John Robert of Robertville, Part Three

November 16, 2019

What is one to do after a stressful work day? One scrolls through the “South Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1670-1980”, on ancestry.

This record set has searchable names that have been extracted. However, and that is a big HOWEVER, not all names in the document are extracted.

So I started with one of the starting places where I had already located Basil Cowper and his wife Mary about a third of the way along, and I’m swiping left on the iPhone when my eye caught Samuel FICKLING.

Now, Samuel Fickling might not mean anything to most of you, and it wouldn’t have to me a few years ago. I actually have to mentally walk backwards in time to get to Samuel Fickling. There are so many people in various family trees that I research that I have to start at one point and trace my way around to get to the person I want. It is as if I have to surround myself with these people to get comfortable with my thoughts. Sometimes I trace my finger in the air, drawing an invisible tree with the relationships.

To get to Samuel Fickling, I have to start with Joseph Lawton who married Sarah Robert. No one is really sure how they met. He was from Edisto Island, and she was from French Santee, if my memory serves me correctly. Sarah’s brother was John Robert, the subject of several previous posts. Sarah and John’s father was a Robert and their mother was a Jaudon. Joseph, Sarah, and John all ended up in the area we know as Robertville.

I’ll start with Joseph whose mother was Mary Stone Grimball Lawton Fickling. Mary SGLF was lastly married to Samuel Fickling, most probably the same one in the document. Mary’s 2nd husband was William Lawton of Edisto Island; they were the parents of Joseph who married Sarah Robert. Mary’s 1st husband was Paul Grimball. See how these people are all interlinked? I know, I know, sometimes I need pencil and paper to draw it out, too.

How can I be sure that Mary SGLF’s 3rd husband Samuel Fickling is the same Samuel Fickling that is mentioned in the court document?


South Carolina

Know all men by these presents that I SAMUEL FICKLING of Granville County in the province of South Carolina Planter for and in consideration of the sum of Eleven hundred and fifty pounds Current money of the said Province to me the said SAMUEL FICKLING in hand well and Truely paid at and before the Sealing and delivery of these Presents by ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT of the County & Province aforesaid the Receipt whereof I the said SAMUEL FICKLING doth hereby Acknowledge and myself therewith to be fully satisfied and paid by these Presents I the said SAMUEL FICKLING hath Granted Bargained Sold and delivered and by these presents Doth in Plain and open Market Grant Bargain Sell and deliver unto the said ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT the following Ten Negroe Slaves Viz Will, Adam, Harry, Pompey, Cuffee, Walley, Lucy, Tom, Hannah, and Will, formerly the property of PAUL GRIMBALL Deceased together with their issue and Increase unto the said ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT their Executors administrators and assigns to their only proper use and behoof To have and to hold the said Bargained Premises unto the said ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT their Executors Administrators and assigns for and during the Term of years that I the said SAMUEL FICKLING shall ever be hereafter Intitled to the said Negroes during which Time I the said SAMUEL FICKLING doth hereby warrant and forever defend the said administratos and assigns in witness whereof I the said SAMUEL FICKLING hath hereunto Set my hand and Seal this fourth day of February in the Year of our Lord one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty Nine.


Sealed and delivered in the Presence of


South Carolina

Berkley County

Personally appeared before me JAMES FORD on who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists of God Almighty God made Oath he was present and saw SAMUEL FICKLING sign Seal and duly Execute the within Instrument of writing for the uses and purposes therein mentioned and that he the deponent together with JAMES ROBERT subscribed their names as witnesses to the same.

Sworn before me this

7th February 1769



South Carolina

Know all men by these presents That I SAMUEL FICKLING of Granville County in the Province of South Carolina Planter for and in consideration of the sum of one thousand Five hundred and fifty pounds Current money of the said Province to me the said SAMUEL FICKLING in hand well and Truly paid at and before the Sealing and delivery of these presents by ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT of the County and Province aforesaid the Receipt whereof I the said SAMUEL FICKLING doth hereby acknowledge and myself therewith to be fully satisfied and paid by the presents I the said SAMUEL FICKLING hath Granted Bargained Sold and delivered and by these presents Doth in plain and open Market Grant sell Bargain and deliver unto the said ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT the following Negroe Slaves being my own property Viz Tom, Harry, Abram, Jany and Mary To have and to hold the Said Negroes, Tom, Harry, Abram, Jany and Mary together with their Issue and Increase unto the said ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT their Executors Administrators and assigns to their own proper use and behoof forever And I the said SAMUEL FICKLING for myself doth covenant promise, grant and agree to and with the said ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT in manner and form following That is to say that I the said SAMUEL FICKLING my Heirs Executors and administrators the said prebargained premises unto the said ELIAS JAUDON and JOHN ROBERT their Executors administrators and assigns against all and every person and persons whatsoever shall and Will warrand and forever defend by these presents In Witness whereof I the said SAMUEL FICKLING hath hereunto set my hand and seal this fourth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty nine


