his wife. He would adopt the four little ones, and take all to Three Rivers in Quebec where he was well to do. Sir Jennings introduced the couple, and as she liked the young Frenchman’s looks, they were married by the missionary of the Brethren (Dunkard) church and guarded by the nobleman and his aides, started for the north.”

“SOMETIMES Sir Jennings was not so successful as a peacemaker and matchmaker,” says an authority on his career. “In one of the fierce raids around Martinsburg, W. Va., a girl was taken to Canada by the Indians, and offered for sale; there were several would-be buyers but the lovely captive preferred a young French trader, named Georges Plata and her Indian foster relatives allowed her to make her choice, which of course fell on the handsome Frank. The money was paid over, but she stipulated she would not marry him because of difference in religion until she had asked her parents’ consent. The young lover was so enamored he agreed to go with her to her parents’ home, finding them on Piney Run, just south of the Pennsylvania line, in Maryland. On the long journey, climbing  mountains, carrying her in his arms across swift rivers, storms stayed in caves, cooking and eating together, the girl’s passion overflowed, and she felt this would be the one and only love of her life. Arrived at the cabin on Piney, things were different. The religious element was not insuperable, as Conewago Chapel was not far away, and they had many friends in the beautiful Schlegel valley, but the family disliked all Frenchmen, as ‘allies of the blood-thirsty Indians, and said they wished Col. G. Washington had to the mall as he had to the Sieur Jumonville; Duquesne, even though he was a Huguenot, suited them no better, although they were of the same persuasion, Huguenot refugees, from the Palatinate. They were rude to the ‘voyageur’ and ordered him to be gone, but the girl forgetting her filial responsibilities, decided to slope with her adorer during the night, on two of her parents’ horses. Her loss was discovered before daylight, and a chase was begun, overtaking the couple on Swift Run, close to Hunterstown, in Strabane township, now in Adams county, Pennsylvania. Sir Jennings Beckwith, friend of the afflicted and downtrodden, was seated on the Dutch porch of the Hunterstown inn, famous for its huge timbers and supports, now the Taughinbaugh residence, waiting for the dinner bell, when he noted a commotion down the road. Striding there with all the lofty dignity of Don Quixote, he found the girl’s family trying to tie the struggling beauty across her pony’s back, and some of her brothers cudgelling the unfortunate bleeding scalp of the courier de bois. The very presence of Sir Jennings commanded respect, and with his rapier he cut the sweet girl loose, and placed her properly upright in her deep saddle. He drove off the angry Dutch boys, and tried to adjust matters, but they were too ‘dumb Dutch,’ and hard as set lime plaster.

“THE baronet, resolved to make the best of matters, brought them all to the inn to feast on the wild turkey he had shot earlier in the morning, and close the differences by the old folks re-purchasing their daughter from Plata. When the voyageur saw it was hopeless, with such stubborn people he accepted the sum, with many tears, and protestations, and after the dinner, said a courtly ‘Adieu’ all around, mounted his Canadian chunk, and departed for the north. Sir Jennings was disappointed, but decided to escort the family home to near Taneytown, lest they scourge the girl, now she was in their power again, and saw to it she was treated with respect. Sir Jennings never lost interest in her, and when she married one of the wealthy McClary boys, was a conspicuous guest at the wedding feast, and addressed by the lovely bride as ‘Uncle.’”

ACCORDING to Kerchevla’s great history of the settlement of the valley of Virginia, her married life was tranquil and she raised a splendid family at Morgantown, W. Va. As to the unhappy voyageur, history apparently says more of him. At the proper time, it can be told. “There is nothing new under the sun.”

THE compiler and wife saw the Clifford family of knife-throwers do the same act as Sir Jennings let himself in on, 150 years later in the garden of the ancient hotel at Steinsville, Lehigh county, in June, 1914, only the pretty Maria Clifford was not disrobed but wore an Annie Oakley outfit.

NO doubt “Os” with his memory “wax to receive, marble to retain,” can describe many such knife-throwing acts in old time altoona playhouses like Harry Davis’ famous “Eden Musee.”




Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania)
5 Apr 1947, Saturday
Page 6

By Henry W. Shoemaker


SOME day a biographer will pick up the shein and prepare a full size story of the life of Sir Jennings Beckwith, Bart., mighty hunter who ranked with Ellison, Lybrook and Meshach Browning, as nimrods of the Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania big game fields which make Col. T. Roosevelt’s ‘African Trails,” tamer by comparison.

YET, it was as a feudal knight that Sir Jennings is best remembered. An unpublished account has him journeying to Philadelphia to secure the abolition of the ducking stool, about which the old Franklin Repository, November 16, 1824, has to say:
“SOMETHING new in Pennsylvania–A woman by the name of Nancy James was indicted at Philadelphia, for being a common scold, tried and found guilty. She was sentenced to be placed in a Ducking Stool and plunged into the water. The sentence was to be executed on Wednesday last. This punishment for scolding women is rare in our state but, as it is getting into fashion, we would advise those of the ‘gentler sex’ who have a propensity to ‘war in words’ to be cautious, lest they too go beyond the latitude allowed to females in the kitchen. Punishment was not carried out, as it seemed to her attorneys more dignified for her to accept a whipping which was administered in the work house at Clockley, by the cooks with their pot sticks, than to be ducked publically by the Schuylkill’s shore.

“NANCY limped after the punishment, as she left the work house, accompanied by her husband, and legal aides, and entered a hackney coach to drive back to her home on Currant Alley, Philadelphia.”

IT is said that “Doughty Deeds” having read of the case, came to Philadelphia and addressed the mayor and aldermen, with the result that the ducking stool was abolished, much to the regret of women who mind their own business, and resented “back yard shrews.” Nancy James was never in trouble again, though folks nudged one another when her comely, trim figure, basket on her arm, passed them on markets, as “the girl who exchanged a whipping for a ducking.”

“DOUGHTY Deeds once traveled to Detroit to try and secure the freedom of Polly Moore, stolen by Indians near the Potomac headwaters and sold to a Tory named Abe Stogwell, who abused her shamefully. Sir Jennings could not command the price her cruel “lord and master” named, but by threatening to have him prosecuted as an English sympathizer, compelled him to treat his lovely young chattel more respectfully.

[Jess: There is something more here. There is SO MUCH more to this story and I need to find it. Somebody doesn’t just drop by Detroit because an old dude is being mean to their slave.]

IN those days the flower of Pennsylvanian and Virginia girl captives were sold to wealthy elderly men, but the custom in no case compelled the young things to marry their proprietors. Often fine young men fell in love with these unhappy girls and if able bought them at an advanced price from the old men, and married them. Old Stogwell was not one of these, and raised his price for Polly, every time a new admirer came along. Polly, is is said, hoped that the baronet would want her for himself, and could “put the blocks” on Stogwell, but he told her he had eased her burdens, and to send for him if Ave got ‘tough’ again. Fate handled her case in another way, as the old man paid his debt to nature, and she soon became the wife of a prosperous French fur buyer.

BORN two years prior to Braddocks’ war, Sir Jennings Beckwith, Bart., took part in some of the last buffalo hunts in southwestern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Kercheval, in his almost contemporaneous history of the Valley of Virginia published in 1833, saying that by 1772, buffaloes had become scarce in the Old Dominion, while Rev. Trempi tells of a herd of bison driven from Somerset county the same year. Other game was plentiful for a century afterwards, but the bison being unwieldy brutes were soon run down.

A NOTED Chambersburg sportsman recounts in the Franklin Repository of May 21, 1833, a thrilling account of the wild pigeons, in which he says: “I have witnessed the migration of the wild pigeons in Pennsylvania. I have also seen the roosts left by them. When they have frequented one place for some time it is a scene of desolation. The tender grass and underwood is destroyed, the surface is strewn with large limbs of trees broken down by the weight of the birds, and the trees themselves killed as completely as if girdled with an axe. When these roosts are first discovered the people for miles around visit them in the night, with guns, clubs, pots of sulphur and various other instruments of destruction. In a few hours they fill many sacks with dead birds and load their horses with them.

“I visited the remains of a breeding place in western Pennsylvania. About 1 o’clock the pigeons began to return to their nests in great numbers. They were flying with great steadiness and rapidity at a height beyond gunshot. It took two hours for this immense flock to fly over one spot. The noise was so great that it terrified my horse and it was difficult to hear the sound of one’s own voice.”

KERCHEVAL says that game of various kinds kept the settlers from starving, and no doubt the squabs of the wild pigeon were considered choice morsels by the hungry pioneers.

It was a peculiar situation which preserved the bison for a time. If they crossed the state line into Pennsylvania, the nimrods of Penn’s woods resented these “long knives” or “outlanders” following and killing them. It is probable that the bison herd in 1772, described by Rev. Trempi as being driven from Somerset county in Maryland, was the work of southern hunters, so could be killed there without interference.

DR. TREMPI describes these as “probably the last bison herd seen in Somerset county. Yet the last bison in “frosty Somerset” was not killed until after 1810, when John Yutsey, alias “Gipsy John,” the famous Bessarabian pioneer, shot a giant bull in the “glades.”

IN western Virginia (now West Virginia) they hung on until 1825, when several bison were killed on Tygart river. When Sir Jennings stooped to give his first bison, a yearling bull what he called the “coup de grace,” it sought to rise, hooking him under his arm with its sharp horn, and throwing him high in the air, as it got up. Lucky baronet, as, if the brute had gone done with him, he would have been crushed to a pulp.

AN old timer in Colorado told the compiler about the late Dr. J. H. Kalbfus–Pennsylvania’s good grey game protector,” who he called “Antelope Joe.” When Kalbfus, a slim beardless youth, first came to the big game field of the west he got hooked the same way in trying to cut the throat of a wounded antelope, the only difference being that in trying to rise, it was not powerful enough to toss the young gunner, but its horn came out of its socket still imbedded in in Kalbfus’ sinews. For a long time Kalbfus’ arm was stiff, but he recovered and shot so many antelopes for the homesteaders on prairie schooners crossing the plains that he became the “Buffalo Bill” of antelope killers, and was known throughout the Rocky mountain states as “Antelope Joe.” Prior to going west young Kalbfus had some prowess as a wolf and bear slayer, along Shreader run. Bradford county, and in northern Lycoming county when only a boy in his teens.

