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”

A Family Legend and a Legendary Family

Mr. Workman Speculates on the Poole’s of Laurens County in 1914

Part One

In my search thus far, I’ve found two historical accounts of how my Pool family came to reside in Laurens County, SC. The most well known, and complete, is that of Bessie Poole Lamb and Mary Mack Poole Ezell from 1931. I’ve written about this book in The Arrival of the Scuffletown Pool Family in Laurens County, South Carolina and at the Pettypool Family in America website.

A second account was published in The Laurens Advertiser on May 20, 1914, when the paper reprinted an article that T. M. Workman had published earlier in The Thornwell Messenger. The context of the article was early corn mills in Laurens County, and Mr. Workman opens his article with the assertion that:

The first corn mill ever put up in the bounds of the present county of Laurens, S. C., might have been the mill on Enoree river owned by Edward Musgrove. But there was another one higher up on a little stream called Buckhead that flows into Enoree river that had some claim of being one of the first corn mills of Laurens county. Continue reading “A Family Legend and a Legendary Family”

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”

“Bring no Dogs with you…”- Charles Woodmason in the South Carolina Backcountry

Bring no Dogs with you- they are very troublesome- and I shall fine inform the Magistrate of those who do it, for it is an Affront to the Divine Presence which We invoke…”[1]

Perhaps if you have ancestors who lived in the backcountry of South Carolina during the colonial era, you will find the journal and sermons of the Reverend Charles Woodmason interesting. Charles Woodmason was an Englishman who arrived in Charles Town South Carolina about 1752 with the intention of establishing himself, and to then to have his wife and son join him. Woodmason held a variety of positions in colonial SC, establishing himself first as a planter and country store owner, followed by a number of political, military and governmental appointments. However, when he accepted an appointment as agent for the Stamp Act of 1765, he found himself in a swift fall from grace: “… the Americans being very fond at present of all who declar’d … against the Stamp Act. As I was intended for a Distributor, I thereby lost their Affections, and shall never more regain them”.[2] Continue reading ““Bring no Dogs with you…”- Charles Woodmason in the South Carolina Backcountry”

A Loyalist in the Fork Between the Broad and Saluda Rivers

But this is not all. Vigorous measures are absolutely necessary. If a dozen persons [Loyalists] are allowed to be at large, our progress has been in vain, and we shall be involved in a civil war in spite of our teeth. In giving you this information, I tell a melancholy truth, but I do my duty. Report to the S. C. Council of Safety by William Henry Drayton, from Lawson’s Fork, 21 August 1775.

GENTLEMEN: — Being on my return from the frontiers of South Carolina, where the Honorable Mr. Drayton and myself were sent by the Council of Safety of our Province, I think it my duty to acquaint you that there exists in those parts a most dangerous conspiracy against the lives and liberties of these Colonies. William Tennent, Report to the S.C. Council of Safety, from St. Mathew’s Parish, 10 September 1775.[1]

The “melancholy” predictions of Drayton and Tennent of a “dangerous conspiracy” and “civil war” in the South Carolina backcountry were prophetic. The inability of the Continental Army under Nathanial Greene to defeat Sir Henry Clinton in South Carolina resulted in the Patriot cause being carried forward by various militia groups, at times augmented by militia from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. When Clinton returned to the northern colonies leaving a much reduced force of British Regulars under Cornwallis to secure their gains in South Carolina, Cornwallis was forced to make use of militia recruited from Loyalists in the colony. The result was that much of the fighting in SC was between fellow colonists. The effect was to make the Revolutionary War the first civil war in South Carolina. Continue reading “A Loyalist in the Fork Between the Broad and Saluda Rivers”

Stepney Parish- the Vestry Minutes

If you are able to trace your ancestry back to England, it’s likely that you will encounter a Parish Register of some form. Instructions to each parish to record births, marriages and deaths were issued as early as the reign of Henry VIII, but many locations failed to conform, and it was not until the reign of Elizabeth I that most locations started recording vital records. The Vestry Minutes of Stepney Parish record the efforts of one East London parish to implement Elizabeth’s instructions1.

“The Xth day of ffebruary 1598 at an assembly of the vestry men…

2 Item, that three new bookes of parchment be forthwth bought to register all marriages Christeninges & burialls that have bin wthin the said pish since the first yere of hir mata raigne…”2

Unfortunately for the genealogist of today, that instruction was not entirely followed: the earliest records in the Stepney register are from 1568. Continue reading “Stepney Parish- the Vestry Minutes”

  1. Published 1890- 1891, edited by George William Hill & Walter Howard Frere as Memorials of Stepney Parish: That is to Say the Vestry Minutes From 1579 to 1662, Guilford: Printed for the subscribers by Billing & Sons; online copies and reprints are available from various sources.
  2. All quotations from this article are taken from a reprint of the Hill & Frere book..