Sealed and delivered in the presence of


South Carolina

Berkley County

Personally appeared JAMES JAUDON who being duly sworn on the holy Evangelists of Almighty God made Oath he was present and saw SAMUEL FICKLING sign Seal and duly Execute the within Instrument for the use Intents and purposes within mentioned and that he the Deponent together with JAMES ROBERT Subscribed their names as Witnesses to the same

Sworn before me this seventh of February


(There’s the start of another document at the bottom right of the page which mentions Mrs. Elizabeth Poyas, wife of James Poyas. I’ll have to go back to ancestry and screenshot the following page to see what the documents have to say about Mrs. Poyas. We have some Poyas followers here.)

Samuel Fickling would have been an old man when this document was executed. John Robert would have been about 27 years old. The Elias Jaudon (sometimes written Jordan in the document) could have been John Robert’s cousin or uncle; I can’t be sure which at this point. Paul Grimball is reported to be deceased about 1750, and I find it remarkable that the slaves are still reported as his original property 19 years later in 1769. This might require another timeline.

These slaves were originally the property of Paul Grimball, the 1st husband. How did they end up the property of Samuel Fickling, the 3rd husband? Why is there no mention to William Lawton, the 2nd husband? Did ownership skip by him? Once again, due to the customs of the time, women are not mentioned in the document, but we know that the common element is Mary SGLF.

And the slaves?

Will, Adam, Harry, Pompey, Cuffee, Walley, Lucy, Tom, Hannah, and Will are mentioned in the 1st part of the document.

Tom, Harry, Abram, Jany and Mary are mentioned in the 2nd part of the document.

All we have left of them are their names.

John Robert of Robertville, Part Two

November 14, 2019

Y’all remember that occasionally I bust out with some thinking, and I get wrapped up with research. (I hope you will forget about the experiment of dyeing yarn with food coloring.) This theory concerns John Robert and his early days. Why don’t we know more about his early days? We believe he was born about 1742. I found the plat in 1782 where he gets property in what became Robertville because of the confiscation act, that property being part of the forfeited estates of Zephaniah Kingsley and Basil Cowper, 2 Loyalists with property in St. Peter’s Parish.

Leslie and I were having a discussion about John Robert and his service to the Patriots during the Revolutionary War. I went to the DAR website to see what I could find out. There wasn’t much, just that his name was on a jury list. That didn’t seem like a lot of service for a young man of that era, so I went to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

But first I started a time line with info from “Our Family Circle” by Annie Miller. Then I added to what I found on the SCDAH site, and what a blockbuster that was.

  • 1766, Oct 7 – Royal Grant of 250 acres, Saltcatcher River, Colleton County
  • 1768, December 31 – John Robert of Saltcatcher’s enters caveat against William Coachman’s obtaining administration of Estate of William Gould late of St. Peter’s Parish 
  • 1769, January 20 – William Coachman did not appear; John Robert gets letters of administration on the Estate of William Gould
  • 1769, April 11 – 300 acres on Saltcatcher, Prince William Parish
  • 1769, July 4 – Colonial land grant (S213019, Vol 18, P 361 – from SCDAH online records)
  • 1769, September 18 – 300 acres at Saltcatcher (S111001, Vol 8, P 507, Item 4 – from SCDAH online records)
  • 1770, May – Col. Isaac Hayne records that John Robert & Elizabeth Dixon moved to Indian Lands (SC H M Vol II, pg 93)
  • 1771, May 18 – John Robert has royal grant of 250 acres in Prince William Parish
  • 1771, December 23 – John Robert has royal grant of 500 acres in St. Helena’s Parish
  • 1778, June 28 – John Robert is Rev. War soldier is Capt. Blake’s Co (SC H M, Vol 5, p 19)
  • 1779, September 16 – October 15 – served in SC Militia, private
  • 1779, 1780, 1781 & 1782 – Provided sundries for Continental militia
  • 1780, February 11 – 1780, May 12 – Footman in Capt. Joseph Darrell’s company
  • 1780, March 1 – May 12 – SC Militia, private
  • 1780, April 20 – Provided corn & bacon
  • 1780, May 12 – 1781, July 1 – Prisoner of War; General Lincoln surrenders at the Siege of Charleston
  • 1781, May 16 – Provided 1 steer
  • 1781, July 18 – Provided 1 three-year-old steer for use by Capt. James Cone’s detachment
  • 1781, September 20 – 1782, February 12 – military service
  • 1781, December 10 – Provided 4 four-year-old steers for use by General Greene’s army
  • 1782, June – 1782, July 4 – 30 days military service
  • 1782 & 1783 – Provided provisions & forage for Continental use. Hunting and driving cattle. Providing oats & rye
  • 1783, April 10 – Provided 7 beeves, beef, & clean rice