Moorer Plantation

Moorer Plantation in a few pictures. Corrections made 2024.

J. H. Holcomb’s Martin’s Mill

J. H. Holcomb is, I presume, John Henry Holcomb. He is the brother of Ina Holcomb (b. 1858), wife of J. Campbell Martin (b. 1853). This is really the first I had heard of his connection with Abbeville or his sister.

Martin’s Mill
IS NOW IN FIRST CLASS REPAIR AND is running night and day. With new and improved machinery, put in by Mr. Hugh Wilson, Sr., one of the best mill-wrights in the State, and with Mr. Simeon W. Sprual, with thirty years experience, in the capacity of miller, I am prepared to guarantee general satisfaction to the public. Arrangements will be made with some merchant in Abbeville to supply those wanting good fresh MEAL or FLOUR.
Very truly,
August 24, 1887, 2t



Martin's Mill, Managed by John Henry Holcomb

The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, September 07, 1887, Image 5
Image provided by University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC

NYTimes Covers Abbeville Murders

I’m going to start this tonight and add to it later. There are two larger articles regarding the murder of Pem Guffin that need to be transcribed (and I’m banging away on a tiny kitchen table laptop right now) and I will get to those probably this weekend. I also have the papers from the file of letters from the governor’s office at the time where local law enforcement has to account for the complete cluster that was the events leading to a murderer just walking away… to Texas… to live a long life. Those are somewhere in my house. I think. Possibly. Or in the car. But I’ll post those too.

VIOLENCE IN SOUTH CAROLINA Charleston, S. C., Feb. 25.–Since the adjournment of the court that went through the farce of trying the men who murdered L. P. Guffin on Sept. 27, other deeds of violence — some by the same ruffians — have been frequent. On Feb. 18, J. C. Martin, one of the men who murdered Mr. Guffin, with his brother, W. B. Martin, went to Carolina Fair’s house and fired through the cracks of the building, the charge of buckshot striking her in the back, killing her instantly. On the Saturday night following, M. E. Hollingsworth shot and killed Dick Goolsby. Hollingsworth is a brother-in-law of Martin. On Sunday night a band of disguised men shot through Harriet White’s house, pelted the building with stones, and, had it not been for the interference of colored men from the farm of L. L. Guffin, brother of the murdered man, they would have taken her out and whipped her. All this occurred in Abbeville County.

The New York Times
February 26 1881

Note: Several things in the article contradict witness accounts. For example, Caroline was shot in the house of a friend and died three days after being shot. J. Campbell Martin was not involved, according to all witness accounts, but later provided a false alibi for his brother. While I’ve always seen Caroline’s name printed as Farrow, I can’t say with certainty that it was not Fair or that Fair wasn’t another name that she used. She had been freed from slavery barely 16 years before her murder, so spent most of her life without a surname at all anyway. She could neither read nor write according to her entry in the 1880 census. Hollingsworth was married to the sister of J. Campbell Martin’s wife and the family lives in the Martin’s Mill area.

P.S. In the 1880 Census, the Martin family (William, J. Campbell, Ina, Mary) lived with a ten year-old domestic servant named Langdon Goolsby, identified as “mulatto.”

P.P.S. A woman named Octavia E. Stone purchased a piece of property from M. E. Hollingsworth some time later. Octavia is the name of one of Caroline’s daughters and I cannot find another instance of that name in the Martin’s Mill area.


In case it is not clear, the White family was black and lived in the Martin’s Mill area.

Makin’ Hay

William Felder Beckwith (1878 – 1967) and his wife Pearl Campbell Martin (1883 – 1947) lived at Martin’s Mill in Abbeville County, South Carolina. William was an entrepreneur and Martin’s Mill offered a number of money making opportunities. I’m not going to cover W. F. Beckwith’s life in this post, but focus on a little slice of life at Martin’s Mill in the 1920s, including his commercial activities, as seen through the local newspaper. The year 1922 is the last one that the Library of Congress’ online archives provides and it seems that things were just starting to get interesting.

In his 1917/18 draft registration, W. F. lists his occupation as farmer and miller. He writes “I use my own hands” as the name of his employer. At this point, he has at least four living children and has been at the mill property for a few years.

Newspaper Moonlight Picnic at Martin's Mill Abbeville South Carolina
Moonlight Picnic The moonlight picnic minus the moon but with plenty of lanterns was given at Martin’s Mill Monday evening after the ball game. About thirty were invited to attend and a good time was had. Dancing was in the hall of Mrs. W. F. Beckwith and a good supper was spread. Mr. and Mrs. T. G. White, Dr. and Mrs. C. C. Gambrell and Mrs. C. A. Milford acted as chaperons. The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, July 19, 1922, Page PAGE THREE, Image 3

Dancing Pavilion at Martin's Mill Abbeville, SC
Dancing Pavilion W. F. Beckwith went to Anderson Monday to see about placing an order for lumber to build a dancing pavilion at Martin’s Mill. The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, June 07, 1922, Page PAGE THREE, Image 3

Swimming at Martin's Mill Abbeville, South Carolina History
Swimming at Martin’s Mill. Dressing rooms now ready. Admission 15 cents. Tickets on sale at McMurray’s Drug Store and at Martin’s Mill. 8 admission tickets for $1.00. W. F. Bekwith. The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, May 31, 1922, Page PAGE FOUR, Image 4

Ready for Business Martin's Mill Abbeville, South Carolina
Ready for Business Martin’s Mill is now grinding wheat. I am prepared to do good work. W.F. Beckwith, Abbeville, S. C. The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, June 12, 1922, Page PAGE FOUR, Image 4

William Felder Beckwith Draft Card
“I use my own hands” Click to enlarge.

Death of Samuel Starke Martin

Death of Mr. Starke Martin
Donalds, S. C., Nov. 29
To the Press and Banner:
Though not unexpected the news that Mr. S. Starke Martin was dead cast a gloom of sorrow over his many friends. Mr. martin died after a protracted illness, having suffered a stroke of paralysis several month’s since. He was taken to the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. H. Shaw, and everything that skilled physicians and loving hands could do failed to ward off the Grim Reaper, and on the 22nd instant he breathed his last. So peaceful was the end that those in the room scarcely realized it until he was dead. His long illness was borne by the philosophic resignation and cheerfulness that was his strongest characteristic, and for which he was noted. During his life of 66 years no calamity or business reverses could becloud his sunny nature. Among his numerous acquaintances not an enemy could be found. His generosity was proverbial; he would divide his last morsel with the needy. He was devoted to his family, loyal to his friends and true to his country.

During the civil war Mr. Martin joined Co. G, 1st S. C. Cavalry, and remained with it until the surrender. After the war he married Mrs. Julia A. Cunningham.

Mr. Martin is survived by two daughters, Miss Louise Martin and Mrs. Jas. H. Shaw, one sister T. C. Gower, and three brothers L. L. and another brother of Texas, and J. C. Martin of Donalds.

Mr. Martin’s remains were interred in the cemetery at Broadmouth church amid a large concourse of friends, and many beautiful floral tributes from a distance attest the high esteem in which he was held by absent friends, and while his body sleeps beneath a mound of flowers, the great, generous and noble soul has plumed its flight to the great unknown. Friend.

Samuel Starke Martin Obitury Source:
The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, November 30, 1910, Image 9
Image provided by University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC
Persistent link:

Alex Sanders of Martin’s Mill

Alex Sanders
Born April, 1807, Still Alive and Well.

He has been on the Martin’s Mill tract, seven miles west of Abbeville, for sixty-seven years. In 1827, he was sold by G. W. Hodges, Sheriff, under execution against Captain Thomas Sanders, who owned the land now owned by Mr. Charles Graves, of this county. Thomas Martin bid off Alex., at $400. cash. He took him home, where he has lived ever since. He soon afterwards became the property of John Campbell Martin, son of Thomas Martin. Under all the changes of ownership of the land Alex. Sanders remain on the place, and is still there. His young Master Campbell Martin, gave him a small tract of land during his life-time, and although Martin is dead his successor in the ownership of the land, Mrs. Stelts, who was his wife at the time of his death, still honors the act of her former husband and allows Alex. the use of the land.

He has always been an upright, honest and industrious man. During the time of his slavery, he was always faithful to his owner, and in his freedom he has never gone from the old place, where he has lived for sixty-seven years.

image_681x648_from_828,6328_to_2266,7698 Source:
The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, March 21, 1894, Image 4
Image provided by University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC
Persistent link:

John Campbell Martin Dead of Pneumonia

The Sick and the Dead.


Mr. J. Campbell Martin, who has been at the point of death for several days with pneumonia, died yesterday. Monday morning he was pronounced to be in an improving condition, and the doctors thought that he would get well, but in the night he died. He leaves a young wife, and two or three little children. He exposed himself in the water at work on his mill race, which brought on sickness which proved fatal. He was possessed of good property.

J. Campbell Martin Obituary

The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, April 30, 1884, Image 2
Image provided by University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC
Persistent link:

Sheriff’s Sale

One of the many sheriff’s sale notices I have, this one deals with the execution of (I presume) John Campbell Martin’s estate by his widow, Ina Holcombe Martin. I actually don’t know how Julia A. Martin is though… Hm. I feel like I should.

Here’s another interesting thing. One of the neighbors to the larger tract is W. L. Prince. Ina’s mother’s middle name is Prince. I’m working under the tentative assumption that Ina’s grandmother’s maiden name was Mary Prince, but both of her parents are buried in Greenville so I haven’t really been looking for her people in Abbeville.

Julia A. Martin against Ina H. Martin. – Execution.

By virtue of an execution to me directed, in the above stated case, I will sell to the highest bidder, at public auction, with the legal hours of sale, at Abbeville Court House on MONDAY, the 2nd day of DECEMBER A. D. 1889, the following described property, to wit: All that tract or parcel of land, containing

Eight Hundred Acres

more or less, situate in Abbeville County, South Carolina, bounded by lands of John Evans, W. L. Prince, S. S. Martin and others. Also the MILL TRACT, containing

Three Hundred and Fifty Acres,

more or less, and bounded by lands of Mrs. E. A. Robertson, Winestock place and others, known as the John Campbell Martin lands. Levied on and to be sold as the property of Ina H. Martin, to satisfy the aforesaid execution and costs. TERMS–Cash.

