It is a long-held tradition that Joseph Rowe was born at sea in 1775 while his parents endured a seacrossing from Ireland to Charleston, South Carolina that took the life of his father, Joseph Rowe Sr. However, this tradition, while adding a dash of drama to the saga of their emigration to this country, cannot be substantiated by existing records.
Joseph Rowe was born in what is now Fairfield County South Carolina in 1775 to immigrants Joseph and Jane Rowe. Although there is no hard proof, Jane was believed to have been surnamed Page. His parents emigrated from Ireland to South Carolina in 1769, where Joseph claimed 300 acres of land from a Royal Bounty Grant. Contrary to popularly held belief, this grant does not appear to have been connected to any form of military service rendered to King George by the elder Joseph, but instead was a grant enacted by the crown for a specified number of years, which ended in 1769, to encourage Protestant colonization specifically of the lands in South Carolina. These grants carried many financial incentives to the colonists who took them up, and ultimately enabled the Rowes, Joseph Sr, Jane and their three sons David, James and Joseph Jr. to become prosperous plantation owners in Fairfield County.
Joseph Jr. appears to have come of age either very shortly before or after his father died, which may have been as late as 1799, as he inherited a third of the original 300 acres, which was deeded him by his brother. He met and married in Fairfield County Mary Asa Carden in about 1809 (no record has been located). She was the daughter of Larkin Carden Sr. and his wife Jane Cason. Mary Asa was born in January 1790, shortly after her father died. She and Joseph had one child, daughter Malinda Rowe, who was born in South Carolina on 15 October 1810. Shortly after the birth of Malinda, wanderlust seems to have struck Joseph. I have often wondered why he would leave a well established plantation life, and leave behind his two brothers, who had large prosperous families as shown by their Fairfield County wills and the property bequeathed by them to their children, to venture to the as-yet wild and untamed country that was then Giles County Tennessee, newly formed. An even bigger mystery is why his elderly mother Jane, by this time aged 88 years, chose to come with him and leave all the comforts her elder sons could afford her.
Joseph, Mary, Malinda and Jane arrived in Giles County in late 1810. Joseph has several deeds on file in Giles County showing his purchase of land. The tombstone of Joseph in Bee Spring Cemetery bears a reference to him being "a Brave Soldier" which most researchers have interpreted to mean that he served in the War of 1812; however, no record has yet been located by me. He fathered seven more children in Giles County. They were Rosanna, born 1 March 1813 who married Benjamin Smith; Henry Page born 25 January 1816 who married Elizabeth Hughes; Lucinda born 19 April 1818 who married Benjamin B. Bass; Alfred born 26 February 1821 who married Marcella McCormack; Joseph S. born 1824 who married Elizabeth, surname unknown; Miles S. Born 9 May 1826 who married Mary E. Stovall; and Eleazer Carden Rowe, born 15 July 1830 who married Tabitha E. Stovall. Malinda, firstborn, wed William Payne Stevenson. With the exception of my ancestor Alfred, and possibly Joseph S. (who has remained untraced by me), all of these children lived, raised families and died in Giles County. Alfred had wanderlust of his own and migrated to Montague County, Texas.
Joseph Rowe Sr. left his will 14 October 1845. He was generous in his bequests to his children and wife. Mary Asa followed him in death on 28 May 1865. Jane Page Rowe, a seemingly true embodiment of the pioneer spirit, died in 1822 purportedly at the age of 100. She is believed to have possibly been the first person interred in the Bee Spring Cemetery. All three of these early settlers have extant tombstones. The inscriptions are a testament to the love of their families for them and the respect of their community, and an enduring Christian faith.
"In memory of Joseph Rowe born 1775. He was a brave soldier, a good husband and father, a good Citizen, Kind neighbor. Died Oct. 4, 1845 in hope of immortality beyond the grave"
" In memory of Jane Rowe Born in Ireland in 1722 Emegrated to the US before the Revolutionary War and to Giles County in 1810 and departed this life 1822"
"In memory of our mother Mary Rowe, died May 28, 1865 aged 74 years 5 months. Our loss is her eternal gain as she died in full hope of eternal life beyond the grave"
Joseph, Mary and Jane are surrounded in Bee Spring Cemetery by many of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.