The Story of Daniel and Robert McKelvey
 
     I feel loath to leave untold a story I have often heard in my youth of two young men, Daniel McKelvey and his cousin Robert, better known as Col. McKelvey, and father of the late Colonel. 
      A short distance below Eutaw Creek, on the river bank, was the residence of a widow lady, whose only companion was an orphan girl, and whose property consisted of a small tract of land and a few negroes. Her neighbors were not remote, but the troubled state of the times and the difficulty of access to her dwelling in the swamp had, ever since the occupation of the country by the British, and the broad distinction now existing between Whigs and Tories, cut her off almost entirely from society. The brutality of the British and Tories in sacking houses, carrying off cattle, abducting slaves, insulting the defenseless, and sometimes burning the dwellings of those who were particularly obnoxious to them, was such as to prove that security was cheaply bought, even at the cost of the deprivation of society. A few, however, would occasionally seek the hospitality of her roof, among whom were the cousins McKelvey, who would fly from the toils and privations of the continental army to recruit in this garden of peace and of plenty. They were young men of fine talents, good connections, and easy fortunes. Robert was witty, humorous, and lively; Daniel, sober, sensitive, and of bland and amiable manners. 
    Seated in this retreat, at a table well spread indeed, but which to the ill-fed partisans appeared a display of prodigality, they were startled by a terrified negro rushing in with the alarming information that the redcoats were approaching through the cornfield, and were then within fifty yards of the house. The two McKeIveys sprang through the back window to the ground, and dashed with the speed of, hope, goaded by the love of liberty and life to the river in the rear of the yard. 
     But nothing is swifter than the instrument of malice, or more circumspect than its foresight. Several muskets were fired in quick succession, and Daniel McKelvey fell. Robert continued his flight, reached the river bank unhurt by the volley of balls which flew about him, and plunged in. The channel, which lay far beneath the bluff, bore upon the bank, and had worn in it a crescent-shaped excavation. The pursuers were almost instantly on the bluff. They were eight or ten English soldiers, conducted by some Tories, of whom the leader was one Raburn, who had been in the employment of one of the McKeIveys as an overseer. Raburn knew that McKelvey could not swim; and as he communicated this information to his comrades, they left him to his fate. They carried Daniel, who was mortally wounded, into the house, and there, regardless of the tears and entreaties of the widow and orphan, proceeded to plunder. After having finished his arrangements for taking off slaves, horses, cattle, and whatever provisions could be transported in the plantation carts, Raburn turned to McKelvey and said: "I am going now, Daniel, and shall probably never see you again. Will you shake hands? I have nothing against you, but that you are a d--d rebel. "The victim was past speaking; but he slowly placed his hand in that of his murderer, exhibiting in his last action the power of the Christian principle, and stamping with the seal of perfection a character which had always been lovely. 
     It was past midnight, and the two unhappy women were still hovering by the side of the dying McKelvey, when the door opened, and Robert McKelvey gently approached the mourning group.  A glance of recognition brightened the eye of the sufferer, and was directly succeeded by the insensibility of death. When Robert McKelvey, who could not swim, had cast himself into the river, the current had borne him to the crescent shaped excavation of the bank already mentioned; and there a tree, whose foundation had been washed away, still floated, attached by a few roots to the earth. Getting under this tree, and clinging to it with his hands, its leaves and branches hid him from observation; and in this retreat he lay until in the silence of night he ventured to come out and witness the havoc which his ruthless enemies had made.
 
 Reminiscences of St. Stephen's Parish
Samuel DuBose
Copyright © 1972
by
Dorothy MacDowell Kelly