W. D. Mann,
Sheriff Abbeville County


Sheriff Sale 1889 Ina Holcombe MartinSource:
The Abbeville press and banner. (Abbeville, S.C.) 1869-1924, November 13, 1889, Image 5
Image provided by University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC
Persistent link:

And that was all he left

My grandfather was born in 1918 with a twin brother, Campbell. It was a terrible year to be born. Schools and churches shuttered their operations and told everyone to stay home as a flu epidemic ravaged cities and towns throughout the world. Only one of the twins was alive by the end of the year.

Everyone I have met in my extended family or with any connection to Abbeville, South Carolina has been asked where my grandfather’s twin brother could be buried.

In this search I’ve met some great people. The historians at Trinity Episcopal and Little Mountain Presbyterian. The receptionist at Harris Funeral Home. The volunteers in the Greenwood Library. A good Samaritan who searched high and low and high again after I asked for ideas in the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness group on Facebook.


Genealogists are nuts, by the way.

My conclusions have to be based as much on what I don’t have as what I do because I do not have much at all. The absence of information can be telling though.


“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.


The infant’s parents were buried at Little Mountain Presbyterian, but the church has no record of Campbell. There is no record at Trinity Episcopal, another church the family was affiliated with. There is no record of him (or any Beckwith infant) in the extensive and exhaustive cemetery surveys of Abbeville County and the surrounding area. His death certificate lists his place of burial as a very indistinct “Abbeville County.”

What I have is one record from Harris Funeral Home.


Page 70

Account of W. F. Beckwith

Nov 18, 1918 Coffin & Box 17.50

For Infant died 11-17-1918

By Cash, Nov 18, 1918 17.50


In the back of my mind I always wondered if he was buried with his parents and the record had not survived. It was not uncommon during that time for parents who had cemetery plots ready for themselves to bury a child who predeceased them in that plot and be buried next to the child later. It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened and I wondered. William Felder Beckwith’s plot had plenty of extra room to accommodate an infant. How did I know that the church’s records were absolutely complete and not just a list of the stones currently in the yard?

I called up the cousin who owns part of the land where the family cemetery is located to ask if before mentioned Samaritan could go by and have a look. I had combed the place over but this was another set of eyes. I wrung my hands to him and said that, as best I could tell, the infant was buried with his father. Hm yeah no. The person I was talking to had been, had physically been, with his own mother (the daughter of William Felder) at the cemetery where William Felder was buried and picked out where he would be buried when he died in 1967.

Campbell’s mother’s plot was not chosen until she died in 1947. The father’s plot was chosen after his death in 1967. It was impossible for the infant to be buried in one of his parents’ plots in 1918 because they hadn’t been picked out yet.

And there it is. Around the world and back to start. If he had been buried in a cemetery, there would be a record. If his father had purchased a headstone along with the casket, there would be a record. There was no record.

On November 17, 1918, Campbell Martin Beckwith, age four months, died. His father paid $17.50 for a casket the next day and took him to the family cemetery at Martin’s Mill. He was laid him to rest there. They had five other children to care for (including another sick infant) in the midst of one of the worst epidemics seen in modern history.

A receipt for one “coffin & box for infant” was all that he left, but at least I found it.

Presidential Cousin

I have a quickie since I’m working on two big posts — one on the life of Jennings Beckwith and one of Martha (Patsy) Moon’s brothers and their participation in the American Revolution as Free Quakers.

I’ve never mentioned the Madison connection. My great (x6) grandmother is the aunt of President James Madison, Jr. She was born on Montpelier (Mount Pleasant) herself and the branches of the Madison family tree had close ties for a couple of generations.

My great (x7) grandfather was Ambrose Madison. I’d recommend reading a bit about him. Three of his slaves allegedly poisoned him. One was executed for the crime and two were punished for the involvement. I am not even getting into Ambrose’s death. All of the histories I have read seem to have quite the tilt one way or another.

Ambrose’s daughter was Frances (with son James Sr. and others).

Frances’ was George Hite, Pres. James Madison Jr.’s first cousin and contemporary. George had a daughter named Sarah Eleanor Madison Hite.

Sarah married Laurence Butler Beckwith and the names start to get familiar. They had Laurence Ranson Beckwith, of hand cut off at Trevilian Station then moved to Orangeburg fame. L. R. Beckwith has a bunch of kids, including my great grandfather, William Felder Beckwith.
Ta da and good night.

Back on the Mountain

This is more of a housekeeping post than anything. We made the trip to South Carolina — hit Orangeburg and Abbeville, met some amazing people along the way and had the opportunity to put something real to all of this. I’m exhausted right now in every possible way. Not depressed, not sad, just exhausted. It’s so much to take in, so many projects going on, so much to do before the baby gets here. I’m getting everything together to post, but it may be awhile. Everything in this house is in flux right now. Hell, everything in my body is in flux right now. Bare with me. It’s kind of one day at a time in the best possible way.

Genealogy Gets Messy with Annette and Eliza

Skip to where you start to see dates if you are looking for facts because the first part of this is just pretty much just me unpacking the mental mess I’ve accumulated from spending hours reading wills with the word “negro” in them. Thanks.

Eliza Harrison Martin

I stood at Campbell’s Mill, the ancient stacked stone dam still standing to hold torrents of river water from the mill pond below. My great great great great great grandfather, John Campbell, had settled this land, on this river, and began to carve from the frontier what was to become an extraordinary working estate.

By the time his own grandson, John Campbell Martin (Sr.) died, having spent his life as master of the family plantation, his property included about 130… people.

It is impossible to spend so much of my time with my head in a place of slavery and oppressive patriarchy without seeing its effects in our world today. I will spare you my postulating though and bring it back to that patch of land on the river in South Carolina. So I am sure that others have looked upon that dam and the ruins of the mill that operated there until just a few decades ago and thought of the accomplishment of their forefathers but the story of the family success becomes more complicated once you make your way to the family cemetery.

At first it looks tiny, the burial ground. There are only a handful of upright markers, each carved with the name of a respected member of the clan. Then you pull back. I can’t say that the dozens (to stay conservative with the number) of field stones all belong to slaves. There are too many to all represent the resting place of members of the Martin family though and I have no record of the property serving as a community church or graveyard — no reason to think that these stones represent anything but the people of this property. It kind of hit me then that this place is not ours alone. Of course, it is ours. Legally it belongs very legitimately to a set of siblings who look after it and appreciate the weight of it. Historically though, this isn’t just our ancestral home. And it was not our blood alone that built what it had at one time become.

I am not trying to take something from my own family’s history, but I can’t not stand in reverence to the backs that history was built upon. I think that to spend this much time studying what happened there and pretend that I am researching a family and not the entire ecosystem of slaves and masters is to not be honest about this place, these people, or even our own willingness to work within a system that we can thrive in at the expense of others.

So that would be a nice ending, but I am just getting to Annette and Eliza.

Annette Amelia Martin was born on August 7, 1837. She died on April 27, 1849 at the age of 11. Eliza Harrison Martin was born November 30, 1848 and died before her first birthday on July 27, 1849. I didn’t have any previous record of these two girls, which wasn’t really odd because birth certificates weren’t much of thing at the time. Birth records were kind of the domain of the church and they’re much less accessible than government rolls. With the information on their headstones though I could go looking for a 1850 mortality schedule.

They were, in fact, on the 1850 mortality schedule for Abbeville County. Eliza died of “congestion chills.” One line above, Annette’s cause of death is listed as measles. Also, Annette was a slave.

The 11 year-old with the headstone in the family cemetery baring the family name was a slave and described as “black.” Who knows who else she was, but usually it didn’t matter. The family patriarch in 1837 would’ve been John Campbell Martin (Sr.). In fact, he would’ve been the only Martin on the property. His father died ten years prior to Annette’s birth and had no other sons. John Campbell Martin (Sr.) had a whole host of aunts but no natural uncles to carry the Martin name.

Of course I think that I know who Annette’s father may have been, but natural paternity was so rarely given any consideration that it alone seems like a strange reason to hold Annette in the same regard as they held white family members born as a result of a marriage. The lack of importance given to paternity under the systems of 1850 South Carolina cannot be understated. If my suspicions are true, that would make Annette, the slave, my great grandmother Pearl Campbell Martin’s great aunt. I wonder how her life would’ve influenced the Martin family, whether she was a natural born daughter or just a friend held so close as to be given the family name and put to rest next to their own infant daughter. If there’s another answer, and I am sure there might be, I would LOVE to know what it is. The fickle and dusty mistress of history doesn’t seem to be forthcoming with it though.

As a side note, I believe that Eliza may be named after Eliza Harrison (Jones), born 1822 and a member of Trinity Episcopal in Abbeville. The source of Annette Amelia’s name isn’t clear, but I do wish I had a list of the slaves living on the property at the time of her birth.

Campbell School

I have been hesitant to post about Campbell School because I don’t really have anything to post. One night, while searching the South Carolina Archive & History website, I found this picture from a file of insurance photos taken of schools between 1935 and 1952.

Campbell School, Abbeville County
Click to enlarge. Campbell School District No. 26, Abbeville County. S112113: Insurance File Photographs, South Carolina Archives & History

My grandfather, a descendant of the John Campbell who settled in Abbeville County at the very beginning of the nineteenth century, grew up on property labeled as Campbell’s Mill on the 1820 Mills’ Atlas map of Abbeville County, South Carolina. John Campbell’s daughter, Arabella, married Thomas Pleasant Martin and the property later became known as Martin’s Mill while it was under the ownership of their only son, John Campbell Martin. I am tempted to get bogged down in Campbell genealogy here, but need to resist for the sake of brevity and making breakfast. To keep it brief, John Campbell had a pile of daughters but I cannot find any mention of a son. The area where he lived is populated with people carrying the Campbell name though, so my working hypothesis is that he either brought a brother with him or moved to Abbeville because he already had family in the area. His brother, Archibald, seems to have come to Abbeville with him but I think there is much more to it. In the area between the towns of Abbeville and Lowndesville, the Nations area, the Campbell family has had a large presence for the past two hundred years or so. It’s something I will certainly dig into more in the coming months.

