“When you follow two separate chains of thought, Watson, you will find some point of intersection which should approximate to the truth”
– Sherlock Holmes, “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax”, Sir A. Conan Doyle
Berry Pool of Laurens County, South Carolina is well documented as my 2nd great grandfather. The paper trail from me to him is littered with enough primary evidence to satisfy even the most scrupulous of modern genealogists.
And the pedigree of a man who signed his name “Seth Petty Pool” and who settled in Laurens County, South Carolina circa 1785 has been well established by multiple researchers of the American Pettypool family.
But the “point of intersection” of those two “chains of thought” is a deceptively simple question: Is Berry Pool the son of Seth Petty Pool?
Neither Seth Petty Pool in his will nor those who probated his estate ever thought to leave a list of his legatees for modern genealogists to find. And, to date, no legal or family records have been found that supply that critical oversight. Only three of his children are known by name: Peter, John, and Martin. And not one of those three left any mention of a brother named Berry.
The secondary and compiled evidence is meager. A son of Berry Pool, John Terry (1836-1909), was a practicing physician, and his biography in the 1892 publication Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century 1 includes this statement:
“Dr. John T. Poole…His father’s name was Berry P. Poole… the son of Seth Poole, a native of Virginia… who removed from his native state to Laurens in 1767”
The biographical compiler of the Laurens County Poole family, Bessie Poole Lamb, in her 1931 book A Genealogical History of the Poole, Langston, Mason Families and Kindred Lines of Upper South Carolina also assigns Berry to Seth Petty. However, Ms. Lamb provided no source for her conclusion, and given the obvious errors in her account of the family before the arrival in SC, her statement is of little value as evidence.
In addition, since Ms. Lamb makes reference to other items of information she obtained from Dr. John Terry Pool, I suspect that these two secondary references are in fact only one reference.
We are left with a handful of extremely circumstantial hints. Ms. Lamb states that Seth Petty was married to a Berry, and the will of George Berry seems to confirm this.2 This may account for the given name of “Berry”. And, there is reasonable circumstantial evidence that Anna Cottrell was a daughter of Seth Petty Pool, and Berry was chosen as her children’s trustee after her death.3 And Berry purchased a tract of land from Seth’s estate that became the Berry Pool home farm.4 But these things only show that Berry was close to the family, not that he was in the family.
DNA testing in the Pettypool One Name Study has confirmed that I, as a descendant of Berry, am related to others with paper trails of evidence leading to William Pettypool, the Virginia immigrant. So clearly, Berry is related to Seth Petty Pool of Laurens. But the question remains- how?
So, in the end, the only reason to think that Berry was a son of Seth Petty Pool is that Berry’s son said so in 1892. That, unfortunately, is the “approximate to the truth” for perhaps the weakest link in my Pettypool family story.
1. Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century, Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1892.
2. See Laurens County Probate Court, “Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge Index to Estate Papers 1800-1939” Box 8, Package 12, 1806.
3. See Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge: General Estates Index (Guardian and Trustee Returns, Equity Estate Records, A-1, C-1, D-1 and Will Book A), Tr17. Comparison of the accounts of this trustee report with accounts in the Probate of Seth Petty Pool indicate that the children of Anna Cottrell are receiving a share of Seth’s estate.
4. He purchased the “Glen Tract of land 138 more or less”. See Laurens County Probate Court, “Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge Index to Estate Papers 1800-1939” Box 58 Pkg 4, 1837.