The following articles are contributed by Louise Pettus, editor of The Quarterly, York County Genealogical & Historical Society.
DELIVERING THE MAIL DURING THE CIVIL WAR
by Louise Pettus
Confederate soldiers didn't need stamps, or money for that matter, to send a letter home. All that was required was for the soldier to endorse the envelope with his name, rank, company and regiment. The Confederate government was not always efficient, but in the matter of delivering the mail there were very few complaints and not one claim of robbery.
Not only did the soldiers have franking privileges, they were allowed to send small items to the folks back home. These small items included finger rings, brooches, lockets, etc. Many items were carved from beef bones and gutta percha (a rubbery substance used for insulation).
Every town in York, Lancaster and Chester counties had a post office. So did many rural communities, often located in a country store or perhaps an inn.
Even remote areas, such as western York County, would receive mail once a week at a minimum. The usual pattern was to deliver to the larger towns on one of the railroads and from there the mail was distributed by riders to the post offices.
Chesterville was not only the largest town in the area, it was the only town in the three counties served by two railroads. The Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railway (CC&A) was on the major north-south route, thereby bringing the mail in from Virginia camps. The Kings Mountain Railroad also served Chester.
Since 1854 Chesterville had had telegraph service connecting the town with Charlotte and Columbia.
The people were so eager to get the news from the front that they organized themselves in a network that could deliver daily mail. Arrangements were made among individuals to go to the county seats on a set schedule to pick up the mail. Thus, mail picked up in Yorkville would be taken to Hickory Grove where the post master would hand over the mail destined for Smith¹s Ford, Hopewell, etc., to someone from those communities for distribution. John R. Alexander, the Yorkville postmaster, was lauded for his attention to business and official courtesy, in promptly forwarding mail to its destination.
Some of the Confederate memoirs tell of soldiers who were illiterate when they entered the service who became so motivated to read and write in order to communicate with their families, that they sought instruction. Many a former school teacher found himself ³drafted² to teach during his leisure time. Some officers organized classes. Years later, one of the former teacher-soldiers remarked that the war was a great public educator.
The civilians were equally eager for news from the battlefield. When the clicking telegraph at Chester would announce that a fight was going on, or that the army was moving, the news would spread like electricity over the whole country.² Couriers on the fastest horses available would take the news in all directions.
It appears that the most exciting time of the war was the Seven Days Battle in defense of Richmond, the Confederate capital. Gen. Robert E. Lee¹s victory over Gen. George McClellan was loudly cheered across the countryside. On other days and after other battles, gloom lay heavily.
Another source of information was the reports made by officers of the companies to the newspapers back home. Companies were recruited from local communities and likely to be known by the readers of the newspaper. While some reports were descriptive of the battles, others only identified the company and regiment followed by the casualties listed in three categories: killed, wounded and missing.
Following the losses at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July 1863, the casualty lists became longer and longer.
CC&A RAILROAD BUILT IN 1849
by Louise Pettus
The late 1840s and the decade of the 1850s witnessed a great railroad boom in South Carolina. The state legislature was in the hands of men who believed that cotton was king and were willing to finance the railroads that would haul cotton to the port of Charleston.
Camden was the upcountry market town for Lancaster, Chester and York. Transporting cotton to Camden meant putting bales on wagons and then struggling through the mire or dust of unpaved and nearly impassable roads. In spite of attempts to build canals, the Catawba River was not navigable except for short distances.
Because of the difficulties in shipment, any railroad construction was eagerly anticipated. The first railroad to contemplate building in the area was the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad, which in 1849 became the Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta Railroad.
The exact route that the Charlotte & South Carolina Railroad should take was the subject of much debate. The most western route proposed would have taken the railroad through the village of Ebenezer (now a Rock Hill suburb), but people objected. They considered a railroad too noisy, too dirty and a despoiler of fine cotton land.
Ebenezer residents proposed that the line should run through the blackjack land Æ poor land for growing cotton because it lacked potash. The move away from Ebenezer created Rock Hill, which was destined to outgrow its older neighbor.
About six years passed before the first wood-fueled locomotive reached Rock Hill in 1852. While there is no record of how many cars comprised the train that day, it is known that the total rolling stock of the railroad in 1851 was four engines, two passenger cars and 12 boxcars.
The Rock Hill site was the highest point on the railroad between Charlotte and Augusta (Withers-WTS Building on the Winthrop College campus sits on the highest hill in Rock Hill). The story is that the crew laying the track encountered so much rock that the supervisor, J. Lawrence Moore, gave the place the name Rock Hill. At any rate, the village got a post office by the name on April 17, 1852. Two months later, the first train came to Rock Hill.
A trestle was built across the Catawba River not far south of the present location of the Hoescht-Celanese plant. The first train arrived in Fort Mill on July 4, 1852. Fort Mill, like Rock Hill, had less than half a dozen homes before the arrival of the railroad, and most of those homes were scattered. Rail traffic provided a great stimulus for the growth of both towns.
At Fort Mill, the railroad crews ran into quicksand that turned out to be harder to handle than Rock Hill¹s roack. It took a tremendous amount of gravel, sand and rock before the track could be laid. Most of the labor came from slaves. Local slave owners would contract labor for the laying of the roadbed by their property. Between the river and Fort MIll a majority of the earth movers were slave women who carried the dirt in their aprons, according to old accounts.
Fort Mill celebrated the arrival of the train and the Fourth of July with a picnic and all-day festivities. Col. A. Baxter Springs, forefather of Springs textile leaders, hosted his neighbors with a barbecue. His father, John Springs, was one of the major investors in the railroad. A. B. Springs was awarded the Fort Mill contract to furnish the wood that was stacked in wood racks along the railroad.
One of the early locomotives of the C&SC was ³The John Springs.² Col. Elliott White Springs, a descendant of John Springs, had a 4-foot replica of that locomotive cast into the weather vane that adorns the Williamsburg-style depot of the Lancaster and Chester Railway in Lancaster. It is an interesting reminder
of the days when water tanks and wood racks were essential to the transport of goods in this area.
CATAWBA INDIAN LAND LEASES
by Louise Pettus
For fifty-five years, from 1785 through 1840, an area of land fifteen-miles-square was leased by the Catawba Indians to white settlers in present-day eastern York County and northern Lancaster County. The Indians received the large tract, roughly 144,000 acres, in 1763 as a part of the peace settlement of the French and Indian Wars. The English victors in that war rewarded the Catawbas for their loyalty and participation in the fighting.
The American Revolution was carried into the heart of the Catawba Indian Land in the summer of 1780. Able-bodied Catawbas joined Gen. Thomas Sumter's troops, while the Catawba women, children, and infirm went to stay with friendly tribes in Virginia. When the Catawbas returned in 1781, they found their villages destroyed. They also found many whites, driven by population pressures and economic need, who were desirous of making use of the Indian land for themselves. The end result was that both parties--the whites and Indians--formed compacts which allowed the whites to lease the Indian land. At the time, it seemed to be to the mutual advantage of both groups.
In general, all of the leases contained the same elements: the names of the contractors of the lease, the number of acres of land involved, the location of the land (and occasionally an attachment of a plat), the terms and amount of the rent, the length of time of the lease, the date, and, finally, the signatures of the Catawba headmen, the white lessor, and the witnesses (at first anyone might witness, later only state-appointed agents could witness.)