Y’all, he was a prisoner of war for over a year. I wondered why he was captured, and when I googled the date of May 12, 1780, I found that it was because of the Siege of Charleston. General Lincoln surrendered, and those people went to prison.

Go have a look at the file. It is 29 pages and an amazing time capsule.

The Letters of ROBERT MACKAY to His Wife

November 14, 2019

Because I’ve gotten wrapped up in the family tree of Basil Cowper, I found this reference to Robert MacKay. Robert married Eliza McQueen, the niece of Basil’s wife Mary Smith Cowper.

I found this dandy volume on Amazon.

Is it MacKay or is it Mackay? Is it pronounced M’Kay or is it Makkie? I seriously don’t know.

Inside my book is a newspaper article from 1949. It has been in the book so long that it has left a shadow on the pages.

July 21 – 1949

Around Town


SCORES OF LOVE LETTERS WRITTEN DURING thrilling times, all tied with blue bows, now turning dark with age, and packages of other romantic letters with bright red ribbons, they too turning dark with the coming and going of generations, will be the interesting highlight for Colonial Dames in the early Fall…..


THE AUGUSTA CHAPTER OFF Colonial Dames is particularly interested in the letters of long ago, and so will we, when we find that an Augusta man wrote them.

They will take book form and will be rolling off the press early this fall. They are being published under the auspices of the Georgia Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

“The letter of Robert Mackay to His Wife”, is taken from letters written by Robert Mackay, who was born in Augusta in 1772, son of an enterprising Scottish merchant and a New England mother. Robert lived here in Augusta until about 1795, then moved to Savannah, where he became a prominent merchant, member of the city council and a figure of importance in social life in the community.

The first part of the book centers on the romantic courtship, followed by interesting accounts of Savannah, telling of the period when Savannah was the seaport and commercial center of the state and was a city of about five thousand persons and the fourteenth largest city in the nation.

In this period he tells of the gradual emerging of an influential group of merchants and factors who lived in opulence, in the fine old Regency dwelling, now landmarks in the coastal town.


OTHER LETTERS WERE written from England and other South Atlantic ports and also some from the extreme north.

The famous collection of his letters were given to the Georgia Society of Colonial Dames by the late Mrs. Frank B. Screven and the late Miss Phoebe Elliott. Those who have had the thrill of reading a few of his letters, tell us they are particularly significant in their portrayal of the thoughts and the very way of life led by a true Southern gentleman of the early nineteenth century.


He mentions Oatland Island, a Smith property near Savannah, which means a field trip is in order. Eliza’s mother Anne Smith McQueen died at Oatland Island in 1809 at the home of her sister Jane Smith Bourke (Mrs. Thomas Bourke).

The book mentions the death of their firstborn child Robert in 1804 at age 4. None of the online family trees on ancestry show this child, so I’ve added him to the one I made.

Robert died young while in New York. Eliza didn’t remarry. Good night, friends, we’re thinking of you.

Henry Martyn Robert: his biography

November 9, 2019

Leslie and I had the pleasure it of meeting the biographer of Henry Martyn Robert. He is Dr. Len Young, and he and his wife Peggy met us in Robertville.

Len sent us a copy of the biography. You can get your own copy on Amazon.

It is available as an ebook or softcover.

I know very little about Robert’s adult life, but have a bit of knowledge about the Robert families and the Robertville area. There is a reference to the Maner brothers that family lore and legend says hid horses and slaves in the swamp during the Revolution for Francis Marion. I would argue that the slaves got on the horses and went to Georgia.

At any rate, the S.C. Dept. of Archives and History has a record for Samuel Maner without mention of Francis Marion. He was an express courier for Governor Rutledge. The story of the association with Francis Marion seems to be repeated due to a reference by a Mrs. Poyas, also known as The Ancient Lady. She is worth a google search for her story is also interesting.

