Seth Petty Pool's signature from 1819.

Seth Petty Pool

There is evidence that Seth Petty Pool was born in Virginia, to Peter Pettypool and Elizabeth Journey. Sometime after 1760 the family may have joined the rather extensive southwards migration of western Virginians seeking to escape the raids from Indians in the Ohio Valley. However, it is not clear exactly when or how the move from VA to SC occurred. 1

However and whenever he arrived in South Carolina, by June 1785 Seth Petty Pool is beginning to put down roots in the Buckhead Creek & Warrior Creek area of Laurens County, where his descendants were to remain for over 150 years. On June 14, he registered 100 acres purchased from George Berry on Warrior Creek.2 Over the years, Seth accumulated more land, and at the appraisal of his estate in 1837, the following tracts of land were itemized:

1 Tract of land 15[8 ] Acres more or less $244
1 Tract Do 50 Acres " " " $205
1 Tract Do 200 Acres Do " -$920
1 Tract Do 138 Acres Do " 966
1 Tract Do 100 Acres Do " 250

The 50 acre tract, called the Tally tract, was sold to Anna Cottrell (who will be discussed later). The 200 acres House tract went to Peter Pool; the 139 acre Glen tract to Berry Pool. In addition, the "Attaway tract of Land", "130 acres more or less", was sold to Robert Patterson for $650.3

The Family

When I began researching this family, I discovered that Seth Petty Pool's family has passed into near legendary status over the years. I heard accounts of his having 20 children, 25 children, all with one wife, or with two wives, etc. (I did sometimes wonder why his wife wasn't the real legend). So one goal of my research became to discover any primary evidence for:

The Wife

By tradition, Seth Petty's wife was Elizabeth Berry of Virginia, and the presence of "Berry" as a family name through two generations lends credence to the assertion.  Lamb & Ezell state that "...Seth Poole married Elizabeth Berry of Orange County, Virginia...and his wife... died March 7, 1837".4 Orange County is a Tidewater VA county formed in 1734, quite distant culturally and physically from the Southside VA counties that figured so prominently in the Pettypool family. No will or Probate Court record has been found for Elizabeth Berry Pool.

The primary evidence for Seth's wife is the 1806 Laurens County Probate of the estate of George Berry, in which are listed persons receiving a division of the estate: Wm Tucker, Peter Brooks, Seth Petty Poole, Thos Berry, [...] Bobo, Howard Smith, Leonard [...].5 A reasonable understanding of this list is that it enumerates the male children and the sons- in- law of George Berry.

The Children

The 1837 Will of Seth Petty Pool enumerates his children as follows:

my will is that all my estate real and personal Shall Be Sold and the proceds to be equiely Divided between the said Martin Pool my Son and all the Ballance of my Childrin or there Legal Representatiefs. I leave my sone John Pool, my son Peter Pool my executors to See this my Last will Executed.

Their Number

"All the Ballance of my Childrin" are unfortunately never listed in the Probate papers. But in the accounts attached to Seth's Probate is the following:

Deduct note & dist due by legator to Jno. Pool Exr. -$7.40 $12,242.70
Deduct for Ordinary [...] -$3.00                    
[...] return -$1.00                    
Atty- attendance two day before Ordinary -$10.00               $12,228.70
Divide into 12 shares due each legatee with interest from 1 July 1839 $1,019.06
deduct commission paying out each share 2.5% -$25.48                     $993.58
Interest 1 July 1839 - 16 July 1840 $72.44                     $1,066.02

So we find, buried away in the financial accounting, the answer to one question: Seth Petty Pool had 12 children who were either alive themselves in 1837 or who had produced children before their death.

An examination of the Census records from 1790 through 1830 indicate that perhaps as many as three other children were born to Seth Petty that did not survive to adulthood, but with all the assumptions required about family in the early Census, this is very speculative.

Twelve is a large family by modern standards, but not that unusual in the early 19th century, and nowhere near the legendary 25 or more.

Their Names

The only existing list of Seth's children is the one published in the Lamb & Ezell book, which includes 16 names:

"Records show the following names (1) Berry and (2) Terry ..., (3) William (died 1842), (4) T., (5) Seth, Jr., (6) Caroline, (7) Peter, (8) Martha, died in 1855, (9) Nancy, (10) George, died in 1835, (11) Betsy, (12) Anna, (13) Robert, (14) Susan, (15) John, (1797-1868), and (16) Martin.6" (The generation numbers of the original have been replaced with sequential numbers).

I have a suspicion that, whatever the source of this list, it was not compiled contemporaneously but from later recollections. It seems doubtful that anyone with direct knowledge would list a child as only "T". (Of course it is possible that Lamb & Ezell could not decipher the entry and instead of following the modern practice of using ellipses to indicate illegibility, simply copied the only letter that they could read.)