Over time, the form of the lease became standardized until, by the time of the Nation Ford treaty in 1840, the state was producing a printed lease form with blanks to be filled in. The first leases, especially before 1808 when the state first required a survey of leased lands, were highly individual. The first lease between the Catawbas and a white man (Samuel Knox) began: "This indenture made this fifteen day of November in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred & eighty five, Between John Col. Airs, Major Brown, Major John Thompson, Capt. Squash and Pine Tree George, with the consent of Genl New river chiefs of the Catawba Indians. And Samuel Knox of the County of Mecklenburg and State of North Carolina."
The lease continued with the location of the leased land, stating that the land was "joining sd. Knox's own land whereon he lives on Steel Creek, beginning about half way between Thomas Spratt's and sd. Knox's own house, and from thence running along sd. branch to Steel Creek & cross sd. creek to east side, thence up sd. creek to the sd Indian line joining Walter Davis's land .... The contracting parties failed to state the number of acres involved and gave only a verbal description without surveyor's markings, a serious mistake that marred Knox's descendant's claims later.
Knox's lease covered a time period beginning in March 1783 for a period of 25 years. The practice of short-term leases was dropped within a few years when 99-year-leases became standard.
Knox paid nine silver dollars and a black horse for the first five years rent, a black mare for the next seven years rent, and a "rifle gun and one silver Dollar" for the next four years, and one bay mare for the remainder of the 25 years. At the end of 25 years, the rent would be 10 silver dollars yearly "for as long as he or his heirs may please to hold the same." Such complicated arrangements lasted only a short time. Soon, leaseholders paid annual rents specified in coin or "in goods and chattels" that remained consistent from year to year.
The five Indian chiefs signed by making their marks. General Newriver's mark appeared to be a capital "N." Knox's signature did not appear on the only existing copy but may have been on the original lease. The witnesses of the first lease were three white men and two white women, all neighbors of Knox.
(Printed in the York Observer, January 15, 1988)
(William Pettus was appointed by the state of South Carolina as one of the five superintendents to oversee the leasing process.)
HISTORY OF FLINT HILL BAPTIST CHURCH
by Louise Pettus, May 3, 1992 in York Observer column, Nearby History.
May 1, 1992 marks the 200th anniversary of Flint Hill Baptist Church, the mother church of Baptists in York County, S. C. and Mecklenburg County, N. C. In 1792 the Reverend John Rooker (1755-1840), his wife, Anna Hawkins Rooker, and eleven friends, most of them from Warren County, N. C., joined to found Sugar Creek Baptist Church of Christ. The name Flint Hill was later used because of a huge 6-foot outcropping of flint rock that is located in front of the main entrance of the church. The land was, until 1840, leased from the Catawba Indians.
The other founders besides the Rookers were John Dinkins, John Smith, James Spears and his wife, Ally Spears, William Pettus, Juba the servant of M. Harris, Margaret Dinkins, Celia Weathers, Mary Smith, Alice Weathers, and Mary Cooper.
Reverend Rooker, a Revolutionary War veteran, had joined the church in 1782 and the next year begun to preach in Warren county, N. C. Most of the Baptists in North Carolina were Separates or New Lights, theological descendants of New England Congregationalists. Rooker was not of this group. He wrote a book, An Essay on the Sovereignty of God, published in Charleston in 1839, in which he identified himself as an Arminian and further stated his belief in ³the sovereignty of the Triune God, His everlasting covenant of redemption for his elect in Christ Jesus, the depravity of fallen man, his recovery through grace by effectual calling, and final perseverance unto eternal glory and endless felicity. The only known copy of his book is in the Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
By 1837 Reverend Rooker was infirm and Rev. James Thomas came to assist him. One Sunday in 1837 no pastor came to the church so the people went to the home of Rooker. There he preached what is believed to have been his last sermon. It was titled, Finally, Brethren Farewell. In all, Reverend Rooker served Flint Hill for 48 years. He outlived all of the other original members except for his widow, Anna. The church carried out his instructions as written in his will, that he be buried . . . in the northwest corner of the Baptist Sugar Creek graveyard.
From the beginning Flint Hill offered more than just services on Sunday. Beginning in 1793, the church made efforts to extend its ministry to the Catawba Indians. A school was established for the Indians across Sugar Creek on the Lancaster County side. A converted Pamunkey Indian, Robert Mursh, served for many years as assistant pastor of Flint Hill and as a missionary to the Catawbas. The effort to convert the Catawbas was abandoned in the 1820s.
The first church building was log and replaced by a larger log building in 1811. In 1828 a frame building encompassed the log building. The church grew and by 1855 it was necessary to erect a larger building. The new frame structure was 40 feet by 60 feet. It served until the present building was completed in 1908. A parsonage, renovation of the sanctuary, erection of a marker for Rev. John Rooker, and an education building were added in later years.
The church is unusual in that it has preserved membership records and church minutes that span its entire history. The original records were copied by W. P.A. workers in the 1930s and typescripts made. The originals are now kept with other historical records at the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.
The large, well-kept cemetery is a point of pride. Buried there are veterans of all wars now approaching 200 in number. More than half of these were Civil War veterans. In 1891 the Flint Hill Memorial Association, originally called the Jefferson Davis Memorial Association, began the custom of meeting the third Sunday of each May for a special ceremony and decorating the graves of the veterans.
by Louise Pettus (Originally printed in the York Observer, Oct 27, 1985)
MURDER OF STEPHEN PETTUS
by Louise Pettus
A horse with a lifeless body tied to its back wandered up to a York District farmhouse in early 1846. The body on the horse was Stephen Pettus, plantation owner. Four of his slaves were soon apprehended and charged with the crime.
Such murders were unusual, but not remarkable, but the sequence of events that followed the murder is most interesting and helps to instruct us about the times.
Records are incomplete and we can only surmise some of the events that followed the discovery of Pettus body. There was a trial within the month. William Clawson, an in-law, neighbor and lawyer, became both the defense attorney for the accused slaves and administrator of Stephen Pettus estate.
W. I. Clawson, William Clawson's relative, was commissioner of equity for York District. He presided over the trial, but the case was not heard in regular court because slave codes required that slaves be tried in slave courts.
The slaves had admitted guilt from the beginning. Clawson sentenced the slaves to be sold to parts West and to never return to South Carolina. Thomas Pettus, a cousin of Stephen Pettus, was selected to escort the slaves and sell them. His eligibility was based on the fact that he had occasionally served as a sheriff¹s deputy and had been to Alabama three or four times.
Thomas Pettus was deputized by the sheriff to carry out the court¹s assignment. Having been involved in the building of carryalls, the Southern frontier¹s version of the Plains covered wagon, he decided to take along a half-dozen to sell to Alabamians planning to move further West.
The wagons carried a large number of Seth Thomas clocks on consignment from the firm of McElwee & Sutton of Yorkville. McElwee & Sutton would give Pettus a commission on the clocks he sold. Before he left, Pettus advertised that he would deliver letters and papers for hire as far as Chambers City, AL.
The slaves were sold for $2,800, and the money turned over to the estate of the murdered man.
Were there alternatives available for the Clawsons, Pettuses, and other lawyers and slaveholders when facted with slave-committed murders?