This is the only biography for Henry Martyn Robert. Seems impossible, but there it is. My copy will go right next to his Rules of Order that I got back in the day at college in 1974. I didn’t know then that I would someday meet his cousin right here near his birthplace, but life has a way of connecting things.

So go, get your copy!

A New Era Begins…

October 14, 2019

My poor little fractured iPhone.

It was still working in spite of pieces falling off the face. But that tumble into the cat water dish signified the true death toll. It sat in a bag of rice, which rescued it for a few days, and I toddled over to get a new one.

I suspect that photos of an improved quality will be happening soon, coming to a blog near you.

Four Books and Clermont Lee

October 13, 2019

Back to the Robertville revolutionary days and a few generations since…

I’ve acquired four books from several sources in relation to the early plats and documents from the Lawton Collection st the South Caroliniana Library.

First on the left is the first published biography of Henry Martyn Robert, edited and compiled by Dr. Leonard Young. Sugar and I meet the Young’s back in June when we took a tour of the Robert territories in Robertville.

Next is The Letters of Robert Mackay to his Wife, with an introduction and notes by Walter Charlton Hartridge. I found this on Amazon, and I am quite taken with the story and the language. Robert Mackay married Eliza McQueen, the daughter of John McQueen and Anne Smith McQueen, the sister of Mary Smith Cowper and Sarah Smith Wright.

Then I found another book on Amazon about Oglethorpe and Colonial Georgia by David Lee Russell. There is a timeline in the back of the book, and I’m tempted to make my own additions.

Lastly, Clever Reader Anne Starr has The Death of a Confederate by Skinner and Skinner. This is about Archibald Smith, the grandson of Archibald Smith, the brother of the aforementioned Smith women.

Inside the Mackay book is a newspaper clipping from 1949.

The book was part of a series commissioned by a genealogical society.


So I’m reading and thinking about these people and the times they lived in, and Sugar doesn’t understand why I am still under their spell. He thinks that I should be through with this saga. It’s no longer interesting to him.

But that’s the way my brain works. I turn things over and over, looking at things from all angles. I’m carrying these books around in a tote bag, I take them to work, I take them home, I tote them around in my brain and in my bag.

The Mackay book has such marvelous detail, and mentions people and places that I have uncovered in the old wills and documents. I decided to add those people to the family tree I’m working on.

A few generations after Eliza McQueen Mackay, I find a death certificate for one of her descendants in Bluffton, and the informant is Lawrence Lee. I’ve heard the name before, I think, but I can’t place it.

A bit more poking around and there she is. Clermont Lee. She was in class with Sugar’s mother, along with Walter Hartridge. We’ve been to her grave in Bonaventure, along with her parents Lawrence and Clermont Huger Lee.

Suddenly, Sugar finds this interesting. We’ve gone from British Loyalists living in the same area as his Robert ancestors, and located their families living in Savannah and Bluffton next to him and his family.

Once again, I am amazed at the connections here. Everyone knew everyone, especially if you had money and connections.

I suspect a few field trips are in order.

A Bit of Time to Think

September 18, 2019

Sometimes, I need time to think.

Sometimes my thinking time is in the car driving to and fro. I’m in the car a lot. One day at work I had announced that I practically lived in the car, and a new person was horrified. “You live in your car?!”  No, I don’t live in my car. Pay attention, new people. I have what I need in my car, and possibly I also have what you need. Once my daughter needed to stop at the store for dog food on the way home after she received her doctorate. I told her that I had dog food in the trunk, and that was a puzzle because I didn’t have a dog. There’s an explanation for that, but not a very interesting one, and it saved us a trip to the store. There’s cat food, and dish detergent, and sewing needles, and crackers.

My brain is a bit like my car. There’s important stuff in there, but you might not be able to tell it. Sometimes a thought congeals like a small dish of Jello. Where once you had an amorphous mix of ingredients, it slowly became a fully-formed thing, although it might wiggle around a bit.

This particular thought process has a definite beginning, middle, and end. The beginning was when I started viewing the Lawton collection at the South Caroliniana Library and found all those good plats and documents. The middle came when I was sorting through the images and researching the old names. The end was a crystal clear realization that things weren’t what I thought they were.

