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Lancaster County SC Genealogy

Kingsberry

by Louise Pettus

The 1825 Lancaster District map in Mills Atlast of the State shows Kingsberry Ferry crossing the Catawba River between Fairfield District and Lancaster District. Also, on the Lancaster side of the river, the map shows a hatchmarked area and the word "Kingsberry" just south of where Cedar Creek empties into the Catawba. The assumption is that Kingsberry was a town or village in 1820 when J. Boykin surveyed the district.

In 1985, Mark Grier of Lancaster researched the question, "What happened to Kingsberry?" and finally concluded that, other than the map in Robert Mills' atlas, there was no real evidence that such a town or village ever existed. This is rather startling, because Mills' maps are considered very reliable.

Grier's research was thorough. His sources included the Lancaster County deeds and guardianship papers, State Archives papers, Statutes of South Carolina and a number of local histories.

The Kingsberry Ferry was real enough: ferries had to be franchised by the general assembly, and this one was first chartered to Andrew McIlwaine who acquired in the land in 1806, and in 1809 petitioned the state for the right to operate a ferry at the stie. John Kingsberry purchased McIlwaine's property in 1811 and apparently continued the ferry. Kingsberry died in 1820. In 1823, the ferry was rechartered in the name of Jane Kingsberry, widow of John.

A canal was built at the ferry site by Charles McCullough, the contractor, who married a Kingsberry daughter, Sallie. They apparently lived in a lock keeper's house. (This house was later moved to the Landsford Canal site in Chester county.)

Jane Kingsberry died ca. 1830. Only one child, daughter Sallie Kingsberry McCullough, was of age. The other children were minors. Charles McCullough became their guardian and acquired the property in his own name in 1838.

However, in Lancaster county records it appears that McCullough must have leased the ferry rights to James Barkley as early as 1833. Barkley acquired a deed and plat for 643 acres, and sold the former Kingsberry land in 1844 to William Cunningham "except three acres of land of said tract including the Ferry Landing on said River and the Stone House..."

Mark Grier, through use of the plats that accompany the various deeds, is able to show that on none of them is there any indication of a village (towns would have to be state-franchised, and none by the name of Kingsberry was ever franchised).

Grier does point out, though there is no evidence of such a village, it would have been an excellent site for one. At the same spot that Mills Atlas places Kingsberry, Barkley's 643-acre plat shows two roads, one marked "Road to Camden" and the other "to Lancaster Village." On the opposite side of the river, roads led to Winnsboro and Chesterville. All would have benefitted from the Charleston market.

The Kingsberry Ferry (later called the Rocky Mount Ferry) was just south of the Great Falls. The Great Falls blocked all traffic on the Catawba River from the north, but south of the Falls it was possible to float cotton, grain and other upcountry produce all the way to Charleston. This was very important before the coming of the railroad. If there had been no railroad, Kingsberry might have developed into a significant center of commerce.

Mark Grier titled his paper 'The Kingsberry Enigma.' It is a good title. After he had proven that there was no Kingsberry, he indicated that he still hoped for fresh evidence that indeed it did exist and would "gladly withdraw the skepticism expressed in this paper upon the presentation of such evidence."

[Mark Grier, P.O. Box 2458, Lancaster, SC 29721, would like to contact persons who have information on the Kingsberrys or McCulloughs.]

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