In their eyes, to execute the slave and thereby lose the financial benefit to the estate seemed unreasonable. In some Southern states, but not in South Carolina, the law provided that the state reimburse the slaveholder the full market value if the slave were found guilty of murder.
South Carolina had no state penitentiary building before the Civil War. To imprison would be to place people in the county jail, which was large enough to accommodate only a few prisoners. County jails were designed for short -term incarcerations, not for a life time.
There is no way to tell what motivated the slaves to commit the murder. Slaves courts were not required to set down the testimony and they required only the agreement of a magistrate and three citizens. The law did not require an attorney for the slave¹s defense, either. Clawson charged Stephen Pettus¹s estate $50 for defending the slaves who murdered him. Ironically, selling the murderers to parts West took care of the estate¹s best interest.
In 1846 the West was Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Demand for slaves to work the virgin cotton fields was high. The price Thomas Pettus got was the average price for a field hand in Alabama that year.
Probably, Sol and three others wore ankle chains and walked the distance to Alabama. That would fit the descriptions of the time. Certain towns, such as Chambers City, AL, were known to have depots, or pens, which were constructed much like cattle stalls but tighter in order to prevent escapes. There the slaves were held until the scheduled auctions.
Pettus probably received cash for the four slaves. When he returned he charged Stephen Pettus estate $36 for trip expenses.
MEDICAL PRACTICES OF THE CATAWBA INDIANS
by Louise Pettus
When white settlers first came to this area they brought with them a number of diseases that the Indians had never experienced--particularly smallpox and measles for which the Indians had acquired no immunity.
The encounter of two vastly differently cultures worked two ways. The Indians passed along diseases of their own. Over many, many years each group had learned, mostly through trial and error, what "cures" were most effective.
Unfortunately, it was not until Dr. Frank Speck, an ethnologist from the Univ. of Pennsylvania, came to do field work among the Catawbas in 1913 that anyone wrote extensively on Catawba medical practices. Dr. Speck was not a medical doctor but he was interested in the words that the Catawbas used to describe their medicines and the healing process.
There were still a handful of Catawbas who spoke the native language. Dr. Speck was able to list about 14 ailments and about 30 herbal remedies (Catawba medicine almost totally relied on roots, bark and leaves of local plants.) He found that the Catawba word for the concept of disease translated as "seizure" or"grip."
The Catawbas treated 14 ailments: rheumatism, ague, fever, fever and ague combined, heart complaint, headache, constipation, dysentery, jaundice, skin afflictions, sores and boils, catch cold, backache and lumbago, hives and nightmares (the last caused by dwarf-spirits or little people).
Sally Brown told Dr. Speck that sickness was brought by the shadow of a dead person (a ghost) and that medicine was the weapon used to cure. She said that it was important to gather the herbal medicine in a certain way. She always peeled the bark from the north side of a tree. Roots were cut at an angle. She always placed her knife blade on the west side of the root and cut in a downward slice toward the east, or, as she said it, cut from sunset to sunrise.
Enough of the plant was left to renew itself. The medicine would be ineffective if taken from a destroyed plant. Some herbs were gathered at the waning of the moon, some at the waxing.
An herb "doctor" prepared the medicine by boiling the roots, bark, or leaves in an earthenware pot. The patient drank the concoction. A part of the liquid was saved back for the doctor, who used a long cane to syphon up the liquid and then blew it over the patient's body. In this way the doctor left some of his personal power over the body of the patient.
For wounds from arrows or snakebite, the area was first probed with a pin or a turkey wingbone. When the blood flowed freely the doctor sucked the incision to remove the "bad blood" and then either blew medicine into the wound with the cane tube or dropped the medicine through a bone tube. After that, the patient drank the remainder of the prepared liquid.
Another way to insert the medicine was to use an eagle quill to puncture the skin and let the medicine blow into the cut "like ink from a fountain pen."
Bloodroot, which had a highly prized red dye, was smeared over the cut and left there to wear off.
Frequently, the doctor and the patient bathed in the Catawba River before beginning the treatment. This custom is the best explanation we have as to why during the smallpox epidemic of 1759 the South Carolina Gazette reported: "It is pretty certain that the small-pox has lately raged with great violence among the Catawba Indians, and that it has carried off near one half of that Nation, by throwing themselves into the river as soon as they found themselves ill. . ."
CATAWBA INDIAN HUNTING AND FISHING METHODS
by Louise Pettus
The Catawba Indians were still using bows and arrows, blow guns and traps as constructed and employed by their ancestors when Dr. Frank Speck, an anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania, visited them in 1913. Over the years Specks returned to the reservation during vacation periods. In the 1940s Speck published his notes on the "procuring methods" of the Catawba hunters and fishermen.
Dr. Speck, writing of the poverty of animal food resources, stated that there were only 10 mammal varieties, 3 birds and 13 forms of water life available to the Catawbas. Still, the Catawba were able to demonstrate to Speck 5 distinctively different weapons for killing warm-blooded animals, 5 trap mechanisms and 6 ways to catch fish. From this, Speck concluded that the Catawbas were basically a hunting people, not agriculturalists.
Speck wrote, "Until thirty years ago Catawba men went about the region as vagrant archers shooting for bets, at coins or similar targets, to earn money."
The bow was made from locust and was four to five feet in length. The arrows were made of cane and wood, either hickory or sourwood. The points were of sharpened cane or tin, suitable for killing small game. There were were no large animals left to require the quartz or flint arrowheads of their ancestors and the poverty-stricken Catawbas rarely had sufficient money to own guns, or be able to buy ammunition for them.
Speck thought the arrow's feathering to be peculiar and interesting. A single feather of a hawk or swift was used for the rudder and the "entire quill is bound unsplit to the shaft, lying within one of the longitudinal grooves that run between the nodules of the young cane shoots chosen for arrow making." The point was hardened by pushing it into hot ashes. Speck made drawings to illustrate the final product.
Dr. Speck investigated arrow poisoning and was told by Margaret Brown, who died in 1922 at the age of 85, that the Catawbas took venom from the "maxillary glands of of the venomous crotalids inhabiting the bottom lands of the Catawba river, and allowed the liquid to permeate meat." According to tradition, the poisoned meat and quartz points were stored together in small clay pots, 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Several eighteenth century literary sources refer to the Catawba use of arrows dipped in rattlesnake venom.
The crossbow was used as a toy by boys and probably had been a hunting tool but Speck could find no one competent with it.
From memories of his boyhood, Chief Sam Blue described the throwing club made of green hickory stock and its use by John Brown, Thomas Harris, Peter Harris and Epps Harris. Four or five hunters accompanied by dogs always went together and chased the rabbits over burned brush. Each carried three clubs to throw at the hemmed-in rabbits. Dr. Speck thought the Catawbas had picked up this hunting method from Virginia Indians who practiced it. The Cherokees did not use this method.
The blowgun was frequently used to kill small game and birds. A cane tube, 5 or 6 feet long, was used with 8-to 10-inch darts that were constructed from oak, pine or cedar trimmed to a sharp point. On the "piston end" of the dart there was a wadding made of soft feathers or down.
