Journals of the County and Intermediate Court 1786- 1790, Laurens County, SC

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has a microfilm of the Journals of the County and Intermediate Court 1786- 1790  for  Laurens county.  “The County Court Act of 1785 established county courts… ‘to hear and determine all causes at the common law’… where the debt or damages did not exceed fifty pounds… all personal actions where the damages did not exceed twenty pounds… and to hear criminal cases where judgment would not call for the loss of life or corporal punishment”.1

The journal is interesting reading, providing insight into how our ancestors sought to govern themselves at the dawning of America as a nation.  The Treaty of Paris had formally ended English claims on America just three years before this journal opens.  The court cases have a very “English” cast, reflecting a society in transition.

An important item on the court’s agenda for 17 March 1786  was regulating “Publick Taverns”.2 Continue reading “Journals of the County and Intermediate Court 1786- 1790, Laurens County, SC”

Peacetime Neighbors and Wartime Comrades

Fair Forest, SC

In the spring of 1772, Peter Pettypool purchased 202 acres of land in what he- as a recent resident of Granville County, North Carolina- believed to be Tryon County, North Carolina. South Carolina considered it to be part of the Ninety Six District, in an area referred to as Fair Forest.

It is unclear how far Peter progressed toward settling this land, and the process was interrupted, and ultimately terminated, by the Revolutionary War. Peter chose to side with those loyal to the Crown. While settling in Fair Forest and serving in the wartime militia, Peter would have encountered persons both interesting and colorful, some of whom, as Loyalists, are not commonly found in traditional accounts. Here are brief notes on some of them. Continue reading “Peacetime Neighbors and Wartime Comrades”

Where the Buffello roamed…

Backcountry South Carolina in the Year 1722

I have spent a great deal of time trying to understand exactly how and when my Laurens County South Carolina Pettypool family arrived in South Carolina. The time-line is still somewhat vague and uncertain, but the probable first attempt to permanently settle occurred in the early 1770’s, in the Fair Forest region of the Ninety Six district, in present day Union County. Once that was established, the question arose: how did that region appear to my 4th great grandfather Peter Pettypool almost 2 ½ centuries ago? Fortunately, there are some brief descriptions of the region from an English naturalist, who traveled through the area about 50 years earlier.

In 1722 an English naturalist named Mark Catesby made a journey to South Carolina to collect plant and animal specimens on the behalf of the Royal Society. The work resulted in publication of The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands in London. Although he spent a great deal of his time in Charleston and the Lowcountry, Catesby did make expeditions into western South Carolina, penetrating as far as the Appalachian mountains. Continue reading “Where the Buffello roamed…”

How to talk like you are from 19th century South Carolina?

How to talk like you are from 19th century South Carolina?…Let Mr. Edward Hooker be your guide.

When Edward Hooker wrote his diary of his time in South Carolina (1805- 1808)1 , he included a commentary on the “great many peculiarities of phrase… some of them vulgarisms and some …proper enough, and convey an idea with force” which he encountered during his stay. So, to assist you in understanding how your early 19th century Carolina ancestors probably expressed themselves, here is Mr. Hooker’s guide, edited for presentation:

All but is a favorite expression for all most Eg. We all but turned over.

Cabin is used for a log house or any poor mansion.”

Carry a horse to water is vulgarly used for lead him to water.”

Clever for likely, learned, able, excellent.”

Cotch for caught is very common.”

Crap for crop. Even sensible men speak of their crap of cotton…” Continue reading “How to talk like you are from 19th century South Carolina?”

Mr. Hooker Goes to Cambridge

Edward Hooker was born in Farmington, Connecticut on April 27, 1785. After graduating from Yale College in 1805 he traveled to South Carolina, planning to settle in the relatively new capitol city of Columbia and work as a lawyer. From his arrival in 1805 until 1808 he kept a diary, recording his views on the people he encountered and their social and political life. Extracts from his diary were published in 1896, edited by J. Franklin Jameson.1

As editor, Jameson notes in his introduction that he “… felt obliged, with much regret, to omit almost entirely the highly interesting portions which exhibit, in minute detail and apparently with much fidelity the social life of South Carolina…”, and “… the diarist’s description of Charleston and Beaufort [were] omitted…”, so that “[i]n the main, the extracts relate to days passed at Columbia.” Given this approach, much that is of potential interest to genealogists and family historians with connections to early 19th century South Carolina is not readily available.

However, in the extracts presented, Hooker writes in some detail about the new town of Columbia2, the lively debates in the State legislature, lawyers and judges in the courts, and the new “… college buildings which are erecting on a pleasant rise of ground about ¼ 0f a mile southeast of the State House”- now the University of South Carolina. If you have ancestry in the Midlands of South Carolina this diary can help you to understand the world they lived in. Continue reading “Mr. Hooker Goes to Cambridge”