So here’s this school. It’s long gone though, right? Disassembled, carried away, leveled and left for the cows, right? Nope. While in Abbeville, I struck up a conversation with a long time volunteer of the Greenwood library’s genealogy room, who told me that I really had to take Nations Road down to Lowndesville. My husband was driving and I was staring out the window when I saw, through thick and purposeful bushes, a strange building with a tall roof and a strange shape. I had kind of assumed that a search for the original location of Campbell School would be, even if fruitful, totally pointless. What was I going to do, go stand in a field and ponder how something neat use to be here? But there was that building, though the bushes, along side the road. Now clad in dark wood siding, it was no longer a public building, but someone’s private property.

A search on the website for The U. S. Board of Geographic Names turns up a profile page of the location. It looks like the only USGS topo map that it ever appeared on was the page for Latimer (SC) in 1938. Nothing earlier, nothing later… and that map doesn’t seem to be available.

That is really all I have, but I wanted to put it all in one place for now until there is more. My best lead right now is actually someone who owns an adjacent properly. I sent them a Facebook message after misreading the Abbeville GIS map. Being a goober might pay off though because she is going to send along a couple of names of people I should talk to in the area. The local historical society doesn’t have anything on it, nor do a couple of area historians I’ve written to. It all seems like a fool’s errand, I guess, but this building is really fascinating to me. I’ll be sure to report back if I find out anything more.

This past October, I was in the area and actually told my husband that it would be quite a while until we came back. It’s not that it isn’t all interesting and a nice place to visit, but we can only make so many trips and it was a little ridiculous that South Carolina accounted for three of them in one year. I may be eating my words though. As we are expecting our second child in August, I might want to gather my notes and make another run at it in the spring before I’m grounded for another bit of time.

NGS Editor Letter: Thomas Martin of Anderson

I’ve written before on the confusion between Thomas Peyton Martin of Anderson, South Carolina and Thomas Pleasant Martin of Abbeville, South Carolina. The source of the confusion centers around the inaccurate assignment of Charles Martin (d. Abbeville 1808) as the father of Thomas Martin (d. Anderson 1830). However, my research activities of late have been more about collecting material than analyzing it as my thoughts are only as long as the attention span of a toddler. I don’t mean that as a metaphor. I mean that I have an actual toddler. He’s amazing, but if it takes longer to concentrate on a task than it takes him to eat his Cherrios … yeah, not gonna happen right now. So I have tons of time, but it is divided into three minute increments. To exasperate the problem, I am dyslexic and am an exceptionally slow reader. I’ve learned over the years what I need to do to help myself work, but I am not exactly the master of my own universe right now.

Now please don’t mistake this for a complaint. The number of joys in my life are only surpassed by the numbers of ways in which it is easy. Anything I don’t do is because of a lack of ambition rather than opportunity. And I do have time alone, but it is needed for other things.

With that long explanation, I will say that I didn’t even really appreciate what this letter was until it was highlighted by a distant relative and astute researcher. The following letter from Ms. Wakefield of The National Genealogical Society was included in the collection of files kept by the late Leonardo Andrea and now maintained at The South Caroliniana Library. Mr. Andrea compiled a record of the Martin family in South Carolina that includes material that cannot be found elsewhere. I think the letter does much to clarify the relationship between Thomas Martin (often seen as Thomas Peyton Martin) of Anderson, South Carolina (1767 – 1830) and Charles Martin of Abbeville, South Carolina (1741? – 1808).

Also please forgive any typos in the post above, keeping in mind the thin excuses outlined. 😀 Much care was taken, however, to copy the text of the letter below as it was transcribed in Mr. Andrea’s file.



Washington, D. C.

                                    Miss Roberts P. Wakefield
Editor, N.G.S. Quarterly
3123 Adams Mill Road, N.W.
Washington 10, D.C.
August 16, 1956

Dear Kinswoman,
I am ashamed that so many days have passed since your book came in and is still not acknowledged. I had the Galleys in for the Sept. Quarterly which had to be read and corrected, these made into the day for page proofs. I have been overwhelmed and when I got it into the mail at 9:30 Saturday night at the main P. O. about 9 miles from my home (an hour each way by street car and bus,) I was ready to call it quits and lie around a day or so- all which reminds me that I am not as young as I once was! I had hoped to get a review into this Sept. issue, but it got here too late to make this issue, though Mr. Robinson  who prepares the reviews for me will have it ready in time for the December issue- I have to have it in hand to go to the printer by Oct. 15 when I send down copy for that issue.

You have done a tremendous amount of research to bring all these families together in print. Also I like the size of type in which it is set-

One thing I do regret and that is that you have placed Thomas Martin in the family of Charles who came into Abbeville Co. from Albemarle Co. where he definitely does not belong. In the 1790 Census of S. C. there were 4 Thomas Martins in S.C.-none in Abbeville or Anderson (Pendleton). Jacob says he was born in N.C. (1790) and in 1850, 1860 and on according to whether they were still living when the census was enumerated, all of THomas’ first 3 or 4 children state they were born in N.C. Jacob, the daughter Mary who married Thomas Welborn and the one Charity who married Ezekiel Murphy , certainly said they were born in N.C. The constant recurrence of the names, Thomas, William, Abram or Abraham and others lead one astray often, as I think Mrs. Graham has been lead astray in her charting of these Martins. William Martin of Anson Co., N.C. died in Anson Co., N.C. early in 1790’s- I have his will- among his sons were Thomas and Abraham- I have an abstract of his will containing “my older children” he had special provision for his wife (evidently no. 3) for her care of his “younger children”, (evidently children of wife no. 2) and then mentions them, and last his older children. By the 1800 census neither Thomas nor Abraham are found in Anson Co., N.C. but Thomas is found in Pendleton district, and Abraham in Edgefield Co., and in Anson Co., N.C. are left Jesse & 2 young ch.; John M. & 4 young ch.; Kirechan, 3 young ch.; and John, 3 ch. older than the other families just mentioned- Jesse had 3 slaves, John had 8, Kuichen and the 2nd John, no slaves. The Thomas of Anson Co., N.C. is the only one of the 4 in N.C. (1790) who had only one male and no female children in 1790. In Stokes Co., N.C. (1790) there was Abraham (among 8 other Martins) who had 3 ch.- one over 16 & he had 12 slaves. Kuichen & William has land grants, Kuichen in 1792 and WIlliam in 1792, grants Nos. 5011 & 4155 resp.

Here I opened my book of factual data collected gradually last winter, as I had some time to go for & copy in formal form & I find the will of William was dated 16 Sept. 1793. He mentions, wife Rebeckah; young son Jones & Daughter, Sarah & Nancy; 4 first ch.; William, John, Thomas, Abraham, Cathera, Lewis, Andrew, and Isacs; Wits., William Lindsay & John Smith; Exes.; Thomas Wining & Thomas Martin.

Jesse Martin is explained by his father, Joseph’s will, dated 1781, which mentions wife Catherine; sons Jesse & John Hall Martin, and daughter Nancy. I assembled these data last winter after Hampton Wigington was here and managed to get it copied decently, but have not had time since then to set it out as I have done here for you as proof that our Thomas was in N.C. & son of William & brother o Abraham all living in 1790 in Ansco., William dying and leaving will mentioning his ch.: Abraham going first to Edgefield where he acquired property but moving soon afterward to Anderson Co., (then Pendleton) dying before 1810- Thomas settling his estate, going to Edgefield (riding his horse) and charging his expenses against Abraham’s estate; Abraham leaving his widow, Anne & small children, who I traced years ago through the census records- they were mostly girls as I remember without looking back through a great accumulation of Martin data. I have all of Thomas & Hester’s children, their grand ch. & most of their greats and great-greats. I have had little time to put on my 11 lines since 1935- my job was a tremendously heavy one, and for 11 years now I have had full responsibility for the G & the voluminous correspondence related to it. Perhaps I shall get time to locate William in his proper place with full proofs, but perhaps I have not the time left and I hope for proof that Hester was “Rountree” as has come down to us & not Rogers. Hester is certainly a Rogers name & I have not found a Hester among the many Rountrees located. In the 1790 census Humphrey Rogers & William and Richard Rogers lived next in succession, to Thomas Martin, and Joseph Duckworth lived next to Abraham Martin- all in Anson Co., N.C. and not far from the other Thomas Martin, both Thomas having only 1 child, a male under 16. I have had all this, but not assembled, for a long time, except William’s will naming Thomas & Abraham as sons, and I assembled it soon after Hampton Wigington was here and I then asked two very “critical questions” whether they would consider these data as proof that would stand up. Their answer was “yes”. This was all done and set up in form before I heard that you were working on your book. I am sorry that I did not know it before, so that you could have been given a chance to weigh this evidence against other data given you. I’d be glad to hear what you think of it. I have known that the Story in Mrs. Vandiver’s Anderson Co. History along with a lot more in it was incorrect, or at least questionable. Joseph Duckworth also disappears from Anson Co., N.C. in 1600 and is found in the same general location as the other Duckworths and Rogers who are much intermarried in Pendleton Dist. S.C. There is no question that Charles who came from Albemarle Co., Va. to Abbeville Co., S.C. was son of Thomas & Mary Moorman Martin. I found them all years ago; nor is there any question that all of these and some of those, at least in Edgefield, if not all were kin.

My grandmother, Annie (Martin) Watkins was dau. of Abram Martin and Ruth (Duckworth) Martin; Abram was son of Thomas and Hester Martin, and now that I have proofs that he was son of William, I think I may be able to add a new bar to my D.A.R. ribbon, perhaps 2, if I can prove that Thomas had service being born in 1766. Mr. Welborn Pickens always called him, “Thomas the Old Rev. Soldier.” Well, William seems to have had service, also Keuchin, & Mr. Pickens often mixed Keuchin in with Thomas. Keuchin then of Va. had a pension. I think I’ll get his record & all about what he turned in to get it, also one Thomas of Va.; one Wm. of N.C. & 7 Williams of Va.; I’ll get them all!

My congratulations on your book except for those 2 or 3 pages & best wishes to you.

Hurriedly, but sincerely your,

Roberta Wakefield

Private J. Campbell Martin, Washington Light Infantry, Company B, mortally.

This is really more of an aside than a post.