"Bird brushing" was quite simple. A group went out at night armed with a pine torch and several small tree branches. When the bird, blinded by the light, attempted to escape it was beaten down by the brushes. At the end of the evening the birds were thrown into a pile. On a "good night" there might be a hundred birds. The birds were placed in a single pile for the chief or the hunt organizer to determine how they would be distributed.
Dr. Speck went on one of bird brush hunts. When it was over the handful of birds were given to elderly Sally Brown whose "only source of food consisted extensively of birds gotten in this way, and by her grandchildren on their way to and from school, armed with the almost universal small boy's weapon, the sling-shot."
JAMES ADAIRS ACCOUNT OF A CATAWBA WARRIOR
by Louise Pettus
James Adair, appointed Indian agent in 1735 by King George III, visited the Catawba nation, probably in the 1740s. Adair wrote that since "time immemorial" the "Katahbas" had been at war with the Iroquois Confederation, or "northern Indians." The Confederation was originally made up of five nations, the Senecas, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onandagas and Cayugas. About 1722 the Tuscaroras joined them to make up the Six Nations.
The Iroquois were known for their fighting ability and were considered the strongest confederacy in the colonies. In spite of this, they were defeated in battle by the Catawbas many times.
Based on Adair's account, Robert Mills in 1826 tells an interesting story of a Catawba warrior out hunting who ran into a party of Seneca Indians obviously come to attack Catawba villages. The Catawba ran, firing his gun as he did so. He killed 7 of the enemy but there were too many and he was captured.
It was a long journey to the Seneca headquarters. Walking hundreds of miles, fed little, and sleeping on the bare ground with his feet and hands tied to stakes, the captured warrior behaved in such a manner that he was treated with respect by his captors, says Adair. However, when they stopped in Seneca towns the women and children beat and whipped him. Eventually a trial of some sort was held and the Catawba was condemned to "die by the fiery tortures."
While being led to the spot where he was to be executed by burning at the stake, the warrior suddenly dashed for freedom. He threw himself into the nearby river and swimming underneath the water "like a otter," he managed to avoid the bullets. [Mills, throughout his account, writes of the Indians using guns and bullets and not of bows and arrows.] Emerging on the opposite bank, the Catawba made "several signs of contempt.[and] put up the shrill war-whoop, and darting off in the manner of a beast broke loose from its torturing enemies, he continued his speed so as to run, by about midnight of the same day, as far as his eager pursuers were two days in reaching."
After a short rest the Catawba found 5 Senecas camping. Waiting until the camp was asleep, he crept in and killed them all with one of their own tomahawks. "He stripped off their scalps, clothed himself, took a choice gun, and as much ammunition and provisions as he could well carry in a running march, set off afresh, with a light heart, and did not sleep for several successive nights."
The Catawba then headed for the spot where he had first slain 7 of his enemies. He dug up their bodies, scalped them, burned the bodies and went home "in singular triumph."
The Seneca pursuers are said to have found this last camp and gone into shock. They decided the Catawba was an enemy wizard and that it would not be wise to pursue him any longer. They turned and went home.
Adair told this story in order to make the point that the Indians (speaking of all the tribes he knew in the 17th century) were determined to take revenge on the enemy, "like the Israelites." He wrote, "I have known the Indians to go a thousand miles, for the purpose of revenge, in pathless woods; over hills and mountains; through large cane swamps, full of grape-vines and briars; over broad lakes, rapid rivers, and deep creeks. . .exposed to . . . hunger and thirst. . . .to satisfy the supposed craving ghosts of their deceased relatives."
While Adair stressed the element of revenge of blood, other observers point out that the taking of scalps also brought great prestige and titles to revenge-seeking warriors.
by Louise Pettus
When Ferguson Barber died in Rock Hill in May 1908, his obituary stated that he was the "largest and most successful land owner in York County." Barber, a native of Chester County, was born in 1832 on Rock Creek about three miles from Richburg, the son of Alexander and Sarah Barber. He was noted as a planter who very early practiced diversification of crops, terracing, and strip farming. Strip farming was the practice of alternating crops in bands, or strips, so that crop pests would not widely spread. Commercial fertilizers and chemical pesticides did not exist. Barber plowed under green crops and rotated his fields.
Some time before the Civil War, Barber's leg was badly broken by a horse. He stayed in bed for 9 months and remained a cripple for life. Twice he tried to join the Confederacy but was rejected.
In 1867 Barber moved to Rock Hill. He had an interest in several mercantile houses as well as managing several large farms in the county.
In 1882 he returned to Chester County and organized a group of investors who set up the Fishing Creek Manufacturing Company on the west bank of the creek at the village of Lando. Barber was elected president. Within a few years the company went bankrupt. Barber bought the mill and renamed it Lewisville Cotton Mill. In 1898 he went bankrupt. According to Wade Roddey, Barber was the victim of "unscrupulous selling agents."
The Lewisville Mills ended up in the hands of Benjamin Dawson Heath. Heath, a native of upper Lancaster County, had made a fortune from numerous business enterprises, including the Bank of Charlotte (now NCNB), which he founded. Heath changed the name of the mill to Manetta.
Wade Roddey said that Barber could have taken advantage of the bankruptcy laws but that his wife, Elizabeth Watson Barber, was a stout Christian who believed that every penny had to be repaid. The couple sold their fine Richburg home and much of their land and moved to the country and started over.
Barber moved back to Rock Hill. He bought more land and held the majority interest in the Mutual Dry Goods Company of Rock Hill.
Barber was said to have never touched tobacco or whiskey. This alone would mark him as different from most of the men of his day. When the State Dispensary was created in 1892--allowing the state to manufacture and sell alcohol--Barber was violently opposed.
There was a dispensary shop in Tirzah but none in Rock Hill and that largely because of Barber's opposition. Wade Roddey said he vividly remembered the day Rock Hill voted on the issue: "Venerable old Mr. Ferguson H. Barber was early at the voting place, took his seat in a chair and just sat there all day from the time the polls opened until the close. . . . As far as I know he never made any appeal to any of the voters, he just sat there. . . . and stroked that long white beard and when the voting was over Rock Hill had turned thumbs down on whiskey."
Roddey continued, "Prior to the day of voting Mr. Barber had told his friends that he had lived in two whiskey drinking towns, Helena, Arkansas and Rock Hill; and that the only difference was that in Helena, Ark., they threw the murdered men in the Mississippi River while in Rock Hill they gave them a decent burial."
The Record editor wrote about Barber at the time of his death: "Firm always in his convictions and often blunt in his expression of them--when he was a friend to man or cause he could be depended on to the last hour."
PRIVATE WILLIAM BARBER, CSA
by Louise Pettus
Many Civil War generals left their memoirs. Officers down through the rank of lieutenants might keep a journal or write long letters--letters that have survived. Few privates kept any records at all. If their memories were ever recorded it was usually by some relative or an occasional newspaper reporter.
Even then, the accounts rarely go beyond that which could be found in the public records: name, rank, major battles, whether wounded or not, and a tribute to General Lee.
In 1927 a local correspondent from Clover, James Stanhope Love (also known as "Ben Hope") wrote a column for the Rock Hill Record titled "A Confederate Veteran of Clover." The veteran, William Barber, was a private in Company G of the 18th S. C. Volunteers under Gen. N. G. Evans. Most of Company G. was raised in Kings Mountain district of York County.