When we talk about the old days, the slavery times before Freedom, a lot of people talk about how their families were linked to the slave families. It’s hard to find records prior to the 1870 census that mentions the slave people by name. The American Loyalists had slaves, and the old documents named them. When I looked at Zephaniah Kingsley’s documentation of his losses, he mentions an area called Black Swamp that is near present-day Robertville, a plantation that had enough housing for 150 Negroes, but he only mentions a handful of slaves by name who appeared to be his property for his personal use, not farm labor. He had property in several towns up and down the coast of South Carolina. I would suspect that he didn’t live on the Black Swamp plantation in St. Peter’s Parish. When the thought clicked in my brain that the property at Black Swamp was a work camp, I got a different picture than the Gone With The Wind mentality. One hundred and fifty people lived and possibly died in a remote location. No niceties. No family atmosphere. No freedom. No one to mark their passing. This was a full 100 years before Freedom came.

A whole century that I can’t wrap my mind around.

Stopping at the Gates of Delta Plantation

September 15, 2019

It was on the way home from our outing to Red Bluff and Turnbridge. So here we are at the gates.

There is a lot of good info about the creation and ownership of Delta on the internet. If any of y’all get married there, be sure to invite us to the wedding. We’d love to see the grounds. Annnnd to celebrate your marriage, of course.

On the Way to Turnbridge

September 14, 2019

As we were leaving the entrance at Red Bluff, Leslie drove further along to show me another place where he used to deliver mail. The old way was literally driving on a grassway, not a driveway. The owners had put in a new drive and grand gateway entrance in another location. The old way drove in front of a church called Pilgrim Baptist with a graveyard and under the old oaks. You could see the roof of the house and daylight where the land opened up onto the marsh and the Savannah River beyond.

I didn’t take any photos of the church since I figured it was already on findagrave. There was no cell phone reception so I couldn’t confirm that. You guessed it. After returning back to civilization, the location isn’t listed at all so there’s another project for another day.

We left there, and Leslie followed a whim.

Leslie pulled in at a dirt road called Turnbridge Landing. We had seen it on the 1825 and 1873 maps as Tunbridge.

When we got to the dead-end at the landing, we found there was no dock. It looked like a good place to put in a kayak.

There was another car already there, but no one on sight. I figured someone had already put in with a small boat or kayak. Leslie noticed a man standing down in the river. You can see his head in the photo below. I didn’t realize he was there when I took the photo.

At any rate, he didn’t appear dangerous, but he acted like he was waiting on an assignation. He was wearing dress shorts and a neat shirt. What better spot to meet your lady friend or a drug dealer than at an abandoned landing on an early Sunday morning. Indeed, as we were preparing to leave, another vehicle pulled in, but no one got out of the car.

You could see the island of Daufuskie off on our left and the city of Savannah off on our right. We think that Cockspur Island was ahead of us, but we’ll have to check that again on the old maps.

There was a strong smell of the marsh, and a lot of trash including a microwave and a tire. Leslie has a project in mind that will possibly earn him a Good Citizen award.

When we were leaving, we stopped so I could snap another photo of the access road and a no trespassing sign for Turnbridge Plantation.

I popped back in the car, we started out along the lane, and twenty feet ahead, a bobcat leaped across the road ahead of us in 2 bounds. Leslie stopped the car as we stared ahead, then at each other, then back to the empty lane.

Tunbridge Landing, we’ll see you again.

Onward to Red Bluff Plantation

September 11, 2019

We’ve seen several references to Red Bluff in the wills of Elizabeth Williamson Smith, Mary Smith Cowper, and Mary Anne Cowper. We wondered where it was.

I convinced myself that it was on a small island near Beaufort surrounded by marsh and the Chechessee. Leslie pointed out that it just didn’t make sense. How could a small island be parceled out to several descendants? But where else was it, even though we couldn’t find it on the old maps.

Leslie looked at the map ONE MORE TIME, and found it. Do you remember that he used to be a rural postal carrier in the Hardlyville area? Can you imagine that he has blocked some of those stressful memories? Because he used to deliver to Red Bluff Plantation.

There was a long drive. Sometimes he had to drive miles down the winding drive to deliver important mail that required a signature. It has changed now because the property was sold a few years ago. There is a gate which is locked. It is supposed to be an event venue now.

If you could drive all the way to the house, you could see the Savannah River. Which we cannot do, so let’s imagine a lazy, marshy area of vast expanse.

The property once belonged to Elizabeth Williamson’s family which I have seen as living in Beaufort. This seems far-ish from Beaufort.

But it is a huge property that could easily have been parceled out. Perhaps someone can shed more light.