The Certain Five

As seen above, the Probate records name three children: Peter, John and Martin. But as in the case of the number of children, useful information is buried deep in the accounts:

amt in [...] hand [...] to pay          
first to [...] to wit          
the children of Cottrell $219.94
Washington Wilson's children 137.00
$356.94

Anna Cottrell purchased several items at Seth Petty Pool's Estate sale in 1837. However, a Trustee account ordered by the Laurens Probate Court indicates that she died shortly after her father.7 Berry Pool was the appointed Trustee. Among the trustee returns with the Probate Court is the following entry: "16th January 1840 Rec'd of Peter Pool Ex'or of Seth Pool dec'd Eight hundred & forty six Dollars sixty seven cents". Taken together with the entry from Seth Petty's Probate- the children of Cottrell $219.94- the total amount is $1066.61, which seems to be a practical legatee share- $1066.02- as calculated in Seth Petty's Probate.

The Claim of Widow for Service Pension for Stephen Talley, submitted by Eliza Brown Talley in 1879, states that "she has been married but once, but Stephen Talley had been married before to Margaret Pool, died August 7th, 1829".8 Stephen's daughter Elizabeth married Washington Wilson, and so their children received a share of Seth's estate.

In summary, Seth Petty Pool's Probate allows us to positively identify five children: Peter, John, Martin, Anna and Margaret.

The Other Seven

As for the remainder of the children's names, evidence varies from strong to non-existent. Berry Pool is almost certainly a child. There is strong secondary evidence ranging from contemporary legal documents to the account of his son John Terry Pool in 1892.

Probate records show that there was both a Seth Pool Sr and Seth Pool Jr active in Laurens in this time,9 lending some support to Seth Jr being a child, but as the practice of the time was to use Jr/Sr to distinguish older and younger men with identical names regardless of paternity, this cannot be definitive. (The existence of Berry Pool Sr and Berry Pool Jr (son of [William?] and Elizabeth Pool)10 is an example of this practice in action.)

Seth either posted bond or was otherwise involved in Court cases with Thomas P. Pool, William Pool, George Pool and Seth Petty Pool at various times for various indictments, indicating that these people were probably close to him, if not children.11

The Family, In Summary

In summary, I believe that Seth Petty Pool was married to a daughter of George Berry and had twelve children who reached adulthood:

For more information...

The document Seth Petty Pool and Family of Laurens County, South Carolina contains much more information about this family and the times in which they lived. Please view the pdf.

After reading, if you have any comments, corrections, or additional information, please contact me using the Contact Me page.


1. The evidence for Seth Petty's birth in Virginia to Peter Pettypool is a Parish Registry entry. See the the Pettypool Family in America pages of this site for additional details.

2. Laurens County RMC (Deeds): Index to Deeds 1774- 1903.

3. For this and all subsequent extracts from the Probate of Seth Petty Pool, see Laurens County Probate Court, "Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge Index to Estate Papers 1800-1939" Box 58, Package 4, 1839.

4.A Genealogical History of the Poole, Langston, Mason Families and Kindred Lines of Upper South Carolina by Bessie Poole Lamb and Mary-Mack Poole Ezell, page 6.

5. Laurens County Probate Court, "Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge Index to Estate Papers 1800-1939" Box 8, Package 12, 1806.

6. A Genealogical History of the Poole, Langston, Mason Families and Kindred Lines of Upper South Carolina by Bessie Poole Lamb and Mary-Mack Poole Ezell, page 6.

7. Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge: General Estates Index (Guardian and Trustee Returns, Equity Estate Records A-1, C-1, and Will Book A) TR17.

8. Claim of Widow for Service Pension, Under the Provisions of Sections 4736 to 4740 (inclusive,) Revised Statutes, and the Act of March 9th, 1878, State of Texas, County of Milan, 18 August, 1879, application of Mrs. Eliza Talley.

9. See Laurens County Probate Court, "Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge Index to Estate Papers 1800-1939", Estate Bundle 56, Package 12, 1819, Robert Pool and Estate Bundle 56, Package 9, William P. Pool.

10. See Laurens County Probate Court, "Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge Index to Estate Papers 1800-1939", Estate Bundle 110, Package 15, 1850, Elizabeth Pool, Berry Poole Executor.

11. See Laurens County Court of General Sessions Indictment Papers, Thomas P. Pool Bill of Indictment for Perjury, 1818 and Thomas P. Pool, Seth P. Pool & George Pool Bill of Indictment for Forcible Entry & Detainour, 1819.