The times and democrat., June 19, 1909, Page 4, Image 4

Casualties in Eulaw, regiment (25th S. C. V.) :




Private J. Campbell Martin, Washington Light Infantry, Company B, mortally.


Private A. B. Glover, Washington Light Infantry, Company B, severely.


G. M. Dantzler, St. Matthews Rifles, slightly.


J. C. Martin survived and now lives in New Brocton, Ala.


In 1909, Pearl Campbell Martin (daughter of Ina Holcombe and the younger J. Campbell Martin) would’ve been 25. Her only bother was 27. All of this means that their first cousins carrying the Martin name — the fruit of seven of the first J. Campbell Martin’s seven or so sons — were of the age to serve in the Army.

The Obituary of an Eigth Year-old

I have long been curious about where our family picked up the first name Laurens. This was the name of my grandfather, often confused for Laurence, and seeming to harken back to some proud long ago heritage.

Aware of the famous South Carolina Laurens family, I have search for a connection, but nowhere have I found our people to have crossed paths. They were prominent in The Palmetto State during the American Revolution while the Beckwith family was largely still in Virginia. Nowhere have I found the Laurens family mingling with any other Beckwith or associated family lines.

Any hint of the name Laurens though has always been a sure way to make sure I compulsively poke my head into every possible rabbit hole of available records. This is how I found myself ordering a copy of an obituary from Wofford College indexed on their website under an interesting name. Beckwith, Laurens H. 5/30/1907.Gravestone Beckwith

I knew that Laurence Ranson Beckwith, namesake of his grandfather and son to Laurence Henry Beckwith (my great grandfather’s brother), had died as a child in 1907. I’d seen his grave marker in the Prospect Cemetery on the Jamison side of Orangeburg, South Carolina. I’d raced there in a rental car one evening after I had finished at the South Caroliniana, fighting some surprisingly thick traffic through Columbia to find myself suddenly standing alone at dusk in an old graveyard full of familiar names.

So I knew about Laurence. I knew about his father Laurence. I know about his grandfather, who went by “L. R” but had, during his time in the Confederacy, clearly signed his name as Laurence more than once.

The obituary arrived.

BECKWITH. — Laurens Ranson, third child and oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Laurens H. Beckwith, was born April 9, 1898, and died February 14, 1907. For one so young, he was a bright light in the home circle, very bright in intellect, gentle, and kind. How his willing hands are missed. He has left this blighted land where flowers so quickly fade, for the one where they constantly bloom. How soon his little soul was wafted above on angel’s wings far from earth to his God, where he sits and sings with that little band. How dear father missed his footsteps following him. He was sick but a short while, falling victim to that dreaded disease whooping cough. While he is not here with father, mother, sisters, and brother, his dear spirit shadows them. Dear father and mother, while your hearts are crushed and bleeding, you know where to find our dear boy. The Lord says, Suffer little children to come unto Me of such is the kingdom of heaven.


1SG L. R. Beckwith's 1864 requisition of horses. Interesting signature.
1SG L. R. Beckwith’s 1864 requisition of horses. Interesting signature.

Okay, first of all, I’d like to take a moment to thank anyone who ever had anything to do with the development of childhood vaccinations. Next… what? The obituary writer is a family member herself, taking great pains to elegantly describe the pain and glory of the little boy’s passing, so it seems unlikely that this is a matter of a misspelling. Did the grandfather, the L. R. Beckwith who signed as Laurence at one point in his life, come up with Laurens? Was it the boy’s father, Laurence Henry, who decided that he wanted to be Laurens Henry?

What I do know is that my grandfather was not the original Laurens and that’s where I will leave it for now, stalled again but a little closer to an answer.


After writing this post, some dear Find a Grave volunteer photographed the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Cemetery, including the grave of Laurens Ranson Beckwith’s father, Laurens Butler Beckwith (1814-1869) confirming the name on the gravestone. The gravestone certainly looks original, but I am no expert. However, his name is given as Laurence in the obituary that ran in The Spirit of Jefferson following his death.

The only conclusion I can come to is that they probably used nicknames and signed things with their initials, as was customary, so their actual first name didn’t really come up very often.

The Murder of Caroline Farrow

Originally printed in Abbeville’s Press and Banner, February 23, 1881. Reprint: The Anderson intelligencer. (Anderson Court House, S.C.), 03 March 1881. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Sent to me from Dr. Lowry Ware in January 2013

The Murder of Caroline Farrow

Abbeville is again the scene of crime and bloodshed–a crime for which the history and traditions of a county are famous in the past for law and order, furnish no parallel. It seems from the testimony taken at the Coroner’s Inquest that on the night of Friday, the 18th instant, some Negroes undertook to have a candy pulling at the house of Sarah Martin, on the plantation in possession of Mr. Stark Martin, that owing to the presence of Mr. William Bee Martin that intention was abandoned; that Mr. Martin the same night forced open the door of Caroline Farrow’s house, while she was dressing, that she took flight from the house in the darkness and secreted herself for a time; that she afterwards went to the house of Cornelius Matthews; that in about a half or three-quarters of an hour from that time the muzzle of a gun was seen projecting through a crack between the logs of the house in which she had taken refuge; that a voice from the outside, believed to be that of Mr. William Bee Martin, said: “Take care, I’ve got you now.” At that instant the gun fired, and the whole load of shot lodged in the hip of Caroline Farrow, who was standing perhaps four or five feet from the muzzle of the gun when it was discharged. She fell upon the floor on her face. There was a commotion about the house, not unnatural to the occurrence of such an event; one of the men went into the yard; the figure of a man supposed to be that of Mr. William Bee Martin, was seen to mount a horse, which had been hitched nearby, after which he rode away, rapidly.

The evidence at the Coroner’s inquest was solely in behalf of the State. The Coroner does not undertake to investigate the merits of the crime, and hence no evidence was taken in the interest of the accused. In the absence of any testimony, we thought it well to offer his brother an opportunity to say a word in his behalf. In reply, Mr. J. Campbell Martin protested that his brother was innocent; that he was at his house, in bed and asleep at the hour, when the shooting was done.

It is not our province to pronounce judgment as to whether either the evidence before the jury or the statement of Mr. Martin are true or untrue. We give them publicity for what they are worth, and will allow the reader to form his own conclusion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. About one fact, however, we think there can be no doubt—that a most foul and base deed has been committed. The heart shrinks from the contemplation of the killing of any human being in the manner by which the life of Caroline Farrow was taken, and the quiet inoffensive citizen must feel to a greater degree the doubt as to the personal safety in a country where such crimes occur. The public are familiar with many of the facts concerning the various crimes which have blackened the history of Abbeville

County within the last few years, but we look in vain for one of greater atrocity, or one  more likely to give our people a feeling in insecurity, even while around their own fireside. The muzzle of an unfriendly shot gun peering through the cracks of one’s house, is not of the nerve quieting order, and although the Governor of the State has seen fit, in his wisdom, to pass unnoticed the crime at Maddox’s Mill, where Mr. William Maddox was called to his door last November, in the night time and murdered, it is to be hoped that he will not be slow to see that the detective and State officers shall do their whole duty in this matter. Coroner J. A. Shellito so far, has discharged his duty fully, and he informs us that he will today comply with the requirement of the Jaw, and send to the Governor the evidence taken at the inquest. If the Governor will let people who may be contemplating cold blooded murder, know that the power of the State would be brought against them, it is fair to presume that crimes of this kind would be fewer. In no county have we had a greater number of cold blooded murders than in Abbeville. The Harmons, the Franklins, William Maddox, and now Caroline Farrow, all murdered in cold blood while in their own houses.

For years the juries in Abbeville have been exceedingly lenient towards persons charged with crimes against the person, and we are now reaping the evils of that sickly sentimentality which shrinks from meting out a just punishment for crime. Is there not a limit, beyond which, the forbearance of our people will not go? Is there not a time when they will assert that crime shall stop?

Coroner’s Inquest.  The Jury Say that Caroline Farrow came to her death at the hands of William Bee Martin. Last Saturday it was rumored on our streets that a Negro woman had been shot and killed by William Bee Martin, on his farm about eight miles west of Abbeville Court House. Further information confirmed the fact of the shooting, but established the fact that she was still living. She died, however, about seven o’clock on Monday morning. Coroner J. A. Shillito summoned Deputy Sheriff J. Y. Jones to his assistance. Dr. Marshall of our town was notified that his services as an expert were needed. A few jurymen proceeded at once to the scene. In a little while representatives of the Press and Banner followed and all were soon on the ground, where we beheld the most ghastly wound on the person of Caroline Farrow that it is possible to conceive. The inquest was organized which brought out the following developments:


A. W. Thomas, sworn, said: Lived in the house where shooting occurred for the last two years; on last Friday night I was here at home in my house, and my wife and Cornelius Matthews and Sarah Matthews went over the creek to Mr. Stark Martin’s place, and when they came back Carrie Farrow came with them; just before they came back Mr. Bee Martin came to my door and called me three times, and I saw him. Mr. Martin said, “Thomas, I’ll kill you in the morning, God damn you, excepting God paralyzes me.” I never made no answer; he said it was an old grudge; these women and Cornelius Matthews came into the house; they were sitting by the fire; after sitting betwixt five and ten minutes, I got up and went to the door, came back and sat down, sat there betwixt a half and three quarters of an hour, I said to my wife, I believe I’ll go to bed, pulled off my clothes, went to bed and just as I Iayed down, I heard a voice said, “Take care, take care, God damn you, I’ve got you now,” a gun fired and Carrie fell; I jumped up out of the bed and hollered for Randall Mason to come here quick; when Randall came I saw a man going up through the old field; I was by the pig pen ten or fifteen steps from the retreating man; he was riding; the moon wasn’t up; I take the voice that said, “take care, take care, God damn you, I’ve got you now” to be the voice of Mr. Bee Martin; it was not too dark for me to see the horse; didn’t know whether he had a gun or not; he ran around the garden and got on his horse a little piece from the corner of the garden; he was just mounting and turned his horse as I saw him; couldn’t track to do any good on account of the rain after the shooting; I came back, made the alarm and sent for the doctor; I am satisfied it was Mr. Bee Martin that called me at the door the first time; didn’t come out of the door after Mr. Bee Martin threatened me; this is all I know about it; of my knowledge I know of no circumstances to connect Mr. Bee Martin with the shooting; the man riding off didn’t look like he had a hat on; my little boy found a hat next morning near the ladder leaning against the chimney; didn’t see the gun; there was a light; and Carrie Farrow was standing in front of fire; (hat exhibited) can’t say whose hat it is. A. W. Thomas Sarah Matthews, sworn, said: Lives in the house where the shooting occurred; was going over the creek to a candy pulling with my sister Amanda and my husband Cornelius Matthews; the candy pulling didn’t take place because Bee Martin was there; a great many people gathered; Carrie Farrow said she was afraid of Bee Martin and asked us to let her come back with us and stay all night with us; as we were coming home Bee Martin overtook us on the road; he rode up and said, “Manda, who are all these you’ve got here with you?” She said, “Sarah, Cornelius and amongst us;” Bee Martin asked where was Carrie; she told him she did not know; Bee Martin said, “all I want is to lay my eyes on her, God damn her, I’ll kill her before morning;” he passed still cursing and saying all he wanted was to see Carrie Farrow, God damn her, he would kill her before morning; Bee Martin came in front of my house and called my brother, A. W. Thomas, as high as three times; he said “Thomas, God damn you, I’ll kill you in the morning, excepting God paralyzes me;” he went on riding up the road; we all sat down in the house; and sister “Manda said to Carrie if she had eaten anything, she said no, I haven’t eat anything since night before last; I got up and gave her some molasses and bread, I turned to pour some milk out of the churn; the churn was in front of the fire, as I aimed to cover the churn, Bee said, “take care, take care, God damn you I’ve got you;” I was between the hole near the chimney and Carrie; I saw the gun and fell back; the gun went off and shot Carrie Farrow; the gun protruded into the house about four inches; I was so frightened I can’t say whether it was a double or single barrel gun; I am sure that it was the voice of Bee Martin that said, “take care, take care, God damn you, I’ve got you now”; I am sure he had no gun when he overtook us; he was riding a black horse; don’t know of my own knowledge why Carrie was scared of Bee; when we heard Bee coming from the candy pulling, we recognized Bee’s horse and heard him cursing, then Carrie Farrow hid in the pines; don’t know the hat exhibited to me; this is all I know about it.

Sarah Matthews.

Amanda Thomas, sworn, said: Lives in the house where the shooting occurred; on last Friday night Sarah and Cornelius Matthews went over the creek to a candy pulling; candy pulling didn’t go because Bee Martin was there; Carrie Farrow and Lindsay Wilson were to give it; Carrie Farrow said as Bee Martin had threatened her she was afraid and this was the reason it didn’t come off; Carrie Farrow said let me go home with you all and stay all night; I know that Carrie Farrow was under Sarah Martin’s house; she got under there to get out of Bee Martin’s way; when we arrived she came out; Bee Martin ran against Sarah Martin’s door and broke the fastening of the door; we all ran out, Carrie

Farrow with us; we came on back home and Bee Martin overtook us; Carrie Farrow dodged out in the pines; Bee Martin rode up and said ‘Manda, who are all of these you have got with you?;” I said, “Sarah and Cornelius and them’uns” he came on to my house and called my husband and said “Martin God damn you, I’ll kill you in the morning unless God paralyzes me.” Bee Martin then went on up the road; we came in and talked a while; I asked Carrie if she had eaten anything; I told Sarah Matthews to get up and give Carrie some bread; Sarah poured out the molasses; Carrie said “put it down, I’m not ready for it yet, Carrie asked for some bread and milk; I heard a voice at the chimney say, “look out, God damn you, I’ve got you now;” Carrie Farrow came in night clothes; she had been broken upon by Mr. Bee Martin while dressing for the candy pulling; just before hearing the voice at the chimney corner; she asked me to loan her one of my dresses; she walked to the fire and was buttoning up the basque; I heard the voice say, “look out, I’ve got you,” I heard the gun go off; I was frightened and didn’t give the alarm; Carrie Farrow whirled and fell t1at of her face; heard no more voices outside; I recognized the voice as that of Mr. Bee Martin; can’t tell whether Mr. Bee Martin was drinking or not; don’t know the cause of the fuss between Mr. Bee Martin and Carrie Farrow; Carrie told us Bee said if she reported him for beating her Monday night he would kill her; he tried in the village to get together she said, to make it up with him, and told her if she didn’t he would give her 20 lashes or kill her; Mr. Bee Martin has not been here since the shooting; don’t know whose hat the one shown me is; Mr. Martin had no gun when he passed me; the night was hazy and cloudy; he was riding his black horse Black Sally; this is all I know about it.

Amanda Thomas

Dr. J. W. W. Marshall, sworn, said:
Made a post mortem examination on the dead body of Caroline Farrow with Dr. D. Sloan Benson. Found a gun shot wound in the left hip two and a half to three inches in diameter. The shot passed through the hip bone, entered the cavity of the pelvis, and lodged in the pelvis. Did not cut any of the bowels nor the pelvic viscera. Found the shot in the hollow of the sacrum, small bird shot. Found on examination profuse internal hemorrhage had taken place from the effects of the gun shot wound. I suppose from the small shot taken out the wound, that it must have been inflicted by means of a shot gun .

J. W. W. Marshall, M.D.

Dr. D. Sloan Benson, sworn, said: I made the post mortem examination, in company with Dr. Marshall and corroborate above statement in every particular.

D. Sloan Benson, M.D.

The Verdict of the Jury, State of South Carolina
Abbeville County

An inquisition taken at the Martin plantation in Abbeville county, the 21st day of February, A. D., 1881, before J. A. Shillito, Coroner of said County, upon the body of Caroline Farrow of Abbeville County, S.C., then and there being dead, by the oaths of James A. Reid, E. B. Taylor, A. T. Fleming, Thomas Crawford, J. Thomas Fortescue, A. E. Lesly, E. Richey, B. W. Williams, T. P. Millford, R. A. Richey, G. C. Dusenberry, J. H. Walker, being a lawful Jury of Inquest, who being charged and sworn to enquire for the State of South Carolina, where and by what means the said Caroline Farrow came to her death by a gun shot wound inflicted upon her on the night of Friday the eighteenth day of February, A. D. 1881, and that said shot was fired by W. B. Martin, and so the Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid W. B. Martin in manner and form aforesaid Caroline Farrow then and there feloniously did kill, against the peace and dignity of the same State aforesaid.

J. A. Shillito, C. A. C.
Statement of J. Campbell Martin
Jas. A. Reid, Foreman
A. E. Lesly
J. H. Walker
T. P. Milford
Thomas Crawford
A. T. Fleming
E. B. Taylor
ED. Richey
J. T. Fortescue
Beny. W. Williams
G. C. Dusenberry
R. A. Richey

In an interview with Mr. J. Campbell Martin, brother of the accused, he made the following statement: “My brother, William B. Martin, denies committing the deed, and I believe my brother’s statement as to his innocence. You have no doubt observed that the witnesses testify that the deed was done about nine o’clock. My brother was at my house in bed asleep at that hour. He is not going away. He will stay and stand his trial if indicted. I do not care to say why he is not here to-day. This is all I have to say.

Dissatisfaction Among the Negroes.

Hearing that the Negroes were dissatisfied at the fact that William Bee Martin had not been arrested, and learning that the rumor was current among them to the effect that Trial Justice Calhoun had on Saturday last refused to issue a warrant for his arrest, although the accused was in town on that day. We called at the Justice’s office where we were furnished with a copy of the following:

State of South Carolina
Abbeville County

Personally appeared before me, Orville T. Calhoun, a Trial Justice of said State, Cornelius Matthews, who, being duly sworn, says: That at Abbeville, S.C., on or about the 18th February, 1881, Caroline Farrow, while in the house of Martin Thomas, was shot by someone on the outside of said house, through a crack in said house, that from information delivered from others and from facts which he knows of his own knowledge, he verily believes W. B. Martin is the person who shot the said Caroline Farrow, and prays that he may be apprehended and dealt with according to law.


Cornelius X Matthews
Sworn to before me this 19th February, 1881.
Orville T. Calhoun, Trial Justice, A. C.

Colonel Calhoun afterward kindly furnished the following statement as to the rumor, and we give the same in his own words; Mr. Calhoun said that after he had taken the above affidavit he asked the prosecutor if he had witnesses with him; that if he had, Martin was in town and he could go on with the case then. The prosecutor said he did not have his witnesses and would like to have the case put off until Monday. Mr. Calhoun agreed to this and asked for the names of the witnesses, and the prosecutor and those with him gave the following names: Mr. Kirby, Martin Thomas, Ephraim Martin, Sarah Martin, Jason Gray, Lindsay Wilson, Amanda Thomas, Sarah Matthews, and Phil Madden. Mr. Calhoun told the parties that he would send up on Monday morning for Martin and witnesses, and that they had better go on home as Martin was in town drinking, and some of them might get into a difficulty with him. They said they would go straight on home. Mr. Calhoun told them that if the girl should die before Monday morning they must inform the sheriff as soon as the girl died and he would have Martin arrested, and they said they would do so. Mr. Calhoun says he heard late on Saturday that the girl was dead, and that the sheriff had sent Mr. J. Y. Jones to arrest Martin, but that he saw a brother of the girl soon afterward and was told by him that his sister was not dead but very low. He told him if his sister should die, to inform the sheriff and he would arrest Martin and he said he would. On Monday morning he was informed that the girl was dead and Mr. Jones had been sent to arrest Martin. He got this information from the sheriff, and was told by the sheriff at the same time that he had sent Jones to arrest Martin on Saturday evening, but he had failed to arrest him.

The Accused

The accused is a descendant of one of the old and well-known families of Abbeville County, and as a matter of course is related to a number of our citizens. His father was John Campbell Martin, senior, who died on his farm, seven miles west of Abbeville Court House, in 1854, one of the wealthiest men in the county at that time. Besides being the owner of thirty-five hundred acres of land, he possessed more than one hundred slaves, together with all the implements and stock incident to the conduct of a farm of this size. The accused and his brother, J. Campbell Martin, inherited the water power and about two thousand acres of the land. On this valuable property the two brothers, being the youngest of the family, reside. The accused is an unmarried man, aged 26 years, and lives alone in a little log house on the farm on the east side of the river and near the mill.