Private Barber was from Clark's Fork; others in his company enlisted from the communities of Bethany, Hickory, King's Creek, Hoodtown, Zadok, and Stump.
William Barber's father was George Barber and his mother a Miss Neil from North Carolina. His mother died when he was five and he had few memories of her but could recall a happy childhood on a farm.
General Evans' troops were independent of other units in the army, described by Barber as "freelance." Consequently, Barber in three years time served and fought in engagements from the Mississippi River to northern Virginia.
Although frequently in the thick of very heavy fighting, Barber was never wounded. In one battle, he recalled that he was the only soldier in his unit who was not wounded or killed. He did contract pneumonia after swimming in the Pearl River in Mississippi. And he got whooping cough while on furlough in York county.
Looking back, Barber believed that the Confederate War (as Hope called it) was "an ill-advised conflict." Hope pointed out that Barber was proud of his role in the war but that, at the same time, Jefferson Davis "kept the war going too long after it had become evident...that defeat was inevitable."
Especially, Barber believed that the South should not have fought to perpetuate slavery. Barber thought the whole slave system was "rotten" at the time he enlisted. Why, then, did he fight for it? Barber said there was nothing else for him to do at the time--that the South had to fight for her right to govern herself. He was convinced that the North would have had slaves if the conditions for slavery there had made it profitable.
When asked if he ever killed a Yankee, Barber replied: "I don't know whether I killed a man or not; I only know that I did some mighty close shooting."
After describing the battle in which he was his company's only unwounded man, Barber added, "Yes, it was a scrap, and one time in such a thing is enough for any man."
In the last months of the war many of Barber's comrades deserted. Others tried to tempt him to quit but Barber steadfastly refused. He said it was bad luck to start anywhere and then turn back at the last.
Ben Hope reported Barber as saying: "Once when I was home on furlough, and expressed my opinion that the war would soon be over and the South whipped,--though some of the folks at home just would not believe it then,--one of my friends advised me to hide out for a while until it was all over with.
And I could have done so; but I would not, and now I am glad I didn't."
Barber was captured at Dinwiddy Courthouse near Petersburg, Virginia on April 1, 1865 and kept a prisoner at Point Lookout, Maryland until June 16. He said that he had no unpleasant memories of prison camp.
After the war, the Ku Klux Klan was very active in York County. Barber refused to have any part in it saying that he had already seen enough of strife and bloodshed.
BETHESDA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
by Louise Pettus
Bethesda Presbyterian Church, located 8 miles southwest of Rock Hill on Highway 322, was founded in 1769. It was the second church in York County (Bethelis 5 years older)
Originally Bethesda was a "meeting house." To be called a church, the congregation had to be served by an ordained minister. Presbyterian ministers were few and far between on the frontier. Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church (founded in upper Lancaster County in 1755 and the oldest church in the South Carolina upcountry) was served by the Rev. William Richardson.
The original site was about a mile east of the present building. The first building was of logs. The log building burned in 1780 and was replaced by a wooden frame structure.. About 1820 the present brick building was constructed. It is now the oldest church structure and the oldest brick building in York County.
In 1785 the first meeting of the South Carolina Presbytery was held at Old Waxhaw. Assignments were made for supply pastors. Rev. John Simpson preached at Bethesda once a month.
Robert E. Walker became the first full-time pastor in 1795, serving the church for 40 years. For 25 of those years Walker also was pastor of Ebenezer Presbyterian Church. At other times he supplied various smaller churches. In 1835 Walker was succeeded by the Rev. Cyrus Johnston who served for five years.
Johnston, like so many of his parishioners, went "West." In Mississippi, Johnston established a Presbyterian church also called Bethesda Presbyterian..
As the years passed, cotton culture attached itself to the area. Slave labor was an element of the cotton culture. Blacks attended the same churches as their masters. In 1854 Bethesda's rolls listed 73 black members.
Records show remodeling from time to time. The original church floor had been made of brick. In 1857 the brick floor was replaced by a wood floor. In 1880 the present-day altar was installed. In 1979 the church received a $24,200 grant to apply new mortar to the old brick and to restore the pews.
The women of the church played a major role in improvements. The Ladies Aid Society of Bethesda was organized in 1887. They raised money for a handsome chandelier (there was no electricity before the 1930s so kerosene was used for lighting.) The Ladies Aid Society carpeted the church several times, bought various items of church furniture, purchased a silver communion set, all of which contributed to the general attractiveness of the church.
An education building was completed in 1954. The first floor has 8 classrooms and there is an assembly room and kitchen upstairs.
Any time of the year, but especially in the summer, passersby can see visitors amidst the cemetery's ancient tombstones. The oldest known tombstone can no longer be read but in 1937 was transcribed as, "William Neely, Dec. 8, 1776. 42 years old." Also, still legible in 1937 were two others: "Elizabeth Neely, Oct. 25, 1785. 91 years old" and "Mary Neely, Oct. 16, 1815. 73 years old." The oldest tombstone still legible is for Peggy Black who died Nov. 5, 1777, aged 28 years.
The names most frequently found that date before this century are: Adams, Ash/Ashe, Black, Bratton, Burris, Byers, Clinton, Crawford, Davison, Erwin, Gordon, Hanna, Johnson, Lindsay, Love, Lowry, Mendenhall, Moore (the most frequent of all), McConnell, Sadler, Sandifer, Wallace, Williams, and Williamson.
Bethesda is on the National Register of Historic Places.
HETTY BROWNE FARM SCHOOL
by Louise Pettus
Visitors to Hetty Browne's one-teacher school found it difficult to comprehend that they were observing a school that met all the state and county requirements that a more traditional school had to meet.
The building was constructed like a comfortable farmhouse with a wrap-around veranda. The 28 students, aged 6 to 16, were scattered about working alone or in small groups.
Some students were measuring and cutting garden stakes in the carpentry room; some were preparing the noon meal in the kitchen. A few were at the chalkboard, whiles others worked in the garden outside. Mrs. Browne, the teacher, was on the porch listening to two children read.
There were no school desks to be seen. No child was assigned a grade level; in fact, he might read in a third grade reader and work his arithmetic out of a fifth grade book, or vice versa. He worked at his own pace unhampered by a rule of silence. The tools for the child¹s learning were numerous: plows, hoes, books, pencils, paper, yardsticks, saws, globes, pots and pans. His curriculum materials were the plants, animals, soil and climate that made up his environment inside school and out. The children were being trained for their future roles as farm men and women.
The experience was so designed that the youngster was forced to make constant decisions about things that mattered to him. His problem-solving skills were challenged by realistic farm problems. The teacher asked questions; the child discovered the answers.
The year was 1911 and 79% of the South's rural schools had only one teacher. To combat this problem, the Peabody Fund contributed $600 to found an experimental school. The S. C. Department of Education seleted Winthrop College as the site for the school. Clemson College cooperated by furnishing the blueprints for a variety of rural schools, chicken coops, garden layouts and outhouses.
Mrs. Hetty Browne, a member of Winthrop College's education faculty, thought that most rural schools were poor copies of city schools with all of the formality and dry bookishness of the city. It was understood from the beginning that she would have a free hand.
Mrs. Browne's school was successful and soon surrounding school districts requested similar schools To 6 of those schools houses were attached (so that the teacher could live in the farm community, and Winthrop sent student teachers who would receive an A. B. degree in rural education along with a lifetime license to teach when they graduated.
Mrs. Browne wrote of her experiment in 4 prestigious journals. The wire services gave the school national publicity. Postcard views of the school were made for sale.
The garden was the center of all the school activity. The children learned how soil is formed and how to recognize the types of soil. They learned the effects of moisture, and they recorded weather observations daily. They estimated the amount of seed needed, ordered from catalogs, and read agricultural books.
They germinated seeds and learned botany. They studied birds, moles, rabbits, and all the garden insects, helpful and destructive. They wrote a book based on their observations and titled it A Book of Bugs.
The children planted vegetables in individual plots 7 feet by 35 feet. After harvesting, they studied how to prepare nutritious meals. The surplus was sold and the profits used for the benefit of the school. The students kept all the records.
The school wasn¹t all work. Mrs. Browne had strong feelings about the value of play. She even participated in the active games which included footraces.
Everything that happened in Mrs. Browne¹s Farm School evolved around the principle of learning by doing.
LUCIUS BIERCES TRAVELS-1822
by Louise Pettus
Lucius Verus Bierce, 21, a recent graduate of Ohio University at Athens, set out by foot from Ohio to the Carolinas with an undergraduate friend, Peter Doty.
On Nov. 2, 1822, the two young men entered York District. The first night was spent at the home of Widow Hambright, 14 miles west of Yorkville.
The widow had three pretty sociable girls and a nice home. Not only were they entertained, the two also got their clothes washed so that they could put their best foot forward when seeking employment in Yorkville.
About the county seat, Bierce wrote that it was a pleasant village of about fifty houses built of wood, some of them elegant, also a courthouse, jail, and a female academy.
The town is handsomely laid out and has an appearnce of wealth, taste, refinement and prosperity.
The two young men were down to $1.25 between them. Finding that a room in a good boarding house was $2.50 each for a week, they concluded they must quickly find some sort of work.
Posing as gentlemen who were only traveling for the purposes of information, they let it be known that they found the area so attractive that they were willing to teach in order to defray our current expenses.
They were referred to the Rev. Samuel Williamson, a future president of Davidson College, who was then head of the academy at Bethel.
Doty stayed in Yorkville while Bierce sought out Williamson, who had no opening but gave Bierce a reference to Mr. Pharr at the Waxhaw Academy in Lancaster District.
While Bierce was away at Bethel, Doty secured a position at Ebenezer Academy. Bierce set out for Waxhaw alone. He soon encountered the Catawba Indians and wrote that the Catawbas mustered about 50 warriors and were ³highly incensed against the General government because they were not called out in the last war.
(Bierce may have meant the War of 1812, but more than likely refers to the Jackson expedition into Florida against the Spanish, who were not controlling the Seminole Indians.)
Bierce crossed the Catawba River at Landsford by a rope ferry. He found Mr. Pharr too weak to talk with him and the principal trustees absent. Failing to get employment, there was nothing for Bierce to do but retrace his steps to Yorkville.
The Yorkville landlord generously allowed Doty and Bierce to defer paying for their room and board until the end of the Ebenezer session. Bierce went with Doty to Ebenezer. Several weeks later he found a position at the Pleasant Valley Academy in the Indian Land section of Lancaster District.
In Pleasant Valley he found the complexion of the men to be sallow but that of the ladies fair in the extreme. Probably no State in the Union can vie in female beauty with this. The farmers of Pleasant Valley grew cotton, corn, sweet potatoes and figs, but no wheat, apples, currants or Irish potatoes, as did the farmers of Ohio.
For breakfast, Bierce found himself eating fried salt pork, rice mush, johnnycake (corn bread) and fried crout (kraut).
For dinner he had pork, boiled crout, sweet potatoes, johnnycake and sour milk and for supper the same, cold, with rice mush. The buttermilk he at first found disgusting, but ³at length palatable and even delicious.²
About life in Pleasant Valley he had mixed emotions. Experiencing the institution of slavery was distasteful. On the other hand, he enjoyed the favorite diversions of hunting and dancing.
He mentioned the frequent balls, including one that had about 200 persons in attendance. He also observed that morals are loose.
On March 4, 1823, Bierce left Pleasant Valley and returned to Ebenezer by way of Landsford. He described the canal has having four beautiful and substancial locks and noted that the Catawba River was almost literally covered with wild ducks and geese.
Doty decided to remain at Ebenezer. After a painful parting of the two friends, Bierce, uncle of the famous author Ambrose Bierce, left for Georgia and Alabama. He walked in the rain the 22 miles to Chester, a beautiful village of about sixty houses.
A YORKVILLE GHOST STORY
by Louise Pettus
There was a haunted house in Yorkville in the last century according to Dr. Maurice Moore (1795-1871). Called the red house, Dr. Moore located it on the cross street, presumably at the juncture of Liberty and Congress streets. The house was built by John McKnight, a carpenter.
Not long after he built the house, McKnight moved to Florida and the house passed from one hand to another. There were numerous stories of strange noises within.
A former sailor by the name of Abernathy came to Yorkville from Charleston with some trunks of dry goods which he hoped to sell. Accompanying Abernathy was his wife and his mother. The bottom floor was used to display the merchandise on tables. The Abernathys slept upstairs.
Soon, there were stories circulated about weird noises in the house. Although the house was locked with no way for intruders to enter, the Abernathys would wake to noise from downstairs. As soon as a candle could be lit they would investigate. They found overturned tables and clothing scattered.
Sometimes there were rappings in different parts of the house. Finally, the Abernathy family could stand it no more and moved out.
The house was acquired by Dr. Crenshaw who decided to remode. He hired Abernathy to replace the glass missing from almost every window.
One day, while working, Abernathy drank more than usual and lay down in front of a fire he had made and went to sleep. He slept all night without being awakened by any noises. Abernathy woke the next morning and was thrilled to find that he had slept all night in what he thought of as a haunted house.
Abernathy sought out Dr. Moore, then a young fellow who had not yet gone to medical school, and tried to set up a bet with Moore that he could sleep at the house all night without being disturbed. At first Moore resisted but finally decided to humor Abernathy. ³The stake, by his own choice, was a fine hat, and a condition of the bet was that after he once laid down that night he was not to rise.²
Moore asked 3 or 4 friends to help him play a trick on Abernathy. Their weaponry was one of Mrs. McCall¹s cats. Moore and friends tied to the cat's tail a bladder holding gun shot. William McCaw had a syringe that would hold a quart of water ready to spray Abernathy.
Because Abernathy was drunk, pranksters managed to pry off the wooden shutters that Abernathy had nailed shut. He woke to the noise of shot rattling in a bladder as it was pulled by the terrified cat. At first Abernathy assumed that, indeed, there were pranksters. He shouted, I know you boys are trying to scare me! I'll shoot you!
The cat again frantically dashed about. Finally, Abernathy abandoned his post and lost his chance for a good hat. Eager to leave the house, he managed to get the nails off the barred door. As he stepped outside, William McCaw caught him square in the face with his syringe of water.
With that, Abernathy dashed into the street. The pranksters liberated the cat and waited in the weeds beside the house. Soon Abernathy was back with his landlord, Mr. Smith.