The Deceased

Caroline Farrow, the deceased, was a Negro woman of perhaps thirty-five years of age, and leaves a number of little children.

J. Campbell Martin and the death of L. P. “Pem” Guttin

I have been spending too much time on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website.
That is where I pulled the original articles about the murder of Carolina Farrow by William Belton (Bee) Martin after Dr. Ware tipped my off to them. In looking for information of W. B., I found something interesting about his brother, my great great grandfather, J. Campbell Martin.


The news and herald (Winnsboro, SC)
March 3, 1881. Image 2.

“A Terrible Murder”

J. Campbell Martin, a brother of W. B. Martin who was indicted with C. A. McClung for the murder of Pem Guffin some months since,…




It’s 2am and the baby will be up in for the day in five hours but WHY NOT LET’S SEARCH.


Anderson Intelligencer
September 30, 1880. Image 3.

A difficulty occurred in Abbeville on last Monday between Mr. P. L. Guffin and Mr. McClung over a game of billiards, which terminated in the latter shooting and killing the former. We have not been able to obtain the particulars of the altercation.


Anderson Intelligencer
October 24, 1880. Image 3.

“Brief Mention.”

Charles A. McClung and J. Campbell Martin, the parties charged with the murder of L. P. Guffin in Abbeville week before last, the former as principal and the latter as accessory, were brought before Judge McGowan, at Abbeville, on Monday of last week upon a writ of habeas corpus, and, after examination; admitted to bail in the sum of $3,000 each.


Anderson Intelligencer
October 28, 1880. Image 3.

C. A. McClung and J. C. Martin were tried in Abbeville last week for the killing of L. P. Guffin and acquitted.


That’ll have to be it for now until I can dig through local newspaper and court records at some point. The Abbeville newspaper isn’t part of the online collection. There are much more interesting questions that I need answers to before I explore this novelty of family history though. Maybe I would be more curious if it didn’t fit so well with the ideas I already have; if it was pointing me in another direction. It’s not.

The Beckwiths Come to Orangeburg

I am not fascinated with my family tree as simply a collection of genes, but in how history and war and geography shaped that tree. Orangeburg, South Carolina is a huge part of that. Orangeburg was where the Beckwith family and the Moorer family came together. I kind of knew that, but hadn’t dug out the details of it because I’d assumed the story was boring and full of people named Henry growing corn.

Burnt out on researching the Martin family, I set out to answer the questions of why and how the Beckwith family came to Orangeburg. I wasn’t expecting much, but what I began to unearth was, to me at least, kind of amazing in its dramatic expression of our country’s violent relationship with itself.

Laurence Ranson BeckwithLaurence Ranson Beckwith* was born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1842. Two short autumn months after L. R.’s eighteenth birthday, his home state would be the first to secede from the union. When he enlisted in the 6th Regiment South Carolina Cavalry in Columbia on June 12 of 1862, he brought with him a horse valued at $250 and equipment worth $60. Shortly after being furloughed with grave injuries two years later, he would carry with him the rank of of First Sergeant, the remains of a subordinate, and a bearing towards that man’s family burial ground in the rural countryside. America’s bloodiest war officially ended before Beckwith’s twenty-fourth birthday.

[UPDATE: I recently discovered that L. R. Beckwith served alongside his younger brother in the Infantry prior to his service with the Calvary]

The son of Laurens Butler Beckwith and Harriett Hunt, L. R. was the type to show up later in books about prominent Virginia families, even after being born himself in South Carolina. L. R.’s grandfather had two middle names and a plantation, the son himself of an English baronet. They married people who were related to people who signed the Constitution when they weren’t marrying their own first cousins.

According to Some Prominent Virginia Families (Volume 4, Page 24), L. R. was captain in the “Hampton Legion,” Confederate States Army. However, I’ve had some issues with this particular book, so anything that I get from it is pretty much for “good starting point” value only.

The more I looked into the captain claims, the funnier they smelled. Finally, my nose led me to Battle of Trevilian Station: The Civil War’s Greatest and Bloodiest All Cavalry Battle (Col. Swank, USAF Ret.), a book that had both the story and some documentation to go with it. 1st Sergeant Beckwith’s military career ended in Louisa County, Virginia in June of 1864. The paperwork for his furlough was done by July. Advertisements for an insurance agency that L. R. was involved in during the 1880s list his name with no title along with an associate who is designated as “Capt.” I’m pretty confident that Beckwith was indeed a first sergeant when he was taken to the C.S.A. General Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia with service-ending injuries at the age of twenty-one.

Laurence stayed in the C.S.A. hospital from June 13 to July 5.  The details of the medical board examination are at the National Archives and this is my official note to myself to go look at those next time I’m in DC.  Confederate Archives, Chapter 6, File 215, Page 362.

Col. Swank (RET) prints in his book a letter from Robert B. Wilkinson, Jr., of St. Matthews, that provides some detail to the story:

Francis Marion Moorer was the great-great-great uncle of Robert B. Wilkinson, Jr., and Captain John L. Wilkinson, USAF, of the Wade Hampton Camp #273 of Columbia, S.C. He was born Jan. 1, 1825, in Orangeburgh District, being named for the “Swamp Fox,” (Francis Marion, who was one of South Carolina’s heroes of the first war for independence) under whom his grandfather served in 1781 as a lieutenant. At the time of his enlistment on Dec. 21, 1861, “Frank” as he was known, was a moderately successful planter. His plantation ‘Magnolia Grove,’ was built in 1810 and inherited from his father. It was built adjacent to his great grandfather’s land (who was one of the first settlers of Orangeburg, S.C., in 1735, a Swiss.) He was enlisted at the age of 36, in the 20th Regiment, S.C. Volunteer Infantry, later Company B, under Capt. P.A. McMichael, serving on Sullivan’s Island and the defenses of Charleston, S.C. On Feb. 1, 1863, he requested transfer to the 5th S.C. Cavalry, Company A and served with them in Charleston until called to Virginia. While serving under General Wade Hampton’s command, he was mortally wounded in the fighting at Trevilian’s Station, Virginia, on June 11, 1864. He died the next morning. His young friend, Sgt. Lawrence Ransom Beckwith, marked his grave. (Beckwith was also wounded in that battle.) Beckwith who was to become Frank’s nephew after the war, returned to the grave with Frank’s brother, John Lewis Moorer and a two horse wagon. They recovered his remains in some sort of bag and solemnly rode the 460 miles back to their home. His final resting place was the old family burying ground on his great grandfather’s land. Frank’s widow and two daughters survived the barbaric horde of Gen. William T. Sherman eight months after his death only one daughter was to survive past 1880 on the impoverished plantation.

As Mr. Wilkinson alludes to, after his return to Orangeburg with Pvt. Moorer’s brother, L. R. stayed and married Ann Hess Moorer a short time later. L. R. went into business with the Moorer family, competed in the local agricultural fair against them, and was buried in the cemetery alongside the man he had once fought great and bloody battles with.

There’s so much more to the story, but in the interest of actually hitting Publish on this thing, I will save that for another time. L. R. died in 1884 at the age of 42 and the second half of life may be worth even more discussion than the first. Reconstruction was not an easy time for men like Beckwith.


*Laurence Ranson Beckwith’s first name can be read in his signature as either Lawrence or Laurence. I usually see it written by other people as Lawrence because that is the traditional spelling. His middle name is printed in some records as Ransom and others as Ranson.

I believe the first name is Laurence and middle name is Ranson because he named his son after himself and that son’s name is most definitely Laurence Ranson Beckwith (1898 – 1907). That is how the name is spelled on the son’s gravestone in the cemetery of Prospect Southern Methodist Church in Orangeburg, South Carolina. That gravestone would have been erected under the direction of the senior Laurence Ranson Beckwith himself and most certainly wouldn’t contain a misspelling.

It is also worth noting that, a generation before, the family lived in what later became Ranson, West Virginia. Either way, it seems that he went by L. R. Two Three of L. R.’s grandsons (including my grandfather) were named Laurens so the name thing is of a bit of interest to me.

Doling Dollars After Death

Wills are interesting things, really. They often tell more of the family story than a census ever could. In the will text below a grandmother doles out dollars — one at a time.

This is the will of Nancy Martin of Abbeville County, South Carolina. Born Nancy Benning, married George Washington Martin.
Date: 3 June 1842

S108093: South Carolina Will Transcripts (Microcopy No 9)


Nancy Martin


In the name of God Amen.
Know all men by these presents, that I Nancy Martin of the state & district afforesaid relict of the late George Washington Martin deceased. being weak in body, but of sound mind, memory and understanding, do make and ordain this , my last will and testiment, in the words following ( to wit )
First, I Resign my body to the grave, and my soul to God who gave it.
It is my will that all my just debts by paid, by disposing of the crop, when raised and divided, the share falling to me to be sold at auction, togethet with my farming tools & such of my effects as shall be thought advisable by my executor.

I do will & bequeath unto my son William Bird Martin late of the State & District aforesaid but now of Alabama the sum of one dollar to be his full share of my estate. to be paid him by my executor.

I do will and bequeath unto my son John Benning Martin of the State & District aforesaid the sum of one dollar, to be his full share of my estate. to be paid him by my executor.

I do and bequeath unto my daughter Martha Sarah Ann Childs, of the State & District aforesaid, the sum of ten dollars to be her fair share of my estate to be paid her by my executor.

I do will and bequeath unto my daughter America Rowenna Eliza Haddon the sum of ten dollars to be paid by my executor also. I will and bequeath unto the aforenamed America my trunk and safe, which together will the aforesaid ten dollars shall be her full share of my estate.

I do will and bequeath unto my remaining daughter, Indiana Martin all the remainder of my estate, after paying all my just debts, together with the expenses of Administration and the aforenamed legacies, excepting my saddle which I bequeath to my grand daughter Arabella Frances Childs.

Furthermore, it is my will that my daughter Indiana, recieve unsold my shairs, clock, crockery & glass ware. My two looking glasses, drinking table, loom & appurtenances, my three beds & all my bed clothing, my three dedsteads, flybrush. together with such other property as she may desire, which may not be needed to defray any of the aforesaid expenses.

I do furthermore appoint Dr. Franklin Branch my executor to this my last will & testiment. In my testimony where I subscribe my name & affix my seal this third day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty two. and of the independence of the United States of America the sixty sixth.

Signed sealed & delivered
in the presence of

Peter Gibert
Thos. A. Benning

F. Brance

the interlining made before signing.

Nancy X Martin (T. S.)

Nancy Benning Beckwith, Will, Page 1, 1842Nancy Benning Beckwith, Will, Page 2, 1842

Rubbernecking Genealogically

It’s easy to get caught off-guard when trolling through old archive. Irrelevant record after irrelevant record. When you do find what you are looking for, it often just confirms what you know. So much time in research, when done correctly, is spent collecting corroborating documents. Occasionally it is through this process that you actually learn something new, or are forced to unlearn what you were calling fact.

But somethings the humanity of these dusty records is unavoidable.

The story of a five year-old girl who lost her mother and was immediately shipped off to family so that her father could immediately remarry. Divorce papers citing “insufferable cruelty” that uncover the story of a stepfather’s abuse of a seventeen year-old girl. A civil war veteran who returns home, but dies of what are called “natural causes” before his fiftieth birthday.

Sometimes even the stories told by the records of strangers pull on our heart long enough to cause us to pause. The follow record makes me wonder if the decedents of these people know their storied history and its complexity.*

From the South Carolina Department of Archives & History

Series: S165015
Year: 1827
Item: 00101
ignore: 000

Date: 11/10/1827




Document type: PETITION


From the Digital Library of American Slavery (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Abstract: David Martin represents “that from causes unnecessary to detail, he is the Father of two colored female children, to whom he wishes to give his property both Real and personal, for them and their issue to enjoy.” He therefore prays that an act be passed “manumitting his said two children, viz Eliza Martin, born 1812 and Martha Martin born 1817.”
Result: rejected

Available through Google Books (or at least the piece reverent to this), page 137 of Fathers of Conscience: Mixed-Race Inheritance in the Antebellum South by Bernie D. Jones offers an even more personal picture, including how David was successful in securing at the least the financial future of his family.

*As a postscript: As they were members of the Martin family, born in Albemarle, Virginia and residing South Carolina in the first half of the nineteenth century, I cannot say that these people are not fruit on the family tree but I certainly wouldn’t claim it without connecting many more dots.

John Campbell, Will Transciption, 1823

Source: South Carolina Department of History & Archives
Series: S108093
Reel: 0003
Frame 00057
Item 002
Record 41
Date 2/15/1823


In the name of God, Amen. I John Campbell of Abbeville district and state of South Carolina being of sound and disposing mind and memory and in a common state of health, calling to mind the uncertainty of life, and being desirous of disposing of all such worldly Estate as it hath pleased God to bless me with, do make and ordain this my last will and Testament in manner and form as Follows to Wit.

1st. It is my Will that the Whole of my Estate real and personal be sold on such credit or Credits as my Executors hereafter named may think most advantageous and most conducive to the Interest of my Legatus, my old Negro Lewis excepted, and also the land I own in Pendleton District that formerly belonged to Wm, McKee dec’d.

Item 2nd. To my grand daughter Arabella Chambers of the State of North Carolina I give and bequeath the sum of four thousand dollars to be paid her when she attains to twenty one years of age or Marries to her, her heirs and assigns for ever.

Item 3d. To my Grandson John S. Simmons I give and bequeath the sum of one thousand dallas, to be paid him when he attains twenty one years of age.

Item 4th. To Elizabeth Miller wife of George Miller of AbbevilleDistrict and State of South Carolina I give and bequeath the sum of four thousand dollars to her, her heirs and assigns for ever.

Item 5th. To my daughter Charlotte Cobb Wife of James Cobb, I give the sum of fifty dollars to her, her heirs for ever.

Item 6, The land I own in Pendleton consisting of two tracts containing about eleven hundred and twenty acres, formerly owned by Wm McKee, I give and bequeath the same to Jane McKee Widow Wife of the aforesaid Wm. McKee, dec’d, to her, her heirs and assigns for ever, pm the Condition that the said Jane shall well and truly pay to myself or to my Executors the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars if she does not comply with this condition, it is my Will that my executors sell one or both the tracts aforesaid, or so much thereof, at their discretion as will make the said sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, and give the balance to her the said Jane as aforesaid.

Item 7th. It is my Will that my Executors retain in their hands the sum of five hundred dollars for casualties and necessary expenses, until the business of the estate is done or completed.

Item 8th.All the balance of the Estate is, and it is my will that the same be divided into three equal parts and distributed as hereafter mentioned.

1st. To my Natural daughter Mary A. Simmons Wife of Thomas Simmons [or Semmons] of Abbeville District I give and bequeath one of those parts,to her, her heirs and assign forever.

2d. To my daughter Peggy Edwards Wife of Isam Edwards of North Carolina I give and bequeath one other of those parts to her, her heirs and assigns for ever.
3d. The other part (or third part) I give and bequeath to my daughter Arabella Martin and her son John C. Martin,to be equally divided between them Share and Share alike, John’s part to be paid to him when he attains twenty one years of age.

Item 9th. It is my Will that in selling of my Negroes that husband and Wife not be separated, and that my house woman Cloe have liberty in choosing her own Master, in my own family, and that old Lewis not be sold but retained in the care of my Executors and Will [well] used, and maintained out of my estate, in case he becomes unable to support himself.

Item 10. It is my Will that all my Just debts be paid, previous to a division of my estate into the three equal parts as mentioned in Item 8th. in case there be any such debts.

Item 11th. Isam Edwards of North Carolina owes me on a Note or obligation without seal a considerable sum of money, which if he refuses to pay or settle the same (with Interest at six per Cent) in part of the Legacy given his Wife, then in that case, I revoke the Legacy given to my daughter Peggy his wife, and give and bequeath the same to my other Legatees.

Lastly. I do hereby appoint my trusty and confidential friends Henry Johnson, Patrick Johnson and John Morrow Executors of this my last will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills by me made, ratifying and confirming this to be my last Will and Testament.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set and seal this 21st day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty one. Signed Sealed, Published & declared by the said Jno. [?] Campbell as his last will & testament, in our presence, who at the same time in his presence witnessed the same.

I Carris Goodwin
Samuel Huston                J Campbell        L. S.
A. Hunter

Proven by the caths of Samuel Huston & Harris Goodwin & Henry Johnson, Patrick Johnson & John Morrow qualified as Executors on the 15th day of February 1823. Before Moses Taggart, senr. O.A.D.


William Martin, Will, 1818

Source: South Carolina Department of Archives & History
Series: S108093
Reel: 0003
Frame: 00021
Item: 001

Date: January 15, 1818


State of South Carolina Abbeville District

In the name of God Amen. I William Martin on the district & State aforesaid being weak in body but of sound mind & memory and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do constitute and appoint this my last will and testament in manner and form following Viz.

1st. it is my will that after my death all my just and lawful debts should be paid.

2ndly I will and bequeath unto my Nephew William Marshall Moore one bed and Cloathing also one Gun. —– wly.

I will & bequeath to my Nephew William Bird Martin (son of Nancy & George Washington Martin) all the residue of my Estate as the only pledge of that brotherly love I can possibly wince for their kind and endearing treatment to me from the earliest dawn of my residence with them to the present moment.

4thly. I do constitute and appoint my beloved brother George Washington Martin my lawful Executor knowing that all due regard and attention will be paid in the discharge of the duties I have repased in him, hereby revoking all other Wills whatsoever. ———-

In Witness whereof I have put my hand and Seal this 4th day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventeen.

Signed Sealed & delivered in presence of
Thos. McMillion            Wm. Martin        L.S.
Andrew x Smith

The above will proved by the oath of Thomas McMillion the 15th day of January 1818 before Thomas Livingston Senr.

William Martin, 1818, Last Will & Testament

Charles Martin, Will Abstract, 1808

This is the abstract of the will of Charles Martin, born in or about 1741 in Albemarle, Virginia and died in 1808 in Abbeville, South Carolina.

Dated 28 June 1808 – Proven 25 October 1808
Will Book I (1787 – 1815) p. 368 – A. Hamilton, ORD

I Charles Martin of Dist. Abbeville and State of South Carolina ———-

  1. I give to my son Jacob Martin 3 negroes ———-
  2. I give to son George Washington Martin plantation 289 a. after my wife’s decease
  3. I lend to my daighter Suckey Moor 1 negro girl ———-
  4. I lend to my son William Martin 3 negroes. If son William should marry ———-
  5. I give to my grandsons James and Thomas Cobbs ———- 15 lbs. Ster. each.
  6. I give to my granddaughter Patsey Bibb a mourning habit ———-
  7. I lend to my beloved wife Pattey Martin ———-
  8. The Executors after my wife’s death ———- pay to Sally Nichols $100. ———-
  9. After that the whole of my estate to be laid off in lots and all my surviving children draw, except Sally Nichols ———-

Executors: Sons Jacob and George Washington, and Wife Pattey Martin.
No executors’ report was found in files.

Thomas Martin, Will Abstract, 1792

Abstract Will of Thomas Martin, Albemarle County, Virginia, Dated 1792
Threads of ancestors: Telford, Ritchie, Mize,
Author: Leila Ritchie Mize; Jessie Julia Mize
Publisher: [Athens? Ga., 1956] Page 166, 167

I Thomas Martin of Albemarle County, and Parish of St. Anns ———- do make and ordain this my last will and testament.

I lend to my wife Mary Martin all that tract of land ———-.

After the decease of my wife I give my son Abraham the land and negroes ———- lent to my wife above.

I give to my son George Martin ———-.
I give to my grandson Martin Moor ———.
I give to my son Thomas Martin ———-.
I give to my grand daughter Milley Moor ———-.

All the rest of eastate shall be sold and divided equally amongst the following children:
Charles Martin, John Martin, Thomas Martin, Pleasant Martin, George Martin, Letty Moor, Milley Oglesby, Nancy M. Blane, Molley Dawson, and Martin Moor.
Executors, Samuel Murrell, Tandy Key, George Martin, and Pleasant Martin.
Dated 25th day July, 1792.
Signed: Thomas Martin.
Witnesses, Benjamin Harwell, Thomas Johnson, Willim W. Moram (his mark)