Smith tried to convince Abernathy that , . . . it just some of the boys who were trying to scare you, ² but Abernathy would have none of that notion.
Abernathy was sure that there had been noises like forty wagons running away.
Abernathy showed the landlord how wet his shirt was and how clear the sky. Smith had to admit that something unexplainable had happened.
Dr. Moore concluded his story with the observation that Abernathy never said hat or bet to me afterward, and neither again did he try the experiment of sleeping in the haunted red house.
COLONEL FREDERICK HAMBRIGHT
by Louise Pettus
One of the heroes of the Battle of Kings Mountain was Frederick Hambright (1727-1817). Hambright was born in Germany, where he lived until he was 11 years old. He then went to Pennsylvania with his family and that of his uncle. The two elder Hambrights were Adam and Conrad, but no one know which of the two was Frederick's father.
The Hambrights, like so many of this period, headed for the port of Philadelphia and became a part of that large group known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Like a number of others, Frederick Hambright migrated elsewhere to seek his fortune. In 1755 he moved to Virignia, where he married Sarah Hardin. Five years later, he was living on the south fork of the Catawba River in Lincoln County, N. C.
When the American Revolution broke out, Frederick Hambright volunteered and was made captain. He was 49 years of age and had no previous military experience but believed wholehartedly in the Patriot cause.
Records are scanty, but they seem to indicate that Hambright went wherever there was action. He fought the Indians on both sides of the Appalachian mountains. In 1779 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was present at the siege of Charleston. When it was obvious that Charleston would fall to the British, Hambright came up to the Broad River and began recruiting in what later would be Chester and York counties.
On Oct. 7, 1780, Hambright was at Kings Mountain. Because of his age, Hambright was not given battle command as his rank entitled him, but chance placed him in the right place at the right time.
About 2 miles from the British camp, Hambright spotted a young man named John Ponder whose brother he knew was a Tory in the British camp. Hambright ordered Ponder stopped and searched. Ponder was carrying a dispatch from Colonel Ferguson to Lord Cornwallis imploring Cornwallis to send additional men. When Ponder was told to identify Ferguson, he said that Ferguson was the best-dressed man on the mountain but that day he was a checked shirt over his uniform. Col. Hambright, in his Pennsylvania Dutch accent, called out to his men, Well, poys, when you see dot man mit a pig shirt on, you may know who him is, and mark him mit your rifles.
Maj. William Chronicle, a younger, more vigorous man than Hambright, was assigned to lead one of the companies up the side of the mountainÆ one with about 60 South Fork men. Chronicle did not get far when he was mortally wounded. Hambright was then in charge of the company.
Toward the end of the fighting Hambright was wounded in the thigh, severing an artery. His boot soon filled with blood but he pressed on and is quoted as shouting, Huzza, my prave poys, fight on a few minutes more and the battle will be over! It was soon over. Ferguson was killed and the British surrendered in what has been called the turning point of the Revolution.
When the battle was over, it was found that Hambright had not only been wounded in the thigh, but his hat had three bullet holes in it. Hambright recovered but some of the sinews in his leg were cut and he never walked well again. This ended Hambright's Revolutionary service.
When the war was over, Hambright moved to York County. He built a sturdy two-story log cabin on King¹s Creek within sight of Kings Mountain where he remained until his death at the age of 90.
Large families were the rule in Hambright¹s time, but Hambright had more than average. By his first wife, Sarah Hardin, there were 12 children and by the second wife, Mary Dover, he is thought to have had 10 more.
Frederick Hambright was buried in Old Shiloh Presbytrerian cemetery just over the Gaston County, N. C. line in Grover. The stone includes the verse: "Adieu to all, botrh far and near/My loving wife and children dear/for my immortal soul is fled/I must be remembered with the dead".
SAMUEL B. HALL & MAJ. LEWIS MERRILL
by Louise Pettus
In the dark days of the Reconstruction era, it was easy for the unscrupulous to take advantage of the situation to line their own pockets and to advance in political office. Two men of totally different background, happened to find their opportunity to profit in the county seat town of York. Their lives crossed in a strange way.
The first man, Samuel B. Hall, a native of York with a good classical education, married, a father, and politically ambitious, joined the Republican Party's radical branch, as he frankly admitted, "to make money out of it."
Hall joined the Union League in March 1870 in an initiation ceremony with a half dozen other whites and blacks who he thought shared his motives and "had no scruples as to how the money was made. The Radical Republicans saw to it that Hall became probate judge of York County.in the fall of 1870. A part of Hall's eligibility was that he had not served in the Confederate forces.
The second man was Maj. Lewis A. Merrill, a graduate of West Point, where he earned the nickname "Dog" Merrill, had headed a Union cavalry unit during the Civil War and came to York in 1871 to head the federal occupation forces and to subdue the Ku Klux Klan activity in a nine-county area.
Merrill and Co. K., Seventh Cavalry soon were rounding up anyone suspected of possibly being a Ku Klux Klan member. The arrests were generally made after midnight with the head of the household routed from his bed and taken away without any explanation to the terrified family. Later it was written that "even Merrill's subordinate officers were ashamed of his ruffianism in 1871."
During the August political campaigning of 1872, Samuel B. Hall spoke to about 500 York citizens from the courthouse steps. He was defending himself against Merrill's charges that Hall had used the probate judge's office to line his own pockets. Indignantly, Hall struck back with the accusation that Merrill was guilty of the "most infamous lie that was ever told on the streets of Yorkville, even in the State House at Columbia."
Hall charged that Merrill, "by the use of money and having men swear lies, thought he could go to work to have the Writ of Habeas Corpus suspended" but that, instead, Merrill was thwarted by Pres. U. S. Grant's pardon of Merrill's chief intended victims. Hall contended that Merrill, nevertheless, threatened the innocent and extorted money from them.
To press his charges further, Hall wrote a little book titled "A Shell in the Radical Camp" in which he gave an account of York's Union League members and their behavior. Hall also recounted stories he had heard of Merrill's cowardice during the Civil War.
Hall's shocking little book didn't help his own cause. He was arrested by the party he had lately been a part of, tried and convicted of "official misconduct." He was sentenced to one year in the county jail and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Major Merrill, who had recently passed the S. C. bar examination and become a practicing lawyer, persuaded the S. C. legislature to award him $15,000 for his "services". The impropriety of a Union officer acting as an attorney in court cases that he instigated, plus requesting a reward for army services, was questioned by people even of his own party. Perhaps this is why Merrill was quickly transferred to Fort Dakota in the west. However, Merrill stayed only a short time in Dakota before being transferred to Louisiana to head the military district of northern Louisiana.
While Hall was in jail, a Union officer named Benner who was drunk at the time, "foully and grossly" approached the teen-aged daughter of Hall. Infuriated, Hall wrote a letter to a Charlotte, N. C. newspaper, Southern Home, owned and edited by the Civil War general, D. H. Hill, a York County native.
After the newspaper printed the "insult", Benner, thinking that Hill was to be the speaker at a Sunday School convention at York County's Bethel Church, sent a posse to arrest Hill for libel. Hill did not appear (and said he was not invited), but word got around of Benner's intentions and he was soon transferred.
When Benner and his Union detachment left, Southern Home editorialized that it was good riddance of "the herd of a band of roughriders as ferocious and unfeeling as the dragoons of Cleverhouse."
John Craig's story sheds light on Revolutionary
by Louise Pettus
John Craig, born in Ireland in 1761, was only 15 years old when he enlisted to fight in the Revolution in August of 1776. He was then living in present-day York County. Fortunately for us, Craig in later life wrote an extensive account of his service in the militia.
Craig's first tour was under Col. Thomas Neel of York. Neel was then with Gen. Williamson at Seneca Fort in what was later Pickens County, S.C.
The first battle Craig participated in was against the Cherokee Indians, who were then allied with the French. Craig said the battle took place on the "waters of Hiwassee." His company lost 12men.
Col. Neel and his men moved on to the Savannah River, still seeking the Cherokees but failing to find them. The army then moved on to Orangeburg and there received orders to rendezvous with Gen. William Moultrie. Craig ended up in Charleston, or Charles Town as it was known at that time.
More than three years later, in May1780, Charleston fell to the British. Craig reenlisted and was at Rocky Mount, a fort close to the Catawba Falls, later called Great Falls. In 1854 the old veteran remembered that his captain was John McClure and that his two lieutenants were Hugh McClure and John Steel. At Rocky Mount Hugh McClure was wounded in the arm. His company took nine prisoners. "Our number at this time was 27 soldiers and the three officers, against a formidable force of 300 Tories. (We) put the Tories to flight."
That was May 24,1780. Two days later Craig and his fellows were fighting at Mobley's Meeting House, a battle won without the loss of a single man. The British were "enraged" at their defeats and turned to torching houses of Whig families and plundering the countryside. Craig got permission to go to present-day York County to recruit more men. Only seven of his fellow soldiers would agree to join him.
In York they found devastation and gloom. The small band went on into North Carolina, near Salisbury, in search of an English colonel named Brian. There they found that Brian had fled back into South Carolina but had no heart for battle. Craig's band of men then found and defeated a company of Tories at Ramsour's Mill in North Carolina.
Leaving North Carolina, they headed for the Nation Ford of the Catawba River. Crossing into present Fort Mill Township, they camped with Gen. Thomas Sumter's men and began to recruit over the countryside. Craig did not say how many men enlisted but he was heartened by an increase in numbers.
"Our next engagement was at Williamson's Lane, commanded by Cols. Andrew Neal, and Lacy, Bratton, Maj. Dickson, Capt. McClure, and Capt. Jimeson." Craig remarked that Gen. Sumter stayed in the camp. Nowadays the skirmish at Williamson's Lane is usually referred to as Huck's Defeat (or Houk's Defeat). It happened on July 12,1780.
Craig said the Whigs had 110 men who defeated 400 under the command of a Col. Floyd. The Americans killed Maj. Patrick Ferguson and Capt. Huck. They also took prisoners - 30 or 40 - with the loss of only one of their own men. After the skirmish at Williamson's Lane (close by Col. William Bratton's plantation), the soldiers went to General Sumter's camp.
Ten days later they were at Rocky Mount with Gen. Sumter in a devastating defeat that included the death of Col. Andrew Neal. A week later the battle of Hanging Rock in lower Lancaster County took place with considerable loss on both sides. At Hanging Rock Capt. McClure was severely wounded and later died from the wounds.
Craig and his fellow Whigs then went home and were not involved in any battles until February1781 when they lay siege to Congaree Fort below Columbia. There they had a "goodly number" of wounded but no deaths. A few days later they met the British at the home place of a Col. Thompson, known as Thompson's Fort. There, Craig's company lost a man and had several more wounded.
Next Craig and his friends crossed the Savannah River and went to "Big Savannah." They soon celebrated the capture of seven wagons laden with clothing for three British regiments. In the process they killed 13 British and took 66 prisoners. But, the spoils were soon retaken by the British, who forced the Whigs to swim the river and march to Fort Watson.
At this point Craig ended his account of his Revolutionary War experiences which was printed in The Chester Standard, March 16,1854, 12 years after his death on Feb. 10,1842. Little is known about John's personal life. His wife was named Catherine, her maiden name not known. Some time after the war Craig moved from York to Pickens County.
Kings Mountain's national status was hard-fought
by Louise Pettus
October 10, 2000 is the 220th anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Kings Mountain National Military Park came into existence in 1931. Getting the Revolutionary War site to that status was not easy. In 1903 a Monument Bill had passed the U.S. Congress. There was no federal money in those days for parks, only monuments. It had been a fixed policy of Congress that the only parks federally sponsored were Civil War battlefields.
The U.S. congressman for this area in 1903 was David E. Finley. It was Finley's hope that Kings Mountain battlefield would become a park some day. Meantime, with the assistance of Joe Cannon, an N.C. native and the most powerful speaker of the House in U.S. history, Finley secured $100,000 for a monument, which was completed and dedicated in 1909.
In 1926 Congress passed the Act Providing for Battlefield Commemoration. W.F. Stephenson was then congressman for this district and was as enthusiastic as Finley had been for getting Kings Mountain recognition and federal funding.
Stephenson saw to it that a military historian, Col. H.L. Landers, was hired by Congress to write a battlefield history and to rate the battlefields according to a system that Congress had mandated. There were to be three classes of battlefields and only Class 1 sites would be funded as parks. Colonel Landers saw to it that the Kings Mountain battlefield and potential park were surveyed.
The War Department decided Kings Mountain was a Class 2 candidate in spite of Landers' judgment that it was a Class 1 candidate for funds.
Meantime, by 1931 the Kings Mountain Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution had raised the funds to purchase the battleground site. The fringe land was optioned to the Kings Mountain Battlefield Commission composed of Jacob Hambright of Cherokee County, A.M. Grist, editor/owner of The Yorkville Enquirer and G.G. Page of Cleveland County, N.C., all appointed by Congress.
The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain occurred in October1930. The DAR managed to get President Herbert Hoover as the sesquicentennial speaker. Hoover stated that "History has done scant justice " to the claims of many historians that the Battle of Kings Mountain was a great turning point - that Lord Cornwallis was in control of the South up to that point and won not one battle afterward. (Before Kings Mountain the British hoped to negotiate a separate peace with the Northern colonies, giving them their freedom with Britain keeping the Southern colonies.)
Hoover's speech, with its endorsement of the idea that there be a park to commemorate the importance of the battle, is thought to have been crucial in persuading some key Republican senators to vote for the bill. N.C. Sen. Cameron Morrison sponsored the bill in the Senate. S.C. Sen. Cole L. Blease, a master at slipping his favorite bills through the last minute budget negotiations, got the necessary funding with very few negative votes.
The Observer gave all the credit for the passage of the bill to Morrison and various N.C. congressmen. This infuriated the editor of the Yorkville Enquirer, who wrote: "Kings Mountain National Military Park is the baby of Congressman D.E. Finley, nurtured by Congressman W. F. Stephenson, and reared to maturity by Sen. Cole L. Blease. All its life was cared for by the maternal love of and hands of Kings Mountain Chapter of D.A.R., of Yorkville, for whom it would have died of inattention years ago."
The women of the DAR donated the battlefield land that they had worked for by selling cakes, sponsoring bazaars and saving their dimes.
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